A combination of traditional folk art and science


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Philosophy Of Norh

During 1997, the Asian meltdown occurred. This meltdown was more severe in relative terms than the United States depression that accord in the 1930s. I watched as people began to loose their jobs everywhere. I had been working in Thailand for over two years and I felt that there had to be something I could do to create some economic activity.

Originally, I thought I could build loudspeakers for major companies in the United States.  Thailand has some of the best craftsmen in the world. Thailand's labor rates are very inexpensive. The quality of wood and MDF is superior to what is available in many countries. I couldn't get anyone interested in building cabinets here because they were worried about someone copying the designs. I found this funny as most loudspeakers were nothing more than empty boxes with holes.

I then approached loudspeaker manufacturers to see if anyone was willing to license their designs to be built here in Thailand. Once again, most of these companies were concerned their ideas would be copied.

I went to a concert. During the concert, there were a group of children playing the Thai long drum.  I was amazed by the design. To me, it seemed to be the perfect shape for building a loudspeaker. It had no seams. It was carved from a single log.  The design integrated the port.

At this time, the economy of Thailand collapsed. What was once one of the fastest growing economies in the world came to a screeching halt.  Many of the people I knew very well were loosing their jobs.   In one case, an entire family I knew was now unemployed.  I saw this as an opportunity to put people to work and test out my ideas.

I am not sure I ever thought I would carry this experiment this far.  I was simply testing out my ideas.  All of our initial tests told us that the shape did have a positive impact on the sound.  We bought second had speakers and tore them apart and mounted them in our cabinet. Each time we did, we noticed an improvement.

Yuths, Lek and Namphung are all brothers and sisters.  I hired each of them.  They are more than employees. I made each of them owners in the company.  Together, we have created a company that has managed to sell loudspeakers to over a dozen countries in just four months.


  1. We are getting 350,000 hits per month

  2. We have sold over 1,200 pair of nOrh loudspeakers in less than two years of starting up

  3. Not one customer has had  anything negative to say about our sound.

After nearly two years, I think it is important to define our role to our customers and ourselves.  I believe that our role is primarily to explore new ideas for creating sound systems that break new ground in terms of value and performance.  It is impossible to assure the quality of the sound unless we have control over all elements in the sound chain.  We are therefore building amplifiers, preamplifiers and loudspeakers.

We want to build products that offer very high level of performance but not ones that cater to snob appeal.  I prefer to sell to people that really enjoy audio rather than people that would buy products simply to show them off.

Our philosophy is to try to always try something different. We don't want to build "me-too" products.  Our loudspeakers are original designs. Our loudspeakers will all be two-way speakers. This is not to say we will only use two drivers. It is to say that we believe that the purist sound is through two-way systems.

We have tried full range speakers but we haven't found any that offer the value of using two drivers, except for the drive we use in nOrh 3.0.  The curse of two-way systems (and three-way even more so) are the passive crossovers. Crossovers add distortion to the music and rob the speaker of dynamics and power.  We therefore will do what we can to make using active crossovers affordable.

We believe that it should be easy to integrate audio and video systems.  All of our products are designed for both audio and video.

Loudspeakers should be priced based on their manufacturing costs rather than their perceived value.  We never price a speaker based on what we think it sounds like compared to other loudspeakers.  We price the loudspeakers based on our modest needs to continue to grow the company and to properly reward our employees.  We also want to make sure there is enough money to insure excellent service.  Beyond that, we don't need any more money.  We will pass the savings on to our customers.

We believe that the box loudspeaker is the worst possible design a loudspeaker could made. The box loudspeaker has all parallel surfaces. Our design goal is to build loudspeakers without parallel surfaces. Box speakers are clearly the least expensive loudspeakers to build.

We believe there are different type of customers. Some of our customers listen to tube amplifiers. Other customers listen to solid state. Some customers are more interested in video.  Other customers listen to FM radio.  We believe the customer has a right to use our loudspeakers however they want.  We are not snobs. If you want to play MP3s on your audio equipment, it is your right.

We will help advise you based on what your tastes are.  We will not try to impose our tastes on you.

I have not taken any money from the company. I do not have any plans to take any money. In fact, I continue to invest money from time-to-time so that we can continue to come up with innovative products. The money that you spend on nOrh speakers is recycled into the Thai economy to build more products and spent on developing new products.  Because we don't need to make profit, we don't need to charge outrageous prices.

Question:    Why does the nOrh loudspeaker sound better than other loudspeakers?

A good loudspeaker design must start with high quality drivers. We use only drivers from Vifa and Scanspeak. We do not source cheap "no-name" Asian drivers as many companies now do. We mount these drivers in high quality cabinets that do not have parallel surfaces. This is important because parallel surfaces create standing waves. We carefully calculate the right size to make the cabinet and we tune the port to get the best sound possible from a given driver/cabinet combination. We also use only high quality parts for our crossover. Our crossovers are designed for us by DACT.

Think about what happens with most loudspeakers.  When the speaker produces energy, there is energy produced inside and outside the cabinet.  The energy inside the cabinet tries to find a way out of the box. Usually it tries to go out through the woofer.  Most speakers are stuffed with damping material that converts the sound energy into heat.  Given that most loudspeakers are rectangles, the sound energy bounces back and forth inside the cabinet. This dulls the sound and reduces the loudspeakers ability to produce loud undistorted sound.

We currently employ two original designs to eliminate the problems of most loudspeaker cabinets. The primary design is the drum shape which we call an inverted horn. We mount the speakers on a front baffle and use the inverted horn shape to naturally attenuate the energy that would normally trapped in the loudspeaker. The energy is efficiently directed to the rear port where the energy is use to reinforce the bass.

The Prism is carefully designed to eliminate standing waves inside the speaker. Because there are no 90 degree angles in the loudspeaker, all sound energy hits the surface of the speaker at an angle less than 90 degrees. This lowers the amount of energy that can be absorbed by the cabinet itself. There are no parallel surfaces. The Prism design allows us to create larger cabinets using traditional materials that sound better than standard cabinets.

We also experiment and use superior materials that reflect rather than absorb sound energy. We are producing loudspeakers made from marble and ceramics. The goal is to create loudspeakers with superior shapes/using superior materials that will result in the finest sounding loudspeakers available. Our design goals are to create loudspeakers that:

Produces undistorted loud music and

Produces solid bass.

The drum cabinet is one to two inches thick making it very rigid. However, no matter how rigid a structure is, all structures will react to resonance's.  Consider the Takoma-Narrows Bridge that tore itself apart November 7, 1940 when wind caused it to resonate. Bridges are now tuned in the same way as speakers are to make sure they don't tear themselves apart.  Building a loudspeaker out of concrete will make it rigid. However, you still must consider the way it reacts to resonance's.

We invite you to continue to read about the unique qualities of the nOrh loudspeaker. Remember that when you buy from us, you are buying from a company that is doing this simply because we like doing it.

Our philosophy is to offer our customers the best value and quality we possibly can while generating just enough profit to offer opportunities for Thais. We want to pay our employees for their hard work. We want to invest in new products. I will take no money from nOrh. All of the money will go for new products, employee benefits and customer service.

Michael C. Barnes