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post #1 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 09:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone I'd like to start by apologizing, because I think what I'm about to ask is probably pretty common among first timers. I did a couple of searches, and I couldn't find what I was looking for so I decided to start a thread.

I used to own what I considered a very nice home theater system about 3-5 years ago. It consisted of an Outlaw Audio 1050, a set of 5 B&W LCR 600s, and a 200w sony subwoofer. Long story short, I moved around the country alot, and I had to sell this system off.

Now I am in a position to build a home theater again. This time, I am looking to do a DIY speaker set a) to save money so that it can be used on other HT components b) for the adventure/learning experience. I have a close cousin that is an electrical engineer, and my dad does a lot of carpentry so I think this is a realistic goal for me. However, I looked around this site and HTGuide.com and at this moment I am feeling very overwhelmed getting over the initial "hump" of getting started. I know I can do this once I get the momentum.

I would like something comparable in sound quality to what I used to have (the B&W LCRs / Sony sub), and if it can sound better or take up less space that would be icing on the cake. If any of you can point me in the right direction to a "Getting Started Guide" wiki, a good book to learn about the applied science, or just narrow down some of the technology options for a DIY beginner I would greatly appreciate it. I don't have infinite money, but if I can justify the cost savings by standing them up against an equivalent set of high-end speakers to my wife then I can swing it.

Thank you very much, again my apologies if this is a common thread.
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post #2 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 09:37 AM - Thread Starter
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I should probably add that I am not a big fan of tri-pole or transmission line. I like things that do a single task very well. My personal preference would be to have separates for tweeter/mid-range/bass.
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post #3 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 09:52 AM
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Welcome to DIY!

I am a DIY sub guy myself and don't really have much interest in making a set of speakers but there are some very talented people around here.

You may want to start out with a kit of some sort or follow someone elses plans so you can ease into it. Here are a couple of links with some ideas:

http://www.parts-express.com/project...ojectindex.cfm

And some supplies and kits:

http://www.parts-express.com/speaker-building.cfm

There is a ton of info on this site and most people are happy to share there knowledge.

Here is an excellent thread that I have been following and picking up tips from:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1157847

I would have to figure the crossover is going to be your biggest hurdle but there are books and software for that. You can find a good selection of DIY books here:

http://www.parts-express.com/wizards...CAT&srchCat=72

Good luck.

Mike

"Half the world is looking for Jesus, and the other half is looking for more bass..."
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post #4 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 10:02 AM
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hi reklis,

first off, welcome to the DIY club! I'm also a new DIYer myself and I know how overwhelming it can be to absorb all of the information thrown at you and how intimidating it can get when you feel like you have no idea what you're doing. All I have to say is don't be too afraid to ask questions and don't be scared to just give it a shot. I just started building my first pair of DIY speakers (Zaph SR71) and I had absolutely ZERO woodworking experience prior to starting. However, once I decided to just give it a shot and do some trial runs, I slowly started figuring things out...and man did I start to get excited! One thing that I will admit is that if you don't have the tools, the tools + parts alone could double your initial idea of what the cost for the speakers may be. It looks like you won't run into that problem though (seeing that your dad is a carpenter and your brother an elect. engineer [should have soldering experience]).

As for getting started, it's true you can find all the information you need online and on the forums but I tend to find them all scattered and hard to put together. Not everyone goes this path but I started ordering some loudspeaker design books to get myself acquainted with basic speaker design (topics ranging from how the speaker works; closed, ported, etc systems; crossovers; and so on). No book is perfect though and they won't cover all that you need but they definitely do help if you're absolutely new to DIY.

Several books I have:
- Designing, Building, and Testing Your Own Speaker System by David B. Weems
- Advanced Speaker Designs for the Hobbyist and Technician by Ray Alden (more basic than advanced)
- Loudspeaker Design Cookbook (very detailed and good book but probably should not be read as a first book unless you know the basics pretty well)

Nonetheless, keep searching and reading the forums, and look over at the audio theory section in this forum. I believe there is a sticky with a ton of online articles you can check out for references.

Unfortunately I haven't heard very many speakers or know enough to give direct comparisons from your previous speakers to any DIY speakers out there. I'll leave that up to the more experienced DIYers here, but regardless good luck!
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post #5 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 10:16 AM
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If you're doing this to save money and not going to make a lifelong hobby; then build an existing design and be happy with it.

