Designed for premium home cinemas, screening rooms and post-production facilities, Netherlands-based Alcons Audio has launched the mkII version of its successful CRMS Cinema Reference Monitor System, a three-way sound system designed to offer the most natural 1:1 Digital Cinema and HD audio sound reproduction possible.

For the high-end home cinema market, the new product is suitable for a room depth of less than 20m (60ft).

Featuring the patented RBN401 pro-ribbon driver, the CRMS is said to boast an ‘unusually high’ headroom SPL, up to 90% less distortion than any conventional mid/high transducer, while the high peak power handling offers a 1:16 RMS-to-peak ratio, enabling maximum screen compensations without any audible stress on the MHF performance. Full product details can be found on page 2 of this article.

CE Pro Eu got the scoop on the product and Alcons’ new direction in an interview with managing director Tom Back.

Alcons is know for its professional systems, why the move into the residential sector?

It is actually a succession of our C-series range of cinema systems. From that product range, we received a lot of interest for a higher-end solution, for screening rooms, studios and premium home theatres.

With our pro-ribbon transducer technology, we have a unique position, being able to combine Hi-Fi sound quality with concert sound pressure levels. Traditionally, one would have sound systems which sound pretty good (utilising soft-/metal dome tweeters or pure ribbon tweeters), but with limited SPL/dynamic capabilities, or they would have sound systems designed for maximum SPL capabilities, but with limited fidelity (utilising compression drivers).

The Alcons pro-ribbon technology offers the rare combination of maximum sound pressure level with maximum sound quality.

Is this Alcons’ first product targeted towards the home theatre market?

Officially it is, however, we’ve been selling to this market with other C-series products before the CRMS. We have served this market with the CR1 and CR2 systems from our C-series. Now we have developed a dedicated range for premium cinema reference applications.

What statement is Alcons making with this launch?

“We want to limit ourselves by exclusively focusing on the top-end of the market – the ‘prosumer”

Of course we will try to make an impression. However, we want to limit ourselves by exclusively focusing on the top-end of the market: the ‘prosumer’ that is looking for pro-grade equipment and wants the best sound experience – and who knows how to look beyond fancy branding and marketing.

The ‘prosumer’ is looking for pro-grade equipment and wants the best sound experience possible. Alcons has always focused on extending the bandwidth for the ‘best possible sound reproduction’ in any application, from a single-seat home theatre to a live concert sound for 100,000 people.

We are preserving the artists’ performance and going beyond borders by developing proprietary technologies for this purpose.

How is the residential market different to the commercial one?

We see the residential market as one concerning the ‘prosumer’ – the very top-end and the larger volume middle-end. Although the distribution channel is quite different, we see the ‘premium cinematic experience’ as a mutual denominator fror both residential as well as the commercial/pro-audio market.

The customer demands the very best cinema sound performance, but with high SPL capabilities. It is the unique combination of high output and the studio monitor sound quality of the pro-ribbon technology that enables us to offer top-end systems for the two different markets, based on same componentry.

Why did Alcons decide to step into the residential market?

It’s a logical move for us to serve this market as an extension of the commercial cinema market (cinema theatres as well as screening rooms and post-production studios). But, don’t forget, we were pulled into it as well by those ‘prosumer’ customers!

We have customers working with Alcons concert line-array systems that also want to enjoy the Alcons pro-ribbon sound experience at home. This almost comes full circle; from production, to final enjoyment, and all with the same reproduction technology, ‘as the artist intended it to sound!’

What has the response been to the CRMS Cinema Reference Monitor System so far?

If you look at the list of customers: Lucasfilm Singapore, NBC Universal (multiple rooms in London and Beijing) and a very recent installation at Factory studios London (the UK’s first certified Dolby Atmos trailer and commercial studio), you can already tell it has seen a great reception.

And not forgetting numerous ‘anonymous’ installations in home theatres around the globe that are enjoying the unique qualities of this system; crystal-clear, uncompressed, non-distorted digital cinema sound reproduction with a linear response from low to high outputs and a 1:15 dynamic RMS-to-peak power ratio.

