About a year ago I built a THTLP subwoofer
and some Econowave SR speakers
. These were my first DIY audio builds. I originally built them to provide music outdoors for my Burning Man camp. They worked great for that, but that's only 1 week per year. I liked the speakers so much that they ended up in my living room. The white "PA speakers" still look out of place, but I have come to think of the big white sub with the 6ft piece of bacon painted on the side as "pop art".
I've had several different commercial speakers and subs over the last ~7 years, and one of my favorite demo discs is the Burmester Sampler CD-03
. I have listened to this CD on every system that I've owned (since I got the CD). Tracks 7, 9, and 10 are my favorites.
Tonight I listened to that CD the whole way through on my current DIY system. For reasons unknown, I don't think I had done that until now -- or at least not while I was in the listening position and paying attention. I thought I might find that the strings or horns are grating to my ears on what could easily be called by "PA speakers", but I found no such thing. All the tracks sound really excellent.
Track 7 is classical -- Scheherazade, Allegro Molto, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. It's like cute bunnies in a meadow one moment, and then angry alien mech warriors attacking the next moment. It makes graceful transitions back and fourth between these extremes several times. The power comes through without losing any detail on my current DIY system. It feels more like a live performance than my old system.
Track 9 is "Stimela" by Hugh Masekela. I loved this track the first time I heard it, and it is one of my favorite songs/recordings of all time. This track is very different from track 7, but it too has big changes in pace and volume level. It sounds great, and again like a live performance with plenty of power and detail.
Track 10 is what inspired me to write this post. It is "Poem of Chinese Drums" by Yim Hok-Man. I've had several subs over the years, but hearing this track on the THTLP tonight totally blew me away. I listen to a lot of electronic music with bass, but the acoustic drum hits on this track have incredible impact that just isn't present in that other music. Maybe it is the combination of the Econowave's 12" midwoofer + the THTLP that produces such a visceral result. But wow, it just... HITS and shakes the house like nothing else I've heard. And then it quiets down and HITS AGAIN! It really impressed me that the THTLP was able to "hit" so hard and then decay so smoothly. Apart from the bass, the detail in the rest of the percussion is also excellent. There's a Chesky Sampler
disc that instructs you to listen to the shaker in Spanish Harlem, and that "detail" is being able to hear the distinction between each shake. That kind of detail is more present on my DIY system than on any of previous speakers that I've owned. It just sounds real. It isn't my favorite "song", but track 10 is unequivocally my new demo track for my system. It is a "wow, that sounds incredible" experience rather than a "wow, that can make a lot of noise" experience, which is what some of my previous demo attempts have sounded like (due to poor track selection). My DIY system far outperforms any of my previous systems on this track.
Big thanks to Zilch and Bill Fitzmaurice for making their designs available, and to avsforum members who helped me with my builds. I already have plans to build some "pretty" SEOS + AE speakers for my living room, and I know that I won't be able to stop there.