Even if you DO want to make this a hobby, start with existing designs if you want a system relatively quick. It's a good way to learn.
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post #6 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 10:24 AM
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What budget are you looking at spending?

On the low-end, do a google search for "recession buster kit" and build yourself five 2-way bookshelf monitors ($150ish) and then pick up a Shiva 12 ($190ish) for the low-end.

Pricing escalates quickly from there depending on the quality you are looking for. Madisound has a number of pre-designed kits that you could give a shot. Your best bet is to continue doing what you are doing by researching various DIY forums and learning as much as possible before taking the plunge.
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post #7 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 10:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zardnok View Post

What budget are you looking at spending?

I'd like to keep the whole audio system, including the receiver (or pre-amp/amp/monoblock combo), speakers, wire, interconnects, parts, accessories etc at $5k total cost. Anything more than $10K and I'll end up with a nice speaker system, and a divorce notice.
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post #8 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 10:52 AM
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welcome to diy.

the first step is to define your performance criteria and your budget criteria.

what spl (105, 115, 125, 135)?

what configuration (2 way, 3, 5, 7, 9)?

what size room (cubic feet)?

what frequency response ('flat' to 40, 30, 20, 15, 10hz)?

what aesthetic contraints (don't mind 15-18" drivers, or do you want minimally visible speakers like little bose cubes)?

if you need help spec'ing out your performance criteria, that is cool too. we can help with that.

but, if you have some idea of what you want, it will be a lot easier for folks to suggest a system.

here is an analogy. i love motorsports. if somebody shows up and says, "i want to go fast". the first step would be to try to quantify what he means by fast. quarter mile et, trap speed, lap time? high winding lightweight motor and car or big heavy torquey car? one guy might end up on a motorcycle, another guy might end up in an s-class amg. both are "fast", but are totally different animals. not too many motorcycle guys care about the color of the burlwood dash. not too many s-class amg drivers care about hit 0-60 in less than 3 seconds. the key to choosing your drug is to define the high you seek first. ;-)

Listen. It's All Good.
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post #9 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 11:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by LTD02 View Post

the first step is to define your performance criteria and your budget criteria.

what spl (105, 115, 125, 135)?

what configuration (2 way, 3, 5, 7, 9)?

what size room (cubic feet)?

what frequency response ('flat' to 40, 30, 20, 15, 10hz)?

what aesthetic contraints (don't mind 15-18" drivers, or do you want minimally visible speakers like little bose cubes)?

if you need help spec'ing out your performance criteria, that is cool too. we can help with that.

I would need your help calculating SPL, I know nothing about that. I hadn't put much thought into frequency response. A long time ago somebody told me that 20-20,000 were good numbers to shoot for. Is that true? Is that the same thing? I know if I don't do something 4ohms or 8ohms I'm going to have a hard time finding a receiver to match them. I had such a great experience with my original Outlaw Audio 1050, that I went back to their website and started investigating their M-Block 200w monoblocks, but I'm not completely sold on them. I want a really good "match" between the receiver and the speakers. I don't want to spend all my money one one thing and just slap in the other thing just because it fits the budget.

The configuration I seem to like after looking at many speakers is a mid-range / tweeter with a little bass response all around the listener, and then a stand-alone subwoofer to fill in the gap on the low end. This is what my old system was (5x b&w lcr, 1x sub)

Ascetically, I know this:
- The size of the room is approximately 20'x20' with 10' ceilings (I still need to measure)
- I think the "bookshelf" size of my old B&W LCRs would work just fine, but it's not really a big deal as long as they are practical. Ideally they would be something I can lift / move on my own that would not require two people. My son isn't old enough to help me lift things yet
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post #10 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 12:42 PM
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What power tools do you own? Those costs will make your DIY experience more expensive then buying speakers.

It is not "open-minded" to reject knowledge - Bob Lee
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post #11 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
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What power tools do you own?.

