So realistically, how do DIY flat kits sound compared to high dollar retail finished products? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 06:46 AM - Thread Starter
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After reading hundreds of forum pages I'm on the verge of going a flat pack route for a subwoofer. However . . . I'm not doing it in order to spend hundreds of hours tinkering and experimenting with different components to get the "perfect" sound. I just want a solid proven formula to save money and get high quality sound without paying retail for it. I have not been successful finding any used options locally.

I've got a 20'x30' basement room with 9' ceilings. I've got a nice refurbished projector, and just ordered open box Energy Veritus 6.2 fronts and 6.1 center speakers. (I figure even if they're a disaster I ought to end up with nice speaker boxes to work with if there's any promise in this DIY stuff.) The basement has wood floors btw. Size and appearance are not issues, I want to pay for sound.

So having spent about $600 on my front and center speakers I started off hoping to spend about $300 on the subwoofer. If I got anything out of reading hundreds of forum pages, it was figuring out that's unreasonable.

I've gone from being hopeful about a BIC PL-200 to contemplating an HSU VTF-15H to an Epik Empire to . . . Dayton Audio RS1202K. That's this: http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=300-766.

Now I'd say I'm 50/50 between music and movies. But fundamentally I don't want crappy music. By that I mean I don't want to be constantly noticing a subwoofer. That's not saying a diminished subwoofer role, it's saying I don't want it demanding attention for itself. Really I want to watch movies and listen to music in fairly pure form. I don't need excessive volumes or excessive thumping or out of this world explosions or any of that. Just a basic "Damn that's nice." every time I turn the receiver on.

For, you know . . . $800ish. Ie in reasonable proportion to my demands for a bargain.
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post #2 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 07:25 AM
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If you don't mind huge, and don't mind a little hard work, you can try lilmike's folded horn:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1329971/lilmikes-cinema-f-20

I just finished one this weekend. In my 20x25x10 living room, it is overpowering. I have the amp turned down around 1/4, and the receiver subwoofer setting a little under 1/2. So for your room, it should work great.

With this design, you will get a lot of output, and spend just under $400 for driver, amp, and materials.

Edit: Damn, I missed the part where you said $800. Well you could build 2 f-20's, or start looking for a pair of 18" drivers to build boxes for. I think Dayton just released an 18" HO driver. I've never heard it, but dayton has a really good record.
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post #3 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 07:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsOlearysCow View Post

After reading hundreds of forum pages I'm on the verge of going a flat pack route for a subwoofer. However . . . I'm not doing it in order to spend hundreds of hours tinkering and experimenting with different components to get the "perfect" sound. I just want a solid proven formula to save money and get high quality sound without paying retail for it. .... Size and appearance are not issues, I want to pay for sound.

The "tinkering" is where better "sound" comes from. I.e., if you're expecting to just plug a driver into a box based on a model and get good "SQ", you "may" be dissappointed. You're going to likely need some sort of signal shaping device (EQ) and run measurements in-room to figure out where to EQ it. With non-DIY, that's part of what you're paying for. I.e., a fully EQ'd unit. Of course, with DIY, and if you're willing, you can learn to tailor the EQ of your unit to exactly meet your specific room's requirements. At least IMO.

 

My DIY Subs ...
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J Dunlavy:.. if you stop to think about it, no loudspeaker can sound more accurate than it measures.

 

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post #4 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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So I could build the folded horn and now with the half room I have left a much smaller sub would handle it nicely. smile.gif

I'm not going to be patient for a project that takes very long, at least for the first one. I want to be pissing the neighbors off in not longer than about a week and a half.
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post #5 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by pbc View Post

The "tinkering" is where better "sound" comes from. I.e., if you're expecting to just plug a driver into a box based on a model and get good "SQ", you "may" be dissappointed. You're going to likely need some sort of signal shaping device (EQ) and run measurements in-room to figure out where to EQ it. With non-DIY, that's part of what you're paying for. I.e., a fully EQ'd unit. Of course, with DIY, and if you're willing, you can learn to tailor the EQ of your unit to exactly meet your specific room's requirements. At least IMO.

This is going to be an issue. Long term maybe I'm up for tinkering, but initially I want to get the system going and I want it to sound good, right away. I especially don't want to look at graphs. But the mass produced units must have some formula to make sure they show up and sound good. Surely that can be repeated with DIY designs.

