M-Force by Powersoft opens Caparezza’s tour!

M-Force from Powersoft made its first appearance at PL+S in 2013. We spoke a lot about the product in a special on this German fair, and which, already in 2013, caused quite a stir in the audio community. It was obvious that it was a true innovation in the professional audio sector, always on the lookout for new and enthusiastic products.

At that time, even if there seemed to be interesting scenarios, there still wasn’t an application that could really show what M-Force could do ‘in the field’.

In fact, as designer Claudio Lastrucci at Powersoft clearly points out, M-Force is not exactly a Subwoofer, but can really be considered the engine which, together with a suitably designed acoustic case, make up a new type of broadcasting system dedicated to low frequencies (normally called Sub) and which can give a sound pressure and acoustic performance that cannot be reached with traditional systems.

caparezza_sub
We recently had the possibility of speaking about M-Force and some ad-hoc speakers designed by Mario Di Cola e re-named MM-01 used in a totally Italian production. Four of these Subs were, in fact, used for the first time in Italy during Caparezza‘s recent tour. The show of the genious italian hip hop, rap and rock artist is mixed by Antonio Porcelli, another key player in the project, who, also working as director of production, believed in and worked hard to make this project a success.
And thanks to the collaboration between Antonio e Mario, along with support from Powersoft, everything was made possible with the results that we will soon learn about speaking to those directly involved.

This interview really lets us see the work behind this technology, and for those who would like to know more, the best way is to go to the website of its Tuscany-based manufacturer Powersoft.

Quite recently, Mario Di Cola and Claudio Lastrucci from Powersoft prepared and gave a presentation on the “applications and methods to follow for a designer who wants to build loudspeaker systems using M-Force technology…” at the AES meeting in Los Angeles.

And now, here are the interviews with Antonio Porcelli, FoH sound technician and production director for Caparezza’s tour, Mario Di Cola, designer of MM-01, and further ‘in the field’ experience from the designer of M-Force Claudio Lastrucci.

ZioGiorgio.it: Antonio, you’ve been using Proel’s Axiom for Caparezza’s live shows for ten years now, but this year there was an important new entry for the live sound.

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Antonio Porcelli, FoH sound engineer for Caparezza.

Antonio Porcelli: That’s right. I liked Axiom right from the first time I used it during a concert and that’s where I also met Mario Di Cola, an encounter that has become fundamental over the years.
At that time I used eight systems, with 21’’ subs. Experimenting on the base part, which is an important range in Caparezza’s music, I started to use Powersoft ends for the subs and I was really surprised by the impact that they had on the sound. They gave me lots of speed in the transients and in definition. The next step was when I started to use a Lake Contour as a crossover and then a Dolby Lake for the processing, and from then on the chain has been almost always the same: mixer, Lake crossovers, Powersoft amps, Axiom line arrays with 21’’ subs.

At the beginning I used all Powersoft K10 amplifiers and then I moved on to K20 on the subs obviously getting even better yield. I must say that Mario has always played a very important part and our collaboration has always been fruitful: I asked him to change the pre-sets of the processors and he gave me exactly what I wanted, together we have always looked for different solutions with the aim of experimenting and improving continuously.

ZioGiorgio.it: Let’s take a look at the more recent innovations in subwoofers.

Antonio Porcelli: Yes, of course, and we were the first in Italy to use M-Force technology! But let’s start from the beginning…
First of all, I need to tell you that I met Mario Di Cola in Los Angeles in January 2014 by pure chance. I was there for Caparezza’s album Museica, which was mixed by the multi-Grammy award winner Chris Lord-Alge, and Mario was there to present a project on a ‘particular sub’ with new technology to a client. He invited me to listen to the demo and I accepted with great pleasure. After first listening to a system with ‘traditional’ subs, Mario interrupted the demo and turned on this mysterious ‘black box’, which I didn’t know anything about right then. That first ‘listening’ was incredible! The volume was crazy, the sub went really low  without any type of distortion. I was so impressed that I said immediately: “Mario, I want it!”. At the beginning, I think that Mario actually thought I was joking but as soon as I had the opportunity I ordered four subs for Caparezza’s tour that was to start up in the summer. And that’s why I’m proud to say that we were the first to use M-Force, a really revolutionary technology for me.

ZioGiorgio.it: Why revolutionary? Give us your opinions as sound technician and end user.



