complin

New "Electrostatic" on the block THE SONOMA MODEL ONE ELECTROSTATIC HEADPHONE SYSTEM

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Anyone seen or heard these?

https://sonomaacoustics.com/sonoma-model-one-headphone-system/

THE SONOMA MODEL ONE ELECTROSTATIC HEADPHONE SYSTEM NEW TRANSDUCER TECHNOLOGY

The M1 Headphone System is the world’s first headphone to use a High-Precision Electrostatic Laminate Transducer (HPEL) developed by Warwick Audio Technologies Ltd.  This patented technology ushers in a new paradigm in electrostatic transducers offering all of the benefits of traditional electrostatics, but manufactured with unprecedented consistency and matching between transducers.

top-image-headphone-and-amp.jpg

 

HPEL Transducer

HPEL_Transducer.jpg

The ideal loudspeaker transducer would have zero mass, respond infinitely quickly to any signal, be perfectly damped, have no distortion and be perfectly linear. Until now, the technology that best exemplifies those characteristics is electrostatic. Introduced almost 60 years ago, electrostatic headphones have remained the choice of discerning listeners who demand the highest audio quality. Now, a revolutionary new electrostatic transducer, derived from the world of ultrasonics, has been developed in the UK by Warwick Audio Technologies Ltd. (WAT). The patented High-Precision Electrostatic Laminate (HPEL) audio transducer ushers in a new paradigm in the field of electrostatic drivers, and the Sonoma M1 is the first headphone system in the world to use it.

A conventional electrostatic transducer consists of a thin membrane (coated with a conductive material) between two electrically conducting metal grids. There is a small gap between the membrane and grids. The membrane is kept at a high DC potential relative to the grids, and the audio signal is applied across the grids. This results in the membrane moving in response to the audio signal thus creating sound. Clearly, in order for the sound to propagate through the grid/membrane ‘sandwich’, the grids have to be perforated in some way.

In contrast, the HPEL uses a thin (15 μm – less than the thickness of a human hair), flexible laminated film for the ‘front’ grid. The laminate is affixed to the open (cell) structure of an insulating spacer (made of Formex), and the film is very accurately machine-tensioned in the x-y plane. In this way, small ‘drum-skins’ are created by the cells. A stainless steel mesh forms the ‘back’ grid. When the audio signal is superimposed on a 1350 V DC bias voltage, the ‘drum-skins’ formed by the flexible ‘front’ grid vibrate, producing sound. Unlike a traditional electrostatic panel, the sound you hear from a HPEL does not pass through a grid! To take full advantage of this feature, everything has been done in the design of the M1 to keep the areas in front of and behind the transducer as clear as possible so as not to impede the sound waves.

Thanks to a proprietary Finite-Element Analysis software package, WAT is able to fine tune the characteristics of the ‘drum-skins’ such that they have different resonant frequencies. Each cell is acoustically independent, but driven in parallel. As a result, the sound from each cell combines in acoustic space, but the independent resonances average out, avoiding any large resonant peak in the audio band (as can happen with a single driver area).

The thin, light laminate material ensures an extended frequency response, with the panel remaining linear to over 60 kHz. The HPEL has unmatched transient performance, and its surface area has been maximized to deliver a full frequency response. Additionally, due to the fact that it is produced with modern automated manufacturing techniques, the HPEL delivers unprecedented consistency and matching between transducers (< ±0.8 dB difference between left and right channels). The simplicity of its design also enables exceptional durability and reliability.

Naturally, such a light, thin transducer is susceptible to bending, etc., so the panel is encased in a special, super-rigid, high glass-fill polycarbonate ‘cassette’ which allows the transducer to perform optimally

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Interesting. Ex-Sony and Philips people so not mugs. Looks to be well thought out and well built and the price seems reasonable ($5K for DAC/Amp and Phones). Sort of the anti-HIFIMAN?

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I like the look too. Very Sennheiser-esque. The fact that the amp has a built in DAC, also lightens the 5k blow.

