Speakers are musical Instruments, too!


But in this case, newer instruments can offer significant gains in performance and audible transparency.

By 1956, Cinerama sound systems were using up to five A-2 loudspeaker systems behind the screen and eight two-way loudspeakers in the auditorium. A seven-channel magnetic tape was employed with five surround channels used for the auditorium speakers.

Symmetrically placed loudspeakers in back of the screen were positioned with the outside speakers being near the edge the screen (Fig. 10). Two multi cellular, high-frequency horns are used with each loudspeaker system. The necks of the high-frequency horns were crossed so that the peripheral contour of the two horns was continuous and gave 180° distribution, covering the entire audience area. Each one of these speaker systems was powered with an Altec 75 Watt Vacuum Tube amplifier. The signal-to-noise ratio in this overall system was approximately 58 dB, the limiting factor being the residual background noise of the magnetic tape (later virtually eliminated through the use of Dolby A noise reduction).

At the beginning of the Golden Age of Widescreen Movies and the commercial release of CinemaScope by Twentieth Century Fox(1952), the horn loaded Altec A-2 loudspeaker system (Fig. 7) was used exclusively for the front three channels: Left, Center, and Right, located behind a large perforated screen (Fig 10). These speakers were normally supplied to movie theaters having more than 1600 seats.

For studio movie reviewing rooms and smaller theaters, the A-4 system (Fig. 8) produced the same sonic results behind a smaller screen.

It becomes clear that music speakers and cinema speakers must, in fact, be the same, unlike in the past, as the sound quality of the various program materials are each capable of enormous potential sound quality - that of reality!

Initially, up to 26 Altec 629-type (one-way) Auditorium Loudspeakers (Fig. 9) were used for the Stereo Surround Channels in larger theaters, while approximately 15 units were usually installed in smaller theaters. The surround information was actually a Mono track (1 of 4) that eventually became Stereo Panned by the head projectionist during each show - particularly with the introduction of 70mm TODD-AO (1955) and 3-Stripe Cinerama (1956).

This was the first commercially successful Stereophonic Motion Picture Sound System (Fig.1), and featured companion recommended amplifiers, along with switching capability that made it easily integratable with an existing mono theatrical sound system.

The amplifier signal-to-noise is maintained at 63 dB. The use of auditorium speakers in general requires that the signal-to-noise ratio be improved over that necessary for stage speakers only. The auditorium speakers are located relatively close to some portions of the audience and a high signal-to-noise ratio must be maintained, so that this noise will not mask the sound coming from the backstage speakers or be audible during the long intervals in which no signal is coming from the auditorium speakers.” - CinemaScope Installation Guide (1956).

Today, we have a lot more choices in both types of speakers, amplifiers, and even surround sound standards: 5.1, 6.2, 7.3, and now . . . 8.8!

Why so many channels? Quite simply, it’s the best way to create a seamless soundfield, capable of fooling your senses - entirely! Careful examination and experimentation during the last 38 years has clearly proven the need for a totally accurate, immersive sonic presentation when evaluating (and enjoying) professionally created motion pictures, television, and audio recordings found on CD, SACD, DVD-Audio, and now Blu-Ray Discs and HD-DVD.

Audible details, both large and small, which are normally obscured when using typical speakers (and amplifiers), are completely fleshed out and palpable thanks to the Kipnis Studio Standard’s uniquely discrete 8.8 Surround Sound System. Consisting of 8 full range channels and 8 dedicated subwoofers and arrayed in an octagonal configuration, the sheer power, 3-dimensionality, palpability, and effortless of presentation sets a new benchmark in audio fidelity.

Most designers of professional and home theaters make due with the best speakers they can sell. I, however, only design systems around a “no compromise” approach to picture and sound fidelity. So the speakers I own and use, and the one’s I select for each client are specific the that particular installation of The Kipnis Studio Standard. But the quality of the sound reproduction remains uniformly benchmark, and significantly more realistic than anything you have probably heard before.

And while most cinema designers choose a ubiquitous shoe-box shape, which has many, many sonic and visual limitations, I sculpt the architecture to meet both your exacting visual and aesthetic requirements alongside my absolute dedication to create as immersive and realistic a perfect picture and sound experience as possible.

How is the sound quality of your cinema experience?

Track 2 - The Discotheque Affair

Gerald Fried / GPO

Film Score Monthly

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