In my recent post about the highlights (and lowlights) of the Melbourne International Hifi Show, I wrote in glowing terms about the Solo-E500X-EQ speaker from Studio 19. Following the Show, I asked Hoj Palmer, Studio 19’s CEO to tell me a bit about the origins of his company and its products. Here’s what I gleaned from the email correspondence (all my paraphrasing of Hoj’s comments with my own opinions interjected):
Who Are Studio 19?
Studio 19 was founded in London in 2015 with its official incorporation in 2016. Their goal was to inject their passion for music and design into the premium audio sector because they felt their was a distinct gap in the field of fully portable, high quality speakers. Basically, they are looking to be a disruptor in the Hifi industry in much the same way that Uber have disrupted the transport industry. To me that’s exciting news because every industry ultimately benefits from disruption and the sort of innovation required to create disruption also figures to bring exciting opportunities to consumers.
So back to the Solo speaker range, Studio 19 believe they are one of the first manufacturers to produce a truly wireless speaker with both punch and finesse without the need for the mains-power required by most truly powerful speakers. There’s no doubt that there are some excellent fully wireless portable speakers on the market, but I have not yet heard one with the room-filling power and sound quality of the Solo speakers so I do believe there’s some truth to their claim. As soon as there is a demo unit available for review I will be sure to let you know if it’s as impressive as I thought. Another unique bonus that Hoj pointed out with the Solo speakers is that they can be recharged with any USB powerbank (portable extra battery) so the portability and freedom can last for a very long time without the need to find a mains outlet – just think of the opportunities that presents! All kinds of opportunities (assuming the sound holds-up in open spaces like it did in the hotel rooms at the Hifi Show).
Who is responsible for the design of the Solo speakers?
Studio 19’s R&D team is headed up by Leo Liu, a sound engineer with over 20 years’ experience in manufacturing premium audio speakers. Leo began making speakers by hand at the age of 14, selling them in the local market. Collectively, Studio 19’s audio engineering team have close to 100 years of experience audio products. They work in conjunction with a technical design team who make the design ideas a reality and advise the visionaries at Studio 19 whether or not their ideas are actually possible. Together, the design team, audio engineers and ideas people work together to take concepts through visual and auditory design options until a finished product is created.
Hoj said that, fundamentally, the whole team are very passionate about sound, music, and aesthetics, and that this drives their creative juices and inspires them to do what they love to do (which is create great sounding, portable speakers).
I also asked if Hoj to tell me about their key proprietary technologies…
The 2 key technologies in the Solo speakers are:
- Dual Pressure Air Compression (DPAC)
- Bon Giovi (yes, it sounds like “Bon Jovi” when someone says it quickly) DSP chipset
Dual pressure air compression is a technique that seems to involve the coupling of bass drivers to create a high sound pressure output without excess distortion, but it’s unclear exactly how the setup works based on the literature I’ve read so far. I’ll look to share more once I see and hear the speaker live. I’ve definitely seen / heard setups using these type of isobaric setups, but I can’t yet comment on how this is done. Suffice to say, the output of Studio 19’s DPAC technology is exactly what they claim – powerful, room-filling bass from a speaker that’s about the same profile as a 2-litre milk container and about as tall as 2 such containers stacked on top of each other.
Bon Giovi DSP Chipset
The Bon Giovi DSP chipset is a sound processing technology that takes the audio signal coming into the speaker and adjusts it to optimise the signal so that the speaker can most effectively produce the sound and so that we will perceive the sound optimally. I’m generally not a fan of digital sound processing, but it totally makes sense in a product like this. My complaint with many DSP implementations is that they alter the original sound and mess with subtle cues in the audio that can change the imaging and presentation of the audio. The reason I don’t see this as a problem with the Solo speaker is that the Solo is designed to produce 360 degree sound so it’s not about perfect imaging accuracy, it’s about filling a space with engaging and enveloping sound. Based on my short audition at the Hifi Show, the Bon Giovi chipset is doing a marvellous job at helping the Solo speaker to sound fantastic. Once again, further review time will help to confirm or adjust my opinion, but I’m optimistic that my opinion will only improve once I’ve spent some further time with the speaker.
By the way, Bon Giovi refer to their DSP technology as DPS – digital power station – so it gets a little confusing between DSP and DPS, but it is a DSP process (digital sound processing) that they have branded as DPS. Confused yet?
One final clarification
Looking at Studio 19’s website left me a little confused about their speaker range because they have multiple models, but all seemed to list similar features. Hoj was able to clarify for me that these different models relate to different construction materials and aesthetics, but do not significantly alter the sound (between the E500 & E600). They do also offer a Nano version of the Solo speaker, but I haven’t looked into that option as yet.
So, for now that’s all I can tell you, but if you think you might be interested in a top-notch sounding, super powerful portable speaker, check out Studio 19’s web page and Facebook page and stay tuned for the review as soon as a demo unit is available.