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Author Topic: Who made the first decent professional cinema subwoofer?  (Read 18285 times)

Michael 'Bink' Knowles

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Who made the first decent professional cinema subwoofer?
« on: March 30, 2008, 04:55:18 am »

I know Cerwin Vega constructed the Sensurround subwoofers in '73 and '74 for the movie "Earthquake" but those Universal-designed boxes only reproduced a simple triggered noise track. What about subwoofers that were expected to reproduce music and actual sound effects? Who made the first ones?

-Bink
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Michael 'Bink' Knowles
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Who made the first decent professional cinema subwoofer?
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2008, 10:03:40 am »

Michael 'Bink' Knowles wrote on Sun, 30 March 2008 04:55

I know Cerwin Vega constructed the Sensurround subwoofers in '73 and '74 for the movie "Earthquake" but those Universal-designed boxes only reproduced a simple triggered noise track. What about subwoofers that were expected to reproduce music and actual sound effects? Who made the first ones?

-Bink
I think Meyer made the R2? as a response to the bad performance of the  CV Sensurround system. The Meyer site doesn't name them, and says they were developed for "Apocalypse Now"

Mac
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Michael 'Bink' Knowles

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Re: Who made the first decent professional cinema subwoofer?
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2008, 01:54:24 pm »

Mac Kerr wrote on Sun, 30 March 2008 07:03

Michael 'Bink' Knowles wrote on Sun, 30 March 2008 04:55

I know Cerwin Vega constructed the Sensurround subwoofers in '73 and '74 for the movie "Earthquake" but those Universal-designed boxes only reproduced a simple triggered noise track. What about subwoofers that were expected to reproduce music and actual sound effects? Who made the first ones?

-Bink
I think Meyer made the R2? as a response to the bad performance of the  CV Sensurround system. The Meyer site doesn't name them, and says they were developed for "Apocalypse Now"

Mac



At the bottom of Meyer's 650-R2 Operating Instructions there's a printed date of September 1994. I wonder how much earlier the product came out... I think I was using R2s as early as 1992.

Did barrier strip termination exist for the R2?

-Bink
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Michael 'Bink' Knowles
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Who made the first decent professional cinema subwoofer?
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2008, 02:06:09 pm »

Michael 'Bink' Knowles wrote on Sun, 30 March 2008 13:54

At the bottom of Meyer's 650-R2 Operating Instructions there's a printed date of September 1994. I wonder how much earlier the product came out... I think I was using R2s as early as 1992.
I may be wrong, but the sub I remember reading about came before the 650. I thought is was just called "R2", and it was deeper than it was wide. It was developed for cinema use, and the paper I remember reading talked about how they made them sound louder by adding some distortion.

Mac
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Craig Hauber

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Re: Who made the first decent professional cinema subwoofer?
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2008, 02:18:43 pm »

I'm guessing JBL, but Altec could have too.
They had those super-loose 18's in reflex boxes out before the '80's and were definitely in the theater-cabinet product line and were not intended as the primary low frequency device below the 2"
-Also EV and their TL series.





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Antone Atmarama Bajor

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Re: Who made the first decent professional cinema subwoofer?
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2008, 02:53:22 pm »

I remember the JBL 2245's in the early 90's  For cinema subs.

    I don't think real hefty Cinema subs started being pushed until the days of THX.

    I remember seeing Star Trek 4 at the Cinema in Corte Madera, CA.  And remembered how the rumbling sound of the alien probe made me feel ill.  Well before THX but that was Lucas's premier screening theater for a while.  

    So they must have had something unusual.

    I still don't think most of the theaters have anything that is actually decent.

    Even in THX theaters I've heard the LFE cabinets making god awful sounds that couldn't be part of the master.
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Tom Danley

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Re: Who made the first decent professional cinema subwoofer?
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2008, 05:49:26 pm »

Hi

Other than the special run installation subs, like the CV subs used in movies like Midway etc, I think it was Tomlinsin Hollman’s work which lead to the THX standards that (among other things) drove the need for extended low end.   Jurassic Park was the turning point in the movie industry so far as getting down if I recall.
I think the first modern widespread “standard” subwoofer  for theaters was the Kintec KT-90 if I remember right.   It was a 2X15 vented box, self powered and made specifically for cinema use and installed in many theaters.  I remember that one as they were the same size as the TPL-2 we made at Intersonics at the time.
Prior to that when there was lf extension it was via big horn systems made by Altec, RCA, WE and others.  Big cool looking and impossibly large cabinets and horns, ah and no power compression either (because the voice coils came off the former before they got that hot)
Keep in mind the technical “knowledge base” even in the 80’s said that for live sound, nothing below 80Hz was needed or desired and you can’t make real bass with a horn.  
It was a great time to come up with a motor driven horn loaded woofer I’ll tell you haha.
Best,
Tom Danley
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Al Limberg

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Re: Who made the first decent professional cinema subwoofer?
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2008, 06:37:43 pm »

I recall reading an article regarding Meyer subs vs. the CV 'Earthquakes' years ago in Mix Magazine.  Meyer was only slightly less than flabbergasted that a theatre full of typical viewers being used as test subjects repeatedly picked the CVs as 'louder' even though actual test results showed the opposite.  Perhaps that was what lead to the 'added' distortion solution to the problem.

?;o)
Al
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Who made the first decent professional cinema subwoofer?
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2008, 09:47:25 pm »

Al Limberg wrote on Sun, 30 March 2008 18:37

I recall reading an article regarding Meyer subs vs. the CV 'Earthquakes' years ago in Mix Magazine.  Meyer was only slightly less than flabbergasted that a theatre full of typical viewers being used as test subjects repeatedly picked the CVs as 'louder' even though actual test results showed the opposite.  Perhaps that was what lead to the 'added' distortion solution to the problem.

?;o)
Al
That sounds like what I remember, i don't know when that would have been, but I think it would have been before 1986 when I left my full time sound company job.

The large Altec cinema speakers, like the A2 were loaded with Altec 515 woofers, which were the lowest extension speakers they made at the time, I think they were rated for 75 watts. I don't know what were in the CV W "Earthquake" subs, but the only time I ever used them 4 of them got blown away by two Meyer 650s. This was long after they were out of the movie theaters. Associates and Ferren were using them as SFX speakers, and I thought they sounded awful so I replaced them with the Meyer. That would have been in 1991.

Mac
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Troy Gwin

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Re: Who made the first decent professional cinema subwoofer?
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2008, 10:14:59 pm »

Mac Kerr wrote on Sun, 30 March 2008 21:47

I don't know what were in the CV W "Earthquake" subs...


We actually have one of the original "Earthquake" subs from the movie in our shop.  It lives up on one of our pallet racks and is one of those things we just don't throw away.  It still has the union house mark that built it.

As for what's in it.  It has a single CV 18" that was manufactured so that the relaxed position of the cone was at one end of the travel.  By design, the cone would only move outward and would distort when it tried to pull back.  Good for earthquakes, not great for much else.
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