Anyone know about TARDIS Sound Field Projector speaker systems?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Arkay, May 20, 2006.

  1. Arkay

    Arkay Lunatic Member

    Hong Kong
    Today I was passing one of the audio wholesale places here, and did a double-take. They had a pair of big and impressive/expensive-looking speaker columns. VERY eye-catching, but only very vaguely familiar to me.

    The metal plaques at the base said "Tardis" and had a wide "T" logo below the name, which I think I have seen in some very high-end used audio boutique, but on a different model. The labels on the back identified them as "Tardis Sound Field Projectors" and indicated Model CL II, Serial Number 3083. There was a company address in San Diego, California. The label was printed, but the model number was written in by hand.

    I've tried to search these online, but all I find is phone booths! [Dr. Who fans will understand...] Sorry about no pics, but I'll try to describe them:

    I'm over six feet tall and these things towered over me, they were a good seven feet tall, if an inch. They are VERY HEAVY -- the guy had to really struggle to "walk-drag" one, when he pulled it out to let me read the label on the back. He obviously couldn't lift one, and could barely drag it; I'd guess they are a good 200 pounds each, from watching him. Each side had seven drivers (fourteen drivers in total) in vertical alignment (when seen from the front).

    Viewed from the side, the front of the speakers where the drivers were mounted was curved/concave, so the speakers in the center were inset farther than the ones at the top and bottom. The tweets were in the center, mids in the middle, with larger woofers at the bottom and top, and thus farthest "forward". There appeared to be small rectangular ports for the largest woofers. I think these were not more than eight inches, but I could be wrong. There was a wider black base at the bottom for stability, and the main columns holding the drivers were entirely covered on the front and two sides with speaker cloth. That is, there was no grille; the main speaker columns are finished in speaker cloth instead of veneer.

    There were solid strips (I'd almost call them slabs) of oak (several inches wide by about an inch thick) rising up from the base on each side, standing away from the main speaker columns by an inch or so, and arching over the top of the columns. They were fastened to the columns at the base, in the middle of each side and at the top. I would guess these were partly decorative, partly for bracing, partly for protection of the cloth-covered column sides, and perhaps partly to give people somewhere to hold on to when moving the things(?).

    Overall, the darned things looked like pricey sculpture, as much as like speakers. The design sort of screamed "I'm high-tech (for that time) and I'm very expensive!". They actually had a relatively small footprint for the number of drivers, but seemed large because of their height and the curviness of the front (and rounded edges of the oak parts, etc...).

    These were obviously high-end pieces, but I know nothing about them. From their design, condition, etc... I suspect they date from the heyday of vintage audio; end-seventies/eighties. Around the time of the best Infinities, when oak was a popular material for good speakers. The guy said they were originally sold/bought here for more than US$5,000 a pair (before any adjustment for inflation). I asked him how much they were now, and he indicated about US$900. I think he could be bargained down somewhat from that, but not too much. Maybe $800?

    Right now, this is out of my budget, but that might change in the next few weeks (pending outcome of some negotiations), so if they are still there when the time comes, and they are worth it, I may grab them. Not sure about WAF -- they are very tall and a bit imposing, but since they are relatively narrow (smaller footprint) and rather sculptural, they might be more acceptable for the living room than the wider, chunkier-looking Infinities I now have (?).

    I guess my questions are: (1) Does anyone know anything about these? (2) Do they sound as good as they look? (3) Is his price a good price/value for these?

    Any information welcomed. Even if I don't get them, I'd like to know what it is that I have seen today. Thanks!
  2. bully

    bully member

    Near Lafayette, Indiana
    Orion info re Tardis Soundfield Projectors

    "See" Soundsmith Speaker Works. That model doesn't seem to be listed, but the other speakers listed are pricey. Maybe you can find something online about Soundsmith Speaker Works to answer your question.
    Good hunting.
    You might start with a $500 offer and go from there. If they're worth $500 to you to consider.
  3. Arkay

    Arkay Lunatic Member

    Hong Kong
    Thanks for the reference. A quick Google search of that name didn't turn up anything useful, though; not even a company by that name. I'll keep hunting for info.