My theory is that the Epik and other units are not any different than what you can build yourself, except that they cut cost in the hardware. Surely there's solid DIY formula that leaves you with about the exact same product but with better components and savings on the shipping, assembly, marketing, etc.
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post #6 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 07:53 AM
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DIY has the potential to give you great results at a bargain, or bad results at the same price. Buying a "polished" DIY kit like the Dayton Audio RS1202K should limit the bad results side of the coin, but you're paying for someone else to validate the design and do the tweaking before you buy it.

Generally speaking retail products have an amplifier that's closely dialed into the subwoofer driver and enclosure that for the most part prevents the subwoofer from being damaged. In DIY this is completely absent. You end up with an off the shelf plate amp that you can't tweak to match the driver & box combo. Or, you end up using a pro amp (with a fan) that is also untweakable. This gives DIY subwoofer creations much more potential to damage the driver due to over excursion / bottoming from too much power (no application specific limiting or a properly set high pass filter). You also have the potential that the driver doesn't perform like the simplified T/S model says it should. Now, with the tweaking you want to avoid you can get something like a MiniDSP and set an appropriate HPF and choose an amplifier that isn't too powerful for the driver and make a DIY creation more like a polished product, but you said that you want to avoid that.

So, IMHO, that leaves you to building established, often built, common DIY designs where the driver in known to perform as expected and an available off the shelf amplifier is setup adequately to pair well with the driver / box, or you buy something like the Dayton RS1202K kit.
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post #7 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 07:55 AM
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It took me a total of around 16 hours to complete my f-20. I haven't even started tinkering with it yet, and it sounds good enough, I'll get to it someday. Loud enough? Yes it is. My brother lives in the apartment above me, and it took everything off of his dresser. If you build an f-20, I hope you don't live in an apartment...
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post #8 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Like I say, long term I may get enthusiastic about experimenting and improving. But short term I want an easy, good experience that leaves me quickly with an end result that's got the same sound quality as fully built commercial units in the same price range.

And the sound quality is really what I'm worried about. I'm confident that the same money ends up offering massively more thump. I want to convince myself it'll be clean and supportive of the music, not take it over. I worry that a lot of folks are willing for the knock you down power at the expense of subtle detail. Can I get good subtle detail out of a DIY approach without going back to school for an EE degree?
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post #9 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by MrsOlearysCow View Post

I worry that a lot of folks are willing for the knock you down power at the expense of subtle detail. Can I get good subtle detail out of a DIY approach without going back to school for an EE degree?

Once you get the output level to match your mains, it blends in very well. When someone says you'll have to tinker with it, that also goes for something that you get from retail. Nothing is going to sound perfect until you give it some eq. This goes for retail or DIY. What were really trying to say is, with your budget, you will get more output AND sound quality for your $ if you go diy. If you decide not to go diy, we can start suggesting the best retail choices for you.
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post #10 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 08:59 AM - Thread Starter
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I recognize that basic placement and speaker adjustments are required with any unit. I don't mind turning knobs. The issue I'm struggling with, lacking the sort of objective review comparisons you hope to get from the various sites that do professional reviews, will DIY kits yield really competative sound results? IE, can I expect the Dayton kit to yield a unit that sounds as good or better than the Epik Empire when it comes to music detail? Last thing I want to do is end up with something that "doesn't sound quite right" and spend months trying to trouble shoot why, or have spent 70% of the money of a proven unit and have "not quite there" results.

What degree of the enthusiasm comes from "I did it myself" vs "wow, this sounds better than the PB-12"?
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post #11 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 09:18 AM
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The problem I see with that kit is this. Two of those drivers would cost you 300. They could be powered by an NU1000 for 200. So that means you're wasting $350 on an enclosure and some pillow stuffing.

It would sound good, better than anything you could find at a brick and mortar store like BB. But you can still do better for less. If you cut the wood yourself, you could make that same kit for (just guessing) around $600.
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post #12 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 09:21 AM
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If you really want to avoid cutting some wood, someone else will have to suggest some retail options for you. Because of my strive for the best value (as you can probably already see), I can't justify buying anything retail, so I basically know almost nothing about retail options, sorry frown.gif
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post #13 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm on board with building a cabinet myself from scratch, just so I'm not experimenting. Ie I'm matching cabinet dimensions with amp and driver selection that will yield a reliable outcome. Now it looks like the sale has vanished, so the DIY kit is actually more expensive PLUS more work than buying the Epik Empire. So unless there's reason to believe the DIY will yield a better sound result, the financial incentive seems to not be there.

