Linaeum Corporation: What happened?

Lloyd 'Ace' Grover writes ...

Company based in Portland, Oregon, USA that manufactured mid end loudspeaker systems that featured a unique patented line source/wave bending tweeter that is also referred to by the Linaeum name, note that their trademark used a ligature, i.e. it was written Linæum rather than Linaeum like the company name. Run by Paul Paddock and Ben Stutz and was started up in 1983 as Intensity Inc., changing its name to Floating Membranes Inc. in 1986, to Lineaum Corporation and then finally to Linaeum Corp in 1989, note minor spelling difference, the earlier spelling is incorrect Latin. The company’s main claim to fame was the dipolar line source tweeter that has a theoretical 360° soundfield, its basic working principle is similar to a ribbon loudspeaker in that there is a magnet that excites a ribbon but in this case the ribbon is not a tiny metal foil but a rather large doped silk ribbon, bending wave transducer in other words rather than a true riibbon. Since the soundfield is so wide the tweeters were placed on top of the speakers in the more expensive models from the company, but cheaper models had a monopole unit that was placed in conventional position for a tweeter at the top of the speaker facing forward.

Linaeum reached agreement with the Radio Shack corporation to license the technology to RS in 1995 or thereabouts, the outcome of that collaboration was the Linaeum designed Radio Shack Pro LX5 loudspeaker and the Optimus Dipole Tweeter, those 2 used a cheaper Linaeum driver built in Japan that had polypropylene for diaphragm material instead of silk and the actual speakers were manufactured in an RS controlled factory in Malaysia. These sold very well initially which lead to the company designing more models for RS including cheaper models and home theatre packages. The company was acquired in 1997 by Aura Sound, it was by then only producing a couple of models of speakers, Radio Shack continued to sell Linaeum designed speakers until 2003 but by that time they simply had stopped selling and the line was therefore dropped, there was a Toshiba speaker a couple of years later that used the same Japanese sourced version of the tweeter but that bombed in the market as well even though it was considered a better product than the RS ones, and was only available for a few months.

Aurasond continued to manufacture the Linaeum tweeters for a few years but no longer offer them as a standard product, but use the monopole version in one or two of their home theatre loudspeaker models and offer them as a custom part for OEM's in both the dipole and monopole variants. Mr. Paddock later resurfaced with an improved version of the driver and a new company called Active Environments Research Organization in 2005 but that appears to have disappeared as well, and apart from the aforementioned Aurasound the only speaker that appears to use a similar wave bending technology is the Audio Consulting Rubanoide speaker features a driver based on a similar idea but with a much larger diaphragm.

Spares & service : Any competent speaker repairer should be able to fix loudspeakers made by Linaeum, drivers are usually common models from companies like Vifa with fairly simple crossovers and the Linaeum drivers should be available from Aurasound as spares, the tweeters may not even need replacement, in case of failure it should be noted that they are actually very simple constructions that are easily fixed with the sole difficult to source part being the doped silk fabric. Radio Shack still listed replacement drivers for their version of the Linaeum driver until recently but current availability is unknown.

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