The System II Sirius 1992
The System II Sirius Phonograph was the second product released by Rockport Technologies. It featured a massive 250 pound constrained-layer damped granite plinth that was supported by an active pneumatic suspension, the most advanced isolation system ever employed by an audio product.
Introduced in 1993, The Procyon was the first loudspeaker to bear the Rockport Technologies name. It was a passive three-way with an equalized, active bass section consisting of twin 8 inch woofers driven by a custom amplifier designed by Damien Martin of Spectral fame. It also featured Rockports’ first ever glass fiber/epoxy composite enclosure, isolated by a unique damped suspension system.
Capella Phonograph- 1994
In 1994, Rockport Technologies introduced the Capella Phonograph. This unit used the same air bearing spindle as the original Sirius and System II Sirius with vacuum record hold-down on its constrained-layer damped, acrylic/stainless steel composite platter, and a new, slightly simplified air bearing tone arm design. The plinth was a constrained-layer composite of acrylic and aluminum and the unit featured our first ever tabletop, active pneumatic suspension, completely custom designed and manufactured by Rockport Technologies. The drive system utilized an external rotor, 600 RPM hysteresis synchronous motor with an enormous 303 stainless pulley flywheel coupled through a precision ground, Kapton film belt.
Series 6000 Tonearm – 1994
The Series 6000 Tonearm was essentially a mirror imaged version of the tonearm found on the original Capella Phonograph, which made it possible to mount it on other manufacturer’s phonographs. Like all Rockport Technologies tonearms, it featured an ultra-high precision (sub-micron machining tolerances) critically damped groove compensated air bearing. In contrast to other air bearing tonearms of its day, it utilized high-pressure in conjunction with a patented flow characteristic that resulted in a bearing with extremely high central stiffness, low-flow, and intrinsically stable behavior, as well as zero friction. The tonearm tube was a constrained layer damped carbon fiber sandwich composite, and all aspects of the tonearm’s geometry were fully adjustable.
The Syzygy loudspeaker was the second loudspeaker to bear the Rockport Technologies name, and was conceived as a smaller, simpler version of the Procyon. The Syzygy was a passive three-way utilizing Eton bass and midrange drivers, and the venerable Dynaudio D260 tweeter. Like the Procyon, its enclosure was a glass fiber/epoxy composite sandwich construction, and featured large chamfers and varying baffle dimensions to minimize diffraction issues, and was the predecessor to the composite enclosures of Rockport loudspeakers to come. Even though the Syzygy was fairly modest in size, it was nearly a full range speaker.
System III Sirius Phonograph – 1996
1996: Rockport Technologies debut’s the System III Sirius Phonograph, an all-out-assault on turntable design. Weighing in at 535lbs, Rockport’s first ever direct drive phonograph utilized the most advanced spindle bearing/drive system ever conceived for an audio product. Its 62 pound constrained-layer damped stainless steel composite platter was mounted to a high pressure, low flow air bearing (both the radial and thrust surfaces) with an integrally mounted eddy current motor utilizing a feedback control loop with both phase and velocity servos referenced against an on-board, one part per million analog time standard. This was accomplished with an indicated run-out of less than 5 millionths of an inch, no contacting surfaces, zero torque ripple and a speed accuracy of +/-5 ppm. Finally, the tonearm system centered around an ultra high precision critically damped air bearing which ensured the only mechanical contact in the entire system was that of stylus and record.
Capella II Phonograph – 1997
Launched in 1997, the Capella II phonograph was a further refinement of the original Capella and featured a glass fiber/epoxy composite plinth, upgraded constrained layer-damped composite platter, a new motor structure and constrained-layered damped arm board. The base model featured a specially designed hydrodynamic fluid film main spindle bearing and was suspensionless. It could be upgraded to be outfitted with an air bearing spindle with vacuum hold-down, as well as a tabletop active pneumatic suspension. The Capella II was also available with the Rockport Series 7000 linear tracking, air bearing tone arm, which shared all of the same moving components as the tone arm found on the System III Sirius.
Merak Loudspeaker – 1997
In 1997 the launch of the Merak 2-way loudspeaker heralded the arrival of a new series of Rockport speakers with custom Audio Technology midrange and bass drivers and the legendary Dynaudio Esotar tweeter. Like the Procyon and Syzygy loudspeakers before it, the Merak’s 90 pound enclosure was constructed with inner and outer glass fiber/epoxy composite shells sandwiching a custom-manufactured viscoelastic core material. As Rockport’s first foray into custom driver design the smaller Merak produced a remarkably wide dynamic range and prodigious bass for its smaller size.
Antares Loudspeaker – 1999
In 1999 the Antares loudspeaker was introduced as a larger, full-range follow up to the smaller Merak loudspeaker, this time utilizing separate custom Audio Technology midrange and bass drivers and the Dynaudio Esotar tweeter in a 3-way configuration. At 400 pounds per speaker Antares was certainly a bigger brother to the 90 pound Merak and produced a comparably larger and weightier sound. It also produced previously unobtainable levels of dynamics in large part due to the low noise maintained by the massive glass fiber/epoxy sandwich composite cabinet which Stereophile Editor, John Atkinson, dubbed “heroic construction.” The Antares was awarded Stereophile Loudspeaker of the Year in 2002.