I don't find any discussion on this forum comparing DIY results to commercial full build products. I'm becoming suspicious that this is more an exercise in the joy of creation than it is a cheaper way to great results.
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post #14 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 11:19 AM
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What degree of the enthusiasm comes from "I did it myself" vs "wow, this sounds better than the PB-12"?

Enough that I am trying to sell my JTR Triple12 main speakers so I can build a DIY option at which point I can gladly proclaim after my guests are wowed that "I built every speaker in this room myself." smile.gif

Bottom line, DIY>Commercially purchased subs DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR. You can't expect to spend $500 on a DIY driver/amp/box and expect it to best a $2500 seaton submersive. I know that is well above your budget, but I am just trying to make a point. As others have stated, the benefit in your case to going with an already assembled unit would be someone else has already done the "tinkering" for you, but one major thing to consider is that it might mean NOTHING if your room doesnt play well with what the company has already done.

Your room is pretty big, so it will take a little more than some of the builds you might run into. DD has a good suggestion with the f-20 and I can attest that while you CAN tweak it, you dont need any to have it sound absolutely incredible. I ran a pair for about a year and never messed with them until I just did it for giggles, not because I was unhappy or they didnt sound right. Lilmike, the designer of the f-20 did a great job and the directions to build are virtually dummy-proof. Bang for the buck, you won't be dissappointed. It IS a big enclosure though, you seem to have the room however biggrin.gif Most sane people would say the f-20 has more than enough output to make them happy, and yes, it doesnt lack in the "detail" field as well.

If that looks a little beyond your scope of building skills, consider Erich's pre-cut subwoofer flat packs that he is offering (www.diysoundgroup.com). He may be putting the site down for a little while to get some stuff shipped out, but he has got some GREAT stuff there that you could buy, at which point you would just have to simply assemble the box. No cutting necessary, and then choose what type of driver(s) you want to pop in there. Sealed enclosures are going to be the easiest build, but to get really substantial performance, you need more actual speakers, and more power from your amps to drive them to match the output of a ported box or a horn-style enclosure. I would say at least two sealed 15's to get you started. Should you decide in the future you need more bass, you just build two more smile.gif

With a ported sub, you are going to get more output, but wont be able to dig as deep for movies. They also tend to need a little more tweaking if not done properly.

So a quick and dirty rundown? Sealed is easiest and best, but you need a lot more of them, and it is more costly to get there. Ported is a happy medium if you can sacrifice some of the super low-end, as most commercial offerings do, and are a step up on the wood-working skills. Horns are the largest footprint and take a little extra work to build, but really belt out the bass if you are ok with the extra time and space they take up.

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post #15 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 11:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsOlearysCow View Post

I'm on board with building a cabinet myself from scratch, just so I'm not experimenting. Ie I'm matching cabinet dimensions with amp and driver selection that will yield a reliable outcome. Now it looks like the sale has vanished, so the DIY kit is actually more expensive PLUS more work than buying the Epik Empire. So unless there's reason to believe the DIY will yield a better sound result, the financial incentive seems to not be there.
I don't find any discussion on this forum comparing DIY results to commercial full build products. I'm becoming suspicious that this is more an exercise in the joy of creation than it is a cheaper way to great results.

How much was the Epic empire? And how much is it now?

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post #16 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsOlearysCow View Post

I'm on board with building a cabinet myself from scratch, just so I'm not experimenting. Ie I'm matching cabinet dimensions with amp and driver selection that will yield a reliable outcome. Now it looks like the sale has vanished, so the DIY kit is actually more expensive PLUS more work than buying the Epik Empire. So unless there's reason to believe the DIY will yield a better sound result, the financial incentive seems to not be there.
I don't find any discussion on this forum comparing DIY results to commercial full build products. I'm becoming suspicious that this is more an exercise in the joy of creation than it is a cheaper way to great results.

Well, you will find that there are two camps, and they don't typically share much ground.

