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sE’s Egg: speaker design in a nutshell

In this week's report, Phil Ward takes a trip to London's Strongroom to talk to sE Electronics' James Young and have a listen to The Egg studio monitors in action.

Last week sE Electronics director and founder of Sonic Distribution James Young led a series of demos at London’s ubercool Strongroom Studios, showing the first fruits of a radical joint venture with acoustics legend Andy Munro. The Egg is a new range of studio monitors with domestic potential, the result of a rethink of the very structure of both the enclosures and the electronics. Phil Ward caught up with Young at the studio… What does this ‘rethink’ boil down to? “The shape is both aesthetically and technically thought through. It will stand out from the crowd in the marketplace and attract higher listening attention, but also works in our favour acoustically: it’s a resonant-neutral enclosure. Without parallel surfaces it resonates equally and randomly in all directions. To preserve this integrity the crossovers and amplification are supplied separately, but we did think it was essential to go active and ensure that the amplification would always be optimized for the speakers. Inside, there’s a series of interleaved struts to add rigidity and damp down any vibrations that might crop up. It sounded absolutely fantastic as soon as we put the drivers in.” How did this relationship with Andy Munro first hatch? “I approached him about three years ago to discuss acoustic treatment products, at first. But during conversations it emerged that he felt he’d come to the end of his ‘life cycle’ with Dynaudio Acoustics, and wanted to take his manufacturing concerns in a different direction. Specifically, he was – and is – unimpressed by the industry’s zeal for digitally controlled monitoring, complete with automatic room correction and all the other software-driven developments in the lower and middle markets. Like me, he believes we should use our ears and build monitors accordingly, even at entry level, with analogue circuitry and without over-relying on DSP.” So you’ve poached him for a really juicy joint venture? “Absolutely. At Frankfurt last year we’d just signed an agreement to work on three sets of monitors, but there was no R&D at that stage. Just two weeks later, Andy came over to our offices in the UK with some drawings. That’s when the Egg concept first came to light. It is, however, a collaboration between Andy and Siwei Zou, the microphone designer and CEO of sE Electronics – hence the brand name ‘sE Munro’. It combines Andy’s acoustical genius with Siwei’s amazing ability to take an idea and make it into reality.” I take it there’s a mad scramble to supply dealers? “The orders are stacking up already. They’ll go through exactly the same network as our microphones, mostly, but we’re also going to branch into consumer markets with these models. I think we’ve really got a crossover product, here.” They sounded good. I think you’ve cracked it… “I really think so, and there’s more to come. The mid-level set we have here at Strongroom is ready now, and will be followed by a higher-end set an a lower-end set – at least.”