Two years ago, Valencia, Calif.-based ATK Audiotek visited high-end amplifier company Powersoft at its headquarters in Florence, Italy. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the next generation of Powersoft amplifiers that were coming to market, which have since been launched as the X Series. But something else caught ATK’s Scott Harmala’s [CTO / VP of Engineering] attention during his visit as he glanced around the room: a Powersoft M-Drive amplifier module sitting on a shelf nearby, the most powerful ever built.
“We were already well aware of the efficiencies in Powersoft’s amplifier designs, but I don’t think we realized that Claudio’s [Lastrucci, Powersoft’s Research & Development Director] diversity and knowledge of design extended into transducers,” Harmala recalls. “That visit really opened my eyes and spawned an interesting idea for ATK — which has since transformed the way we are able to handle low-end effect for the programs and events we provide audio services for on a regular basis.”
ATK Audiotek, a pioneering audio services firm that has handled audio for the GRAMMY Awards for 15 years, was interested in achieving a more impactful low-frequency response in its loudspeaker systems, while shrinking the physical footprint of its travelling rig. After seeing the Powersoft M-System in Florence and learning more about it, ATK realized the potential efficiencies it could bring to bear on its loudspeaker infrastructure. The ATK team proceeded to work alongside Powersoft engineers and audio consultant Mario DiCola to develop an eight-box prototype to firmly establish proof of concept. Each cabinet contained a Powersoft M-Drive amp module, along with a 30” cone.
One of the first proving grounds for the new low-end powerhouse was the popular American television series ‘The X-Factor’. “We used two of the M-Drive modules strategically placed to couple the low end energy into the floor, reinforcing the impact for the audience,” recalls Harmala. “The result was a very controlled low-end response, unlike what you might normally expect.” The ‘souped up’ system almost immediately caught the attention of guest engineers, who were overseeing the audio for high profile visiting artists. “Everyone was pretty shocked at the amount of low-end we were pushing out — yet it was very tight rather than a round, ‘wollowy’ sound which most people are used to hearing.”
After more successful prototype tests in the field, Harmala and his team were able to not only evaluate the M-Drive driven loudspeakers subjectively, but could also provide an empirical assessment. “In terms of raw SPL output, there were a couple of things we noticed,” He says. “When compared with conventional double 18” boxes that we have in our inventory, it would take just one of the new prototype boxes to deliver a similar low-end effect that three of the conventional boxes would otherwise require. Therefore, with M-Drive amp modules, you get a lot more low-end density for the amount of volume in the box. As a result, you either need fewer boxes to do the job, or if you maintain the same number of boxes, you now have a lot more low end to a work with.”
Harmala notes that in music environments featuring EDM and other low frequency intense event programming, there is significant advantage to deploying the M-Drive since it can be challenging to achieve an ample degree of low-end frequency response. “We think there is a lot of merit to this technology and are committed to investing into ideas that we think will work for our specific event applications,” says Harmala. “Nowadays, when we do a lot of trucking, fitting everything we need into the truck is really important. By using more efficient technology like the Powersoft M-System, we can pack more into our trucks and utilize fewer trucks for larger shows.”
Inspired Innovations on the Horizon
Currently, ATK is developing a new loudspeaker that integrates the M-System into a smaller and lighter form factor, optimized for handling, transportation and flying. “The new boxes we are working on will be used as large, deployed clusters that will be done in end-firing, cardioid and conventionally hung configurations,” he explains. “We will be able to fly these in various locations and also pack them in a truck. They are significantly smaller and lighter than the 30” cone prototypes we’ve been working with, yet have an equivalent low frequency reach and sonic impact. The M-System has enabled us to get so much more technology in a smaller package.”
With the development of M-System, ATK is able to draw from — and become inspired by — what is possible in the future for the deployment of its large event systems. “The M-Drive achieves efficiency levels that are simply unheard of,” Harmala concludes. “Currently, there is nobody even in the ballpark compared to Powersoft when it comes to efficiency. These transducers deliver such a tight low-end and dampened effect that it is hard to understand.” Harmala also believes there are efficiencies embedded into the M-System’s price tag as well: “If you look at the cost, it seems expensive. But if you look at what it actually replaces, it becomes quite economical and therefore financially efficient.”
For more information on the Powersoft M-Force, please visit http://www.powersoft-audio.com/en/oem-solutions/m-force - series