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Innovations: Martin Audio’s TORUS and DISPLAY 3

Martin Audio head Dom Harter discusses the new TORUS constant curvature array and DISPLAY 3 3D system design software.

Martin Audio’s new TORUS constant curvature array and DISPLAY 3 3D system design software.
Martin Audio’s new TORUS constant curvature array and DISPLAY 3 3D system design software.

This article originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of Pro Sound News. Innovations is a monthly column in which different pro audio manufacturers are invited to discuss the thought process behind creating their products of note.

Dom Harter
Dom Harter is the Managing Director of Martin Audio. He first stood behind an old Studiomaster desk with a pair of 802s in a church at age 14 and has been hooked on audio ever since. He studied Electronic Music and Electronics at university before going on to work for BSS, Turbosound and Soundcraft. He has been at the helm of Martin Audio since 2016.

It’s no secret that there has been a gap in the Martin Audio product line for a little while. We have always made excellent sounding point source speakers, but there is a limit to how far these can throw before the coverage and SPL is lost. Equally, the optimized coverage from our line arrays can be uneconomic for some smaller applications. Unfortunately, the top range of our point source solutions and the shorter throw of our line arrays do not really cross over, which meant that we didn’t have a solution that could suitably cover applications in the 50-100 foot range.

We have been working on filling that gap for a long time, but the process was really ramped up from 2018 onward. Launched in a special event earlier this year, TORUS is our answer. TORUS is a constant curvature array that offers two easily rigged fixed-angle cabinets. This makes it a cost-effective solution for many short to medium-throw applications, allowing the construction of vertical and horizontal arrays to cover well-defined areas, increasing the coverage in 15° or 30° cabinet increments.

TORUS may be Martin Audio’s first-ever constant curvature array, but we know that other people have been offering this kind of solution for a little while now. It would have been easy to just jump on the band wagon and offer a “me too” solution that would have plugged the gap much sooner, but that is not the way we like to do things. When we are creating a new product, we want to make sure that it offers something unique and furthers the achievable acoustic performance.

Typically, constant curvature arrays have adjustable horizontal dispersion, but their performance can vary considerably in terms of tonality and effectiveness of coverage when different dispersions are selected. Equally, many lack sufficient sensitivity in the mid-band frequency, critically important for voice projection and clarity. They can also suffer from comb filtering. It was these challenges that we wanted to overcome with TORUS.

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Each TORUS cabinet is designed for a wide horizontal pattern, and this can be manually adjusted between 90°, 60° or 75° (asymmetrical) via the unique Dynamic Horn Flare, which is directly accessible from the front grille. This not only moves and locks the waveguide, but also adjusts the horn mouth, including the low diffraction termination into the baffle, to ensure correct geometry and optimal performance.

We’ve increased mid-band sensitivity with a phase bung mounted in front of the 12” woofer. This increases the efficiency and allows a higher crossover frequency into the three 1” exit compression drivers, minimizing upper mid-band distortion whilst achieving the required headroom and throw.

The end result is one we think provides the best results for any application requiring even coverage up to 100 feet. We have worked really hard to make sure that TORUS is fit for touring and portable use, but equally that the grille design is smart, covering the horn to ensure it looks suitably discreet for permanent install.

Alongside the launch of TORUS, we have also significantly updated our prediction and optimization software into a new 3D platform that meets today’s demands. DISPLAY 3 is a desktop application that predicts direct acoustic field output from our loudspeakers. Again, this has been years in development, but is a real step change for our software.

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We took an Agile approach to the development of DISPLAY 3. Part of this was assigning multiple use case personas, then figuring out what they really need from the product. To start with, we focused on two main user personas—the first was our product support team, which needed an improved way of helping customers with design and installation, and the second was a typical Project Manager in the installation sector. We have found that being clear about who you are making software for is essential. As an example, we have built-in very close integration with SketchUp in the first release of DISPLAY 3. We know installation specialists are comfortable with SketchUp, so we prioritized integration via its API, and this has provided seamless 3D venue entry.

DISPLAY 3 is more than just generating pretty pictures by conveniently ignoring source characteristics such as phase and diffraction. Getting the data right in the right places is difficult. A guiding principle in the design was to prevent information-overload. Logical workflows are mapped via the generation of user stories in close collaboration with our product support team. A series of contexts effectively filter the world, leaving the user unencumbered by visual clutter.

Both of these releases highlight the resilience and strength of the team at Martin Audio as we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve had a proactive approach and continued to invest in R&D. The introduction of TORUS enables Martin Audio to compete in more applications, and DISPLAY 3 will develop further to be a leading 3D design and prediction software that enhances the working lives of installation and live event professionals all over the world.