Of course the DIY route is better, this is the DIY forum.

I am a DIY sort of guy. Have made my own speakers and subs for most of my life. Also change my own oil, rotate my own tires, paint my own house, you get the picture.

Can a DIY speaker sound better than store bought? Sure. Mine do. My subs do too. Can they sound worse? Absolutely. I've built those too.

Guess what - commercial stuff can sound lousy too. It is not automatically good just because you paid for it. I've had plenty of lousy commercial offerings as well.

A DIY sub is not constrained by the realities of the commercial marketplace. If I want to make a cabinet that is 20 cubic feet, I can build one. Those don't exist in Best Buy, for a number of reasons. If I want to use a couple no-holds-barred $1000 18" drivers and feed them with a 4,000 watt per channel amp, I can do that in the DIY world too. Again, you won't find these parts at Best Buy.

To each their own.

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If you check out this thread here:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1431573/what-to-build

It is stated by LTD02 the following:

"one f20 with 500 watts would be roughly equal one pb13u."

The pb13u is a retail subwoofer from svs, which goes for around $2,000 I believe (someone correct me if I'm wrong). An f-20 can be built for around $400. You can get similar results to retail with DIY for much less. The main thin that we sacrifice is space. You can spend $2000 for the svs which is a lot smaller, or you can go diy and make something huge for much less and get the same results.

The reason retail is so small (which raises prices along with overhead), is that consumers generally want something small. Or I should say Normal people want something small and tucked away.

EDIT: Damn lilmike you got me by 30 seconds, with a much more educated response I must add :P
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post #18 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 11:26 AM
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Oh, and I'm just using the f-20 as an example, I don't want to push that behemoth on you. You could build 2 15" subwoofers powered by an ep4000. Put one in your front 2 corners, and destroy retail subwoofers with extreme quality and spl.
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post #19 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 11:27 AM
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If I want to make a cabinet that is 20 cubic feet, I can build one. Those don't exist in Best Buy, for a number of reasons. If I want to use a couple no-holds-barred $1000 18" drivers and feed them with a 4,000 watt per channel amp, I can do that in the DIY world too. Again, you won't find these parts at Best Buy.

To each their own.

Did you just take my journey of bass and use it as an example? Haha. from F-20's to two sealed XXX18's on an LG Clone, yep you got it! haha

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post #20 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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The Epik Empire is about $950 delivered, making it less expensive than the Dayton kit at $1,100 which builds an equivalent dual woofer. In fact it's not even equivalent since the Dayton is 12" drivers vs 15" in the Empire.

I'm hesitant on the Empire in part because I worry that positive reviews are overly influenced by it's power in HT use, and that has a follow through effect of "and it does great with music too!". There's just so friggin many opinions expressed around here a person can't sort through any of it.

All I know is I want my 60W energy subwoofer GONE.
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post #21 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 11:35 AM
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You had 4 f20's right beastaudio? How was the difference going to the xxx18's from the f20's, or can you point me to a thread were you talk about it?
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post #22 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 11:36 AM
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"I don't find any discussion on this forum comparing DIY results to commercial full build products. I'm becoming suspicious that this is more an exercise in the joy of creation than it is a cheaper way to great results."

you may be jumping a little too quickly to conclusions.

back in post #2, the f20 was mentioned. that sub will put out roughly 118db around 20-25hz. with the -hf driver, it will be clean too.

the empire will put out about 104db in the same range.

a second empire gets you to 110db.

four empires get you to 116db.

most folks that wander through here build for performance.

the lack of comparisons is because nobody could afford the commercial equivalent of many of the higher performance systems around here. :-) some guys have the equivalent performance of $75k of paradigm subs for 10-20% of the cost.

and just so that you are aware, most of what causes subs to sound bad are effects from the room, not the sub.

if you want good sound regardless of whether you choose diy or not, this will be the best money that you can spend:
http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Reproduction-Acoustics-Psychoacoustics-Loudspeakers/dp/0240520092

Listen. It's All Good.
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post #23 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 11:39 AM
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I originally went from a crappy little 100w sony subwoofer to a 15" dayton HF ported. The difference was... huge. But then I wanted more. The 15" dayton with a homemade enclosure killed my buddy's dual 12" klipch subs that he spent almost a grand on. If you don't need extreme output, I think you would be happy with just building a sealed enclosure with a 15" driver and call it day. Plus you'll only spend half of your budget.
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"back in post #2, the f20 was mentioned. that sub will put out roughly 118db around 20-25hz. with the -hf driver, it will be clean too.

the empire will put out about 104db in the same range.

a second empire gets you to 110db.

four empires get you to 116db."