Hyperion loudspeaker – 2000
The Hyperion was a three-way, five driver loudspeaker whose custom, Audiotechnology drive units and Dynaudio Esotar were arranged in a D’Appolito configuration in symmetrical carbon fiber composite baffles. Its sound was characterized by The Absolute Sound’s Jonathan Valin in this way:
“…gorgeous tone color, tremendous dynamic ease and authority, natural instrumental size and scale, and superb treble and bass extension. You need a lot of room for these babies and a lot of money, but, if you have the space and the moolah, they will take you about as close as you can come to the absolute sound.”
Mira loudspeaker – 2002
Introduced in 2002, and intentioned for a wider audience, the Mira was Rockport’s first loudspeaker to use a constrained-layer damped MDF enclosure. Its narrow front baffle housed a 5.25” custom Audiotechnology midrange and Scan Speak tweeter, and its 10” side-firing woofer provided nearly full first octave bass extension. Ultra Audio’s Jeff Fritz summed up the Mira this way: “The Rockport Technologies Mira is an extraordinarily complete loudspeaker – not merely a really good $13,500/pair speaker, as I expected it to be, but damn close to the state of the art for a more than reasonable cost.”
Merak II/Sheritan II loudspeaker – 2003
In 2003, Rockport Technologies introduced the Sheritan II bass modules as an adjunct to the Merak II. Each unit featured a 12 inch sandwich composite cone Eton woofer, and the addition of the Sheritan II bass modules to the Merak II resulted in a serious, full range loudspeaker with enormous dynamic capability. This modular approach allowed the owner to purchase the Merak II as a stand-alone two-way, and then upgrade to the Merak II/Sheritan II combination at a later date.
Merak Center Channel Loudspeaker – 2003
The Merak Center channel loudspeaker debuted in 2003 as the first dedicated home theater product from Rockport Technologies. The Merak Center utilized the same driver technology and advanced cabinet construction (glass fiber/epoxy inner and outer monocoque shells sandwiching a custom-manufactured viscoelastic core material) as the Merak 2-way loudspeaker system and Antares 3-way loudspeaker system, ensuring a perfect pairing for home theater enthusiasts worldwide.
Mira Grand loudspeaker – 2005
2005 was a busy year for Rockport Technologies, and the Mira Grand II was one of three loudspeakers introduced that year. The Mira Grand expanded on the Mira platform to accommodate larger rooms and greater listening levels, while maintaining the svelte lines of its sibling. Twin 10″ woofers provided a deep and firm foundation, and were complemented by two custom 5.25″ Audiotechnology midrange units and the highly regarded Scanspeak Ring Radiator tweeter. Visually striking, its gracefully curved baffle served the greater purpose of ensuring a smooth wave launch for the midrange units and tweeter. The Mira Grand’s sound was immediately captivating; forceful with great rhytmic drive, yet subtly textured and complex.
Arrakis – 2005
The third product launched in 2005 was the Arrakis and it was Andrew Payor’s most ambitious loudspeaker project to date. Weighing in at over 900 pounds per channel and standing nearly 7 feet tall, the three-piece, advanced composite cabinet featured thick carbon fiber-epoxy baffles with complex sweeping curves which optimized the cabinet shape for a clean wavelaunch free from the destructive diffraction problems common with rectangular enclosures, all while providing an incredibly stable and inert structure in which to house the drivers. As with other Rockport cabinets the three Arrakis sub-cabinets were constructed with inner and outer shells of composite materials with a thick viscoelastic core between to damp resonance and vibrations.
The midrange and bass drivers were custom manufactured by Audiotechnology and for the first time ever featured variable section thickness, carbon fiber sandwich composite cone drivers designed and manufactured by Rockport Technologies. These cones were extremely light and stiff, which allowed them to reproduce both loud and soft musical signals with the highest resolution and accuracy of any driver ever produced or tested by Rockport Technologies. This revolutionary improvement in driver cone technology over traditional paper, plastic, and metal materials led the way for all future midrange and bass drivers at Rockport Technologies.
The Arrakis featured massive driver surface area to reproduce any audible frequency with ease, at essentially any volume level. Starting in the bass were two side-firing 15 inch woofers, two front-firing 8 inch mid bass woofers, two 5.25 inch midrange frequency drivers, all with variable section thickness sandwich composite cones. A ScanSpeak 1 inch soft dome ring radiator tweeter reproduced the highest musical frequencies.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of the Arrakis was that as a very large speaker that was capable of playing the loudest and lowest tones it also had the ability to play the most subtle and delicate musical details, and completely “disappear”, which was a feat that had never been achieved before by such a large speaker.
