ZAPH Audio ZA5.3 in wall theater build - AVS Forum

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DIY Speakers and Subs

1Jumper10's Avatar 1Jumper10
10:09 PM Liked: 10
post #1 of 20
02-21-2012 | Posts: 24
Joined: Dec 2011
Hi All -

This is a great forum. I have never built speakers before but I do everything DIY so I'm jumping in! I have a couple questions:

I'm building a theater/multi purpose room in my basement and after much research I have settled on an in-wall speaker set up for the L-C-R channels behind an acoustically transparent screen. Going in-wall with the speakers saved me some space and, had high WAF. I didnt think a regular in-wall speaker would sound good enough so I decided I would build enclosures and build them into the wall. I have stud walls up at this stage and no drywall yet so now was the time. I decided I would use the Zaph audio ZA5.3c MTM speakers oriented vertically for all 3 L-C-R channels but with the in-wall cross over in all of them. The center channel configuration of this seems best suited because its front ported while the standard L-R cabinets use rear ports. I built a .7 cubic ft(20L) enclosure that was thin enough to fit my wall. This is the volume John Krutke recommends for this speaker.
This is what my enclosures look like. The center part is where I will put the drivers after the drywall is up.

This is my theater wall with the opening made for the center channel

This is all 3 openings with the enclosures in their almost final position

Close up of the center channel enclosure

The drywall will lay over the whole enclosure and then I will roto-zip the opening. Question: How should I attach the enclosure to the wall/studs? Should I try and isolate it from the studs with some insulation or, should I screw and glue? I guess I dont know about vibration transfer to the wall itself and if thats a good or bad thing.
mayhem13's Avatar mayhem13
01:58 AM Liked: 13
post #2 of 20
02-22-2012 | Posts: 3,959
Joined: Jan 2008
Screws and glue would be just fine. Be sure to line the inside of the enclosures with some type of dampening material. I use foam mattress toppers from Target or Walmart. Also it's hard to tell from the photos but be sure that the central axis is aligned with the average seated listeners ear height. In the case of an MTM, there's two.....either midway between the tweeter and the upper or lower woofer. Doing so can avoid the worst of the vertical nulls that MTMs are known for. Seems like such a little detail, but that's what makes DIY so special as you can optimize everything by design.
omegaslast's Avatar omegaslast
02:15 AM Liked: 18
post #3 of 20
02-22-2012 | Posts: 885
Joined: Sep 2007
I would think this would be the perfect opportunity for some wave guides...
1Jumper10's Avatar 1Jumper10
07:00 AM Liked: 10
post #4 of 20
02-22-2012 | Posts: 24
Joined: Dec 2011
Hmm... I aligned the tweeter with the average ear height..., guess I cant do much about that now.

I was going to stuff the enclosure with insulation. Isnt this the same as lining with dampening material?

Whats a waveguide?
pgwalsh's Avatar pgwalsh
09:04 AM Liked: 75
post #5 of 20
02-22-2012 | Posts: 1,468
Joined: Feb 2008
Looking good and looking forward to more.
tuxedocivic's Avatar tuxedocivic
09:26 AM Liked: 659
post #6 of 20
02-22-2012 | Posts: 5,101
Joined: Feb 2010
Very cool build. Looking forward to seeing more. What turned you on to this design? Should be a gooder!

Originally Posted by 1Jumper10 View Post

Whats a waveguide?

It's a device that directs the sound such as what we've been testing here:

It boosts tweeter output and controls directivity. This way you can get a lower cross over point and better power response. Not many designs out there that use available waveguides though. Here`s one I just finished (one of the few I`m aware of):
1Jumper10's Avatar 1Jumper10
10:38 AM Liked: 10
post #7 of 20
02-22-2012 | Posts: 24
Joined: Dec 2011
Tuxedocivic - I looked at your thread. Thats a real nice build! The wave guide is interesting. Unfortunately I am not as talented or creative as you and I dont know as much about freq response. So that is why my design is as close to what Zaph specifies as I can possibly get it. I assumed Zaph makes a good product and they make a crossover dedicated to in-wall speakers. And the kits from Madisound look like a pretty good value. I also found that I could adapt his enclosure to in-wall use and should end up with a no compromise in-wall setup: i.e the L-C-R channels are all set vertically and they are all the same speakers and in-wall cross overs. There has been several times where I have been glad that what I'm building is not going to be seen. Hopefully it will sound good. Thanks for the replies. I'll keep this thread updated as I go.
DevonS's Avatar DevonS
07:54 AM Liked: 12
post #8 of 20
03-06-2012 | Posts: 592
Joined: Jul 2007
Awesome! Just what the doctor ordered. I'm eventually going to re-do my whole front stage, putting in an AT screen and I want to conserve as much space as I can. I'll be looking up Zaph and all the stuff you listed here, but it would save me time if you could fire a couple links on here! ;-)

Edit: found the components. I'm assuming you're doing Center channel single X3 with the "in wall" xover configuration? Also assuming you modified the cabinet dimensions to maintain volume but accommodate in-wall depth. So what are your total dimensions?

