The ClairAudient line source array is a loudspeaker system, designed by the late Richard Smith, a co-founder of Audience, LLC. Richard's dream was to design a loudspeaker without any of the usual design compromises that, in one way or the other, limit most loudspeaker systems known today. The idea was to avoid working around conventional loudspeaker design limitations by designing a loudspeaker that was free of those limitations in the first place.
ClairAudient loudspeakers have no crossovers. One of the biggest problems in loudspeakers is phase anomalies, particularly in the treble range resulting from the use of crossovers. The cardinal sin is to compensate for phase difference effects on the response curve by introducing electrical compensations into the crossover circuit. Whereas this may smooth out the response curve at the particular position of the test microphone, the transient response is destroyed. It can have excellent frequency response; however quite incapable of reproducing a complex waveform with any degree of accuracy. To make matters worse, our ears are most sensitive around the 2500 Hz frequency range where most mid/high crossovers are placed. The ClairAudient employs multiple, identical full range drivers that reproduce a flat frequency response from 40Hz to 22kHz. The bottom octaves are reproduced by a separate subwoofer.
ClairAudient loudspeakers are exceedingly resolving and dynamic. The 3 inch Audience A3 driver cones are made of an aluminum magnesium composite. The total moving mass of each driver is 2.5 grams, and with a massively oversized motor structure they are exceedingly fast and exhibit rise times similar to electrostatic loudspeakers resulting in ultra high resolution sound reproduction. The drawback with electrostatic loudspeakers is that while very defined they have limited dynamic range. The Audience A3 drivers, drivers being dynamic drivers provide the best of both worlds; high resolution plus dynamics. The 8 driver system, for example, can play at 123db continuous at distortion levels that one would normally associated with quality amplifiers. The result is stunning high resolution distortion free reproduction of sound.
ClairAudient loudspeakers deliver exceptionally smooth, wide range polar response. Whereas the full range ClairAudient drivers are only 3 inches in diameter, they are large compared to optimal tweeters. Large tweeters tend to beam as a condition of the effective size of the driver in relation to wavelength; the larger the driver, the bigger the problem. The ClairAudient drivers avoid this problem very effectively. The small dust cover portion of the A3 decouples in a controlled manner from the rest of the cone at high frequencies making the dust cap alone the tweeter. Therefore high frequency dispersion is comparable to a small dome tweeter.
Multiple drivers in an array configuration typically exhibit what is known as a Venetian blind affect caused by inter-driver phase interference. Because the ClairAudient drivers are very small they can be mounted very close to each other, acting as a single long driver, thus avoiding this potential phase interference problem.
Most often it is found that certain loudspeakers are suited to certain rooms and vice versa. This indicates inadequacies on the part of the loudspeakers. For example, transient harmonic and intermodulation distortion have a factor in common with reverberation inasmuch as they are all additions to the original sound. Only by reducing these forms of distortion to very low levels will the detail in the direct sound separate out realistically against the background of its acoustic environment. Further, a bass performance that is satisfactory in any location can only be provided by a smooth, low distortion bass response. A live sound never sounds less than completely real whatever the environment and we should expect the same independence from reproduced sound. The quality of a system is determined by its worst feature and the best system is one which reproduces the original sound with the greatest overall accuracy; that says it all.
ClairAudient loudspeakers produce a realistic sound field like no other loudspeaker. The listener is not confined to the usual center seat sweet spot. ClairAudient loudspeakers produce an excellent sound stage at listening positions beyond the parameters of conventional loudspeakers. Because the polar response is wide and smooth coupled with the fact that each driver is full range (except for the lower non-directional frequencies) listeners receive a full range sound stage whether sitting or standing or whether centered or off axis. Martin DeWulf, editor of Bound For Sound, in response to hearing a prototype of the ClairAudient LSA at CES 2000, wrote "No system at the entire show threw a more convincing soundstage, or realistic portrayal of live music in the room... the Line Array loudspeaker from Audience might be one of the finest producers of space and 'aura' anywhere on the planet."
ClairAudient loudspeakers are toed in at 45 degrees for optimal sound staging. As listening positions move left or right of the center, the sound from the farthest speaker is reinforced by being more direct. At the same time, the sound pressure level of the closer speaker is diminished by being further off axis. The effect is to have a stable sound stage regardless of horizontal position.
ClairAudient loudspeakers are very efficient. This means that low powered amps are easily capable of driving the loudspeakers to realistic listening levels. However, higher power will allow for the full dynamic range that the loudspeakers are capable of.
The interior design of the ClairAudient has no parallel walls to cause standing wave resonance, a common form of coloration. The exterior is designed with round sides to improve dispersion and reduce baffle step response problems. The cabinet effects of the ClairAudient are virtually non-existent. The result is the reproduction of music with a smooth flat frequency response without dynamic compression or coloration. Simply put, all you hear is the music.