The Expanse Speakers range of electrostatic panels have been recently launched on Indiegogo and are promoted in two basic models complete with electronics and an optional subwoofer, responding to several different usage scenarios, from a simple pair of speakers for a computer and desk work, all the way to a 2.1 configuration for gaming or a desktop workstation, while the larger panels respond to the needs of a living room, with the two main speakers placed on the sides of a flat screen TV.
The campaign is promoted by IC One Two Pty Ltd. (Melbourne, Australia), established in 2006 and founded by a group of engineering and manufacturing consultants, with expertise in multiple production and manufacturing projects. “The company’s goal was to develop a new dimension in HiFi that is stylish, high fidelity and affordable which offer an alternative to sound bars and big audio systems and give a better listening experience,” states Nathan Oxley, CEO, Co- Founder, IC12.
Expanse Speakers are being promoted in a small (The Beat) and a larger (The Kick) version. Both are still considerably compact for electrostatic panels and both can be mounted to a TV or Monitor or setup free-standing. Both versions are said to deliver the high-quality, distortion-free sound that electrostatic speakers are known for. "We have already tested and developed the prototype. It looks great, works great, and SOUNDS even better," IC12 says.
Both speakers feature a super thin surface area diaphragm, able to cover a wide area with sound in all directions, as it is typical with electrostatic panels, and support a frequency range of between 250Hz and 20,000Hz while an optional active subwoofer delivers the bottom end from 55Hz – 350Hz. Even with the small size of the panels, IC12 says that the electrostatic design ensures high levels of over 95 decibels, thanks also to the 2 x 100-watt amplification that's part of the design. Both models are complemented by a very compact integrated amplifier unit, featuring standard analog audio line in, Bluetooth, and an FM Tuner (a digital connection is not specified but seems like a logical add-on). The Slam active compact subwoofer features dual woofer drivers driven by its own dedicated built-in 40-watt amplifier.
The Beat and Kick bookshelf style speakers come with two mounting options: removable mounting clips to connect to a TV or monitor, and foot stands for standalone mounting. Priced from just USD $179 to $499 plus shipping for full systems, Expanse Speakers are certainly an affordable and attractive idea and the Indiegogo campaign offers significant discounts on the expected retail prices when they go to market.
The Indiegogo campaign promotion page demands a certain dose of patience from anyone with some speaker knowledge to ignore the hyperboles and claims. On the other hand, that's understandable giving the need to generate enthusiasm from backers in a crowdfunding project - and being clear that many potential backers for such project will not necessarily have any idea about the specifics of an electrostatic transducer. And that's possibly where this project deserves to be mentioned, in the way it cleverly leverages the natural dispersion characteristics of electrostatics in a small format, with a clean and appealing design for the presented usage cases (even though the appeal for gamers raises some doubt... but it doesn't hurt trying.)
IC One Two is no strange to the crowdfunding challenges. They can claim three successful Kickstarter campaigns: The Surround Master (a surround decoder), the LED Light Cube, and The Qubie personal flashlight. In common with the IC2 founding team and the Expanse Speakers project is also the name of Charlie Van Dongen, a speaker design expert and electronic engineer with many years of experience with electrostatic panels, and the founder of Involve Audio (also from Melbourne), which licenses the electrostatic panels to IC12 for the Expanse Speakers. Van Dongen's original Sonic Panel was the winner of a CES 2012 Innovations Award and he has been directly involved in companies such as E R Audio Pty Ltd, which also licenses the panels for DIY applications.
According to IC2 the Expanse system range is fully developed, with prototypes of all systems complete, tested and operational. Delivery is scheduled to be 4 months after the campaign ends, if successful. And they need all the support they can get. The Indiegogo page can be visited here.