Just a drill. However, I have access to a table saw and I know my dad had a lithe at one point, although he may have gotten rid of it. I was thinking I should know what I was building first before I could plan what I would need to build it. If I decided to go with a kit, it looks like the carpentry would be done already, at which point I am guessing I would only need a soldering iron.
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post #12 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 01:45 PM
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Like others were saying, are you looking into making this a long term hobby or are you just trying to minimize costs to complete your one system for now? For the woodworking portion, another tool you're going to need to use a lot is a router with various bits (that alone will likely cost you several hundred). Your father most likely has one but you should make sure. If you are going to make this a one time deal and find out you need to spend a lot more money for all the necessary tools, then it's probably better to either go with a DIY kit (w/ prefab cabinet) or to just buy manufactured speakers. If you find mass produced speakers on clearance, sometimes its hard to beat the price and you can save yourself a lot of hours. I would say most people going the full DIY route are doing it because they are making it a hobby and just love the satisfaction gained from (successfully) building their own speakers.
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post #13 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 02:19 PM
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I agree with those who ask if you plan on doing this 1 time or as a hobby and plan on building more in the future?

It can be a very addicting hobby but also rewarding. It also gives you an excuse to upgrade more often as your wife will assume since you make it yourself it costs just a small fraction of what it would be at the store.

The tool investment can be quite large but if your Dad has all the equipment already then your in luck. Even if he is missing a few items maybe he would split it with you since it will be in his shop. This way you can show your Dad your not as useless as he thought when you were growing up

A lot of times DIY does not necessarily mean cheap. With the low mfg costs in China some DIY projects are more costly but usually yield better results and a sense of pride. AV123 . com sells there MFW-15 for about $500 + shipping when it is on sale and that is a very good sub now that they have the amp issue corrected.
You can get the same results or better then the AV123 sub with DIY but after everything it will cost you about the same if not more.

If this is a 1 time shot at DIY to save money then to be honest you would probably be better off buying new or used instead. Emotiva is selling some bookshelf speakers for $250 each when you buy more than 1 on a sale that ends today http://emotiva.com/ I don't know how good these speakers are but that is just an example.

If you want a rewarding hobby then welcome but if your mostly looking to save money then I think you have better options.

"Half the world is looking for Jesus, and the other half is looking for more bass..."
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post #14 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 02:35 PM
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As you guessed, this is not a new question. Here's the most comprehensive list of DIY options I've seen:
http://techtalk.parts-express.com/sh...11&postcount=1

I found the design for me on the HTGuide link, which is organized by design type and has pictures as well. Unless you want to spend a lot of time learning to design speakers, build a proven design. The question is what do you want these speakers to do (LDT02's post)? If you don't understand a question, give wiki a try then ask here.

If you plan to make a proven (or commercial) desing and want a comprehensive reference for all things outside the enclosure (i.e. not drivers, corssovers, enclosures, etc.) I highly recommend Floyd Toole's book "Sound Reproduction." In it, he shows the data that leads to the recommendation of flat frequency response and covers a lot more than speakers, since the room has a great affect on what you hear, especially at low frequency. Avoid it if data and charts give you apoplexy.

Finally, be aware that there are folks out there willing to do the woodworking for you, or at least the hard part - routing driver recesses - as well as pre-fab kits that only need glue and screws, plus a little paint. It all depends on what you want to get out of it. In my case, this is a hobby, so it's OK if it takes me a lot of time to do things as long as I'm enjoying myself.

Have fun,
Frank
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post #15 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reklis View Post

Just a drill. However, I have access to a table saw and I know my dad had a lithe at one point, although he may have gotten rid of it. I was thinking I should know what I was building first before I could plan what I would need to build it. If I decided to go with a kit, it looks like the carpentry would be done already, at which point I am guessing I would only need a soldering iron.

Router (with the right router bits) and a drill are keys to success. All wood cuts can be done at HD or Lowes if needed, accuracy isnt the utmost important with them though. You can use the router to trim up the box cuts to exact specs as you build the boxes.

Kits can have it all, boxes, built crossovers, etc.

You can also get your boxes built my Nik brewer (hands out on the PE forums). His prices are incredible (IMO) and he does a great job the only down side is that you have to wait a bit since he has a HUGE log of orders since he is popular!

It is not "open-minded" to reject knowledge - Bob Lee
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post #16 of 29 Old 07-15-2009, 05:31 PM
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Emotiva is selling some bookshelf speakers for $250 each when you buy more than 1 on a sale that ends today http://emotiva.com/ I don't know how good these speakers are but that is just an example.

I have owned them, they are very small. Not worthy of anything more then an office. Definitely not HT speakers. They are built very well though and they sound good to me when not stressed. They are also 4 ohm speakers so some AVRs may have a hard time with them.

AV123 has some HUGE discounts for their ELT525 series.....I do not know of anything DIY that can match the cost of a set of 5.