For in-walls to "work" properly, do you really have to finish the wall? I'd still insulate, but probably wouldn't bother with drywall since it'll all be behind the screen... I think. Hmmmmm.
1Jumper10's Avatar 1Jumper10
07:51 PM Liked: 10
post #9 of 20
03-15-2012 | Posts: 24
Joined: Dec 2011
Update: Drywall is up and I'm working on finishing it. Here is a couple pics of the enclosure openings under drywall

Devon S: My internal dimensions are 17.5"W x 20.5"H x 3.5" Deep. This is maintaining as close to
the original volume of the ZA 5.3c in-wall as possible.
The guy I spoke with at madisound confirmed my choice of crossover: The L-R in-wall crossover
for the ZA5.3 (not the center channel crossover!) for all
three L-C-R speakers in the way I am going to mount them.
pnw's Avatar pnw
07:54 AM Liked: 36
post #10 of 20
03-16-2012 | Posts: 439
Joined: Dec 2003
Originally Posted by DevonS View Post

For in-walls to "work" properly, do you really have to finish the wall? I'd still insulate, but probably wouldn't bother with drywall since it'll all be behind the screen... I think. Hmmmmm.

To reduce diffraction, as well as prevent an upper bass/low mid cancellation bounce from a "stepped" wall, you do want to finish the wall as shown in the pic. Tweeter height is the correct design/listening axis for symmetrical MTMs.
lowpolyjoe's Avatar lowpolyjoe
09:04 AM Liked: 11
post #11 of 20
03-16-2012 | Posts: 503
Joined: Aug 2010

I'm enjoying your build thread. Love to see someone starting from bare stud walls.

I built a Zaph 5.3 system last year as my first DIY project. Sounds good. Great value system.

Have you read through Zaph's ZA5 page? I really like how much explanation he gives for the design variants in the lineup.

From your recent post, sounds like you're using the in-wall crossover but the center-channel enclosure. I think that's great cuz the baffle step compensation in the center xo is probably ill suited to your in-wall install. But i'm curious if you're still planning on running the front ports from the center channel design? I think the in-wall design is essentially a giant sealed enclosure - the space between two studs from floor to ceiling is the sealed chamber. Did you mention to the madisound guy that you spec'ed out your setup for front-firing-ports? Just wondering if that will have any impact on how the xo from a sealed design will behave. Maybe someone else will comment

Another thing that i've learned the hard way is to make sure you account for how things are going to fit. Having built the ZA kits before, i don't remember the ports being shorter than the 3.5" depth you have in your enclosure. Pretty sure you're supposed to leave one port-width's worth of space between the port and the internal enclosure walls. Are you planning on running PVC elbows to bend the port internally? Or am i remembering the port lengths incorrectly? Just want to make sure that issue doesn't sneak up on you the last day of construction as it has on me.

Best of luck - looking forward to updates on your progress.

DevonS's Avatar DevonS
01:07 PM Liked: 12
post #12 of 20
03-16-2012 | Posts: 592
Joined: Jul 2007
Thanks for the valuable info, jumper. Saves me a ton of research if I choose to go this way as well. I'll just clone your design :-) Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? One last thing, is your wall 2x6 construction and 3/4" MDF boxes?

Thank you as well, pnw. I have no idea what the hell you were talking about, but I took the point as "finish the damn wall you lazy ass!"

lowpolyjoe, I was curious about the ports as well. Good call.
1Jumper10's Avatar 1Jumper10
07:05 AM Liked: 10
post #13 of 20
03-17-2012 | Posts: 24
Joined: Dec 2011
Hi Lowpoly - Yes I read the ZA5 info page. His detailed explanations and the good price is what made me decide to use them. Reference the port length; I know its going to be tight but if I get the parts and its too long for my enclosure I'll deal with it then. I figure there is more important design considerations to be made then modifying a big part of my plans around a plastic tube. If it fits great! If not, I'll cut it to the appropriate length and put a 45 on it. I actually considered this problem and mentioned it to Madisound and they suggested that solution like it was no big deal. Time will tell. Thanks for the advice.

DevonS - I used 3/4" particle board for the enclosures that are in the wall. For the baffle, I'll use some good plywood since they could be visible if the screen is not on the wall. Also, I made my box 3.5" deep on the inside so the outside depth is actually 5". The only reason I could do this is because my stud wall (standard 2x4's) sits away from my concrete basement wall about an inch and a half. In a standard 2x4 wall, this box depth would be too deep to mount flush.

