Stretch Goal :
What is 'LBM'?
Little British Monitor - A desktop sized, aptX Bluetooth enabled, fully active and professional quality speaker. Equally suited to the quality conscious recording engineer, musician or music lover.
The LBM utilises the same high-end design and construction techniques found in professional monitors and audiophile speakers to bring dynamic, emotive sound to a compact modern design. Say goodbye to injection moulded plastic and welcome real craftsmanship married to the best technology.
Why did I make it?
Today listeners want a compact speaker, matching the expectation that all technology becomes miniaturised. However, modern small speakers have sadly lost the magic that brings music alive and touches the soul. The Little British Monitor is designed to address this through every detail of its construction.
Project or Product?
A slight twist on standard retail - The LBM will be available as both a professional ready-to-rock product, and as a project kit with step-by-step instructions so you can build your own. I've always loved building things and I want to share that joy with other people.
The kit is an excellent project for anyone interested in hardware, electronics and sound. The small size, pre-assembled circuit and lack of dangerous voltages mean this is suitable for all skill levels. I'm also working on a video construction guide. This would be an ideal gift for creative individuals and leaves the builder with something they can use and be proud of every day.
What's in the package? Click Here
In return for your support kick-starting production of the LBM, I'm offering the following rewards.
1) Sincere Gratitude - If you want to help support the LBM project with a donation I will be very grateful. Your name will be listed on the project updates page so everyone can see how generous and kind you are :)
2) Little Feet - These devices dissipate vibration and isolate the speaker from your desk or shelf. Designed for the LBM, but can be used with any suitably sized speaker. Support plate size: 115mm x 115mm
3) Active crossover and Amp PCB - This will be of interest to DIY speaker builders who want to make their own designs active. The circuit is pre-assembled and has user configurable 4th order filters and can be setup as 2-way stereo with 4x 25watts or 3-way mono with 1x 50watts and 2x 25watts.
4) LBM Project Kit - Everything needed to build a pair of LBM for yourself, including step-by-step instructions and video guide.
5) LBM Product - A working pair of LBM ready-to-rock straight from the box, Including Little Feet. Walnut or Oak effect finish.
6) LBM Real Wood Veneer - A pair of assembled LBM veneered with real American Black Walnut or European Oak, including Little Feet.
There are also early backer and combination rewards.
Bluetooth devices enabled with aptX can wirelessly stream music without any loss of sound quality. Any device with bluetooth (even if it doesn't support aptX) can connect to the LBM and directly stream high quality audio within seconds. There is no need for a home network or music server. A Spotify premium subscription is a great match with the LBM.
Why is the LBM Special?
The LBM is elevated above other products by the detail of its acoustic design. Let's get stuck in and find out which areas received special attention, and why they matter.
Cabinet Resonance – To ensure the listener hears only the sound of the drivers, a loudspeaker box should not resonate or vibrate. The BBC research department studied many materials and concluded that Birch plywood dissipated structural borne energy faster than any other. British loudspeakers following the BBC tradition have been recognised across the world for their clean and natural sound.
The LBM is therefore built entirely from quality Birch plywood, cut on precision CNC machinery and assembled with traditional joinery techniques. The cabinet properties are further improved by mapping the behaviour of the construction with an accelerometer (a device to measure vibration) and internally bracing the most critical points.
Driver Distortion - Good drive units are where quality sound begins. Music should be reproduced without adding any noises that detract from what we want to hear. The tweeter and woofer in the LBM were chosen for their superb performance after testing many potential candidates.
The Tweeter has low distortion comparable with the best high end units, yet is able to reproduce more of the music range than most. Thanks to this the LBM remains clean and clear even when the woofer is working hard. It can also be used close-up, ideal for smaller spaces.
The extraordinary 3" woofer in the LBM can move twice as much air as other similar size drivers thanks to it's 'long throw' capability. Combined with a high quality magnet system and voice-coil the LBM woofer punches fast and tight with a minimum of distortion. The LBM also has custom made aerodynamic bass ports (mounted in the bottom of the speaker) that maximise volume level capability.
Amplifier Distortion - Practically every compact speaker currently uses class-D digital amplifiers. However, affordable class-D amps are not designed with sound quality in mind. Testing a number of class-D amplifiers during prototyping revealed excessive distortion that would totally negate the use of a high quality tweeter.
