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Status Acoustics Titus 8T Floorstanding Speaker System Design Overview

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In order to truly appreciate the engineering marvel that the Status Acoustics 8T modular tower speaker system is, it's necessary to break down all of its various components.

The BracketStatus_bracket.jpg

Probably the most important and time-consuming aspect of the design that allows the 8T to work successfully as a modular system is the bracket. The bracket allows the top satellite module housing the midrange and tweeter to be suspended above the bass module in a manner that isolates them from each other acoustically, yet creates a striking visual appearance where the top section appears to “float” above the bass module when viewed from the front. This was no small feat, given the fact that the satellite speaker being suspended weighs 135 lbs.

Project Manager Allen Lewis and loudspeaker Design Engineer Shane Rich spent many hours over the last few years bouncing ideas off each other, and discussing how they could design a modular system which would improve on the one-piece design concept they originally had. A new modular design would help address production issues and, at the same time, make the speaker easier to ship. This was a relief to me as, had Status Acoustics instead proceeded with a one piece design, I would have never been able to review it.

The bracket had to be hollow, rigid, and inert in order to not transfer any mechanical vibrations. It also needed to serve as a conduit for the jumper cable connecting the bass and satellite modules. While this could be accomplished with any cable of your choice, Status Acoustics paired up with Kimber Kable to design a specific 7 foot jumper based on their Monocle speaker cable. This optional accessory will run you a cool $1000, which may be the most expensive jumper cable ever conceived, but it really dresses up the speaker nicely and provides the snuggest lowest resistance connection possible.

The Cabinetsinside_satellite.jpg

In all my years reviewing loudspeakers, I've never seen more rigidly constructed cabinets. The satellite module is so dense and heavy that you know, just from picking it up, that this is no ordinary speaker. A knock test reveals a deadening thud, almost like you're rapping on a solid slab of granite. Peering inside the satellite speaker, I began to understand why this was the case. Status Acoustics utilized a proprietary method of bonding multiple layers of 1” HDF to effectively make a solid cabinet. This expensive process gives the 8T its unique look while also allowing the cabinet wall thickness to be varied without the limits typically imposed by traditional panel construction, allowing for more extensive internal bracing. The end result of this method is cabinets that are more acoustically inert for optimum sound quality. Cabinet panel resonances are greatly reduced with this design, resulting in superior definition throughout the mid and bass frequency range.

status_bracing.jpgFor the satellite cabinet, each driver is completely isolated inside their own chambers. This isn't done via cheap plastic cups like with lesser designed speakers. These are effectively solid wood chambers bored out from the multiple bonded HDF layers customized for each driver. This is done not only to physically and mechanically separate each driver but to reduce standing waves in the chambers. In addition, there are no parallel walls inside the cavities, which further reduces standing waves. In conjunction with this no holds barred construction method, Status Acoustics employed special damping materials to greatly reduce backwave energy which would ordinarily radiate back through the cone of the driver.

The subwoofer module has a spacious 5.5 ft^3 internal volume shared among the three bass drivers which also has non-parallel walls to reduce standing waves. A special damping compound (which Status says is superior to polyfil and fiberglass due to a higher absorption coefficient at bass frequencies) amply fills the enclosure to absorb acoustic backwave energy and in effect causes the bass drivers to see an even larger enclosure which extends the systems usable frequency response.

The Status 8T bass modules are 4th order rear vented enclosures using large flares on both ends of the 4” diameter ports each about 18” in length. The ports are dimpled similar to the ports of upper end B&W speakers to further reduce turbulence. Having multiple bass drivers and multiple surfaces of radiation allows for increased modal density which produces more uniform bass loading into the room compared to a single driver design with the port on the same face as the driver.

                                           

Status_ports.jpg

Status 8T Bass Module with Dual 4” Dimpled Ports

The front and back cabinet baffles for both the bass and satellite modules are quite unique. They are made of an acrylic polymer which has superior acoustic damping properties compared to wood baffles. By using the combination of materials (acrylic polymer baffles combined with layered HDF in the cabinets) this virtually eliminates colorations caused by cabinet resonances.

This speaker employs many of the methods we discussed in: Identifying Legitimately High Fidelity Loudspeakers - Cabinets Myths & Facts and Detailed Loudspeaker Cabinet Bracing.

finishes.jpg

Status Acoustics Cabinet Finish Options

in all my years of reviewing loudspeakers, I've never seen more rigidly constructed cabinets...

