Do It Yourself

DIY Speakers: TriTrix Transmission Line

DIY Speakers: TriTrix Transmission Line

As those of you who read my speaker stands review are well aware I am no DIY master. So when the opportunity to build the Parts Express TriTrix Transmission Line DIY speakers with knock down box came along I was frightened for the future of both our magazine and Parts Express. (I was excited about the opportunity, so I didn’t share that little tidbit of information with the Parts Express guys.) If any of you are also curious what $225 can buy in the DIY Speaker arena these days, feel free to follow me through this journey as I stumbled through the saga.

As a bit of background, I knew that the TriTrix was on backorder and forgot to mention to my loving wife that a complete DIY speaker kit of unknown size would shortly be on its way. When it arrived unexpectedly 2 weeks before the back-ordered date the phone call at work was a bit startling. “What the heck did you buy, Madagascar has arrived on our porch!” After assuring her that it was a review sample, she was only minimally assuaged. read more…

DIY Center Channel Speaker: The True Heavyweight Champion

The center channel speaker is the most important speaker in a home theater setup because it carries the majority of the sound and all of the dialogue. I realized several years ago that the typical MTM center channel configuration, regardless of brand or cost, was inadequate for conveying the richness of HT. This is particularly important with bass. Most center channels are rated at 50Hz or higher. That’s not good enough. read more…

DIY: Wyatt Woodworking Cabinet Kit for Audio Nirvana Drivers

DIY: Wyatt Woodworking Cabinet Kit for Audio Nirvana Drivers

Perhaps the trickiest obstacle for the aspiring DIY speaker builder to overcome is obtaining a quality set of cabinets. There are companies that offer pre-built speaker cabinets, which is one solution worth considering. All of the pre-built cabinets I have encountered, however, have a narrow baffle plate. The largest speaker that can be installed is an 8-inch driver. While this is acceptable for a conventional multi-driver design, it does not work for designs employing large-diameter, full-range speakers. For instance, the Audio Nirvana product line has both 10-inch and 12-inch full range drivers, which require a 14 and ½-inch front baffle. For those DIY enthusiasts who want to give these unusual drivers a try, they must commit to building their own cabinets. Quite frankly, very few people have access to the wood working equipment needed to build a solid cabinet with a high wife acceptance factor. Fortunately, a cabinetmaker has stepped up, and developed a flat pack cabinet kit for the Audio Nirvana drivers.

read more…

DIY Project: TNT Audio Stubby Speaker Stands

DIY Project: TNT Audio Stubby Speaker Stands

I recently had a need for a pair of speaker stands on short notice. Being a frugal audiophile with a picky wife I knew my stands needed to be dirt cheap, solid and attractive. My original idea was to build the Stubby design from TNTAudio.com. So there I was laying in bed one evening thinking about the logistics of the project, thinking about my general dislike for PVC and how I was going to explain my expenses and time in the garage to my significantly better half. That’s when I had something of an epiphany. First off I don’t like the look of just an oak board for the top and bottoms. Buying a router and the necessary bits would blow the budget for sure, not to mention it could cost this shop klutz a finger or two. It was then that I remembered being stuck in a Michael’s craft store (I lovingly call it the “crap store…”) where I thought I had seen some pre-routed rectangular boards. Exciting thoughts like this usually exhaust me, with that I was sleeping like a baby in not time. read more…

DIY Hell: The “Spirit of Orion” – Part2

DIY Hell: The “Spirit of Orion” – Part2

Well here’s the second instalment of the “Spirit of Orion” loudspeaker system build project (first part can be found here). Last time I gave a broad stroke description of the system and the final “incarnation” using the excellent Jordan JX92S full range drivers in the open baffle and the M&K subs and plate amps (with adjustable internal electronic crossover) as the woofer and electronics package. You will need a pre-amp /power amp combination or an integrated amp with pre-amp outputs and power amp input. A couple sets of good quality RCA cables are also a requirement, and of course some suitable speaker cable.

