Pearl Acoustics are manufacturers of high quality loudspeaker systems.
Purity, simplicity and sustainability are our three defining words.
Pearl Acoustics Ltd. is a privately owned loudspeaker manufacturer, specialized in designing extremely high quality loudspeakers for the high end, domestic Hi-Fi market. It was the brainchild of Harley Lovegrove a business man and entrepreneur who has been designing loudspeaker enclosures since the age of nine. Brought up in south east England (some say the centre of the world’s loudspeaker design in the 1960’s with both KEF and Lowther being in the vicinity) Harley’s passion for loudspeaker building was cemented by regular visits to the famous ‘Lowther’ loudspeaker company factory which was conveniently located on the way home from his primary school in Bromley.
Today, Pearl Acoustics is run by his daughter Summer Lovegrove as CEO, with Ajay Verma in Customer & Technical Services and Chris and the team in production. Harley still oversees quality control and testing, which occurs in Diest Belgium, near to where he lives.
Harley grew up in an artistic family where music and art dominated the home. Always fascinated with radios and record players his life ambition was to design and build a pair of loudspeakers that would sound exactly like the musical instruments from the local orchestra he played in. As a teenager and into his early twenties Harley mostly focused on designing and building loudspeaker systems that utilized multiple drive units from KEF and Son-Audax. Both he and his younger brother Damien Lovegrove (now a world famous photographer) never allowed budget or cabinet construction complexity to ever stand in their way. Their goal was simple – to outperform the mainstream manufacturers at their own game.
“For me speaker building is more like instrument making. It’s a passion and a craft all at once. Sure there is science too but not many Luthiers know much about science, they don’t need to test their cellos, violins or classical guitars in anechoic chambers to know if they are any good or not. All I have done over these last five decades is to try to design and build the best possible enclosures and then to find really great drivers (ones that can cover the widest possible frequency range effortlessly). By teaming up with Mark Fenlon of Mark Audio, I now have my own custom drive units made exclusively for the Sibelius SG and CG models.”
The world renowned speaker designer and builder John Bowers of Bowers & Wilkins famously once said
“The very best speaker design only needs one drive unit but if you cannot build it with one then use two. If you cannot build it with two then use three. If you need more than three then change your design.”
Sadly John Bowers is not around anymore to hear what our team has built, but if he were, I think he would be pleased with what we have achieved.
Making a pair of Sibelius loudspeakers takes time!
Making a pair of Sibelius enclosures is mostly handwork. The whole process takes approximately 12 weeks from the French oak entering the joinery, to the finished pairs leaving for a customer.
Selecting the French Oak, right through to gluing, clamping, chiseling and preparing for finishing.
Before we can apply a stain and a topcoat, be it a water-based varnish or natural wax-oil, the enclosure must be perfect. Any oversights here means triple work later on!
Hand sanding, smoothing with a steel blade and routing the edges, are all part of the pre-finishing process.
Every enclosure is unique. They need to be selected for their individual characteristics and their suitability for the colour and type of finish our customer is looking for.
Applying a dark stain is a skilled job. It takes a steady hand, time and patience.
From the ‘90’s to the present day…
In the early 90’s Harley made a major breakthrough in enclosure design. It was a complete reversal on his previous designs – moving away from highly complex crossovers and electronic filters. His new design was based upon the principles of the legendary work of Paul Voight in 1939.
Paul Voight –
Courtesy of the Lowther Museum
The result was a quarter wave, front loaded horn with a single drive plus tweeter for the last three octaves. It utilized a very unfashionable (at the time) simple two component 6db per octave crossover. Harley’s new minimalist approach to design was bringing him closer to his goal but he knew that it would be even better if it could be driven by a single drive unit. Unfortunately there was nothing of sufficient quality that could truly handle the upper and lower octaves. Not even Fostex or Lowther could produce a something that would comfortably go up to and beyond 20KHz. And certainly not with the amount of power needed to reproduce an orchestra at realistic sound levels.
In 2012 two important things happened: Firstly; Harley discovered the drive units manufactured by Mark Audio, especially the Alpair 7 and Alpair 10.2 These drive units were what he had been waiting for all these years; Purity, power handling and incredible sound stage dynamics. Secondly Harley met Chris Cabergs the owner of a bespoke joinery business in Diest, Belgium.Chris was specialized in working with high quality natural timber, especially Oak and Beech.
Chris, like Harley was a perfectionist. He understood cabinet construction and could take Harley’s designs and give them the rigidity that he was looking for, without the need for internal edge bracing (which causes too many acoustical problems). Chris, an engineer from training was also extremely interested in Hi-Fi and acoustics and after successfully building Harley a pair of Scott Lindgren’s Frugel-Horn Mk3’s utilizing the Alpair 7’s, he set about building Harley’s classic enclosure design for the brand new Alpair 10.2, generation 2. He chose for three centimetre thick, slow grown, slow aged French Oak. After several false starts and much hard work and perseverance, Chris delivered the perfect result and Harley had the driver cabinet combination he had always dreamt of. A cabinet that could accurately reproduce the full frequency range of the musical instruments he had always wanted to reproduce. After three more years of testing, improving and working closely with Mark Fenlon’s team in Hong Kong, The Sibelius SG and CG finally came off the production line, powered by fully customized Mark Audio drive units, exactly to the Sibelius’ design needs.
After several months of additional fine tuning and experimenting with a wide range of acoustic damping materials, the first commercial production specification Sibelius (the name of the composer that Harley dedicated his design to) was produced and introduced to a waiting public.
The rest they say is history…