Head of R&D at Acoustic Energy for 13 years, and then responsible for creating its professional division, Steve Phillips has launched his own specialist loudspeaker operation – SP Acoustics. First products offered are the SP1 Signature Speakers and the SP1M Studio monitors. And there are more in the pipeline.
“All our products are based on an infinite baffle design; giving a purist low frequency response with astonishing detail, timing and clarity,” says Phillips. “This design has been out of fashion for many years with designers opting for the more artificial ported (or reflex) topology; trading LF boost for distortion, bass delay and faster LF roll off.”
Regarding his departure from Acoustic Energy, Phillips explains: “I had a great year setting up the pro division and launching the AE22 near-field monitors and getting back in to the professional market that I used to know well when I was a studio engineer. However, just as I was about to proclaim AE Pro a great success, the CEO decided to dispense with my services. It is hard to put a positive spin on this so I generally just say I was made redundant.
“After leaving Acoustic Energy, I came to the decision that there wasn’t a speaker manufacturer that I actually wanted to work for. I didn’t want to have my ideas diluted and distorted by another CEO or MD in to what they thought a speaker should look or sound like.”
He continues: “I have seen so many designs compromised due to constraints imposed by marketing or sales departments. I wanted to have the freedom to create products that excel, that are big because they need to be big and not scaled down so that a dealer can get more on his shop floor; so that a customer looking for a monitor or speaker can find one that has not been compromised in audio quality to help pay for the shiny coat of lacquer on the cabinet. Where as much investment has been made in the inner workings of the crossovers and drive units as in the wood veneer and shiny floor spikes.”
All SP Acoustics products are hand made to order and expensive. “We use the best components that we can and every stage is monitored and controlled from the in-house cabinet assembly through to the pair matching of crossover components,” says Phillips. “Our SP1M studio monitors are built and tested in pairs, run for 100 hours and then tested again before shipping out to our customers.”
Although the speaker marketplace is full of innovative designs from mainstream and esoteric speaker companies, Phillips believes his products offer something special. “The accuracy and speed of our Infinite baffle designs combined with the latest in electro-acoustic components and 15 years experience voicing speakers, plus our unashamed drive to use the best components available, add up to produce speakers of unrivalled accuracy. They are tools that the best engineers in the business will have the confidence to use again and again.”
SP is targeting both the professional studio and high-end hi-fi sectors. “We are at the opposite end of the market place to the Acoustic Energy AE22s but we do not need to sell in large quantities to make this work for us. The physical size as well as the price of the SP1Ms limits our customer base but we would rather have a small quantity of specialist customers and support them to the best of our abilities to ensure that they get the best out of our products.”