BG Radia Z-92 Tower Loudspeaker Columbia SC
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Hilton Head Island, SC
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Rock Hill, SC
BG Radia Z-92 Tower Loudspeaker
October 23, 2008 By Steve Guttenberg
The night before I started writing this review I was at a party at a chic gallery. You know the scene, painfully hip posers cruising the passing parade of beautiful people. The art didn't do that much for me, but the live music was tasty and incredibly enough the musicians weren't using amplifiers. They were playing really interesting beatnik jazz with a ukulele, vibes, trombone, bass and drums.
The BG Radia's Z-92 tower speakers' was then, as they say, like deja vu all over again.
Nowadays it's a real treat to hear totally unplugged music, but it was the sound of the vibes that initially hooked me at the art show-turned-jazz concert.
There was something about the instrument's metallic shimmer that was simply gorgeous, and I loved the way the uke player was riffing off the vibe's lines. The band wasn't at all loud and yet the instruments sounded clear and distinct.
So when I started in on the BG's I gravitated to CDs with small jazz groups that featured vibes, like the Modern Jazz Quartet and Bucky Pizzarelli's band.
The Z-92s' sound was fast, crisp, and clear, without any extra edginess or overly hyped treble. The level of nuance and delicacy was impressive and the unassuming speakers somehow presented the "spaces" between the instruments with rare clarity. Obviously the Z-92 was something special.
Removing the grilles revealed the speakers' proprietary technology; instead of the usual cone and dome drivers the Z-92 had a 10 by 5 inch rectangular midrange "planar-ribbon" and a 3-inch by 2.5-inch planar-ribbon tweeter mounted directly in front of the midrange unit.
The lower half of the speaker was less mysterious, just a pair of 6.5 inch aluminum cone woofers. I learned later that the woofer is a BG Radia original and features an innovative voice coil design that lowers the driver's moving mass and improves its transient response. The goal was to make a woofer as "fast" as the planar-ribbons.
The ribbons are in fact super-thin and lightweight polymer film diaphragms printed with an overlay of aluminum conductors, and the diaphragms are "suspended" between front and rear magnet arrays. So unlike dome tweeters or cone type midrange drivers the planar-ribbons are "push-pull" designs.
Say what? With traditional dome or cone type drivers, as the diaphragm (the cone/dome part) moves forward, it's also moving away from the magnetic voice coil, and distortion can increase. This "push-pull" arrangement can produce less distortion, because when the planar-ribbon moves away from one set of magnets, it's moving closer to the other set.
Also, the magnets control the entire area of the diaphragm as it moves back and forth to produce sound. With traditional dome tweeters and cone-type midrange drivers the voice coil applies its moving force only to the edge or center of the diaphragm respectively. Greater control can equal ...