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post #17 of 29 Old 07-16-2009, 01:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LTD02 View Post

i love motorsports. if somebody shows up and says, "i want to go fast"....

I sincerely hope that my question does not come across this way. I was hoping to build something comparable in specifications to what I used to have, which is why I keep mentioning it.

I don't know if this will become a serious hobby or not for me, I guess that will be based on the experience and results of my first project.

It sounds like the place to start (planned hobby or not) is to get a good book and a good kit from an online dealer. I guess the question I should be asking then is what kits should I be looking at that have the same sound quality (or better) than that of my old B&W LCRs?
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post #18 of 29 Old 07-16-2009, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mjaudio View Post

The tool investment can be quite large but if your Dad has all the equipment already then your in luck. Even if he is missing a few items maybe he would split it with you since it will be in his shop. This way you can show your Dad your not as useless as he thought when you were growing up

Since he doesn't currently have a HT yet, I think the return on investment for him is that we'll probably end up building two home theaters and he gets to keep one
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post #19 of 29 Old 07-16-2009, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Router (with the right router bits) and a drill are keys to success.

Would a dremel work? I think I might be able to borrow one of those.
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post #20 of 29 Old 07-16-2009, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reklis View Post

Since he doesn't currently have a HT yet, I think the return on investment for him is that we'll probably end up building two home theaters and he gets to keep one

That's sounds like a very good plan. It will probably be a very rewarding experience for the both of you.

You should go for it, you and your Dad will probably have such a good time you'll be thinking of your next build before this one is over.

I really enjoy this hobby and I think you and your Dad will too.

"Half the world is looking for Jesus, and the other half is looking for more bass..."
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post #21 of 29 Old 07-16-2009, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reklis View Post

Would a dremel work? I think I might be able to borrow one of those.

You could get away with a dremel but a good router is the right tool for the job.

Since you are going to make 5 speakers for your self and possibly another for your Dad then trust me you want a router. I really like the Dewalt 621 which has integrated dust collection which is really important when working with MDF. Dewalt also makes other kits like the DW618PK which comes with a fixed and plunge base and the plunge has dust removal as well. You can pick these upi for about $250 new but if you want to save some then look for it on craigslist or ebay used for at least half the price. A lot of times people who sell used will also include whatever bits they have as well which will save you some serious $$$.

Your going to need a circle jig as well to make the driver cutouts for your router which Jasper makes and are on sale right now:

http://www.parts-express.com/pe/show...number=365-260

Good luck.

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post #22 of 29 Old 07-16-2009, 02:41 PM
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some kits come with pre-cut baffles so you don't need to invest in a router, circle jig and bits yet. Check out GR-Research.com
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post #23 of 29 Old 07-17-2009, 09:43 PM
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I'm sort of in the same boat. I'm planning to try and build a few speakers for a home theater, mostly to keep the price down, but also for the fun and learning.

I'm at a bit of a loss for knowing how to "spec out" what I need.

I know my room size - 15x18.

I know my application - home theater.

No idea on SPL - I want to have a theater that richly fills the room, but I don't listen really loudly.

I'm planning on starting with simply 2 channels and a sub.

My original plan had be to go with the madisound recession buster kit. Sound feasible? Any idea on what type of receiver to power the recession busters to handle a HT application in that sized room?
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post #24 of 29 Old 07-18-2009, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tentaguasu View Post

I'm sort of in the same boat. I'm planning to try and build a few speakers for a home theater, mostly to keep the price down, but also for the fun and learning.

I'm at a bit of a loss for knowing how to "spec out" what I need.

I know my room size - 15x18.

I know my application - home theater.

No idea on SPL - I want to have a theater that richly fills the room, but I don't listen really loudly.

I'm planning on starting with simply 2 channels and a sub.

My original plan had be to go with the madisound recession buster kit. Sound feasible? Any idea on what type of receiver to power the recession busters to handle a HT application in that sized room?

That recession buster kit looks good for the price. That would be good to start off with and see if you like doing this without spending a lot.

Kits are good to dip your feet in the DIY water.

As far as SPL is concerned these are not going to blow you away but then again they are your First DIY speakers

As far as receivers go there are plenty of good ones out there. I prefer Pioneer and Denon myself. You will just want to make sure you get one that has the new DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD HDMI inputs. This way if you don't have Blu-ray yet you can add it in the future and already have a receiver for it. I don't really keep up on receiver prices but I know with this recession there are crazy low deals to be had. I am about to sell me Pioneer Elite SC-05 that I was using in the bedroom but the price now is more than half of what the original MSRP was. I don't think you would have to spend more than $400 for a very good receiver.

