"Polyamping" A Look to the Future or Fancy Fad?

In a recent quest for information regarding DIY speaker designs, I was referred to the Linkwitz Orion Project. These speakers employ active crossovers and it is suggested to give each driver its own, separate amplification (actually one for each woofer and one for the tweet/mid - three per speaker). Linkwitz recommends the ATI AT6012, a twelve channel, six zone amp (60W/ch). I am not sure about the merits of the ATI amp but, regardless of amp, does anyone think this will be a "growing" design. I mean I have heard the benefits of biamping and have heard tell of triamping but, in this case, "sextamping"? Octamping would seem to be next. All accounts say that the Orions sound fabulous. Perhaps I am just behind the curve. What so you learned folks think of this direction in audio?
seems like a case of diminishing returns...
But drievn with *ATI* come on you gotta be kidding!
while I am DEFINITELY an advocate of speaker manufacutes offereing ACTIVE multi amp designs for speakers, I must say it's going to have to be realtively intuitive and straight foreward for it to be so successful I think! DIY kits will have limited application of course. While the mass market really needs this as a step towards the future I think, if we are going to see any real sonic steps ahead in overall speaker performance!
I've long time said that the average PASSIVE speaker design that is common place out there, has basically seen most of it's limits I think! I mean unless we can come up with practical driver designs that are WAY MORE EFFICIENT AND SENSITIVE for increased dyamic transparancy and potential throughout the frequency spectrum, ACTIVE speakers are really the only way to move towards for improvments where Ithink speaker designs need to go! I mean, we pretty much have the ultra transparant, ultra detailed, ultra un-colored beautifully-soundstaging-thing down with speaker designs at the very best as it is now! Most high end speakers, I find, usually fail in ultimate terms in respect to dynamic transparancy. Active design speakers(even speakers with powered woofers) and ultra high sensitivity speaker designs have a HUGE advantage in this area, due to an efficiency and or sensitivity advantage.
I mean, if we doubt that the main area that needs to be improved on with speaker designs on the whole is dynamic efficiency, just ask yourself why someone like J Gordon Holt of STereophile mag claimed that the Active ATC speaker system at $90k "might be the best speaker system in the world" right now, and that "he's not heard better!"...?
So let's face it, ultra high efficiency/sensitivity active speakers, horn speakers, and powered speakers can do what others can't in the dynamics relm. "multi-amping" actively is most definitely going to help solve some dyanamics issues if done right. But then again I think history has proven that simpler sells better, and is less likely to dis-suade people from investing in something so complicated and demanding technically! If speaker manufacturers would more and more go down the road, at least offering more high end speaker designs with active self-powered woofers incorporated, things would improve dynamically for the masses. While I do see some of the so called "hi-end" speaker people out there doing the "active-thing", and even the powered woofer thing, I think there's a greater need for more and better designs from more manufactureres! It also needs to remain simple and practical from a number of standpoints for the consumer I think...even for the audiophile tweek!(whose likely to steer towards speakers that can accommodate their favorite matching gear and such.
Still, there's no doubt that "multi-amp" applications have their places, and since systems keep getting more complicated and involved with multi channel now-a-days, I can see that multi amping would have applications than ever to expand too. I do doubt however that most people want to get involved with so many amps and wires and connections and such. I think it's definitely better if you can put the amps in/on the speaker enclosures themselves. This alone makes for a simple marriage of digital active powered sub and woofer designs, and leaving the amp for the mid/tweeter up to the consumers discression. There's always compromise I suppose.
If they can keep it simple, practical, effective, modestly priced, and sounding fantastic, I think multi-amped speakers would have a future on a larger scale. I hope so...
I think that such an idea is great. Having said that, i would emphatically state that 60 wpc is not enough power to achieve quality reproduction of low frequencies in my opinion based on quite a bit of experience in this area.

With that in mind, i've done something very similar but gone to an extreme in the method that i chose. To try to sum things up briefly, i am actively tri-amping with six stereo amplifiers. The amps are set up to operate in what is effectively a monoblock format even though all 12 channels are in use. While i did so for multiple reasons, my primary goals were to increase dynamic headroom, achieve the ultimate in stereo separation and to spread out what is a very tough i.e very reactive AND very low impedance speaker load over multiple amplifier channels.

With the average impedance of the system hovering around 2 - 3 ohms per amplifer channel, i've got 2400+ wpc ( using the various amplifiers 4 ohm power ratings ) as things are currently arranged. I would realistically rate output capacity as somewhere around 3 KW rms per channel at the actual impedances that the amps see.

Using this approach, none of the individual amplifier channels are "pushed" as hard as they would be if i had them set up in a more conventional manner. On top of this, damping factor is doubled and there is no chance of ever clipping. While the amplification system has worked most excellently once i was able to get things dialed in, i just need to find a way to quit demolishing specific sections of the speakers. I've still got a ways to go on this, but it's pretty much been both a "labour of love" and a learning experience at the same time : ) Sean
Experience leads me to second Sean's note about power hungry lower frequencies. In my much lesser system than Sean's, the ~85-22Hz area (8"x8 woofers) are powered by ~500-600W at the nominal impedance rating -- and not quite adequately so, IMO.
I'm bi-amping, BTW, and thoroughly recommend multiamp configs...