    Whether or not the speakers are worth $500 (or more or less) to me depends in part on how they sound, and in part on their "market value" (if one exists), because if I get them and change my mind later, I can re-sell them in a high-end consignment shop near here, but I won't get my money back if I over-pay for them up front. I don't mind paying $500 for speakers "worth" $1,000 that I can easily resell for $750, or even just to get back my $500, but I do mind paying $500 for speakes worth, say, $499 that I will take a loss on.

    I can get a sound test when I'm seriously ready to buy, but in lousy conditions with iffy inputs, since they are sitting in the bare cement and cluttered wholesale place with only whatever units happen to be around the place to test 'em with. FAR from ideal test conditions, and probably all I'll be able to determine is that each driver is producing some sound. I'd also like to know what they require in terms of room size and placement, since they'll have to go fairly close to side walls, in my living room. They seem to big and heavy for me to move out and back for listening sessions.

    I'm intrigued by them only from their appearance, and the fact that their appearance strongly suggests that they are very high-end audiophile speakers that should sound like a jillion bucks or so. I'm wary, though, because looks can be deceiving and I'm after sound quality first and foremost, not appearance.

    Off to search some more for Soundsmith Speaker Works. Thanks!
  4. Arkay

    Arkay Lunatic Member

    Hong Kong
    Gone with the wind...

    Just to bring some closure to this thread, I went back today and the Tardis speakers were already sold. They were only there a few hours before someone (very likely a dealer) snapped them up. Oh, well... there is always tomorrow, and at least I didn't spend a lot of cash!
  5. mrtimelord

    mrtimelord New Member

    Tardis Speakers you saw.

    Yes I know all about them. That was my company ! Back in the 80- 90's I was attempting to change the way people were thinking about how good sound needed to be reproduced since the audio rags like stereophile and, to a lesser degree, absolute sound thought the correct way to review a loudspeaker was to base thier opinion on measurements based on un realistic measurement distances that just made it easier for them to make comparisons against other products based on the manufacturers specs which were actually usually based on a standard that was meant for the sale of individual loudspeaker drivers that might be under consideration for them to use but meaningless when trying to decide on a complete multispeaker design to be used in an actual listening room, which may vary a great deal.
    If you happen to come across this response and are still interested in this stuff my e-mail address is ( ) and I can give you some ideas about the proper way to arrange things and why , currently there are several other companies that are trying to capitalize on the attractive shape but are continueing to make the same basic mistake there by
    wasteing thier time and your money ( as to the end products value ) The shape allthough very attractive was in fact functional when set up on the right idea as to listening position. When listened to at about 9 ft that pair was flat +/_ 2 db from 20 to 26.000 hz.
    I have yet to see anyone else make anything that could claim that accuracy.
    The name of them was a take off from my interest in the Dr Who program where the name of the time and space machine was TARDIS
    My variant meant , depending on my ego at the moment, either Thompson Aligned Radius Directed Impulse Source or Time And Radius Directed Impulse Source.
    It was a time aligned system that was meant to form a point source for frequencies from the very high to the 100 hz range so it was takeing into account the size of the wavelength produced in order to produce an aligned pulse regardless of frequency. Something currenly ignored in speaker design
    and beyond the capacity of anything now being marketed as time aligned , by ANYONE . THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE TO DO WITHOUT ALIGNMENT TAKEING INTO ACCOUNT THE DISTANCE THAT THE LISTENER IS AT.
    By the way my final version of the matching subwoofer was also likewise delayed and was flat to 9 hz ( measured ). Again something I have yet to see from anyone and when properly set up as a sofa back table would correctly reproduce the cannons at live levels from Telarcs 1812 Recording (on records) without strain, on the speakers, your ears were a matter of personal self control. They where capable of 130 db at your ear, capable but not suggested. And that was at half max power !

