Wilson Benesch Omnium - The Greenest High-End Loudspeaker?
Wilson Benesch announces Omnium - the latest and greenest addition to its reference loudspeaker line.
Wilson Benesch's Omnium 2.5-way floorstander follows the modular design philosophy that the South Yorkshire-based company adopted with its Odyssey Range in 2001. The high-end brand likens this approach to the Porsche 911, whereby each new design builds on the lessons of its predecessor so that it becomes “the latest evolution of a living lineage” rather than a new model.
The name Omnium also reflects this as it is Latin for “of all” and was chosen to recognise the three decades of research and development before it. However, as well as acknowledging the heritage behind it, Omnium also benefits from the next generation of materials technologies developed through a collaborative research and development project – SSUCHY. More on that, later.
WILSON BENESCH OMNIUM TECH
Wilson Benesch's Fibonacci Tweeter first landed in 2012, and the latest 1-inch iteration builds upon the Semisphere tweeter design. The Fibonacci tweeter faceplate is formed from a carbon fibre composite structure, creating a geometrically optimised waveguide tailored precisely to the unique output of the Silk-Carbon Hybrid tweeter dome, says the Sheffield company.
With both the faceplate and motor decoupled from the rest of the tweeter chassis, we're told the tweeter not only achieves “ruler-flat frequency response” and ultrawide dispersion characteristics but also optimal frequency and timing integration with the Tactic 3.0 midrange drive unit.
The Omnium sports a trio of 7-inch Tactic 3.0 drive units (high and low bass, and mid-range), which retains the isotactic polypropylene cone, and continues to offer the optimal balance of stiffness and damping of the previous generation. The manufacturer states that this unique blend of material properties allows Wilson Benesch to maintain the crossover free, directly amplifier coupled design for the midrange drive unit while maintaining zero phase distortion. Furthermore, the new Fibonacci element results in a drive unit that produces perfect textbook roll off without any inductor, extended frequency response up to 4KHz and a flat frequency response within its operating range, boasts the company.
The principle low-frequency load of the Omnium is delivered by a series of Isobaric Drive Systems. This, we're told, reproduces an incredibly tight and controlled bass response perfectly integrated with the midrange Tactic 3.0 drive unit.
We're informed that the step-response of the three 7-inch drivers in the Isobaric Drive System is almost identical to that of the Tactic 3.0 midrange drive units, ensuring almost perfect integration across the audio band.
Finally, the carbon fibre composite top may be striking, but its complex form is critical to the performance of the loudspeaker as, by removing flat, reflective surfaces and creating complex curved structures, sound waves striking the loudspeaker enclosure are scattered and their energy and therefore audible presence reduced.
The Omnium stands on feet hewn in-house from a single 80kg billet of aluminium apiece to create a single 38kg foot. These with the 14mm tie bolts that generate a metric ton of compressive pressure through the Omnium enclosure form the loudspeaker's foundation.
The resulting 140kg, 180 x 63cm x 28cm (HxDxW at baffle - feet measure at 59cm wide) tower has a claimed 28Hz – 30KHz +/- 2dB frequency response with sensitivity listed at 89dB and nominal impedance, 4.5 ohms.
GREEN LOUDSPEAKER - SSUCHY
The world's first 'Green Loudspeaker' is just one of numerous deliverables amongst the ambitious list of the pan-European SSUCHY (Sustainable Structural & Multifunctional Bicomposites from Hybrid Natural Fibres & Bio-Based Polymers) Project, which began in 2017.
Europe's 'Horizon 2020' invested €7.4 million to enable thirteen Universities, four SME's and several Blue-Chip companies to come together, collaborate and innovate to deliver cutting edge science and materials technologies required by the circular economy. The mission is to replace oil-based non-recyclable materials or, in effect, provide next-generation materials technology.
Wilson Benesch has decades of pioneering work behind it, including the curved carbon composite flanks and metal baffle of 1994's A.C.T. One loudspeaker and investments in Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) manufacturing technologies that paved the way for the Odyssey Range launched in 2001. Thanks to continual reinvestment of profits made by the company, the move to Vacuum based systems or VRTM soon followed, and in 2011 the Geometry Series was launched.
The latest outcome for Wilson Benesch is the new A.C.T. 3Zero Monocoque. This advanced composite technology structure is the largest single component in the Wilson Benesch loudspeaker enclosure, and it is at the heart of the Eminence loudspeaker.
We're told that the monocoque delivers significant (orders of magnitude) superior damping capabilities than the previous generation A.C.T. Monocoque. Moreover, the A.C.T. 3Zero Monocoque is constructed from natural, renewable and sustainable materials and is almost entirely free of oil-based material use. Even the resin that the previous generation carbon fibre monocoque used has been replaced with a Bio Resin, so we are told. Additionally, the VRTM process to create the A.C.T. 3Zero Monocoque for the Omnium requires just half the energy needed to produce the previous generation monocoque.
The Wilson Benesch Omnium is available now with an MSRP of $169,000 USD per pair.
On Wednesday 9th February, Wilson Benesch Design Director Craig Milnes will be one of twenty project partners to present the outcomes of a Four-and-a-half-year project entitled SSUCHY (Sustainable Structural & Multifunctional Biocomposites from Hybrid Natural Fibres and bio-based Polymers) for the first time to the public. This can be viewed at https://www.ssuchy.eu
StereoNET’s resident rock star, bass player, and gadget junkie. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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