Cabinet Finish Options

Status Acoustics offers over 30 real wood veneers with a clear lacquer finish. They even offer a premium carbon fiber finish that adds a whopping $15k estimated price increase. But this shouldn't come at a surprise to any exotic car loving fans wanting their favorite car in this type of finish. My review samples were finished in Classic Mahogany.

The Driver Topology

The Status 8T system employs an MMTMM driver arrangement which basically sandwiches a tweeter between the vertically oriented midrange drivers. Status Acoustics takes this traditional design approach up a notch by incorporating an additional top and bottom midrange driver which improves control of vertical dispersion, lowers system distortion and increases dynamic range. All of this can be attributed to how the speaker system produces a more palatable sense of realism which I will discuss further in the listening portion of this review. It's been my experience that a vertical MTM sounds more natural, dynamic and lifelike than a conventional MT driver alignment. This type of driver arrangement allows for more control over floor and ceiling room reflections and provides a higher ratio of direct vs. reflected sound at the listening position. In a very basic sense, multiple vertical oriented drivers operating in the same frequency range behave as if they were a single larger driver of their combined dimensions. Therefore in the vertical plane, the Status 8T has the vertical dispersion characteristic of a huge driver, which is also very narrow. Hence there is very little midrange energy going up to the ceiling or down to the floor and therefore, those destructive, detail-smearing reflections are minimized.

Status Acoustics chose to make the satellite portion of the 8T system a two-way design. They claim it sounds more cohesive with a high quality two-way crossover as opposed to a 2.5-way network. A two-way crossover does not have the additional phase shift between drivers you would get with a comparable 2.5-way network.

Status_front.jpg           Status_grilles.jpg

                                     Status Acoustics Titus 8T Front View (left pic: no grilles; right pic: with grilles)Status_grilles2.jpg

The left above image shows off the beauty of the drivers of the Status 8T system with the grille covers removed. The acrylic polymer baffle not only aids in performance aspects of the speaker but adds a touch of class to the product commensurate with RBH Sound's “Status” series nomenclature. The right above image shows how equally beautiful the 8T system looks with its magnetic grilles in place. However, any serious audiophile will keep these babies naked for critical listening as well as showcasing the product to visiting friends.

Status Acoustics 8T Grille Covers

The grilles of the Status Acoustics 8T towers are quite impressive. They are constructed of HDF tightly covered with low-loss grille material and well-braced for rigidity. There are a total of 24 high strength neodymium magnets integrated into the front baffles and grilles for each speaker which makes for a very firm and immediate connection if you hold the grille within a few inches from the front baffle. The grilles remain in perfect alignment with the front baffle even if you give them quite a tug.

The Bass Drivers

Each Status 8T bass module comes loaded with three (3) 10” high excursion aluminum cone subwoofer drivers. These drivers feature a 2.5” voice coil and 12.5 lbs heavy duty motor structure with a vented pole piece and aluminum former with the leads sewn into the cone to prevent breaking. The aluminum cone serves as a heatsink to increase power handling. The driver employs a 2.5” diameter 1.3” voice coil and has a 1” peak linear travel. The bumped backplate design eliminates the possibility of bottoming out the driver under heavy excursion.

I torture-tested these subs by running them as the left/right main channels fullrange while directing bass to them from the LFE channel and ALL channels (center + surrounds) set to "small".  On bass intense Blu-rays at above reference levels in my large room, I was unable to bottom the drivers or cause any serious audible distress. In fact, I ran out of available amplifier power from my Classe CT-2300 amp (600 watt+ @ 4-ohms) while the Status drivers were still hungry to pump out more SPL's.

 Status_10-inch_Woofer.JPG   Status_BRY_Woofer.JPG

Status 10" Aluminum Woofer (left pic); Status 6.5" Beryllium Midrange (right pic)

The Midrange Drivers

Each Status 8T satellite module features four (4) 6½” Beryllium/Aluminum phase plug drivers. The driver basket is a high quality cast aluminum (no cheap stamped metal parts here). Employing Beryllium in the cone improves on aluminum by offering a stiffer, lighter-weight cone with a less pronounced breakup mode that is shifted further beyond the bandwidth in which the driver is being used. Energy storage retention is also reduced. Youngs modulus (a measure of stiffness) is higher with Beryllium, meaning the cone will flex less under stress. The Beryllium alloy cone also produces a more linear transition in the stopband for smoother integration between the drivers. The phase plug reduces moving mass and on-axis beaming and also serves as a heat sink and, to a smaller extent, offers venting for the voice coil. There is also a rubber stopper affixed to the cone to further reduce air turbulence through the gap. A lot of engineering went into this driver, and it certainly shows in droves in performance (see our measurements later). Employing four of these drivers in the design not only expands the soundstage but also assures effortless dynamics in the midrange at all power levels.