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i'm not a fan of the all in one package but i don't see any other way they can push things. seems like an odd drive signal as well, but i hope it sounds good

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Definitely interested in hearing this.

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Saw the video with these ages ago I think it was last years RMAF or something with Tyll interviewing the Warwick Audio representative with the prototype headphones. Not a fan of the detachable cables.

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1 hour ago, DefQon said:

... Not a fan of the detachable cables.

Pffft.

How can you do cable rolling without it? You know you need those pure-silver-spun-by-nymphs-in-the-rainforest cables that cost more than the phones... :rofl:

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Indeed, cables made by people who have no idea what they are doing adding a level of danger to the listening session.  Pure win!!  ;) 

I'd love to hear these but I'm very skeptical that they are any better than traditional electrostatics.  Also that amp is probably utter shit...and wasn't the dac just a bog standard ESS Sabre? 

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8 hours ago, complin said:

Anyone seen or heard these?

https://sonomaacoustics.com/sonoma-model-one-headphone-system/

THE SONOMA MODEL ONE ELECTROSTATIC HEADPHONE SYSTEM NEW TRANSDUCER TECHNOLOGY

The M1 Headphone System is the world’s first headphone to use a High-Precision Electrostatic Laminate Transducer (HPEL) developed by Warwick Audio Technologies Ltd.  This patented technology ushers in a new paradigm in electrostatic transducers offering all of the benefits of traditional electrostatics, but manufactured with unprecedented consistency and matching between transducers.

top-image-headphone-and-amp.jpg

 

HPEL Transducer

Unlike a traditional electrostatic panel, the sound you hear from a HPEL does not pass through a grid! 

In other words, it's single ended.  I wonder how they manage the distortion inherent in a single-ended device?

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I hope they did a better job of it than the people who did the Abyss, which measures horrendously as expected. And yet there's like a 300 page thread on the Abyss on HF....

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My initial impressions:  Oooo!  Orange!  Hexagons!  Cool...uh...er...something grill...art deco wavy lines!

monkey animal animated GIF

ennui cat animated GIF

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Quote

Warwick Audio Technologies Ltd

Wat....???????    :o

Translating the original blurb and filling in the necessary techy gaps, it comes out as follows.....

Due to the miniscule gap between the mesh grid, spacer and laminate, it has been necessary to address the problem of quantum foam propagating between the elements.

This is done by designing the mesh grid to allow the ingress and amplification of Kreger Waves to dampen out the discontinuities in the aether caused by the quantum foam as well as the occasional Cherenkov radiation caused by the ubiquitous Tau Neutrinos emanating from the sun and various supernova.

Even though these discontinuities only exists approximately -250dB below the noise floor, and therefore normally of no practical consequence, there is the butterfly effect that needs to be addressed.

This butterfly effect is a runaway phenomenon that increases the original purturbation to many orders of magnitude that is only dampened by the atomic pressure of the surrounding atmosphere.

It is this very phenomenon that causes most of the noise in the physical and electronic disciplines such as the noise in Josephson Junctions and the more general quantum noise phenomena.

Thus, by proverbially clipping the wings of these mythical butterflies, the butterfly effect in totally nullified and negated resulting in a practical 23dB reduction in noise floor occasioned by transducer malformations over the entire frequency spectrum of it's sonic reproduction capabilities.

And. so Hi-FI becomes Higher-Fi.     :lol:

I hope this helps.....    :P

 

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This is the headphone version of beveridge.  1350 volts bias, probably a couple hundred volts of music, single stator.

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You can do single ended if you simply ground the other "stator" which makes them pseudo push pull.  The Koss ESP6, 7, 8 and 9 do it this way and so do the odd Philips electrets from the 70's.  Now how this is done is very important as to how well it works but it is never the equivalent of simply using a pure push-pull setup.

I agree that this is basically what Beveridge did back in the day and relies heavily on bias with all the issues that entails.  I'm highly skeptical of all of this but hey, let's take one apart and see how it works. 