read more…

DIY Hell: The “Spirit of Orion” A Full Frequency, OB/Subwoofer Inspired By Siegfried Linkwitz’s Orion Loudspeakers. Part I

DIY Hell: The “Spirit of Orion” A Full Frequency, OB/Subwoofer Inspired By Siegfried Linkwitz’s Orion Loudspeakers. Part I

Well as promised (finally), I’m nearing completion of the the “Spirit of Orion” loudspeaker project . For those that don’t know, the Orions are Siegfried Linkwitz’s DIY “challenge” to the world of loudspeakers. Dr Linkwitz (of Linkwitz-Riley crossover fame and the designer of some seriously expensive , but reportedly excellent Audio Artistry “Beethoven” loudspeakers). When not having audio “fun”, he spent his career at HP. See his biography at Linkwitz Labs.

The Orions have what I think is a very attractive look to them. They also are reportedly excellent, but a little on the pricey side (turnkey starting from $8200 including all electronics, and amplification). I don’t think pricey for what you get: A world class speaker that is relatively affordable, designed and built by one of the audio greats alive today. But building a pair is well beyond my means at this time, and beyond the means of many who read us here at A$$A. So what is a poor man to do? Well, how about building a pair of loudspeakers that look similar, and use some similar concepts … but do it on a budget of just 12.5% of the originals? That was the task. These are not clones at all, and represent a completely different methodology, topology (mostly), and outcome. Remember Linkwitz’s contribution to audio is quite profound, and I do not propose that I am in any way, shape or form the equal of Dr. Linkwitz. Please note that this is not a treatise on Linkwitz’s work (I am simply not qualified to do such) but rather a different interpretation of some of his ideas. read more…

Bass in Yo’ Face!: The Benefits of Stereo Subwoofers

Bass in Yo’ Face!: The Benefits of Stereo Subwoofers

On a whim I purchased a couple of DIY passive subwoofers in order to experiment with stereo bass on my 2-channel system. The drivers are 10″ Ascendant Audio Arsenal subwoofers. I’ve owned two different Ascendant Audio drivers before, so I know they are top notch performers. At first, I was skeptical about getting small drivers, but I didn’t have the space near my front speakers for larger ones, so I figured I’d take a chance and try these out. The seller made the cabinets from 3/4″ plywood and they are heavily damped. The subs are 17″ tall, 23″ deep, and 12″ wide with a textured finish. They definitely have that DIY look to them, but who cares?

Anyway, I’m temporarily powering them with the 6th & 7th channels of my multichannel amp (Emotiva LPA-1). It’s only 95 wpc into 4 ohms, but enough power for these particular drivers. I’m using a Reckhorn B-1 bass management controller. It’s a great little device, and perhaps the subject of a subsequent review. The subs are hooked up to the line outs on my Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro. read more…

Adding Better Speaker Terminals

Adding Better Speaker Terminals

I dislike spring clip terminals on speakers and amplifiers, much preferring the better contact and cable retention of good binding posts. Here on my workbench is an Onkyo M-5150 Power Amplifier, but the same modification can be done to other amplifiers and receivers if there is enough room on the back panel. read more…

Knob Repair

Knob Repair

I had just received an Onkyo P-3150V preamp I purchased for my older son’s stereo system. It arrived with a misshapen case, the chassis would not sit square on the table, and the volume knob was broken. Also, the bezel around the volume knob was knocked in. There was a silvery ding in the black anodized finish on one corner of the faceplate. read more…

DIY: Poor Man’s Music Server (with apologies to Sooloos)

DIY: Poor Man’s Music Server (with apologies to Sooloos)

Some months back Sooloos brought to the market a stunning evolution in music servers. Combining a 17” touch panel screen (Control), rectangular computer module (Source), hard drive modules (Store), and an advanced software package. It has taken the music server system to a new level of sophistication along with a stratospheric price tag of $12,900. For those wishing to stay in the four figures, there is the Qsonic Q110, starting at a measly $5995 for a 250 gigabyte version. read more…

Zigmahornet Speaker Cabinets

Zigmahornet Speaker Cabinets

Those of you who have read my previous reviews will know that I have quite a liking for the Fostex full range drive units. Clarity and sensitivity are their plus points and they seem to like the combination of the Tripath based amplifiers and Tube pre-amp. From the designs I have made I use the 8” Fostex 206E in a 208 Sigma Back Loaded Horn cabinet as my speaker of choice.

