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Infinity Launches Its First Flat-Panel Drivers

9/26/2005 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Infinity has developed a rectangular flat-panel driver said to combine the advantages of circular cone drivers with flat-panel planar-magnetic drivers to create high-accuracy, high-output speakers in small, narrow-baffle enclosures.

Infinity's proprietary driver technology, called Maximum Radiating Surface (MRS), delivers superior accuracy and higher power-handling capacity at a price lower than slender speakers that incorporate multiple small-cone drivers, said Infinity's marketing VP Eli Harary.

The technology will appear in a new Cascade speaker series that includes a mix of floorstanding and shelf speakers and a center-channel speak. The shelf speakers and center-channel speaker can be mounted on shelf stands or on the wall next to a flat-panel TV.

Prices on left-right models range from a suggested $699 to $1,499 each, depending on the choice of three finishes. Two powered subwoofer that don't use the technology retail for a suggested $999 and $1,499 each.

In the Cascade series, 8-inch by 4-inch MRS drivers deliver midrange and bass frequencies down to about 50Hz. In each Cascade satellite and center-channel speaker, the MRS drivers are complemented by a top-end cone tweeter incorporating Infinity's proprietary Ceramic Metal Matrix Diaphragm (CMMD) technology, which uses ceramic-coated aluminum-core drivers to extend response out to 40kHz.

MRS drivers with 8-inch by 4-inch dimensions are capable of reproducing bass deeper than 50Hz, but the increased mass and excursion required would, in the first generation, reduce efficiency, said MRS' inventor An Nguyen. As a result, the Cascade series includes a separately available standalone subwoofer that lacks MRS.

In outlining MRS's advantages, Nguyen noted that cone drivers perform well in the bass to midrange bands with good linear excursion, but they require deep mounting depths. Planar-magnetic drivers require little mounting depth but are inefficient, have limited power handling, and perform well only at frequencies of 500Hz or more, Nguyen said.

MRS delivers the advantages of both driver technologies, Nguyen explained, by using rectangular high-excursion CMMD drivers that offer a "higher ratio of sound-radiating surface area to wasted baffle area" than either cone or planar-magnetic drivers. The greater amount of surface area, combined with MRS's high-excursion capabilities, means Infinity's MRS drivers can push as much air as larger cone drivers, he said. The shape and size also help to reduce cone breakup, or flexing, to significantly reduce distortion, the company said.

Two elliptical voice coils, each almost 8 inches in length, increase the amount of radiating-surface area in contact with the coils, boosting efficiency and dynamic range wile also boosting transient response, the company said. The coil's greater surface area dispels heat more efficiently than circular voice coils.

The voice-coil design also improves the time alignment of the low and midrange frequencies that reach a listener's ears, reducing time-domain distortions that "smear" musical signals, the company said. Cone drivers, in contrast, generate sound first toward the center of the cone, then generate the same sound slightly later at the cone's perimeter, causing the same signal to arrive at slightly different times at the listener's ear, Infinity said.

All Cascade models but the $999 subwoofer are due in October to higher-end independent A/V dealers, custom installers and select regional chains. The other sub ships in January.

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