Yes I am! We have a great team here at Hill, with an average age a lot less than mine! My role, as Chief of Design, is to make sure that every product with my name on it sounds amazing, is engineered to last for ever, and is backed up by total customer service.
A seriously long time! All Hill products come with a 5 year warranty, but are designed to keep working for much longer. There are Hill amplifiers still working fine after 40 years use, and Hill mixers from the 70s only need modest re-capping to give them new life (Hill circuit designs use hardly any electrolytics: they are direct coupled or tantalum isolated).Even M3 and M4 speakers from the 80s can be found around the world, still doing a job, week in, week out.
Typical amplifiers use electromagnetic relay contacts to disconnect their output from the speaker immediately on 'switch-off'. This disconnection is needed as, without it, non-linearity in typical amplifier circuitry would deliver a destructive DC voltage to the speaker as the power supply decays. The output of the HILL DPU, in contrast, is permanently connected to the speaker: this eliminates the signal degradation and reliability issues associated with the long-term use of electromechanical contacts. However, the ultra-linear circuitry employed in HILL circuit design means the resulting output on 'switch-off' is just a small, harmless, 'pop'.
There are 3 main reasons:
The speech and music sound spectrum covers 10 octaves and is full of transient waveforms. However, most leading manufacturers tend to use transducers that are only truly efficient in 4 out of the 10 octaves, thereby causing a dulling of transient response, and a subsequent lack of detail in the final sound. In contrast, Hill select transducers that are both fully effective over the whole 10 octave spectrum and also highly responsive within their individual performance band; as such, they faithfully capture every detail
Typically leading manufacturers use class D switching amplifier technology, which is unable to respond to those subtle waveforms which make all the difference between "sound" and "music". Moreover, the quantization of the audio signal necessary for switching amplifiers generates audible distortion artefacts, which are unpleasant to the ear. In contrast Hill employ classic ultra-linear technology, renowned for its faithful, detailed sound quality, and is the chosen approach for applications such as high-end studio monitoring.
Digital Signal Processing
Typically, leading manufacturers attempt to 'fix' the above system deficiencies 'in the DSP'. However, although DSP can remedy poor frequency response to some extent, even extreme DSP cannot replace losses in the more important parameters of transient and power response, nor can DSP remove unwanted elements such as distortion artefacts In contrast, Hill systems only use a modest amount of DSP to optimise performance, and never in attempt to remedy a deficiency.
For much the same reasons as they sound better (see above) In Hill systems the wide-band efficiency of the transducers delivers power over the entire spectrum, not just in 2 or 3 segments. This is especially notable in the mid range, where drums and vocals are given equal, full voice, not allowing one source to be compromised in favour of another. In addition, the Hill ultralinear amplifier technology guarantees all the drive-power is available, all the time. Moreover, Hill system DSP avoids the extreme dynamic-compression settings to be found in typical systems - settings which progressively 'clamp' the mix as the spl rises. In fact, the Hill DSP presets maintain full dynamic power within the entire operational envelope, so the 'mix' holds together, right up to max spl.
The max spl figure quoted by a system manufacturer is normally measured as a single short-term peak within a pink noise signal. The spl reading on your phone is an average level, normally measured over a period of 125mS. (confusingly called 'fast'). So your phone will probably be giving a reading around 10-12dB less than you would expect from the peak figure in the specs.
The spec. figure is useful for comparing the potential of different products, but your phone reading is giving you the true indication of the systems acoustic power.
Frequency response is a measure of a unit's performance across the wide audio band. However, it is normally significantly 'optimised' and also measured at low levels. Power response is the true capability of the unit to deliver power over the audio band. For example, a unit might be 10dB inefficient at 1kHz. Once 'optimised' (eg with DSP), the unit's frequency response curve would look like it was 'flat' around 1kHz. But in fact, at high power levels, the laws of physics would prevail, and the 'power response' curve would reveal the 10dB deficiency.
Yes, amazingly the M10 delivers tonally consistent sound over more than 140deg. Just as impressive, pattern control is maintained down to an extraordinary 200Hz. This exceptional performance is achieved by locating the LF drivers over a constant arc baffle, and by mounting the central HF diver on a special defined aperture diffraction waveguide.
The explanation below shows that an M10 can be rigged as either, meaning a complex install can enjoy the benefits of identical speakers whether deployed in the main hang, in-fills, or under balcony delays, side halls etc. The Hill M10 delivers this unique capability without compromise.
The 'M' in Mseries stands for 'Modular', and goes back to the early 1980's. PA systems at the time were 'component systems' (i.e. bass bins,mids and horns), which were difficult to set up properly from venue to venue, and a nightmare of a truck-pack. So, under pressure from AC/DC 's tour management, Hill developed a full range, fully modular (M), fully scaleable speaker box, to deliver un-precedented levels of sound and logistic efficiency, for the epic 'Back in Black' world tour.
HILL are continually sampling the transducer (driver) world, to make sure we are using the latest in development technology. Currently, HILL products use devices precision made by leading OEM manufacturers based in England, Spain and Italy.