Altair loudspeaker – 2006
Introduced in 2006 as a direct successor to the Arrakis, the Altair Loudspeaker was created for music lovers seeking the ultimate in a reasonably sized, yet completely full range loudspeaker. Its mirror imaged, 515 pound composite cabinet was both a bold industrial design statement as well as a definitive example of minimum diffraction design and optimized acoustic proportion.
The Altair’s drive unit complement was equally advanced as its cabinet form and construction. Built specially for Rockport Technologies by Audiotechnology of Denmark, the bass, midbass, and midrange drive units all used proprietary, variable section thickness cone profiles and carbon fiber sandwich composite construction developed by Rockport Technologies. The result was the highest resolution obtainable from a dynamic driver loudspeaker, combined with unsurpassed harmonic integrity and a stunning dynamic presentation. The Altair was capable of resolving the most intricate delicacies of the musical fabric in a way that was previously associated only with electrostatics; however, the Altair also displayed the correct image perspective in a manner that is the exclusive territory of a point source design.
Ultra Audio‘s Jeff Fritz summed it up like this: Although my experience with loudspeakers is broad – I’ve heard, and in some cases owned, what many consider to be the finest – the Altair shook my foundations. It was at once the best loudspeaker ever to grace my listening room, and the single most impressive audio product I’d ever written about. As you can tell from my glowing description, there was no contest this year – and this was a good year for Ultra Audio in terms of products reviewed. At $89,500 US per pair, the Rockport Technologies Altair is expensive – but it’s a product like no other. It’s simply spectacular, and easily Ultra Audio’s Product of the Year for 2007
Voted Product of the Year 2011, The Absolute Sound’s Robert Harley had this to say: “one way to judge an audio product is how easily it makes you forget you’re listening to an electro-mechanical reproduction of music rather than to music itself. By that criterion, the Rockport Altair was transcendental” Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound, July/August 2010
ANKAA – 2008
The ANKAA loudspeaker ushered in a new series of high-performance loudspeakers utilizing variable section thickness, constrained layer damped MDF enclosures. It featured a custom Audiotechnology carbon fiber sandwich composite cone midrange driver, the venerable Scanspeak D 30 tweeter, and a 10 inch side-firing woofer. Like its siblings, the ANKAA maintained a minimal frontal profile through the side mounting of its 10 inch bass driver, affording an unobstructed view into the soundstage. The cabinet’s gracefully curved side panels and crowned top and front surfaces not only created an elegant form, but also endowed the enclosure with enormous stiffness and minimum resonant signature.
Awarded SoundStage! Network 2009 Product Of The Year, Ultra Audio’s Randall Smith said this about his ANKAA listening experience: “it’s easily the best speaker I’ve had in my home, and one of the best I’ve heard anywhere—and it’s THE best I’ve heard anywhere for near its price.”
AQUILA – 2008
For those enthusiasts who wanted greater bass extension and headroom than the ANKAA, the AQUILA loudspeaker was the ideal choice. Housed in its triple laminated, constrained mode damped enclosure with a solid 5 inch thick baffle was a potent combination of Rockport’s latest generation of 6 inch midrange and 13 inch woofer. Both units utilized custom carbon fiber sandwich composite cones and were built by the legendary Audiotechnology of Denmark. Scanspeak’s D30 tweeter provided an extended, airy top end, perfectly complementing the commanding foundation of its lower registers and extraordinarily textured, ultra-high-resolution mid-band.
Frank Peraino of Stereo Times said this in his August 2009 review:
“The Aquila delivers real resolution in spades – the kind of resolution that imparts the true essence of music. This unparalleled retrieval of macro and low-level harmonic detail produced such life-like timbre and tonal color it suspended disbelief of real instruments and real voices in my room. No speaker I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard some of the best, did this better than the Rockport Aquila. At the lower end of the spectrum, in my listening room the Aquila’s bass response was world class and in every way better than any other loudspeaker I’ve ever heard, anywhere at any price. No brag, just fact. I know I’ll be sticking my head on the chopping block but I could not find any area of the Aquila’s performance that could be improved upon – given what I believe a loudspeaker is realistically supposed to do. Namely, maximize enjoyment of the music by accurately reproducing the timbre of instruments and voices while, to the extent possible, suspending disbelief. What floored me was that the Aquila was better at almost all genres of music than every other loudspeaker I’ve heard.”
ALYA – 2010
In 2010 the ALYA loudspeaker debuted, allowing music lovers with limited space an opportunity to enjoy state-of-the-art sound in a compact form factor. Standing a mere 41 inches tall, 11 inches wide and 12 inches in depth, the ALYA was a 2-way design that utilized its floor standing architecture to deliver remarkably extended bass response compared to the more traditional mini-monitor and stand approach. Unique to the ALYA, and a pre-curser to the technology utilized in the CYGNUS loudspeaker, the ALYA employed a 6061-T6 aluminum billet front baffle which was compression mounted to an 11 ply, high density fiberboard enclosure, while sandwiching a viscoelastic layer to create a constrained mode damped baffle/enclosure system. This massive, highly damped baffle gave its custom, sandwich composite carbon fiber drivers an incredibly stable and non-resonant platform to mount to and operate from.