Newform Research R645

      Date posted: December 24, 1999

Newform R645 Loudspeaker

Sugg. Retail: $2265 U.S. pr, $2945 Canadian
(In both cases, price includes delivery by UPS)
Size: 76″H x 8 1/4″W x 14″D
Manufacturer: Newform Research,
P.O. Box 475, Midland, Ont., L4R 4L3
(705) 835-9000 FAX 835-0081

(Reprinted from the Almanac 2000 Audio Ideas Guide)

      A veteran internet merchandiser, Newform Research’s John Meyer (pronounced Mayer; he’s of Norwegian background) has been selling his speakers without any dealer network for years. He has weathered the drop-step slam dunks of the courier known as “Oops!” to sell his ribbon loudspeakers all over the world; recently the first order came in from Australia.

      The new R645 may be his most successful ribbon design yet, a 45″ ribbon of commanding height (and intimidating weight: about 65 pounds) coupled with a pair of ScanSpeak 6″ woofers in a rear ported cabinet. The height of the ribbon makes the speakers 76″ high, 2″ taller than me, and almost as tall as Aaron. Yes, they will tend to dominate a room.

      The payoff is that they provide a true vertical line source from 1000 Hz (the crossover point) up, and combine wide, well controlled dispersion with phase accuracy and transparency. I’ll say more about these characteristics in discussing the measurements. The ribbon is half again as long (or high) as that of the R830, offering 3 dB more output and better dynamic behaviour; it is rated to handle up to 250 watts. Unlike most other planar designs, the Newform designs are unipolar, the back wave absorbed, and provide wide dispersion, especially in the middle frequencies. An umbilical of Nordost Flatline cable connects the crossover inside the box to the ribbon. The enclosure for the two woofer/midrange drivers is rear ported, its finish black woodgrain vinyl.

      The first thing I noticed about the R645 was the fact that it didn’t lack highs when I stood up, something always evident with the 30″ ribbons in our R830s used as rear speakers in the home theatre room. This greater vertical dispersion results in an airier quality to the upper frequencies. R 645 Frequency Response

      Looking at the measurements, the Pink Noise Sweep (PNS) in particular, we see very smooth response over the whole frequency range that is +/-2 dB over most of the range, with the region from about 800 Hz to above 10,000 Hz +/-1 dB, exceptional linearity over almost the full range of the ribbon. We can see some variations below from the woofer pair, but these are minor, and bass response extends smoothly to 40 Hz, down 2 1/2 dB at 30, and only 5 dB at 20 Hz. This is a full range speaker.

      The on-axis quasi-anechoic measurement below the PNS and Summed Axial Response (SAR) shows again how linear the ribbon is, while the axial measurements below indicate its excellent dispersion to beyond 15o, with highs rolling off smoothly at 30 and 60o (the bottom curve). Their added result, the SAR, is superimposed at top over the PNS curve and departs from it only in the treble, this a result of the lower output to the sides.

      Impedance of the R645 never drops much below 6 ohms, with peaks near 20 ohms just above crossover and just below 60 Hz. The phase angle through crossover is +/-30o or so, quite reasonable, and the speaker will be an easy load for any amplifier, even a low-powered one, its sensitivity rated at 91 dB. R645 Impedence

      Readers who have seen our measurements for other line source or planar speakers will know that these speakers are not only hard to measure accurately, but these measurements do not necessarily reflect what the listener hears. The acoustic behaviour of a multi-driver point source system is much easier to correlate with its measurements.

      With such speakers as the R645, which radiate their treble energy in a fundamentally different fashion, I believe it is our relatively recent practice of making frequency sweeps with pink noise that best shows the performance of the speaker and the timbral balance that the listener will hear. That’s good news for Newform Research, its PNS one of the flattest above 1 kHz I’ve yet seen.

      And that was what I heard in listening. Because the treble is radiated in a 45″ vertical line rather than coming from a single small point, it has some cancellations and reinforcements at 1 metre with the normal LMS gated signals even with several measurements taken at various heights and averaged. The pink noise, because of its even mix of all audible frequencies, tends to better show the true power response of the system, and this very smooth balance with clear, open highs was immediately evident in listening to music.

      Also very obvious was the real low end authority from the 4 woofers; you hardly need a subwoofer with speakers that are down only 2 dB at 25 Hz, and about 5 dB at 20 Hz. This bass was, however, extremely fast, agile, and tuneful. It’s probably a good idea to keep these speakers well out from the back wall and corners, since they’re rear ported, but I didn’t find that they became boomy when the rear of the cabinet was about 16″ from the wall. I also preferred them toed in a little so the centred listener was on about the 15o axis of the speaker.

      This provided an almost holographic image that had lots of depth, detail, and ambience, with a quality that didn’t sound at all like a typical 2- or 3-way system: it sounded more like live music. This could partly be a result of the ribbon’s very fast transient response and large vertical radiation surface. The R645s have an effortless quality that few dynamic speakers match, and a sense of integration, with a very natural and sweet treble. With music the R645s were open and sweet in the midrange and treble, and bass that went right down to below 20 Hz. Because of the size of the ribbon and the exceptional woofers, these speakers also have real dynamic capability. Coupled with the Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature, they handled the most bombastic soundtracks I could find with utter aplomb and very low distortion. Since I set them up I’ve found myself listening to music in the home theatre more often than ever before. With the Newform R645, John Meyer has fully established himself among the top Canadian speaker designers, and is definitely one of the most innovative.

Andrew Marshall

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