For countries with existing distribution & support networks, please contact your territory's representatives directly to arrange ADAMSON training. A list of worldwide distributors can be found here.

The intensive, multi-day training seminar for audio professionals at our headquarters in Port Perry, are open to all new and existing Adamson rental partner companies and their system engineers & technicians. Seminars for consultants, touring engineers, and systems techs using Adamson products are specially scheduled, and are usually by invitation only.

For training sessions held at our facility in Port Perry, one must cover their own transportation and accommodation costs. The course includes a presentation and overview of line array principles and technology, and explains how these are addressed in Adamson's line array systems.

Seminar workshops introduce end-users of Adamson's line arrays to the latest version of the company's proprietary software for array design - the Adamson Shooter. In addition to in-class study focusing on principles of array modeling using the Adamson Shooter program, participants will have hands-on experience in rigging a system by taking part in the set-up of a complete PA, which will include both flying and ground-stacking cabinets. Most sessions conclude with a demonstration of a full-scale stadium or venue array, and will cover strategies for troubleshooting, fine-tuning and optimizing your array design. The seminars are open to all Y-Axis, SpekTrix and Metrix users as well as to prospective users and audio consultants. Students are expected to provide their own laptop for completing the exercises in the seminar curriculum.

The training seminar cost is included in all new line array sales quotes for brand new partner companies. On location training is ONLY available to Adamson Y-Axis, SpekTrix or Metrix owners. There is a daily fee, plus all travel and accommodation expenses, unless specified otherwise in a written and signed agreement.

For more information on Adamson's Training Program, or to schedule a Training Session, please call [905] 982 052

Founded in 1983 by Brock Adamson, Ontario-based Adamson Systems Engineering has evolved from a small operation into a leading supplier of cutting-edge products for the professional touring and installation market. Today, Adamson products can be found gracing world-class performing facilities, houses of worship and on stages supporting some of the best known musical acts in the world.

The Innovations Continue

MH 121.5Adamson's continued pursuit for sonic perfection led to a number of important patents in key loudspeaker technologies being published. From those patented principles emerged complex sound chambers, advanced drivers and innovative rigging and cabinet designs that have set new standards throughout the industry, creating a brand that's synonymous with excellence.

Over the years, Adamson Systems has taken new and interesting approaches to solving problems in speaker technology. A few notables among these have been the MH225, which was the first use of an acoustic waveguide in a commercial loudspeaker system; the successful Metrix and Spektix lines; the Y-Axis line array (with its Co-Linear Drive Module); the SD-21 21-inch, Kevlar® cone driver used in the T21 line-arrayable subwoofer cabinet, with its AIR™ rigging system; the Energia E15 (and now E12) line arrays with their central steel/aluminum-framed E-Capsule mid/high section and Autolock rigging. Serious stuff.

Yet since the beginning, president/CEO head designer Brock Adamson envisioned a method of reproducing sound which, even at extremely high levels, would retain the integrity of the original waveform and preserve the subtleties of symmetry, coherency and intelligibility — nuances most often lost in translation.

FRONT of HOUSE recently spoke with Adamson about his vision, aspirations and the some of his influences that took him along this path, as he continues to push the leading edge of transducer systems. Rarely interviewed, Brock Adamson seldom takes the spotlight and he graciously took time out from his schedule to talk about his design philosophy, while offering some inside details about the past three decades, as well as the future directions for Adamson Systems. 

In the early days, were you the band guy who was stuck with the P.A.?

Brock AdamsonAdamson: "No, I was around the bands and got stuck with the P.A. — building stuff. I actually started off building studio monitors. We didn't have the kind of test equipment that's so common now. Back in the beginning of things, we had to work with our ears. This was in the time before Richard Heyser introduced the TEF measurement system."

The first TEF system came out in 1983, about the same time you started Adamson.

Adamson: "Exactly! At the time, I was living in Vancouver and wanted to move to Ontario. The economy was uncertain and I couldn't get access to the kind of manufacturing tools that I wanted — specifically CNC lathes, CNC mills, moldmaking, toolmaking stuff, and the plastics technology was very limited in Vancouver. Besides, I had been schooled in Ontario and my brother, sister, brother-in-law, nephews were all there, and so I made the move in the mid-80's. At that time, my brother-in-law was the Crown distributor for Canada and he had a TEF-10 unit."

The big, 40-pound suitcase TEF?