The Tweeter

Each Status 8T satellite module features the new Scan-Speak Illuminator Model 6640 tweeter sandwiched in between the midrange drivers. Scan-Speak's unique AirCirc Magnet System optimizes air flow within the chamber by rearranging the traditional magnet structure from a single magnet to an open magnetic circuit comprised of six separate neodymium slugs. This, in combination with the chamber, is said to eliminate the reflections and resonances that compromise the performance of traditional motors. 

                                          

beryllium_tweet.jpg

Scan-Speak 6640 Beryllium Illuminator Tweeter

The 6640 is arguably the finest-sounding dome tweeter on the market, but at a spendy $500 per driver, it's also one of the most expensive. The 6640 has excellent power handling, frequency response and distortion specs compared to the equivalent fabric dome from Scan-Speak. The Beryllium version is said to offer higher resolution, and lower distortion. This is a true Beryllium driver, not a cheap knock off aluminum dome coated in Beryllium for marketing purposes. In my torture tests, I was shocked at just how much power these tweeters could absorb, never losing composure or sounded strained no matter the source or listening level.

There is a 3rd party write up comparing both tweeters (with measurements) here: http://www.audioexcite.com/?p=1953

The Crossover Network

With such a large array of drivers comes a sophisticated crossover network to control it all. Based on my listening tests and measurements, I was actually quite flabbergasted at how well Status Acoustics managed to integrate all of the drivers using passive networks.

The subwoofers in the bass module utilize their natural rolloff for several octaves before employing a 2nd order electrical lowpass filter. This allows for the best possible integration between the bass and satellite modules. The midrange drivers use an asymmetric bandpass filter to effectively filter bass frequencies for increased dynamic range while also seamlessly integrating with the tweeter. The tweeter utilizes a 4th order HPF @ 2500Hz. This ensures increased power handling and better integrates the tweeter with the summed response from the midrange drivers.

 

xover.jpg           mid_xover.jpg

Status Acoustics Crossovers: Tweeter HPF Left Pic; Midrange BPF (Right Pic)

xover_parts.jpg

LPF Bass Module on a schnazzy background

The 8T crossover network employs some of the finest components available, regardless of price. Ultra high quality Jensen foil inductors are used in the network to minimize losses and ensure uncompressed sound at any power level since the coils will NOT saturate within the output capabilities of the loudspeakers. High voltage, tight tolerance Kimber and Solen polypropylene capacitors are used throughout the network. You won't find any electrolytic capacitors in this baby.

The subwoofer inductor is a large 2.5 mH 14AWG toroidal core with very high power handling and extremely low DCR (handles 700 Watts continuous at 500Hz where the speaker is already rolled off). This ensures no saturation at all within bandwidth used at any power level.

Although the midrange crossover pictured above shows a stack of ceramic resistors, the actual product crossover of the Status 8T system uses no resistors in the network at all. Status engineers were able to completely eliminate the need for resistors during the final design phase after upgrading the damping material and doing final testing. Because there are no resistors used in the crossovers that are in series with the drivers, there is no chance of compression caused by overheating of resistive elements at high power levels.

The Status 8T speakers are all internally wired with approximately 50ft of Kimber 4TC high performance speaker cable. Given the number of drivers that are driven in parallel in the speaker system, the net harness size is equivalent to a 5AWG conductor.

The crossover networks are all point-to-point soldered to minimize losses by providing the least resistive path with the fewest connection points between components. All of the crossovers are hand-built by their senior techs and special care is taken to ensure components are properly soldered directly together vs. through a PCB.

Status Acoustics engineers considered offering an active crossover network for the 8T system but found there to be no discernible benefit in doing so given the high quality of parts and meticulous design of the passive networks.

The Speaker Connection Scheme

A total of 16 WBT Platinum binding posts are used for each pair of speakers. Combined with the Kimber Kable 4TC internal wiring, that's over $2,600 worth of cables and terminals for this speaker system alone! The WBT platinum connectors are unlike any other speaker connector we've seen. Crafted like fine jewelry, their function is simple, providing the best possible connection between the speaker and the speaker cable. They allow you to lock down spade-terminated speaker cables and banana plugs simultaneously to each connector by simply twisting the dual independent barrels.