Antonio Porcelli: Mario and Claudio will certainly be able to give you more technological details but I can say that that the sub that is built around this technology developed by Powersoft is not the type of speaker that we normally think and speak about. It is, in fact, a magnet that moves between a coil, a piston and a type of “plastic lid” that moves the air at a really impressive speed. Speaking about it like this doesn’t really give the right idea but the end product can speak for itself more than any number of words. The sound that you get is nothing like you have ever heard before. Powerful, profound, clean and with an incredible range.

ZioGiorgio.it: Where did you try out the four subs built by Mario Di Cola for the first time?

Antonio Porcelli: During the show in Gallipoli, which is a very important date for us, as it is like playing in your own home town. And being a really big location, I chose another of Mario Di Cola’s products, the LiSA 2 line array, which, in fact, is used in really big events. But above all these four subs with M-Force technology…

di_cola_subs

ZioGiorgio.it: How did you use them?

Antonio Porcelli: This technology really lets you reach 20Hz,I mean, 20Hz that you can hear and analyse with the Smaart! I followed Mario’s advice and I used them with a signal coming from a bus, as infra subs. I positioned them in the centre giving them only the subkick from the speakers and the bass in D.I., and very little else. The LiSA 2 already responds quite well in base frequencies and there was no need for anything else for the subs. The bass frequencies were crazy, like something never heard before from other systems, as I already said.

ZioGiorgio.it: So you’re still using them on tour, and which developments have there been in their use?

Antonio Porcelli: We are now more aware of their capabilities, but in their audio set-up we now know that we need a lot fewer subs. For the moment, I always use the MM-01 in mono as described before, but I’m continuing to study and test them, this technology is just waiting to be explored.

ZioGiorgio.it: You also manage production for Caparezza. Does this technology give any other advantages?

Antonio Porcelli: Well, we certainly need fewer speakers and therefore less space is occupied. Saving on space means saving on transport, which is quite an important part of costs for a tour. It was actually the same as when line arrays came out and when LEDs simplified Lighting Designers’ work. I really don’t think I’ll ever stop using this product.

After speaking to Antonio, we also spoke to Mario Di Cola the designer of the MM-01 speakers.

ZioGiorgio.it: Mario, how did you get the idea of this project?

Mario Di Cola: In the last few years I’ve been working a lot on the audio aspects for Caparezza, as well as on my collaboration with Antonio, and my work with GM Music, the service provider that has been collaborating with Caparezza for some years now.
When we met in Los Angeles at the beginning of 2014, as Antonio told you, he asked me if I could help him to get the same sound of Caparezza’s new album, which has an important part of low frequencies, in a live tour. I explained that I was testing a new type of technology from Powersoft that could probably solve this problem and I invited him to a demo that I was holding at the Avalon, a club in Hollywood. The name of this technology, created from an idea of Claudio Lastrucci, is M-Force.
M-Force is the ‘engine’ of the system, while I have designed the speaker that makes the technology operative. Antonio was immediately really interested and was willing to take part in this adventure with us. We then created a sub designed specifically for Caparezza’s tour, a compact speaker, with M-Force and a 30’’ cone.

ZioGiorgio.it: How does M-Force work? Can you explain it in a simple way?

Mario Di Cola: M-Force is a transducer based on the electro-dynamic principle of loudspeakers, but the moving part is not the coil, which becomes stationary, and it is the magnet that moves. There’s a valid reason if the moving-coil of speakers has developed in 100 years, because it has a series of positive aspects. The moving-magnet on the other hand, as designed in the of Powersoft licence, is highly-performing and becomes really effective above all when you want to have low frequencies.
 Actually, to be more precise, right now it’s a really valid technology for low frequencies. But let’s say that its first – and more direct – application, is aimed above all at the low frequency range, because in this range, the technology enables to have really high transducer efficiency. We are speaking about electrical efficiency that can be two to three times higher than that of a normal loudspeaker, but in theory can even reach ten times higher efficiency.

ZioGiorgio.it: Impressive figures, how is this possible in your opinion?

Mario Di Cola: This really high transducer efficiency would be impossible with a ‘normal’ 8 Ohm speaker. Here, on the other hand, there is a particular speaker and we can get such a high level of efficiency because the coil is stationary, is surrounded by very thick wire, and can therefore work with much higher voltage with very low impedance. All this is obviously possible because Powersoft has designed the entire system and not just the transducer, but also dedicated electronics that are fundamental for the rest of the system.

ZioGiorgio.it: When M-Force was released there was a bit of confusion with Servo Drive technology. Does it have something to do with this?

