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Masque Acoustics

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
A little more than two years ago, I set out to create a home theater company focused on fully integrating home theater systems into beautiful cabinets that blend into the décor of any room. Flint worked more than a year designing a fully active speaker system built around WiSA certified plate amplifiers. I spent months researching TV lifts before sourcing one from the U.S. distributer for a European design firm. I collaborated with a California-based company on a fully integrated active cooling system to prevent thermal damage to game systems and other hot components. I worked with another firm that does custom laser cut panels and sourced high quality acoustic fabric from another vendor. The cabinet design went through multiple iterations. Two years later, I have a fully operational proof of concept.

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The audio system consists of three fully active bookshelf speakers built around a 6 inch coaxial driver. A dedicated 20 watt amp runs the 3/4" tweater and a 50 watt amp drives the 6" midrange. Signal arrives via an integrated WiSA receiver and is distributed to the amplifiers by way of a full-featured DSP chip running custom firmware. The subwoofers are built around 10" DVC (Dual Voice Coil) drivers powered by 150 watt plate amps with integrated WiSA receivers and DSP-based crossovers set up with custom firmware. This arrangement makes it simple to add surround speakers up to seven channels and as many additional subwoofers as desired. The cabinet contains a 3.2 system.

Each of the five compartments in the front of the cabinet contains two variable speed, thermostat controlled exhaust fans. The display lift compartment in the rear contains four more thermostat-driven fans to vent air when the display is down and the audio system is running, should sufficient heat build up.

The cabinet dimensions are 63.5" wide X 36.75 high x 24" deep. It is as small as it can be and still safely contain a 65" display.
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
I cannot say enough about what an amazing job Flint did on the speakers. The Chinese vendor I worked with on the plate amps was not easy to deal with and he had to go back and forth with them for months to get the firmware right. He also had to change the speaker cabinet dimensions at least once, because I forgot to account for the space taken up by the cabinet hinges. It was not a short process, but the results were worth it. These are very nice sounding speakers. They are not quite a match for my Paradigm Studio/40s, but they shockingly close at reasonable volume levels. I could not be happier.
 

AndySTL

Well-Known Member
Very cool!! I have not seen a product like this out there. Are you doing all of the assembly? Good luck on the future of this. When do you hope to bring it to market?
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
Very cool!! I have not seen a product like this out there. Are you doing all of the assembly? Good luck on the future of this. When do you hope to bring it to market?

This is a reimagining of the console TV/Stereo systems of the 50s and 60s. They were entertainment and part of the décor. There is nothing like this out there. Not only could I not find anything comparable, I paid for a market study and they didn't find anything either.

Franklin designed and built the speakers. The only thing I did was specify some dimensions and provide the amps. The rest of it was my design, but I am not a carpenter. I found a local guy who does carpentry on the side, because his hourly rate was low and I knew there would be a lot of trial and error. It took longer that way, but I learned a lot. One of those lessons was expensive.

When I designed this, I came up with a modular design that I thought was really innovative. This cabinet is actually made up of six individual boxes that are bolted together. The top and sides then bolt onto that. The idea was that you could create different configurations by combining the cabinets in different ways. The removeable top and side panels meant you could mass produce the bulk of the cabinet without committing to a particular finish or color. You would only expose yourself to risk on the trim kits (tops, sides and doors). It looked really good on paper and I went for a patent. $5000 later, I realized I'd jumped the gun, that it was a bad design and that nobody had done it for a reason.

The modular design of the prototype substantially increased both labor and materials costs without providing real value. It also added a lot of weight. Worse, no matter how well you bolt everything together, things shift. It was perfect in the shop, but by the time they loaded it into the truck, bounced down the road and unloaded it, a lot of little things were just a smidge off. I can fix all of it by loosening, adjusting and re-tightening. This is not a problem you would ever want to have with a commercial product. The next version of this will be a traditional design and will be done by a furniture company.

I want to bring the concept to market, but I grossly underestimated what that would take and I'm out of money. I'm not giving up, but I have to put it aside for now. I am involved in a tech start-up that will either make me millions or make me nothing (don't worry, it is not my day job). If it turns out to be the former, I plan to use some of that money to get Masque off the ground.
 

Randy

Well-Known Member
Famous
I have been anxiously awaiting this post for a long time. Every time you gave a teaser I got really excited.

Congrats and thank you for sharing with us. Best of luck and have you thought about a GoFund me or something like that?
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
I did enough laser cut panels to do three sets of doors. These are the other two. The first set are rift cut oak, like the set on the cabinet. The second set are composite and designed for paint.

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Towen7

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Design question
It appears that the cabinet will sit flush gainer the wall a wall but I don't see a stand-off to allow the exhaust fans to breathe.

Is there enough hear being generated for that to be a problem?
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
Design question
It appears that the cabinet will sit flush gainer the wall a wall but I don't see a stand-off to allow the exhaust fans to breathe.

Is there enough hear being generated for that to be a problem?

Please bear in mind that this is really a prototype and there may be adjustments when I start working with a real furniture maker. The cabinet does not have a baseboard notch and you have to leave a little space for the cord, so it almost has to be an inch or two off the wall. The fans do not see much action. They run only when there is heat and only fast enough to drop the temperature. I put the fans on the back cabinet out of an abundance of caution, but most of the time people are using their system the TV will be out and the air from the front cabinets will go straight up.

