As Crestron began rolling out its latest amplifiers, the team decided to produce speakers that could really shine given the increase in power that the DM NAX™ line can deliver. As it has with other solutions in the past, Crestron looked to partner with a company with decades of experience in the field — and landed on Origin Acoustics. The two big drivers behind that decision: quality of build and ease of installation.
“Origin changed the game a few years ago with their unique ‘bayonet ring’ assembly, which greatly simplifies the speaker install process,” says Ekin Binal, director of product management for AV solutions at Crestron. Beyond that convenience, Binal and his colleagues wanted a speaker that could, in his words, “hang with the new amps.” “We loved the existing models from Origin, but it was always important for us to differentiate the Crestron models,” he adds. “We reconstructed them from scratch utilizing unique speaker driver components that could meet the demanding needs of our audio products and use cases.” That work yielded two new lines from the Crestron/Origin partnership, Reference and Ultimate speakers.
After seeing some competitors offering dozens of speakers at different price points — often all for the same size cutout — Crestron sought to simplify things for the customer. “We made a conscious decision to provide two lines: An excellent baseline offering at a competitive price — our Reference — and a no-compromise offering as a premium solution, the Ultimate,” Binal says. “The Ultimate differentiates further by featuring ceramic coated aluminum dome tweeters,” he adds. “These can handle even more power (specifically, 200W continuous and 400W peak) due to the rigidity of this exotic material. For the woofers that drive the lower frequencies, we leveraged carbon fiber material for the ultimate in strength and flexibility.”
Marine in Mind
Binal notes that the Ultimate speakers were built with the marine industry in mind. “What this means is that all products with the ‘-AW’ suffix in the model name are designed for all weather conditions,” he notes. “These speakers are meant to withstand harsh environments and salt. We went the extra mile to ensure our connectors, finishes, and screws are all designed to last — this is highlighted by the speakers’ IP66 rating protecting against ingress of dust and water.”
There are a variety of uses for the Reference line, too. “For a superyacht installation, an integrator might specify Reference speakers for internal use — cabins and the like — and the Ultimate line for external use in common areas,” says Director of Crestron Marine Daniel Kerkhof. “A unique feature of our offering is the fact everything fits in the same installation bayonet, which makes the integration process much easier for the shipyard and the installers.” There’s a further advantage, says Kerkhof: “If you look at the series-build yachts — which are often built on speculation — a major advantage of this single installation bayonet is that the yard will be able to upgrade to the higher quality line of speakers very easily. An audio upgrade is one of the ‘most-sold’ upgrades to a speculation build series yacht,” says Kerkhof.
Placement and Power
Beyond environmental factors, these speakers were also designed for top performance in the tight spaces common to marine integrations. “This is why we had a hard requirement to ensure four-inch (100mm) or less depth profiles,” says Binal. “Our lineup of Reference and Ultimate speakers all subscribe to this requirement, even with our new Ultimate In-Wall Dual 8” subwoofer, which can handle 400 watts, can rumble down to 30Hz, and has a remarkable depth of only 3.74 inches,” he adds.
Crestron’s speaker solutions also lend themselves well to installation where sound isolation is important. “The high-end vessels have incredible workmanship, and there is a significant focus on ensuring that cabins are as isolated from engine and environmental noise as possible,” says Binal. “This works out to our advantage because, in some cases, those spaces are even more conducive to high-quality acoustics than your traditional home.”
Any audio solution in a superyacht also needs to be able to handle the power glitches and spikes that may turn up in various ports of call, and Crestron’s amplifier technology handles that. “Some of our innovations include protection against conditions with high inrush currents, among other factors,” says Binal. The new amps carry no less than four new patents that can handle a variety of power concerns before a signal ever gets to a speaker.
Of course, Crestron is ready to pitch in should any questions arise. “The expertise and support from the Crestron organization we’ve provided for other solutions can now also be leveraged for all the speakers you need onboard,” says Kerkhof. “Building superyachts is complex, and this is just one more thing our partners can now take off the list of things to worry about during a build.”