Wow.
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post #24 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 11:44 AM
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The Epik Empire is about $950 delivered, making it less expensive than the Dayton kit at $1,100 which builds an equivalent dual woofer. In fact it's not even equivalent since the Dayton is 12" drivers vs 15" in the Empire.
I'm hesitant on the Empire in part because I worry that positive reviews are overly influenced by it's power in HT use, and that has a follow through effect of "and it does great with music too!". There's just so friggin many opinions expressed around here a person can't sort through any of it.
All I know is I want my 60W energy subwoofer GONE.

Neither of those is going to fill your room with enough bass to what I think would make you happy, forget about both for now. Yes there are a LOT of options, and there a LOT that do just as good for music as movies and vice versa. In this particular case you CAN have your cake and eat it too.

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You had 4 f20's right beastaudio? How was the difference going to the xxx18's from the f20's, or can you point me to a thread were you talk about it?

Nope, only two, but I had them crammed with tempest x-2's which are a good bit nicer than the MFW or dayton. Instead of 300watts, I was giving them close to 900 each with the tempests. MKtheater had 4 and while he had a little better room gain than I did, we could both get about the same from 20hz and up, he just beat me out due to more displacement.

The f-30's still have the best midbass punch ive heard. the LLT's I built cant compete, and the sealed XXX's cant either. The only reason I moved on from the f-20's is I was missing that ultra low stuff, and I wanted it bad. Under 16hz isnt needed for 90% of the music I listen to, so the f-20's are a music listeners dream, all the while doing great at movies too. I just wanted to get to 10hz flat, so I sacrificed a little bit of output in the upper-bass range, to really get that chair rumbling bass down low. Now I am planning on getting two more RE's and another clone to power, at which point I will have everything I want, but I will also have spent close to 10x the amount that I had in the pair of the F-20's

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post #25 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by beastaudio View Post

Did you just take my journey of bass and use it as an example? Haha. from F-20's to two sealed XXX18's on an LG Clone, yep you got it! haha

Not just yours....

Audio is full of compromises. There is not a single cabinet that will do it all perfectly. There are simply too many variables.

As far as a direct comparison to commercial products? Well, at least for me, the reason I designed and built my own is because I didn't want to drop the cash on a comparable commercial offering.

The other fundamental reason? Well, there just aren't too many comparable commercial offerings.

Is anyone aware of a commercially available tapped horn sub that's approximately 6 cubic feet and plays to 30 Hz at over 92 dB/1W,1M? I'm not. (edit - the T-6 is actually 6.25 cubic feet)

How about a 20 cubic foot, front-loaded horn, loaded with an inexpensive 15" driver that plays below 20 Hz at over 93 dB 1W, 1M?
Again, I'm drawing a blank on that one too. Only thing that I can think of is JTR's Orbit Shifter, but it is loaded with an 18, and is tuned higher.

Since I don't own something comparable to measure, I am left measuring what I have created and sharing that information.
I see it this way - If I present real data, anyone can take it and compare what I have done to anything that they want to.

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post #26 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 11:49 AM
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Though the rest is very well stated...

"...if you want good sound regardless of whether you choose diy or not, this will be the best money that you can spend:
http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Reproduction-Acoustics-Psychoacoustics-Loudspeakers/dp/0240520092"

...this is this gem.

Toole's book is arguably some of the best money I have spent in audio. The only other items that are that high on my list are my measuring gear.

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post #27 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 12:07 PM
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^^^ Agreed.
Quote:
back in post #2, the f20 was mentioned. that sub will put out roughly 118db around 20-25hz. with the -hf driver, it will be clean too.

the empire will put out about 104db in the same range.

The difference here is MORE than substantial. 14db's is a rediculous difference and to compare properly you would have to get 4 epik's to equal the single f-20 as LTD stated. At that point you are taking up about as much space as the f-20, but youve spent close to $4000 as opposed to the $400 in the F-20 for the same performance.

