Heart Pine Speakers Designed by Fern & Roby

February 27 2015, 03:04
Fern & Roby is a design house located in Richmond, Virginia with a diverse range of products, from small, machined, hardware and accessories to monumental tables and audio components. The essential quality they share is being designed as tools for living. “We are driven to make beautiful things that enhance and elevate the everyday, whether it be cooking, dining, or listening to music,” states the company in their website.

Through the use of industrial materials and processes, Fern & Roby intends to preserve the long and rich tradition of American manufacturing and craft, with local and domestic sourcing of materials, including, when possible, recycled, reclaimed or responsibly manufactured goods. The Fern & Roby line was created by Christopher Hildebrand, a principal of industrial design firm Tektonics Design Group. Having a background in fine art and handcraft, he worked for years as an ornamental blacksmith and metalworker before starting Tektonics with his business partner Hinmaton Hisler. After building a career making highly-customized products for his firm’s clients, he felt inspired to explore his own designs and create a body of work that celebrates the materials and processes that resonate with him. His approach to design often involves paring down to essential forms in order to highlight the inherent qualities in each material and process.

Fern & Roby’s collection now includes some beautifully designed speakers: The Beam full range tower speakers and the compact The Cube, both using reclaimed heart pine timber for the cabinets. Both speakers are also designed with vast attention to detail, not only from the design perspective but also in terms of audio product engineering.

The Beam
According to the company, The Beam “deliver the imaging and accuracy of a mini monitor. At just over 90db sensitivity, The Beam is equally at home with moderately powered tube or solid state amplification.” The Beam use first order crossover networks for better phase accuracy and allowance of maximum efficiency. Impedance correction circuits have been added to both the woofer and tweeter sections of the network that dampen resonant frequencies and impedance anomalies.

Regarding their choice of drivers, the company details, “the Scan-Speak 8” driver that we utilize is a small miracle due to its ability to play quite deep in the bass region yet still play very accurate mid-range, allowing for a seamless integration to a 1” tweeter. Boasting a cast-aluminum frame, fiberglass composite core and rubber surround, all at an astonishingly high efficiency for a high-end 8” woofer.” 

“The SEAS aluminum dome tweeter we have chosen is unique in that it does not use ferro-fluid to cool and dampen the tweeter. We feel very strongly that the use of ferro-fluid ruins the micro dynamics of a tweeter. The magnesium/aluminum composite, its Sonomax surround and rear chamber for lower resonance allow for a very accurate driver that is very conducive to a 8”, 2-way design.”

The Beam also generates an extended bass response, surprising for an 8” two-way design, using a traditional QB3 vented alignment. A pair sells for $4,500.00.

The Cube
The Cube is Fern & Roby Audio’s flagship speaker, reflecting the brand’s preference for reclaimed materials, combined with an excellent audio response. The Cube’s enclosure is machined from a solid beam of heart pine salvaged from a late 19th-century Virginia factory, making the wood over 100 years old. As the company website explains, “Heart pine was used so extensively as the structural framework and flooring of typical American factories in the period that it was timbered almost to extinction. The demolition and salvaging and repurposing of these buildings is now the only manner to source this wood, a distinctly North American material.”

The Cube features a single driver, an Alpair 7 Gold Driver by MarkAudio in a vented enclosure. The company details: “Working with audio engineers, we designed the ported interior of the machined enclosure to be a “tuned” spatial volume to give the best bass response possible for a bookshelf speaker of this class. We designed the base to act as a podium for the speaker—it increases the interior volume of the enclosure as part of the design, producing richer sound”.

According also to the company description, the Alpair 7 generation 3 extended full-range driver has a “near flat” response from 40Hz to 32kHz and has an SPL of near 86dB. The Cube’s base is made of recycled cast aluminum, which comes from scrap generated in the company’s factory, casted at a local foundry. The wire terminals are gold plated binding posts.
The Cube sells for $1,150.00, a pair.
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