The sE Munro Egg 150 two-way nearfield was finally made available in November last year
March 2012 l 31
Egg-ing each other on?
The Egg and The Boulder are among a spate of newly-introduced studio monitors to break fresh ground both technologically and aesthetically. Could it be an increasingly ‘squeezed middle’ market that helps to explain this latest wave of innovation, wonders David Davies?
RAPID ADOPTION and an almost dizzying pace of development have ensured that it is to digital consoles and networking technology that the ‘I’ word – ‘innovation’ – has been most frequently appended in recent years. But creativity in another key area of the pro-audio landscape – the studio monitor – has hardly been dormant, with manufacturers of various sizes and heritages immersing themselves in extended bouts of R&D in order to deliver some strikingly bold creations. As Andy Munro – Munro Acoustics’ founder and a driving force behind the sE Electronics- manufactured The Egg monitor – observes, it is “more a question of evolution” than revolution. But the overriding tendencies are clear: “There is a demand for smaller but still powerful boxes. We aim to ensure the best sound that we can, but there has to be a constraint on that, which is cost.
For example, there is no point designing a nearfield which costs £10,000 – it’s not appropriate.” Plenty of companies are still
producing larger boxes suitable for large recording studios, but the dwindling number of landmark facilities spells an enhanced focus on other areas of the studio scene: project, producer and, in particular, post. Fragmentation of this kind heralds its fair share of challenges, but if anything they appear to be encouraging manufacturers towards new heights of creativity as they strive to create points of difference in what is – to employ la phrase du jour – an increasingly ‘squeezed middle’.
NO CHICKEN, ALL EGG Munro Acoustics founder Andy Munro has more than 20 years’ experience of studio monitor design to his credit, and – like most of his previous ventures – his latest project started with one central, striking notion. “For a few years, I had had this idea of building a speaker without any corners,” he explains. “I commissioned some original research which involved experimentation with lots of different shapes. The only one that didn’t have any diffraction at all was the curved one.”
As Munro readily allows,
developing a monitor is an expensive business, in terms of both time and resources. The link-up with sE Electronics, then, was crucial: “I wouldn’t have done it without them. Just to make the modelling tools costs about £50,000, so you don’t go into [a project like this] without a fairly large manufacturing scale in mind.”
The result of Munro/sE’s
collective labours, the sE Munro Egg 150 two-way nearfield, was finally made available in November. A unique monocoque shell construction, ‘near zero’ diffraction interference, and ‘no internal standing waves’ are among the features of a versatile monitor that – in keeping with Munro’s long-held philosophy about the detrimental impact of
“As rooms and budgets get smaller, the need for large monitors has dwindled,
[meaning that speakers] such as The Boulder are quite often considered and would be used as a main monitor in conjunction perhaps with a two- way nearfield” Kevin Walker, Unity Audio
Even so, there were plenty of challenges along the way, with the identification of appropriate drivers proving to be especially protracted. “We had to find the ideal combination of the Egg driver sizes and the types of driver,” says Munro. “We must have gone through at least 50 different drivers before we found the one that really matches the characteristics we wanted.”
onboard power (it takes up valuable air volume, he says) – delivers amplification and control via a separate free-standing unit with 3m matched speaker cables. Despite the arduous work
involved, Munro believes that “sometimes you have a bit of luck. I’ve never had a speaker get such a good reaction.” User feedback has highlighted various strengths, but the most