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16 hours ago, DefQon said:

Saw the video with these ages ago I think it was last years RMAF or something with Tyll interviewing the Warwick Audio representative with the prototype headphones. Not a fan of the detachable cables.

Can you post the link to the video please?

6 hours ago, spritzer said:

 

.  I'm highly skeptical of all of this but hey, let's take one apart and see how it works. 

From the blurb on the web site it implies they are not available to buy at the moment as you are asked to register interest so perhaps they are looking to see how many potential punters there may be. Might be worth asking Tyll to use some of his contacts to find out where they are with production units. They may have a prototype or pre-production unit he could get his hands on :o

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Wasn't Warwick audio pushing this tech due to the lower cost? How does that connect with the $5k price of the system, if that's really what it costs? God, this industry is pissing me right the fuck off.

I like the style though, very sleek, except for those cables.

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Yeah, the same old BS as with all "revolutionary tech", it will be much cheaper and used everywhere!!!  Remember the NXT panels? 

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" Due to the need for DSP to achieve the target frequency response, all incoming analog signals must first be converted to digital. This is undertaken in a multi-channel 32-bit/384 kHz AKM Premium ADC chip. "

https://sonomaacoustics.com/technology/

Analog -> digital -> analog -> trash

Edited by charlo89
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I really doubt you'll be able to hear it at 32 bits/384 kHz.  

EDIT:  That said, I agree with Spritzer v -- there are some things you just can't fix in DSP.  Like impedance mismatches.

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Ahhh so it sucks in its natural form so they are trying to fix it in DSP.  Sounds like pure win to me... :rolleyes:

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On January 10, 2017 at 4:50 AM, spritzer said:

You can do single ended if you simply ground the other "stator" which makes them pseudo push pull.  The Koss ESP6, 7, 8 and 9 do it this way and so do the odd Philips electrets from the 70's.  Now how this is done is very important as to how well it works but it is never the equivalent of simply using a pure push-pull setup.

Yes, but if you look at the diagram, there is no other stator.  There is only a stator on one side - in fact they brag  about the fact that there is no second stator.  Perhaps the DSP is also needed to correct for that?

Edited by JimL

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Has anyone actually measured and posted results about the claimed diffraction and turbulence caused by the stators of ESLs or magnet structure of dynamic planars? The distance from stator to diaphragm is almost infinitesimal compared to any human(ly audible) acoustic frequency. Even at 20kHz it's about 17mm compared to the ~0.5mm distance between stator and diaphragm. Hifiman straight up copied the Fazor design from Audeze with the Edition 6, and Ether has its "flow" magnet structure, so "fixing" it is clearly the FOTM. But how much difference does it actually make, and what are the tradeoffs? Clearly for the single-sided Abyss, which seems to the dynamic planar version of the Sonoma, the tradeoff is it measures like crap with a lot of even and odd order harmonic distortion that's very nonlinear (based on distance between diaphragm and magnet) and epic underdamping becaus no isodynamic restoring force. Maybe @arnaudcan bring some light to the whole situation. At headphone driver distances to the ear (maybe an inch or even less) vs. the size of the radiating surface, what exactly does the acoustic wave propagation look like with a planar? Can they in fact be approximated with plane waves, and how much is affected by the magnet or stator structure? Obviously the magnets need to be larger than stators so the effect is more pronounced. I did briefly skim over the HF discussion about the Shangri La using a mesh stator. 

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13 hours ago, charlo89 said:

" Due to the need for DSP to achieve the target frequency response, all incoming analog signals must first be converted to digital. This is undertaken in a multi-channel 32-bit/384 kHz AKM Premium ADC chip. "

https://sonomaacoustics.com/technology/

Analog -> digital -> analog -> trash

I've always found DSP processing sucks so thats bad news. Seems the so called revolutionary material was originally designed for other purposes not for high end audio as per the piece written by Tyll 

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I'm mistrustful of DSP processing too. Take an analogue signal, AD, DSP, DA to analogue signal. What?

Yup - I'm a luddite.

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