Preview: RCF ART9 Series

With the most powerful amp module ever placed inside an ART Series speaker, 9 Series has built on 25 years of ART powered speakers, and taken things to a whole new level.

Usually this section is reserved for a product review.. but since the newly released RCF ART9 Series won’t hit us until middle of September, we’ll run with a PREview instead.

RCF ART9 Series – a long time in the making

There’s plenty of history – and innovation – built into this latest, flagship ART 9 Series. Reliability from the old days, some borrowed technology (FiRPHASE from the 2018 Mk4 series), and new innovations like the most powerful amplifier section every deployed in an ART SERIES speaker, along with some new driver tricks. But fear not, they are still made in Italy.

Those who have been around for a while will know just how long we’ve proudly been flying the RCF flag. We know of a few original ART300A speakers still in use. After 25 years, that’s a pretty serious effort!

If you don’t want to read the whole overview, click on any of the boxes in the line-up below, which will open up the product page for that speaker.

The Line-up:

Now, back to the ART9 Series preview:

Flip it around, let’s check the amp module

Like we’ve already mentioned, the 2100w amp module (1400w LF + 700w HF) is the most substantial that we’ve ever seen in an ART SERIES box.

Some words from RCF:

the 2-channel ART 9 Class-D amplifier is 50% more powerful than previous models, able to manage extremely high sound pressure levels with an ultra-fast attack, realistic transient response, and very low heat loss.”

Maximum power, minimum weight. There is not a fan included – all the ART 9 boxes are very energy-efficient, so there is no need for a cooling fan. The amplifier is attached to a solid aluminium heat exchanger in the back of the unit.

Input and control panel

The first thing to notice on the back panel is the lack of selector for “mic input”. That’s right, it’s strictly line-level only accepted by ART 9 Series. It feels like there could be a reason for this:

Your input is via a Neutrik combi connector, so you can use either XLR or TRS (balanced) 1/4″ jack to get your signal in there.

There is also a feed-through via XLR, if you’re needing to daisy-chain the signal.

Presets & DSP

You get a choice of three presets – you’ll have to choose one (there’s not ‘bypass presets’ button). LINEAR is the flattest response, and the one most of us will choose when you’re using ART9 Series either on a speaker stand, or as part of a Sub-Satellite setup. This is especially useful when using for audiovisual reinforcement, or for a live source (such as band, duo, etc).

What about the magic DJ button? You’re probably looking for BOOST, which offers “enhanced loudness for background music or punchy bass”. We’d suggest this is not the smartest setting if you’re running subs, or as part of a managed system – it’s more a ‘stand-alone’ alternative.

The other very useful setting is STAGE, which tweaks the tuning to make it more suitable when the box is oriented in wedge / foldback / stage monitor position.

Of course, there is a bit of under-the-hood DSP magic built into all RCF ART Series thesedays (FiRPHASE), but more on that later. The volume knob allows control from -∞ through to MAX, and positioned above that is the usual Green LED for signal and Red LED for overload.

It’s what’s on the inside that counts

RCF has been making components for yonks. Long before the now-25-year-old ART Series had even been conceived, RCF was bringing a higher quality to our world.

“The Transducer R&D centre and the development of high power transducers launched RCF internationally, becoming the OEM supplier of several speaker manufacturers in the USA and Europe.”

Captain Kapton!

The new 1.75″ compression driver voice-coil design with Polyimide-Kapton dome features a new bonding technology and reinforced ribs make it 10 times more durable than previous models. RCF also redesigned the phase plug to increase sound clarity and precision, also improving coupling with the low-frequency transducer.

Kapton® is a material extensively used in space and for temperature-resistant insulation. For applications where extremes of heat and vibration are the norm, designers rely on Kapton® because of its ability to maintain its unique combination of mechanical properties under the harshest of conditions.

This is used for the top end of ART910A, 912A and 915A, while the ART932A, 935A and 9-45A feature a Neodymium HF.

Big Bottoms & the secrets of Bass Motion Control

Low-frequency transducer design gains more stability over higher currents, with less distortion, and is highly efficient in terms of heat dissipation. RCF quality control is strict – the woofers are tested with a 200 hours continuous signal to stress the transducer at extreme levels. Only the best woofer design can fit ART 9 Series.

When searching for an extended bass with enhanced performance, RCF engineers found a way to remove the high-pass filter, replacing it with a forward-thinking approach. BMC (Bass Motion Control), is the newly advanced woofer excursion management feature. Speakers with BMC can handle the lowest audible frequencies without affecting the woofer stability, with extended linearity and better sound integrity.

The BMC method works by creating a complete map of the dynamic behaviour of the woofer, to generate a custom algorithm that only limits over-excursions. This gives freedom of signal reproduction to the transducer. Whereas high-pass filters normally protect the woofer motion from becoming destructive, but change the phase behaviour, the new BMC algorithm breaks conventional rule. In combination with FiRPHASE technology, ART 9 Series has a level of DSP audio performance never achieved in this range of speakers.

More on FiRPHASE

It’s been a part of RCF ART Series sound since the “Mk4” boxes were released around 2017/2018. This includes the smaller HD10A Mk4 and ART310A Mk4, right up to the (previously) highest powered ART745A Mk4.

In a nutshell, we have previously written this: “RCF speakers are designed by using FiRPHASE, a proprietary and advanced FIR filtering technology, conceived for delivering transparent sound, absolute clarity and perfect stereo images to the listener. The FiRPHASE algorithm optimises dynamics, amplitude and phase patterns, ensuring at the same time minimum system latency”

Got a spare 3 mins? Check this RCF-produced FirPHASE explainer video:

If you’re wanting to consume your information in a technical manner, download the White Paper linked below to discover all the features about the proprietary RCF FiRPHASE Technology.

Box design – a new look for ART 9 Series

A flat grille.

That could be enough of a change for ART 9 series – it really does look vastly different to any ART box that has come before it.

Underneath that, there are plenty of other features we should check out:

A professional appearance of an ART 9 cabinet is ideal for live events or installed applications. The sleek cabinet uses a special polypropylene composite material with a radically new construction concept. The grille cover is heavy-duty steel protecting both transducers and vented ports. The purpose-designed M-brace connects the four internal sides of the cabinet and amplifier, preventing any deformation for a completely inert body, with augmented acoustical damping even at maximum volume settings. It also performs as a reinforcement structure, for greater resistance to mechanical stress.

Yeah… with the new grille coverage, this one might have slipped under the radar. Not for us though.

Acoustically, the True Resistive Waveguide mimics a resonance-free pure resistive load, reducing the high-frequency distortion of a classic horn. With its asymmetrical sound shaping, the coverage angle of the waveguide provides constant directivity to the entire listening area and improved stereo panorama.

Stock arrives mid-September

In the meantime, you can kick back and check out the 3′ 30″ video on ART 9 Series by RCF.

…or you can get in touch if you want to grab a pair from the first shipment

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