How is the CRMS Cinema Reference Monitor System different to the mkl version launched eight years ago?

The basic set-up is the same as the mkI version: three-way configuration with pro-ribbon for MHF reproduction, 8in in sealed-box for MF reproduction and 15in for LF reproduction in bi-amp powering.

This system was already great, so there are no massive changes, but we’ve been able to increase performance by improving details on a number of items, such as filtering, 8in and 15in transducers, tuning and acoustical lay-out (wide, slanted baffles). Not forgetting the powering and processing of the new Sentinel Class-D amplified loudspeaker controller, which has also contributed greatly in terms of increased performance.

Also, we’ve brought the physical appearance closer to the residential market customer (although we would not go as far as wood veneer or a piano lacquer finish). It’s ‘form follows function’, even in this market.

What makes the CRMS innovative?

First and foremost, the proprietary pro-ribbon transducer technology, in which the Alcons R&D team has a 30 year background and numerous global patents.

For the first time, highest SPLs can be combined with studio monitor reference sound quality. Plus, there is up to 90% less distortion than traditional systems, non-compressed sound and a super fast transient response for a 1:1 crystal clear sound reproduction.

To maximise the transient response of the cone drivers for the mid and low frequencies, the CRMS system is pre-wired for signal integrity sensing.

This circuit is featured in the Sentinel and actively compensates for long speaker cables. This extends the control-loop of the amplifier to the speaker input terminals. So, it doesn’t matter where the amplifier is placed, it always guarantees the best possible system operation.

“Although the distribution channel is quite different, we see the ‘premium cinematic experience’ as a mutual denominator for both residential as well as the commercial/pro-audio market”

It is an integrated package with proprietary transducer, amplification and processing technology. Dedicated processing and system drive from the Sentinel amplified loudspeaker controller to guarantee maximum sound quality with the highest output with the utmost robustness and reliability.

The design comes in a shallow form factor, to be able to mount from ceilings, in (baffle-) walls and ground-stacked – all with a minimum space behind the screen.

What does the system cost?

Alcons is at the higher-end of the price bandwidth; however, it is still within the mainstream price range.

Where is it available?

Alcons is available in 40 countries and has different partners for the general, cinema and residential market.

For the residential market, Alcons is setting-up a distribution channel.

In the UK, Laurence Claydon from Cinefilm is Alcons’ Pro-Ribbon partner for the pro-cinema market.

What would you say to convince anyone as to why they should invest in the CRMS for their home cinema?

Anyone who’s looking for the most realistic cinematic experience, from movies to live concerts, should hear how Alcons reproduces the artist’s sound, from the quietest whisper to the loudest explosion or drum solo. We let our sound systems do the talking.

Or as we say, ‘see more of the movie with an Alcons sound system!’

Read on for full product details.

The CRMS system consists of a separate, adjustable mid-high frequency section, featuring one RBN401 4in pro-ribbon driver HF with non-vented 8in mid-range driver and a vented low frequency section with 15in woofer with low power-compression 4in voice-coil design.

A matching surround system with identical MF/HF components – CRMS-SR – is available, offering perfect screen/surround blending.

For full system performance, the bi-amped CRMS is to be driven by two channels of ALC Sentinel controller-amplifier, delivering maximum sound quality and utmost operation reliability.

System-dedicated processing presets, SIS sensing circuit, four-channel Hi-Fi-grade amplifier stages, four-in/four-out 192kHz AES3 signal inputs make the ALC Sentinel the ideal drive for the Alcons CRMS, while the 4ohms system impedance offers maximum amplifier efficiency.

Meanwhile, the Signal Integrity Sensing (SIS) pre-wiring ensures complete cable/connector compensation between the CRMS and ALC, increasing response accuracy regardless of cable length and system impedance, with tight and accurate mid and bass response as result (system damping factor of 10.000); SIS further reduces linear and non-linear distortion.

With a system depth of only 32cm/ 12.6in, a complete system can be installed in even the shallowest spaces.

The system can both be freestanding as well as flush-mounted. 

The recommended CB181sl subwoofer has a depth of only 25cm/10-in.

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