System linearity is a simple concept: A system is linear when the sound you put in is what you get out, without modification to the signal.
When deploying linear components, you have a mathematically correct and predictable system that can be measured individually or as a whole. You can experiment with science-based design concepts with predictable results that are repeatable. Once any of the components behaves in a non-linear fashion, this predictability falls apart.
So, how does the linearity principle translate for the cinema?
In this interview, John Meyer, CEO and cofounder of Meyer Sound, looks at the importance of linearity, why linear systems are the only way to go in cinema sound,
and how digital processing simply cannot patch up problems caused by a distorted loudspeaker.
Q: Is linearity a recent concept?Meyer:
No. In the 1950s power amplifiers made a big advancement in technology—they became linear, which means that the amplifiers didn't modify the signals and made it possible to have several signals processed by the amplifier simultaneously while remaining independent. With this advancement, a violin and a trumpet could now be reproduced from the same loudspeaker at the same time and the listener could still distinguish between the two.
Q: What is the problem when loudspeakers are not tested for linearity? Meyer:
When the user has no information about whether a loudspeaker is linear, system selection becomes subjective. So when someone chooses one product over another, oftentimes it's because they like a certain...