The LBM deserved better. Class-AB analogue amplification has been used in top of the range equipment for years and now also finds its place in the LBM. Class-AB amplifiers need a bigger heatsink and power supply, but reward the user with significantly better sound.
Additionally, many products have small capacitors in the power supply to save cost, but this limits the dynamics and power of the sound. The LBM circuit has onboard approximately 4x the capacitance of others, providing extra power and kick when most needed.
Active Crossover - Good components mean nothing if they are not working together as a cohesive whole - this is the role of a crossover circuit. The LBM crossover and amplifier design is fully active; the same kind of crossover used in professional studio and concert loudspeakers.
Do not be confused by the difference between powered and active speakers. Many brands claim a speaker to be active when in fact it is simply powered.
A powered speaker has a basic crossover that is connected after a built-in amplifier. Any distortion in the system will spread to all the drivers. A true active loudspeaker has an advanced crossover that separates the frequency range before it is amplified, so that each driver has its own dedicated amplifier and distortion cannot spread. This is a huge advantage, resulting in the LBM playing louder and cleaner than single amplifier systems.
Frequency Response – The LBM is accurate and true; a straight edge by which decisions in audio production can be reliably made. Many speakers have exaggerated bass and treble to sound more impressive than they really are, but the LBM does not need to pretend. Recordings are reproduced the way they should be.
An additional feature is the boundary switch which applies a 3dB bass shelf to compensate for tonal changes that occur when a speaker is placed near a large surface such as a wall or desk. This is an important feature for a speaker that is likely to be used in a range of environments.
Little Feet – Custom designed vibration damping stands named ‘Little Feet’ are included with the LBM. If a speaker is placed directly on a desk or shelf, energy will travel into that surface and make unwanted sound. The Little Feet stop this happening to get the best from the LBM wherever you place them.
The support plate uses Constrained Layer Damping formed of two layers of steel laminated together using a special acrylic adhesive. The plate rapidly dissipates structural energy as heat, acting as a sink for unwanted vibration.
The support plate is also de-coupled from the stand body with neoprene dampers. The weight of the speaker combined with the neoprene creates a tuned system in which energy above the natural frequency will not pass. A lot of care has gone into creating Little Feet as the perfect accessory for the LBM.
Little Feet are also available separately and can be used with any speaker of suitable size, helping reduce transmission of vibration to the support surface. Support plate 115mm x 115mm
I am an acoustic engineer who has been running a business (AudioSmile) as sole-trader for the past 8 years. I design and build niche high-end audio equipment. My designs have been critically reviewed and praised in the UK and Japanese press. My products have been the reserve of keen audio enthusiasts. The LBM is my attempt to move towards a wider market of music lovers, small studio production and the modern generation.
The LBM cabinet will be CNC milled in my workshop. Some years ago I designed and built a reasonably large CNC milling machine, so the cabinet parts will be precision made exactly as required.
I've been working with one of the largest circuit board producers for my prototypes and they can assemble all the components on the board if I have a large enough order. The most important parts will be sourced in the UK.
Assembly of the cabinet, driver and electronics will be handled in my UK workshop to ensure quality control.
To produce the LBM at an affordable price I need a larger order than I can fund by myself for drivers, electronics and materials. Please support this project so the LBM can become a reality!
Risks and challenges
Having a fully working prototype the risks for this project are very few.
Manufacture of Components - I am making the components of the LBM with my own CNC mill, but if I can not meet the quantity needed it is simple to send my cutting files to a larger CNC workshop for manufacture.
Electrical Safety - There are many safety regulations with regards to electrical products. The LBM is safe and fully regulated for world-wide distribution. All high voltages are contained inside the supplied laptop style power supply, sealed and extensively certified. The voltage that exits the PSU is below the level that requires certification and is perfectly safe.
Drive Units - Drive units sometimes come with defects among a batch. All units will be tested before dispatch. The supplier has responsibility to replace defective items.
Electrical Components - I have received PCBs from the fabricator for the prototypes and I am satisfied the quality is excellent. I have not used this company to assemble the PCB components before, but I'm confident of their ability as one of the largest fabricators in the business.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)