Adamson: "Yeah, the big suitcase with the CPM operating system! I wound up with that as my test equipment. Prior to that, I had to rely on a sweep generator synchronized to a chart recording device. You can actually do a lot with a swept sine wave in a fairly reflection-free environment, but it was all a bit crude. Moving up to the TEF analyzer in the mid-80's was a good thing."

Sounds like that changed your outlook.
Adamson: "In many ways it did. One day I got a call from somebody I didn't know, a guy named Floyd Toole [the noted author, researcher and expert in acoustics and psychoacoustics]. He'd heard I had a TEF analyzer and wanted to invite me bring my TEF unit to Ottawa, where he had Richard Heyser as a guest speaker. Heyser was at the Jet Propulsion Laboratories at the time and invented the TEF [and Time Delay Spectrometry] process. I jumped at the opportunity. There was a big meeting with four brainiacs up there — Stanley Lipshitz the mathematician, John Vanderkooy the physicist, Toole the acoustician and Heyser the rocket scientist. Here were these guys, having a chalk war on the blackboard, flinging formulas on the board like spaghetti. We all had a good time, but for me, it was a good introduction to some serious people in the research end of things.

"From World War II and even earlier, Canada operated a research facility [National Research Council], a facility that had an anechoic chamber, and at some point Floyd got in there with a bunch of acoustical people and convinced the government that it would be a good idea to pay a Canadian acoustical researcher to investigate listener preferences as related to loudspeaker measurements. That body of work stimulated the growth of the consumer loudspeaker industry in Canada."

Where did your approach to acoustical analysis come from?

Adamson: "I had done measurements with the Brüel & Kjaer gated burst system back in the late-60's — so I was not unfamiliar with reflection-free measurements. We also did a lot of psychoacoustical experiments and when we would evaluate things like passive crossovers, we'd have someone read into a high-quality microphone in an isolated room. We'd listen to speakers using that human voice as a reference signal. You can pick out defects in a loudspeaker using that source about 50 times faster than you can using test equipment. It's the same with any front of house guy who talks into a mic, listens to what the room and knows what the system is doing. That can give you a very quick reference as to where you are: The voice tells the story.

"There's a long history in Toole's research of measuring the output of a loudspeaker so you could understand what it was doing to the listener in the whole listening field — not just some arbitrary measurement. That spurred my ideas of measuring loudspeakers and today, we're into things like CLIO [acoustical software] but the overriding principle is being careful about the power response and being careful about the energy that's going into a room that's not in the listening field, especially in the big commercial environments that are more reverberant than your average living room.

"We were talking about all that stuff with the National Research Council. I had grumbled out loud that it's fine to talk about little consumer loudspeakers, but some of us have to deal with huge rooms and issues like directivity, large midrange horns and so on. I mentioned that to Floyd Toole and he said something cryptic, like, 'The answer to the question is not always found where you're looking.' — meaning a room of consumer guys. I asked him, 'Ok, who is he and what's his phone number?'  He said his name is Earl Geddes. I called Earl as soon as I got back. Earl sent me some references to some papers he'd written and then sent me a copy of a paper he was writing."

Obviously, you took that connection a lot further. Dr. Geddes' work in Waveguide Theory was instrumental in developing your MH225 speaker — a product that really brought your company to the forefront.

Adamson: "We got started with the acoustic waveguide and the MH225 was the result of thinking about that approach and seeking out a solution to horn structures that would give us that controlled let-down off-axis, which they do very well. 
"There's a great learning experience there with the waveguide boundary effects, and the acoustic particle movement inside the waveguides, horns and sound chambers and all that information came forward and affected the way we do line array sound chambers as well.  Some really good people — Geddes, Lipshitz, Heyser, Toole, Vanderkooy —  fed some really good information into my head there. You can't ask for a better braintrust than that and I was privileged to hear what they had to say."

And a lot of this went into the development of the Adamson Co-Linear Drive Module mid/high frequency shaping module for the Y-Axis line array?

Adamson: "Geddes questioned all this work on horn activity if the wall does not meet the wavefront at a precisely 90-degree angle. Because if it doesn't, then the particle movement cannot be in contact with the wall of the waveguide. It's as obvious as riding a bike.