    The Co name was Soundsmith Speakerworks in San Diego.
    The Speakers were Tardis,Soundsmith Soundfield Projectors
    The alignment as I referred to it was the ( Thompson Aligned Radius Directed Impulse Source ) my name is Mark Thompson. Mr Timelord. That was the name of the top model Timelord 1 towers. And yes the wood band on the outside for the most part was decorative.
    There was a great picture of it in the Main article first page of Audio Video Interior Magazine in I believe 1984 when I dispayed them in Chicago at Mcormick Place for the Ces Show the year before the fire that burned it down.
    Bound for Sound magazine heard my display that year and said they thought they were some of the best sounding speakers at the show.
    I heard the Wilson Wamm speakers that year at the show and though they were about 150.000.00 dollars a pair against mine which were then 5500 a pair I was not impressed. He also later was one of the co's to copy my basic design look ,still incorrectly timed, and he still does. So does Focal and several other companies. The curve is attractive but they don't use it right
    and no one ever referenced me so they have no integrity either.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2013
  6. Zonker92

    Zonker92 All shiny and chrome Subscriber

    Central CA
    Jeez, Mark; that's cool. Do you have any pictures of them? What drivers and crossovers did you use?

    My younger daughter loves to watch Dr. Who. My son may have teased her, once or twice, by referring to the "re-"TARDIS. :D
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2013
  7. JBL GUY

    JBL GUY Addicted Member

    Interesting information.

    Yes, pictures and information on drivers and crossovers.
  8. mrtimelord

    mrtimelord New Member

    Yes I have pix and the soundsmith timelords used mostly seas drivers and a panasonic planar tweeter, I've refurbed it and it.s still a nice tweeter.
    My newest version uses an actual ribbon from speaker express and some very nice cost effective mcm 6.5 inch poly cone rubber edge drivers with an inverted dust cap ( very important ) rebuild on the original prototype that needed new drivers but now I've used all 24db/oct x-overs which solved the phase problem of the odd order networks I used at first.
  9. mrtimelord

    mrtimelord New Member

    Yes that was my company and they were all my designs.
    Allthough many companies since have tried to get somewhere with nockoffs of the look by curveing the baffles they are still missing the point and since Stereophile Magazine and Absolute Sound did do reviews at the time it shouldn't be so hard for people to figure out who stole it from who. But since they are just capitolizing on the unusual look of the curved baffle they have missed the point entirely.
    Either they are just brainless thieves or just thieves they all missed the point. You need to focus the time alignment to happen at the listeners ears wherever he happens to have his listening location or they are not time and impulse aligned. My original designs had some problems at the crossover points due to a mix of 2nd order and 3rd order crossovers. I have rebuilt them with entirely in phase 24db per oct x-overs and the problems are gone.
    Unfortunately due to the miss management of the timeing of my last C.E.S show display back in 1991 abd the review that was meant to attrack customers or so I had hoped it didn't come out until the following month thereby wasteing all the efforts and my company went out of bussiness.
    I should have realized that the magazines only real desire was to make reviews easy for themselves to write and make pointless commentaries about nonsense that had nothing to do with getting consumers to get good sounding systems for themselves at home.
    The Reviewers as agents for sales of thier mags are CORRUPT and should not be paid attention to and they should all march themselves like lemmings into the sea for the good of everyone.
    Anyone listening to systems for themselves must make certain that they sound acceptable at the distances they are going to listen at if they cannot seperately adjust the positions of each driver, which I don't think any manufacturer at this time attempts. Otherwise the specs for response that are generally given are only telling you what you will never hear when you get them home unless you plan on listening at the meaningless and unrealistic distance of 1 meter which is what they promote everyone to adjust thier designs for. Therefore it's the least likely way that you as the user will ever hear them. I hope they ROT in HELL! They stole thousands from me for reviews and due to thier crass natures drove me out of business in the time I needed for my ideas to become known before I was driven to close up due to them and the onset of M.S. that made continuation unlikely.
    One of thier favorite LIES is that complex high order crossover networks are BAD and that the only good x-over designs are the most useless ones 6 db/oct due to lower phase problems. The problem is that means you also have nearly no x/over function and the maximum of overlap of sounds between the other drivers. ( THATS BAD.)

    They should go back to jobs they qualify for and flip burgers at McDonalds.

    For GOD Sakes Don't pay attention to thier opinions As the saying goes especially for them. Opinions are like ASSHOLES, everybody has one but I think they have more than the standard allocation. !!
    They often don't just have one they (ARE ONE.!!)

    And yes in case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm BITTER.

    Allthough my old social studies teacher Mr Schwartz allways said as a joke in class " Don't be bitter, Reconsider "

    I think Bitter is where I will stay.!!

    Mark Thompson ( The Soundsmith " since 1984 )

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