Intrigued to see what the smaller designs would sound like I purchased a pair of the 4” Fostex 126E’s and built the 108 sigma cabinet, the same design as the 208, but about one-third of it’s size.

I suppose it was a case having been spoilt by the larger drive unit and cabinets, but I was fairly disappointed with the sound they made. I had expected that the bass response would be somewhat curtailed in comparison with the much larger 208’s. However not only was the bass disappointing, the openness and “magic” of the larger cabinet was very much missing. Needless to say I couldn’t really get on with them and they were consigned to the spare room fairly swiftly. A few months ago I read a review of a design for a 4” full range driver and cabinet which I could use for the 126’s. The speakers were called Zigmahornets. read more…

LiTe Dac Ah – Revisited.

LiTe Dac Ah – Revisited.

As a transport I used the Cambridge 640Cv2 that in it’s own right had received many accolades and “Best Buys” from the hi-fi press.

My impression of the LiTe was that it presented music in a different way to those players and Dac’s that used oversampling, particularly the Cambridge. The Cambridge is a very accomplished player, but those “difficult” discs are still…well “difficult”. I suppose you could say that it doesn’t suffer fools gladly. There was, for me, something about the LiTe that sounded more musical and seemed to get to the heart of the music. read more…

Audio Furniture: A Wife Approved Bargain Version

Audio Furniture: A Wife Approved Bargain Version

One of the least discussed areas of audio and the dreaded WAF (Wife Approval Factor) is the rig cabinet. If you’re one lucky enough to have a dedicated man-cave, then you’re not likely to be worried about such matters. However, most of us are blessed with having to share rooms with our feminine life partner, which means compromise. Add to that a limited budget, and the choices shrink tremendously.

Solutions to this pressing dilemma can be simple “You married me for better, or worse”, which usually leads to a prolonged artic vacation without leaving the house. A second choice, bribery, “Ok, you can redecorate the bedroom in pinks/ lavenders.” That usually leads to endless teasing by family and friends over lost spheres of manhood. A third option, not usually employed by the male species involves taking a standard piece of furniture, and making it work as the rig stand. read more…

Tuning the Sound

Tuning the Sound

So, you’re sitting at home listening to your latest musical love and browsing a brand new issue of Hi-Fi for Insomniacs as the sun slowly rises above the greying neighbourhood chimneys. The emptying whiskey bottle, or coffee pot if that’s your poison, sits nearby, and the lines under your eyes betray the turmoil within your mind. Something isn’t quite right. The sound of the machine is wrong and you can’t tell how or why. It gnaws at you, diminishing the pleasure that is listening to music. and making your little audiophile world just a bit more uncomfortable. A normal person would let the moment pass, safe in the knowledge that it’ll be all right tomorrow, but you won’t let go. You reach for the credit card…

It’s happened to most of us, or so I’m told. Not me of course, I just listen to the music, bathe in the glow of aging tubes and up-to-date transistors, and add to my record collection. Occasionally I might attempt an affordable upgrade or consider changing a component that no longer satisfies my ears, but generally I’m happy with the kit I’ve assembled over the past decade. No longer the eager perusal of the music direct catalogue whenever their weekly newsletter arrives on our desktop, and no more lusting after the latest upgrade for the Isotonic PL54B Intercontinental Valve Loudspeaker with adjustable coffee filter and beryllium hat-stand. I mean, there’s no point in emptying my bank account to buy the upgrade if I don’t have the original. Is there? read more…

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