Tools are the only stumbling block for a lot of first time DIY out there. You again can get great deals though on used tools with this recession. I just picked up a $250 router that looks and works like new for $100 and it even included a set of router bits that cost about $75 if I got them from the HD. I already have a router but wanted one with built in dust extraction when I cut holes in MDF and only had to pay a fraction of the cost of new.

If you already have a table saw, router and some clamps then you are about good to go.

Good luck and don't forget to wear a respirator and safety glasses when cutting MDF.

"Half the world is looking for Jesus, and the other half is looking for more bass..."
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post #25 of 29 Old 07-18-2009, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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You may want to start out with a kit of some sort or follow someone elses plans so you can ease into it. Here are a couple of links with some ideas:

http://www.parts-express.com/project...ojectindex.cfm

And some supplies and kits:

http://www.parts-express.com/speaker-building.cfm

After reading many of the different kit configurations, I found this one: http://www.Parts-Express.com/project...project=USHERs

Would this be a good starter kit? I would love to hear more about them, from the description is sounds very good, and it prices out at $517.66 including the enclosure, which would be $2588.30 if I put MTM's all around the room, which still leaves me some money for a subwoofer and a receiver.

I think the reason this is so attractive to me is that my old B&W LCR's used a Kevlar design that was very similar, but not exactly the same as this, and the SPL and frequency ranges seem comparable, but not equivalent.
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post #26 of 29 Old 07-18-2009, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by reklis View Post

After reading many of the different kit configurations, I found this one: http://www.Parts-Express.com/project...project=USHERs

Would this be a good starter kit? I would love to hear more about them, from the description is sounds very good, and it prices out at $517.66 including the enclosure, which would be $2588.30 if I put MTM's all around the room, which still leaves me some money for a subwoofer and a receiver.

I think the reason this is so attractive to me is that my old B&W LCR's used a Kevlar design that was very similar, but not exactly the same as this, and the SPL and frequency ranges seem comparable, but not equivalent.

I do know that Dr. D'Appolito has been working with Usher on a lot of there speaker designs. I have never had the chance to listen to there speaker line but do know that they are pretty popular. They make pre-built speakers like there Be-20 that are close to $20K a pair and have heard a lot of good things about there Tiny Dancer bookshelves.
Check out what Usher offers in there finished speaker line:

http://www.usheraudiousa.com/

You will still need a router and circle jig as I noticed that Parts Express sends a blank baffle which still needs the openings and recesses for the drivers. You may want to call them on Monday and see if they offer the service to cut these for you.

Hopefully someone here has heard them and let you know if they are worth it.

They definitely look nice and Dr. D is the man that created the MTM so he knows what he is doing.

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post #27 of 29 Old 07-18-2009, 01:48 PM
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Just looking at it again that Part Express kit seams to be similar to the Usher X series speakers. The finish on the Usher speakers looks great and just looking at audiogon I found a pair here:

http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....9&/Usher-X719-

I don't know the seller personally but did buy a Meridian pre-pro from him about 8 or more years ago and he is a nice guy.

The drivers on the PE Usher MTM are the same as the Usher X-616:

http://www.usheraudiousa.com/product...center-channel

You gotta admit that center's finish is great looking and you could probably find a dealer who give you a great discount with this economy.

Just a thought.

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post #28 of 29 Old 07-18-2009, 01:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mjaudio View Post

You will still need a router and circle jig as I noticed that Parts Express sends a blank baffle which still needs the openings and recesses for the drivers. You may want to call them on Monday and see if they offer the service to cut these for you.

The description says
Quote:


Holes must be cut for the woofer(s), tweeter, and input (unless knock-in style binding posts are used)

What is a knock-in style binding post and how would using one effect the sound / price?
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post #29 of 29 Old 07-18-2009, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mjaudio View Post

you could probably find a dealer who give you a great discount with this economy. Just a thought.

Surely if I could get a dealer to give me 4 of the MT's and the MTM center out of the Usher X series for 2.5k then DIY would not be saving me any money at all, but they would need to shave over a grand off the list prices, and I would be getting 4 less mid-range speakers in the package than if I did the DIY MTM's all around the room. It sounds like I'd be getting a terrific set of speakers for a terrific price if I can manage to put the things together.
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