Mario Di Cola: No. Servo Drive is a completely different thing. If we consider that both reproduce bass frequencies without a ‘traditional’ speaker, OK, they are similar, but they are completely different technologies. Servo Drive was, and is, made up of a rotating motor that communicates with the cone making a piston move through a transmission system. With M-Force on the other hand, we are speaking about a completely different thing: here the piston has a swinging movement exactly like a loudspeaker, but unlike a loudspeaker, it is the magnet that moves and not the coil.

ZioGiorgio.it: How does the construction of the speaker change?



Mario Di Cola: To design a speaker that includes this technology you need to have a different view of the project. Even if it seems banal, I would like to say that you don’t just have to build a box with a hole to put the speaker in, because it is this ‘box’ or casing that becomes the backbone of the speaker. Those who work in my sector will find this really stimulating because it allows them to go even further ahead than where we are now, improving performance even more we hope.

ZioGiorgio.it: Which are the advantages of this type of construction from a practical point of view?

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From left: Antonio Porcelli, Danilo Stramaglia and Mario di Cola.

Mario Di Cola: Having a hot-moulded cone enables to build a machine that is almost completely weather-resistant, while it doesn’t have any moving electrical parts as in loudspeakers, which have connecting wires – lead-wires – that are constantly subject to stress over time.
But the most important advantage is that this motor is incredibly strong and can easily push even bigger cones, and therefore enables to move an incredible amount of air, which means that you can generate really high sound pressure levels with low frequencies of from 25 to 40Hz. You would need a really high number of traditional systems to reach these levels, if you are ever able to have the same sound results. This is the practical aspect where M-Force is the winner.



ZioGiorgio.it: What about future developments? How do you think your project will evolve?

Mario Di Cola: I have already received requests from several clients to design subs with this technology and I am working on different types of application with different types of speakers and cones, because Powersoft also has cones of different sizes and dimensions. Alongside the 30”, there is also a smaller cone of 22”, as well as a larger one of 40”. Powersoft will surely release more innovations and developments regarding this technology, and I am looking forward to seeing these new products.



ZioGiorgio.it: You presented the project at the AES convention in Los Angeles.


Mario Di Cola: Yes, I decided to present a paper that explains the applications and methods to follow for designers that want to build loudspeaker systems with M-Force technology. I am simply making my experience available to others…

Alongside the practical experience of Mario and Antonio during Caparezza’s tour, we also spoke to Claudio Lastrucci, the designer of M-Force.

ZioGiorgio.it: When and why did you think about creating M-Force?

lastrucci_mforce

Claudio Lastrucci, the “father” of M-Force.

Claudio Lastrucci: In theory, loudspeakers have always been the weakest link in electro-acoustic conversion/transduction, a bottleneck. Some years ago, with my knowledge of the non-conventional potential of our products with regards to piloting non-conventional loads, I had the idea of changing the problem around.
With the introduction of switching technologies, there was an enormous increase in performance which was not fully exploited: the move from linear amplification technology to switching, and, despite the evident advantages in terms of performance, weight and size, it did not lead to the optimization of transduction technology.
In fact, the weak link of the chain is no longer the last one but is, in fact, the loudspeaker. I only imagined not to limit the functionality of our speakers to conventional loudspeakers, created and optimized to be piloted by linear loudspeakers.
When you add an extra level of freedom and way of getting round a problem, you can get really surprising results: M-Force is the result of analysis carried out on the typical problems of a broadcast system for low frequencies.
With regards to optimization of transduction systems, I think we will have even more surprises in the near future. Last but not least, I have a real passion for loudspeakers … and a bit of insanity too.

ZioGiorgio.it: As a designer, what were the biggest difficulties that you had to face during construction?

Claudio Lastrucci: there was no historical knowledge on this approach: at Powersoft we did not have any specific skills in the electro-acoustic transduction sector and we had to really learn a lot: M-Force is the result of this work,  completely new from a patent point of view.
Material, simulations, prototypes and an incredible number of trials and errors have enabled us to gain a firm grasp of this technology and effective engineering of the product. On the other hand, each development comes from a series of errors.

ZioGiorgio.it: which other possibilities could this technology offer in the near future?

Claudio Lastrucci: I personally believe in the integration between amplifiers, elaboration systems and transducers.
M-Force technology has all the features to enable it to change the way of dealing with sound and acoustic design in many different fields of application.
This system leaves a lot of freedom in the construction of non conventional loudspeakers; M-Force allows designers to experiment with new methods of combining cabinets and transducers: we can really have fun!

info: www.powersoft-audio.com

info: www.lisasystem.com

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