Going forward but cautiously
I'm sorry that I overlooked this thread.
Creative people are by nature never completely satisfied. The more you look at a photograph or painting or garden landscape the more suggestions pop up about how given a second chance you'd do things a little differently and better. The problem is that what may seem to the creator just a logical development or extension may prove otherwise, and a product evolutionary dead end. I'm reminded of the mad rush into tower-block housing in the 1960s. That ticked many boxes for housing density, best use of land area and economy of construction and affordability compared to the urban sprawl of individual residences that proceeded then for hundreds of years. It was of course an unmitigated disaster, not just in the UK but a disease that was exported to and blighted cities all over the world. That outcome seems blindingly obvious from today's perspective, yet at the time, not only were architects and developers championing this new wave but so were city councils and consumers. All were caught up in a short sighted wave of euphoria. And if that can occur in housing, such an important aspect of society, then it can and does happen in audio design very easily.
So, back to speaker design. To extract even a 1% improvement - or what I think we would universally agree would be a worthwhile step-up - is a massive undertaking given today's technology. That's not to say that in fifty years loudspeakers won't be more accurate, smaller, cheaper - I'm sure they will - but we are at the outer reaches of what today's technology can achieve. And if we are really honest, a technical plateau was reached across the entire speaker market perhaps twenty years ago and since then styling and marketing have been the dominant engine of creativity. There are one or two exceptions of real ingenuity but generally, there hasn't been much progress, and indeed discussions with a dealer this week who has good ears and a long experience says that he is rarely able to balance a glowing modern review of (non-Harbeth) speakers with the pitiful colored reality of what actually arrives at his store. So maybe the acoustic standard is regressing not progressing?
The odd thing is, that the technical measurement and simulation tools to design a good speaker have been around since DOS days, the late 80s, and I've used them since then. So if I can do it and turn-out a speaker that you like, why can't others using the same or similar tools? That's the mystery to me.
As I mentioned at the end of 2009, this year is Consolidation Year, specifically scanning my entire engineering archive to searchable PDFs and looking for those 1% golden nuggets buried in the data which I just can't see in the paper files. I now have hundreds of PDFs from the 13000 sheets scanned so far, plenty more to do, and have earmarked several potential avenues for exploration that I'd forgotten or overlooked. But until the whole paper mountain is digitised I have an open mind and I'm reluctant to undertake any design work at all. The four year P3ESR design utilised every trick I had up my sleeve.
P.S. Please, when imagining what I'm thinking or planning do remember that I sleep, have a family life (the not-so children are back here for the weekend), have many management duties running Harbeth, exercise, eat and sleep so my silence from time to time is nothing more than being busy! Now I must bake some bread (special request) before their wife/girlfriend wake up .......
Alan A. Shaw
Harbeth Audio UK