Friday, December 28, 2012

WIN A PAIR OF SATIN BLACK KAYAKS by liking us on Facebook.
Role Audio Kayak
Our promotion will end when we have 200 likes, which means you have a very high 1 in 200 chance of winning.

 If you already like us you can help bring the promotion to an early termination by encouraging friends to like us. Because we want to accommodate all our likes, worldwide, the winner will pay the shipping charges. The Kayaks are the latest model with snap on grills. The winner can upgrade to other finishes by paying the difference between the cost of a pair of satin black Kayaks ($795) and the desired cabinet finish. The winner will be determined by us generating a random number between 1 and 200. If that number matches the ordering of your like among our Facebook likes (starting with 1 at the top of the list and 200 at the bottom of the list) you win. We will post the name of the winner at the end of the contest. We reserve the right to make changes to this promotion.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Role Audio has launched a new secure E-commerce website:

Why a separate website for our online store?

First, we wanted to provide our customers and visitors with the most secure online environment possible, in which to purchase our products. provides the highest level of encrypted security for your transactions as evidenced by the "https" prefix and padlock symbol in the address bar. Moreover, we chose PayPal to handle all credit card transactions because of their extensive experience and their excellent fraud detection services.

Second, a separate E-commerce website allows us to combine our products with outstanding products from NSMT Loudspeakers and other manufacturers to bring you exciting music and theater systems.

Please visit and let us know what your impressions are.
Best regards and thanks,

Monday, February 20, 2012


Our website has been completely redesigned. Please visit us at: and let us know what you think.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Role Audio Has Introduced a Compact, Portable, All-in-One, Stereo Music System

Role Audio                 PRESS RELEASE
the best small loudspeakers

Role Audio Has Introduced a Compact, Portable, All-in-One, Stereo Music System for Streaming Devices, Computers, Smartphones, and Other Sources.

Dimensions: 42 X 4.5 X 5.25 (W X H X D) inches (107 by 13 by 12 cm)
Now you can get true full-range audiophile music with the Sampan Music Box without the complexity of multiple pieces, a subwoofer, and a tangle of wires. With a built in 50 watt per channel audiophile amplifier and frequency response of 35 Hz to 20,000 Hz, the Sampan Music Box is the ultimate compact two-channel stereo music system. The Sampan Music Box is a stereo music system that is small, simple, powerful, and amazing.

Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA. – December 19, 2011--
Role Audio, the US leader in manufacturing small audiophile loudspeakers, announces the release of The Sampan Music Box, a compact 50 watt per channel stereo music system, for home audio, desktop audio, and portable audio.

The Sampan Music Box is a compact all-in-one audiophile solution for consumers looking to access high-quality audio from their computers, smartphones, internet streaming devices, CD players, and other sources. Users can connect these sources to the Sampan Sound Box's 3.5 mm or RCA stereo inputs. The Sampan Music Box uses a built-in high-performance 50W per channel stereo power amplifier and folded transmission line design to deliver crystal-clear full-range audiophile sound without the need for a subwoofer and other components. The interface is simplicity itself: one wire in to connect the Sampan Music Box to a music source and one wire out to connect it to a power source.

We developed the Sampan Music Box because our research and experience identified four major issues with compact music systems: (1) Most compact music systems have inadequate bass response, (2) they use separate tweeter and woofer designs that are not time and phase coherent and therefore not optimal for near-field listening, (3) in the all-in-one systems, the transducers for the left and right channels are usually spaced too closely for accurate and natural stereophonic sound reproduction, and (4) getting good performance from compact music systems usually requires multiple components, including a subwoofer, and a tangle of interconnecting cables and wires -- too much complexity for consumers desiring a simple way to enjoy music.

Our experience developing our Sampan Sound Bar taught us we could build a small single piece, full-range system, with imaging, sound-staging, and bass response comparable to some of the best small subwoofer satellite systems. We took the design of our best performing mini tower loudspeaker, the Sampan, known for its imaging, its huge soundstage, and its bass performance, and a modified 50 watt per channel T-Amplifier, known for its exceptional audiophile performance, and combined them in a single ultra compact music system.

The Sampan Music Box uses two full-range transducers, that are spaced 37 inches apart, in folded transmission lines to deliver sound that is time and phase coherent and bass response that can meet the THX requirement for subwoofers. The enclosure measures a compact 42 X 4.5 X 5.25 (W X H X D) inches (107 by 13 by 12 cm) and it is certified green and formaldehyde-free.

Using a single full range driver for each channel means the sound from each channel is integrated no matter where you sit, with all the frequencies of each channel arriving at your ear at the same time. The transmission line design allow effortless low bass reproduction. The Sampan Music Box is a point source, minimum phase, transient perfect, crossover-less design that represents the holy grail of loudspeaker designs. The imaging, soundstage, tonal quality and bass response are stunning.

The Sampan Music Box can be used in a wide range of situations including:
As an on-wall music system
As a desktop music system for computers
As a portable music system
As a rear channel speaker system for high-end home theater
As an on-the-go music system for picnics and other occasions

using LogitechTM Squeezebox touch as a music source

using a smartphone as a music source
                  rear view showing RCA and power connections

Loudspeaker Specifications
Frequency Response: 35 Hz to 20,000 Hz
Transducers: (2) 3.5 inch cast frame full range
Enclosure design: Dual folded transmission lines. 