"Referring to acoustical particles is just a concept — we could instead talk about air molecules. So there's movement in the wave. The air is vibrating back and forth, front to back and that movement is at right angles to the propagation of that wavefront. If you put up a piece of plywood and line it up down the center of a point source, the sound will travel down the west and the east sides of that plywood. If it's right exactly in line [perpendicular] to that line source, the wave will travel just fine and pretty much ignore the plywood is there. But if the plywood is turned even slightly at an angle, then the reflections are going to start. So Geddes' point is that in a first-order of approximation, that boundary of the edge of your waveguide has to be at 90-degree angles to the travelling wavefront, or there will be reflections and the wavefront will not maintain contact with the boundary of the waveguide.

"When you've put this into your head, and are considering a sound chamber that's clearly not a first order of approximation (it's modal and other things are happening) you've got to physically start observing that rule. We take it from there into the world of boundary element analysis with massive numbers of simulations — refining, refining and refining. So we manage to get sound from the driver through this complex structure and have it emerge very, very intact and coherent — more so than ever before. But each new one we do gets better and better."

Computer simulations have really changed the scope of speaker design and Adamson has been on the forefront of that.

Adamson: "The Y-Axis was done using CAD/CAM [computer-aided design/computer aided manufacturing] and observations of boundary behavior. The software that could enable us to do that in the '90s was a large, large amount of money. I did have ANSYS [engineering simulation software] and we did do some simulation in ANSYS in relation to cone geometries. But by the time we came to re-develop with the E15, we had progressed into more advanced boundary element and finite element programs and began integrating these together to get the desired results. It's tricky. It takes a lot of prototyping and these models are first printed in a 3-D printer, then molded in a higher density compound and then they're tested in quantity.  So much is possible today that you just couldn't do 12 or 13 years ago when the Y-Axis was built, especially in terms of modeling simulation, measuring, printing and then measuring real models to compare their behavior to the simulation. We're tightly coupled now between simulation and the result."  

At what point did Adamson get into proprietary drivers?

Adamson: "I started designing our first midrange driver in Vancouver in 1986. That was one of frustrations about being in Vancouver then. The big thing was the difficulty in getting composite materials for my cone experiments. It all came from the Great Lakes area.  The automotive industry drives a lot of that technology in that area.  The first actual driver we produced that was in a product was the M200 that went in the MH225 and we followed that a year later with the 18."

That opens up a whole world of possibilities.

Adamson: "We opted to go with a much more expensive material than paper for our cones, which gives us not only  long term durability, but also long-term repeatability that paper just can't do. The bottom line is that you can measure the physical difference in a paper loudspeaker that's been in the field for a year, because it fatigues and you cannot measure the physical difference in a Kevlar® cone that's been in the field for five or 10 years. A nicely-designed paper cone goes through a graceful aging process — and not necessarily a bad one. Kevlar® also has very good properties for midrange — it doesn't have the same degree of internal losses that paper has, and Kevlar® has just enough internal loss to provide damping, so it won't ring."

That first line array project in 1999 really seems to have defined the company.

Adamson: "It was one of those brilliant moments in a company where everyone pitches in. From the time I cooked the ideas up on that project, we worked literally day and night and turned out the first product in 90 days. We had our production team working so late though the night that we ended up crashing at the warehouse. We took that to heart and it grew the company substantially. 

"We're in a new growth phase right now. It's good. There's a real jump in activity on big systems, as well as small- and medium-sized stuff."

Congratulations on the first 30 years. So what's ahead for Adamson Systems?

Adamson: "I always wanted to bring the company into another field of manufacturing, and we're just getting some work in electrical engineering, where we'll be producing electronics for these products. All technology converges and this will also let us bring a higher value added product to our customers. My feeling is that loudspeakers are a system that also involves digital processing, amplifiers, rigging and the loudspeakers themselves. Another part of that technology system is the software that allows the user to set them up and integrate them with element analysis and information about the room. 

"Eventually loudspeakers will become loudspeaker systems and much more tightly integrated than they were 10 years ago. In another 10 years, we'll see a complete integration and there will be some companies that don't survive that. I want us to be one of the companies that understands the hardware, firmware and software side of it as we do with our electronics. We haven't shown anything publicly, but it all has to do with Class-D amplifiers in the speakers and control structure.

"Right now, we're expanding and adding some significant new skills to the company. We're in the phase where we have to complete the cycle to be ready for the added complexity of the systems we're building. It's all very exciting to see."

This interview was conducted by FRONT OF HOUSE magazine's George Petersen.


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