(European models do not accept banana plugs.)

 

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post #28 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 12:07 PM
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@beastaudio, interesting. It's nice to see someone who's gone through so much equipment and to hear your opinions / facts. When my gf and I buy a house we already decided the basement is going to have a theater in it, with all of the speakers and subs hand built. Until then I have to decide if I'm going to do a bunch of f20's or a bunch of huge sealed 18s or 21s for that subsonic output. Too bad you can't mix the 2 designs...

@MrsOlearysCow, If you look at my first handful of posts on here, I responded the same way to every one on this forum as you are. I was in denial, and was really pushing towards a kit or something retail. In the end I listened to everyone, and realized that if I didn't follow them, I would never know the sound I would have been missing.

Now I mess around and model subs in different enclosures, just to see the graphs. Things that I would never even buy. It gives me a smile when I model a $300 driver in an obnoxious over-sized enclosure to find out that I couldn't even buy something that loud and accurate. 6 months later I built another enclosure. I have enough bass, but I keep messing with the graphs. What did you guys do to me?
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post #29 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 12:14 PM
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@beastaudio, interesting. It's nice to see someone who's gone through so much equipment and to hear your opinions / facts. When my gf and I buy a house we already decided the basement is going to have a theater in it, with all of the speakers and subs hand built. Until then I have to decide if I'm going to do a bunch of f20's or a bunch of huge sealed 18s or 21s for that subsonic output. Too bad you can't mix the 2 designs...

Actually that is what I am currently doing. Big RE bass pumps for the 40hz and down material, and from 40-120hz, a pair of DUAL jbl pro15's ported smile.gif now I have everything I need but a shade more headroom down where the RE's play.

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post #30 of 325 Old 10-18-2012, 07:33 PM
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Enough that I am trying to sell my JTR Triple12 main speakers so I can build a DIY option at which point I can gladly proclaim after my guests are wowed that "I built every speaker in this room myself." smile.gif
Bottom line, DIY>Commercially purchased subs DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR. You can't expect to spend $500 on a DIY driver/amp/box and expect it to best a $2500 seaton submersive. I know that is well above your budget, but I am just trying to make a point. As others have stated, the benefit in your case to going with an already assembled unit would be someone else has already done the "tinkering" for you, but one major thing to consider is that it might mean NOTHING if your room doesnt play well with what the company has already done.
Your room is pretty big, so it will take a little more than some of the builds you might run into. DD has a good suggestion with the f-20 and I can attest that while you CAN tweak it, you dont need any to have it sound absolutely incredible. I ran a pair for about a year and never messed with them until I just did it for giggles, not because I was unhappy or they didnt sound right. Lilmike, the designer of the f-20 did a great job and the directions to build are virtually dummy-proof. Bang for the buck, you won't be dissappointed. It IS a big enclosure though, you seem to have the room however biggrin.gif Most sane people would say the f-20 has more than enough output to make them happy, and yes, it doesnt lack in the "detail" field as well.
If that looks a little beyond your scope of building skills, consider Erich's pre-cut subwoofer flat packs that he is offering (www.diysoundgroup.com). He may be putting the site down for a little while to get some stuff shipped out, but he has got some GREAT stuff there that you could buy, at which point you would just have to simply assemble the box. No cutting necessary, and then choose what type of driver(s) you want to pop in there. Sealed enclosures are going to be the easiest build, but to get really substantial performance, you need more actual speakers, and more power from your amps to drive them to match the output of a ported box or a horn-style enclosure. I would say at least two sealed 15's to get you started. Should you decide in the future you need more bass, you just build two more smile.gif
With a ported sub, you are going to get more output, but wont be able to dig as deep for movies. They also tend to need a little more tweaking if not done properly.
So a quick and dirty rundown? Sealed is easiest and best, but you need a lot more of them, and it is more costly to get there. Ported is a happy medium if you can sacrifice some of the super low-end, as most commercial offerings do, and are a step up on the wood-working skills. Horns are the largest footprint and take a little extra work to build, but really belt out the bass if you are ok with the extra time and space they take up.

I was planning on waiting to sell my JTR until I had my new speakers built, but I priced them to a guy today and now they are sold. I need my new speakers finished by mid December or I will be without.

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