Weight: 12 pounds (5.4 Kilograms)

Special feature:

Minimum phase, time coherent, point source design
Eco-friendly, non-toxic, formaldehyde-free

Amplifier Section

Modified digital power amplifier featuring Tripath TK2050 chip-set
with 50 watts per channel into an 8 ohm load.
Total harmonic distortion: < 0.01% @ 30 watts, < 5.0% @ 50 watts output
Signal to noise ratio: 103 dB, A weighted
Input impedance 2 k ohms +/- 5%
Channel separation: 95 dB

Included Accessories: World compatible 24V @ 5A switch mode power supply
3.5 mm to 1/4 headphone adapter
3.5 mm to RCA "Y" cable
6 inch coiled 3.5 mm audio input cable

The Sampan Music Box is available now for $1,295 from Role Audio's website and from and Role Audio retailers. For more information contact national sales manager D. Bernard Alston at 919-886-7057.

High resolution images can be found here. Published press release.

Copyright 2011, Role Audio, P.O. Box 13396, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA 27709-3396 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How much amplifier power can our Skiff and Kayak speakers handle?

A customer recently asked this question and noted that we do not publish power handling statistics on our website. I am publishing my response since it is a question that comes up quite often: 

We do not publish this information because it is basically irrelevant
and misleading and often interpreted to mean small speakers cannot be played
with powerful amplifiers. While it may be relevant for PA systems, in
my opinion, it is not relevant to high-end audio. I know of customers
who are using anywhere from 5 to 500 watts to drive these speakers and
we have not had a single Skiff or Kayak returned for repairs in the
last two years. In fact I don't think we have ever had an instance of
outright failure of the woofer in the Kayak. Our dealer in Windsor,
Ontario, Canada, relates how he inadvertently started playing the
Sampan speaker (the driver is rated at 30 watts) with a 350 watt
amplifier turned up to maximum and had time to walk across the room
and turn down the system without any damage to the speakers.

Though it might sound like heresy, you will get some of the best performance
from small speakers driving them with a powerful, high quality amp with high
dampening factor because a powerful amp will reduce distortion in the small speaker
and allow them to play to at their maximum level before distortion sets in. I
personally use an amp that outputs 500 watts per channel into 4 ohms to drive both
the Skiffs and Kayaks in our listening room. 

Even with this powerful amplifier, the speakers are seeing a small fraction of its output
power most of the time and that changes dynamically with the type of
music being played and the dynamic contrasts in the music. The driver
in the Skiff is rated at 25 watts power and the one in the Kayak at 60
watts power but that is further moderated by filtering circuits in the
speakers. The caveat with any system is to start playing at moderate
volume and reduce volume when distortion sets in. So in short, it is
not an issue we worry about, and publishing and stats about it would
be misleading...

I might add that some dealers and customers tend not to take very small loudspeakers seriously and only want to pair the cute little speaker with the cute little amplifier. That's OK if space limitation and budget are major concerns. However, a small speaker, like any speaker, can benefit from being pared with a high quality, high powered amplifier. Although our loudspeakers are designed to play well with just about any amplifier, I sometimes worry that customers will not realize how fantastic our small loudspeakers are when paired with great electronics. Our Skiff and Kayak speakers are two of the very best small loudspeakers -- good enough to be the basis of very sophisticated music systems. If you only play them with the cute little amplifier, you may not hear how great they are.

Skiff in satin black finish

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More On Listening to the Sampan Music Box.

I have listened to the Sampan Music Box driven by the Logitec Squeezebox Touch on and off for a few days. Listening to the Sampan Music Box driven by my smart phone was very engaging and exciting. However, listening to the Sampan Music Box driven by the Logitec Squeeze Box Touch is definitely a more audiophile experience: The elements of the soundstage are more clearly defined, instruments and voices are more cleanly delineated, there is more weight to instruments and voices, and the system sounds larger. There are also less electronic artifacts in the Music Box/Logitec Touch presentation. However, whenever I switch back to the smart phone the sound is livelier and the listening experience is a little more exciting. It is just amazing how the quality of audio available on smart phones keeps improving. I suspect some manufacturer will put a high quality DAC in a smart phone soon.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Some preliminary measurements of the Sampan Music Box

Figure 1: Sampan Music Box quasi anechoic far field response

Figure 2: Sampan Music Box near field vent frequency response

Preliminary measurements of the Sampan Music Box shows its amazing frequency response, especially low bass extension. Quasi anechoic measurement of the Sampan Music Box in Figure 1, taken on axis at one meter from the speaker, show an extremely linear response. The graph suggests a frequency response of +/- 3 dB from 320 Hz to 20,000 Hz (each vertical increment is 2.5 dB). The neutral mid-range frequency response shown in Figure 1 is the hallmark of an excellent imaging speaker.

The vent frequency response in Figure 2 shows low bass frequency response is below 35 Hz. This indicates that he low bass frequency response of the Sampan Music Bar meets the THX requirement for subwoofer response. A composite response will be published in the future.