I'm having second thoughts about the in-wall crossover. IIRC (I should go back and read the ZA5 page) the in wall x-over is for an infinite baffle. My box is essentially a sealed enclosure of the same internal volume as the standard ZA5. I dont see why I couldnt just use the normal x-over for the ZA5? It doesnt have any baffle step compensation which I dont need because the speakers are at the wall, and its designed for a .7cu/ft enclosure. I guess I'll have to call Madisound and talk it over.
1Jumper10's Avatar 1Jumper10
02:47 PM Liked: 10
post #14 of 20
04-02-2012 | Posts: 24
Joined: Dec 2011
I called Madisound today and talked with "Brian". I told him how I had built my enclosures: Basically they were in-wall enclosures of the same volume as the ZA5.3 speaker design; .70ft3. All three were going to be front ported like the ZA5.3c center channel design. I asked him which crossover to use since the in-wall crossover was for a large volume enclosure (a wall cavity) but the normal crossover was for the enclosure volume that I had built in my wall. He said to use the in-wall crossover because it does not have baffle step compensation! That was kinda my design goal when I started so I must have done something right.

So, to summarize for anyone attempting something similar; I have 3 Zaph audio ZA5.3 enclosures built vertically into my walls each with volume equal to the normal speaker cabinet. The front baffles will all be exactly like the center channel configuration. All three L-C-R speakers will be using the ZA5.3 in-wall crossovers and the baffles will be flush with the wall. The only thing I'm using from the center channel configuration is the baffle design because I need the front porting.
DevonS's Avatar DevonS
04:46 PM Liked: 12
post #15 of 20
04-03-2012 | Posts: 592
Joined: Jul 2007
Great update, jumper. I may be closer than I think to pulling the trigger as well. I completed a spandex AT-ish screen on the weekend, and I gotta say the image is quite impressive. With that out of the way, and the fact that the screen weighs next to nothing, I may tear out the wall and "git 'er done" over the summer.

Now, here's my plan with a question: I want to flush mount the screen so essentially the screen area will be recessed by about 3/4 inch to make it flush with the rest of the wall. The screen "hole" will be 103" X 58" (118" diagonal) and the speakers will be mounted within this recess. Will this cause any significant baffle-step-somethin's or freqency-null-and-void dealio's?

Looks like this:

1Jumper10's Avatar 1Jumper10
04:07 AM Liked: 10
post #16 of 20
04-07-2012 | Posts: 24
Joined: Dec 2011
Hooked em up, installed and tested em last night! I'm very happy with them! Dont have time right now for a detailed description, gotta go to work but here are some photos:

pgwalsh's Avatar pgwalsh
09:27 AM Liked: 75
post #17 of 20
04-07-2012 | Posts: 1,468
Joined: Feb 2008
Very nice!
1Jumper10's Avatar 1Jumper10
01:45 PM Liked: 10
post #18 of 20
04-07-2012 | Posts: 24
Joined: Dec 2011
Well so far they are working out better than I expected. Bass response is surprisingly good but still needs a subwoofer. The port is about 1" longer than optimum as it's less than a full diameter away from the back of the enclosure. But I think it will be fine since I don't intend on driving these to their limit. I wanted clear dialog for movies and good music performance and, above all matching vertical L-C-R speakers in a clean install. I used the in wall cross overs which I think are supposed to be for an infinite baffle I.e. a wall cavity but I installed them in sealed, matched enclosures. Whether the x-over was used with an IB or ported enclosure it's main advantage is no baffle step compensation. On Madisound's website, there are 2 different port flares associated with these speakers. The one I got was shorter than I planned on but actually worked out better with my shallow enclosure because it was shorter. Madisound was very helpful and I want to thank them for putting up with my frequent panicked phone calls. These were the first speakers I ever built and I wonder if I could have screwed up to the point that I wouldn't have been happy or, if it's just easy to achieve good results with a little research and planning? Don't know. I'll use them for a while, build a subwoofer fine tune my setup and just be happy with it.
maxmercy's Avatar maxmercy
02:15 PM Liked: 147
post #19 of 20
04-07-2012 | Posts: 2,375
Joined: Nov 2008
Let us know if these guys can reach 6-8dB below reference cleanly. I would probably not use them above that.

Very nice build!

pgwalsh's Avatar pgwalsh
05:52 PM Liked: 75
post #20 of 20
04-09-2012 | Posts: 1,468
Joined: Feb 2008
Originally Posted by 1Jumper10 View Post

I'll use them for a while, build a subwoofer fine tune my setup and just be happy with it.

Overall impressions on the sound quality? I've read several of Zaph's builds and have seen his kids on madisound. Do you have anything to compare them to?
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