“We are foolish enough to believe that if we study and practice hard enough, we may discover real artistic solutions to acoustic problems.” (Richard Shahinian)
Shahinian loudspeakers flout conventional wisdom at every available opportunity. Bi-wire connections? Not here. Spiked feet? Another no. Drive units facing the listener? Only if the listener happens to be suspended from the ceiling. Parallelpiped cabinets? Don’t be silly!
Unlike many (most?) audio companies, Richard Shahinian makes no secret that his speaker designs are based on, and developed further from, ideas from many of the audio pioneers – Olsen, Hegeman, Bailey, etc. But Shahinian speakers are not mere copies of old ideas and designs. The application of ideas are original, and the execution of these ideas are unique.
Richard Shahinian’s main philosophical point regarding loudspeaker design, which permeates throughout his speaker designs, is that of musical waveshapes. “Since all sonic wave forms [ie, from musical instruments] are radial in origin,” you need to reproduce the music in the same way.
Shahinian build poly-directional dynamic loudspeakers featuring unusual geometry. Each product has an individual identity and voice. Most of us are familiar with traditional point-source loudspeakers. These use forward facing drivers (tweeters and woofers) designed to be aimed at your listening position. This directionality creates a clear stereo effect, often referred to as ‘the sweet spot.’ Poly-directional speakers don’t produce a sweet spot, but instead radiate a spherical sound pattern (imagine ripples on a pond). This sonic trick is achieved by having speaker drivers which face in multiple directions.
The results are simply stunning, but let’s not just hear what we think of them. Here’s what Malcom stewart has to say about the Shahinian Compass; “what is harder to articulate, but which represents the most crucial factor, is the Shahinians’ ability to knit all the instruments’ and players’ individual sounds and performances together so compellingly and utterly persuasively, something it does with ease and completely without artifice. If one listens to many hi-fi components, one often detects a quality that can only be described as plasticky; they create a sense that one is definitely listening to a CD or LP, an artificial and mechanical fabrication of the original performance. The Compass comes tantalisingly close to allowing one to suspend disbelief utterly and allow oneself to accept as true, if only for a fleeting moment or several, that the musicians are actually with you in the room”