Is the cooling system overkill? Yes, but it is necessary with the highly closed nature of the equipment cabinets. When we do the redesign, I'm going to make things a bit more open and push more toward passive cooling. The cooling system was $300 and I would prefer to not add any more cost than I have to.
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
congratulations! looking forward for a demo video! :D
I need to get the Harmony set up first. That is the last bit I need to do and it is a pain in the ass because of the lift. Once that is done, I'll be able to do a proper demo video where you hit the button, it rises out of the cabinet, the backlight comes on and the display comes on.

If I were doing this again, I probably wouldn't do WiSA. The technology is great. The problem is that I don't have the budget to get custom stuff built yet and had to use plate amps designed for the kind of commercial speakers you would see in a restaurant or bar. The issue is that consumer transmitters do not play nice with them and it takes a lot of futzing around to make it work. The second issue is that there is not much on the market for WiSA transmitters right now. I ended up using a WiSA SoundSend. It is a small round device with two inputs. The first is HDMI for ARC and the second is optical. The configuration is done via a mobile app. Unfortunately, that is also the only way to switch sources or control the volume. That second bit is not a problem if the volume comes from another device (for instance, it will piggyback off the TV via ARC). The problem with using ARC is that the device does not do any kind of HDMI pass-thru. That wastes an input on the TV, but it is a bigger issue on my TV, because the ARC input is the only one designed for low-latency gaming. What I ended up doing was running the transmitter off the optical output of the TV and running the source components directly to the TV. This works pretty well. I tried to introduce an optical switch so I could add a Bluetooth receiver, but the optical switch does not have pass-thru for volume control. It has been a learning experience. If I were doing it again, I would hold off on WiSA until I had the money to put together a large enough order for custom work (500 units is the minimum).
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
There is a company called Axiim that makes a really nice WiSA pre/pro, but they are only selling them as part of a system. They used to sell them individually and I wonder if they are having a stocking problem. They cost about $1100, but it would be worth it if I could get my hands on one. It would also fit in my cabinet, which is something I should mention. The interior dimensions of the cabinets are pretty small. Even the wider one is only 14.5 inches and it is damned near impossible to find pre/pros that size. I was able to score a Sony 4K Blu-Ray player and there are no issues with the transmitter or streaming boxes. The end cabinet can accept a PS4 standing on its side. An X-Box will also fit. This constraint has a lot to do with the original modular design and will be addressed in the next version of the product, if there is one. That will have to wait until I recover from the $25K I've already spent on this venture.
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
Oh, I forgot to mention this, but you might have noticed the fans on the back are attached to removeable panels. Disconnect the power to the fan controller and they pop right off for easy access to the interior. I did not do that the first time around and wiring was miserable.
 

Botch

I.Y.A.A.Y.A.S!
Superstar
I'm now seeing that it looks like the TV retracts behind the speaker cabinets.
Even so, I'd make a suggestion to look into should you go into production, based on IKEA's expen$ive experience: bolt some cable anchors into the back of the cabinet, and put in the Owner's Manual the requirement to secure it to the wall. Those speakers are pretty heavy, but with a non-OLED TV extended that high, the Center of Gravity would be pretty high up, with a fairly small depth footprint at the base (based only on your photos). Just a suggestion.
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
I'm now seeing that it looks like the TV retracts behind the speaker cabinets.
Even so, I'd make a suggestion to look into should you go into production, based on IKEA's expen$ive experience: bolt some cable anchors into the back of the cabinet, and put in the Owner's Manual the requirement to secure it to the wall. Those speakers are pretty heavy, but with a non-OLED TV extended that high, the Center of Gravity would be pretty high up, with a fairly small depth footprint at the base (based only on your photos). Just a suggestion.
The TV lift is mounted to the very back of the unit. The lift itself is pretty heavy, but the motor and a lot of the mechanism are down in the cabinet. It could still arguably fall backward into the wall, except the cabinet is 24 inches deep and weighs 250 pounds with almost all the weight in front of the display. That thing does not so much as wiggle when the TV goes up and down and I would have to really work to pull it over (it is over 400 pounds with everything in it).

I did a bunch of research on TV weights and dimensions when I designed the cabinet. My set is LCD with Full Array Local Dimming. It is about 4 inches thick and weighs about 60 pounds. Two years ago, it was one of the thickest, heaviest displays on the market. Displays just aren't that heavy anymore.

If I have the chance to do the next redesign, it should knock close to 100 pounds off the weight, but the empty cabinet will still be three times the weight of the display. Loaded with gear, that bumps up to around five times the weight. Also keep in mind that the cabinet is only one foot taller than it is deep.

Having said all that, I very may well put anchors in the box just to cover my ass. It is not a bad idea these days.
 

Haywood

Well-Known Member
Famous
I had the speaker system in my family room for about 9 months while waiting for the cabinet. This is what the setup looked like. I was always paranoid someone would kick a speaker by accident. One of my cats put a scratch in a midrange cone. Just cosmetic and I can replace the driver easily enough if I get the urge, but I still wanted to skin him. This configuration put the drivers roughly where I knew they would end up in the cabinet (other than the center being a bit low). I spent a LOT of time with it over those months and really fell in love. I would be happy with just this in a smaller home, which is really the target audience for the product (wealthy people in small urban condos).

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