There are two sets of binding posts for the satellite module and two sets for the bass module as well. The bottom terminals of the bass module are used as inputs from the amplifier and the top terminals serve as the HPF to the satellite system... Well, at least in my pair. Status Acoustics later informed me that they decided to move the HPF to the satellite module to offer more connection options for those desiring to use this speaker system for dual two-channel and multi-channel applications. So production units now see the top and bottom terminals of the bass module as completely isolated which can be jumpered via the included WBT straps for a single amp connection or the top terminals of the bass module can be used as a secondary input in conjunction with the custom designed Kimber Monocle jumper cable to the satellite module for bi-amping.

Status_terminals.jpg           Status_terminals_bott2.jpg

Status Acoustics 8T Satellite Terminals (left pic) Bass Module Terminals (Right pic)

Listed below are some possible connection scenarios the customer may configure their 8T system depending on their application.  You can skip this portion of the review and come back to it as a reference when you get ready to connect your pair into your system :)

Single Amp Mode:

In a single amp configuration, you can simply jumper the top and bottom terminal connections of the satellite speaker with the bottom terminals of the bass module. The amplifier then gets connected to the bottom terminals of the bass module only leaving no connection to the top terminals of the bass module. For an optional $1000, the customer can purchase a custom built Kimber cable jumper (based on the Monocle design) that properly connects the 8T speaker in this fashion.

Bi-Amp Mode:

In Bi-amp mode, the user attaches one amp to the top connections of the bass module and jumpers it to the top/bottom terminals of the satellite speakers while feeding the second amp to the bottom terminals of the bass module. The first amp will power the satellite speaker while the second amp would power the bass module in this connection scheme.

Tri-Amp Mode:

In Tri-amp mode the user attaches one amp to the top connections of the satellite module, a second amp to the bottom connections of the satellite module and the third amp to the bottom portion of the bass module leaving the top portion of the bass module unconnected. The first amp will power the tweeter, the second amp would power the midrange section and the third amp would power the bass module in this connection scheme.

Home Theater Mode:

In a home theater configuration, the user may wish to experiment with running the satellite module full-range as the main channels, and the bass modules as dedicated powered subwoofers. This can be accomplished by connecting an external amp to the bottom connections of each of the Status 8T bass modules fed directly to the A/V processor's subwoofer output/LFE channel. It can be advantageous to connect the Status 8T speaker like this if you want the sub channel and LFE info routed to the bass modules and/or if you are integrating other powered subs into your system, since all subs will now get identical signal and LFE info. The downside is that you can potentially compromise how the system integrates for critical two-channel operation, since it was designed to be played full-range with the internal passive crossover networks.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

haraldo posts on October 13, 2013 16:52
Rich Davis, post: 993231
I laughed for about 5 minutes after seeing that photograph. does the mfg of the test equipment instruct the user to move the speakers outdoors when performing those measurements? That's not a good methodology for testing a speaker, plus I would use the cables that the MFG recommends for their speakers when connecting to other components such as amps and pre amps. The reason is the mfg uses equipment/cables in their listening rooms when designing and testing their equipment, so they might have recommendations for obtaining similar test results.

It is insulting to my intelligence that a reviewer would take home audio speakers and move them outside to perform measurement tests. Every time I've been to an outdoor concert, wind has a HUGE factor on various frequencies, so I'm sure testing home audio systems outdoors is, well, kind of stupid, IMO. Aren't you supposed to use an anechoic chamber for those kinds of measurement tests instead?

The best way to measure speakers is probably in an anechoic chamber but the cost is prohibitive as in order to get good results way down in frequencies size of wedges and size of room must be enormous, I don't even comprehend what the cost is but it's probably way out of reach. lacking anechoic chamber, the outdoor testing is the only way to reliably measure a speaker I reckon, unless you want to measure the room modes and other influences of the room.

I guess Vandersteen Audio has facilities like this and for sure also Dunlavy Audio Labs used this as John Dunlavy could measure his speakers reliably in an anechoic chamber down below 20Hz…. I really don't see why Audhioholics should go the the step of putting so much money into this…. I believe what they do is industry leading and way better measurements than say… what they do in Stereophile, which is indoors at 50", many speakers don't integrate properly at such a short distance…. if Stereophile measures at bigger distance then room influence would take over…. There's been a wave of criticism from some manufacturers about this way of measuring, claiming that it just doesn't show reliably performance of some large array speakers…… I am not saying that it's this way or the other but just referring to what's been written and stated around Inet…

I reckon outdoors is way way better, Audioholics is the benchmark
gene posts on October 13, 2013 16:00
Rich Davis, post: 993231
I laughed for about 5 minutes after seeing that photograph. does the mfg of the test equipment instruct the user to move the speakers outdoors when performing those measurements? That's not a good methodology for testing a speaker, plus I would use the cables that the MFG recommends for their speakers when connecting to other components such as amps and pre amps. The reason is the mfg uses equipment/cables in their listening rooms when designing and testing their equipment, so they might have recommendations for obtaining similar test results.

It is insulting to my intelligence that a reviewer would take home audio speakers and move them outside to perform measurement tests. Every time I've been to an outdoor concert, wind has a HUGE factor on various frequencies, so I'm sure testing home audio systems outdoors is, well, kind of stupid, IMO. Aren't you supposed to use an anechoic chamber for those kinds of measurement tests instead?

I'll give you the benefit of a doubt seeing how you're a new member and obviously lacking in knowledge on measuring loudspeakers.

This speaker was measured both outdoors (for accuracy) and indoors (to see how they integrated into the room). The outdoor measurements most closely approximate an anechoic environment by removing all echos but the floor. A speaker this large would be difficult to measure anechoically even if we had access to a chamber due to its sheer size and capabilities down below 100Hz.

Outdoor measurements (aka, GP) are the best way to measure subwoofers which is not only an industry standard but it's also what we do. It has the advantage over anechoic since most anechoic chambers are too small and/or have insufficiently sized wedges to produce accurate results below 100Hz.

Hopefully you will will read up more on the subject matter before making such insulting and ignorant postings in the future.
fuzz092888 posts on October 13, 2013 15:12
Rich Davis, post: 993231
I laughed for about 5 minutes after seeing that photograph. does the mfg of the test equipment instruct the user to move the speakers outdoors when performing those measurements? That's not a good methodology for testing a speaker, plus I would use the cables that the MFG recommends for their speakers when connecting to other components such as amps and pre amps. The reason is the mfg uses equipment/cables in their listening rooms when designing and testing their equipment, so they might have recommendations for obtaining similar test results.

It is insulting to my intelligence that a reviewer would take home audio speakers and move them outside to perform measurement tests. Every time I've been to an outdoor concert, wind has a HUGE factor on various frequencies, so I'm sure testing home audio systems outdoors is, well, kind of stupid, IMO. Aren't you supposed to use an anechoic chamber for those kinds of measurement tests instead?

Outdoor testing is a perfectly viable way of gaining near anechoic measurements so long as you account for outdoor factors and don't test where it's noisy or on a windy day, gate your measurements appropriately, etc. If you don't know how to properly test speakers (based on your last sentence) then how can you criticize others on how it's being done? Besides, comparing being at an outdoor concert to what is being referenced is just silly. If you can't see why, then I'm not sure what to say.

As long as the cables aren't defective and are competently made they should perform near identically to higher priced cables. Although if you're buying these speakers I doubt you have any issue paying for Kimber Kable or the like.
Rich Davis posts on October 13, 2013 14:46
Why is there a test performed outdoors?

I laughed for about 5 minutes after seeing that photograph. does the mfg of the test equipment instruct the user to move the speakers outdoors when performing those measurements? That's not a good methodology for testing a speaker, plus I would use the cables that the MFG recommends for their speakers when connecting to other components such as amps and pre amps. The reason is the mfg uses equipment/cables in their listening rooms when designing and testing their equipment, so they might have recommendations for obtaining similar test results.

It is insulting to my intelligence that a reviewer would take home audio speakers and move them outside to perform measurement tests. Every time I've been to an outdoor concert, wind has a HUGE factor on various frequencies, so I'm sure testing home audio systems outdoors is, well, kind of stupid, IMO. Aren't you supposed to use an anechoic chamber for those kinds of measurement tests instead?
BoredSysAdmin posts on August 30, 2013 10:57
Weird, I clearly remember posting one of the first posts on this thread something like this: “Too bad Kimber cable interconnects weren't mentioned at all in the article” clearly referring to reoccurrence of Kimber brand 6 times on a single page.

Now I can't find that post anymore. hmmmm……
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