Possible to DIY the B&W 800 Diamond? - AVS Forum
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DIY Speakers and Subs > Possible to DIY the B&W 800 Diamond?
ahheck01's Avatar ahheck01 04:26 PM 01-22-2013
I'm wondering if anyone has tried to replicate these, in terms of both performance and design? I would imagine some of the brilliant minds here could out-do them in both performance and design for a tenth of the cost. What do you imagine it would take? I'd like to start this out as a discussion, and potentially this summer actually tackle such a project. Thoughts?

tuxedocivic's Avatar tuxedocivic 06:17 PM 01-22-2013
Sure. Other than the complex cab and proprietary drivers (which are both very high end) there isn't anything special about it. You'd need a fair amount of money to do it though.
Jay1's Avatar Jay1 06:28 PM 01-22-2013
It's a large TMWW with very high quality drivers. A similar speaker would require top of the line drivers, and some very good cabinet skills to recreate the TM portion. I dont think anyone has attempted it.
WagBoss's Avatar WagBoss 06:36 PM 01-22-2013
are the drivers actually available to buy on their own?
ahheck01's Avatar ahheck01 06:39 PM 01-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by WagBoss View Post

are the drivers actually available to buy on their own?
Or even comparable ones, at that.
Djoel's Avatar Djoel 06:42 PM 01-22-2013
If this guy can create such beautiful diy speakers, Photos here I'm sure it can be done, I've seen how those B&W cabinets are done, and it does look labor intensive, as it layers, and layers of plywood type compressed together. The drivers will cost you, I think if you're lucky you can buy the Marlen heads over on ebay or Agon.

I would do something similar to the B&W, but change it up a bit either cosmetic or electronics driver, x-over etc and make things interesting.




Need more incentive check this guy's project eek.gif

Good luck

Djoel

Djoel's Avatar Djoel 06:45 PM 01-22-2013
If this guy can create such beautiful diy speakers, Photos here I'm sure it can be done, I've seen how those B&W cabinets are done, and it does look labor intensive, as it layers, and layers of plywood type compressed together. The drivers will cost you, I think if you're lucky you can buy the Marlen heads over on ebay or Agon.

I would do something similar to the B&W, but change it up a bit either cosmetic or electronics driver, x-over etc and make things interesting.




Need more incentive check this guy's project eek.gif



Good luck

Djoel

tuxedocivic's Avatar tuxedocivic 07:00 PM 01-22-2013
I don't think the drivers are easily available. But there are exotic drivers out there that could be used.
imagic's Avatar imagic 07:21 PM 01-22-2013
As long as you ignore the true cost of the labor then it can be done, at least to the point where one could claim to have a 'reasonable facsimile'. Not sure about pulling it off at 1/10 the cost for parts, but at 1/4 the cost I'd say sure, if you already possess the skill to work with wood at the sculptural level. Once 3D printing reaches maturity, I'd say sure.
Bill Fitzmaurice's Avatar Bill Fitzmaurice 08:43 PM 01-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

Sure. Other than the complex cab and proprietary drivers (which are both very high end) there isn't anything special about it. You'd need a fair amount of money to do it though.
They may be proprietary but that doesn't mean they can't be equaled, or even beat for that matter, with off the shelf. I'd say you could do at least as well with a $2k-$3k DIY build.
tuxedocivic's Avatar tuxedocivic 08:48 PM 01-22-2013
I agree Bill. And I think it can be improved upon actually. I think you'd agree also. For instance it's 90db/2.83V and 4ohms. I'd shoot for 93db.
Jay1's Avatar Jay1 09:04 PM 01-22-2013
93db might be hard to do from a pair of 10"s that are expected to hit 26hz. JA claims they're at 92.5 db sensitivity, above B&W's own claims. The bass does show a 5 db roll of from 60 to 30hz, which would work well in most rooms, and allow for the higher sensitivity.
Bill Fitzmaurice's Avatar Bill Fitzmaurice 09:12 PM 01-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

I agree Bill. And I think it can be improved upon actually. I think you'd agree also. For instance it's 90db/2.83V and 4ohms. I'd shoot for 93db.
I have no doubt it can be beat; the only reason I wouldn't do so myself is that my customers tend to want to get the best results they can for $500, which is still pretty darn good.
Face2's Avatar Face2 09:40 PM 01-22-2013
PsychoM3's Avatar PsychoM3 09:56 PM 01-22-2013
I haven't seen anyone build a 800D clone. First, there are a solid 5% of DIYers that can build a speaker with the class of sound the 800D provides (I admit I am a fan boy of the B&W D sound). Further there are maybe .1% of serious woodworkers that could approach a visual/performance clone of the 800D cabs. Maybe 1% of professional woodworkers could do it without a solid set of plans. That is because there is a WHOLE lot more to the 800 cabs than just woodworking. It would be a very skilled human or one willing to seek out and line the pockets of those who have the skills to approach a 800D clone. Even with the proper skill sets $2,500 seems like a non-starter even if one did all the work themselves and didn't consider their time worth anything. Now this isn't to say there aren't some proven designs with much more conventional cabinets that would be in the ball park of subjective and objective performance in the 5-6K range assuming one could build their own cabs.

Just a for instance (not saying this is the best value by far) but the Klang-Ton Nada is a small 2 way monitor that gets a lot of positive praise in the more high-end (price) oriented DIY community in Europe (we tend to be more budget oriented here in NA). The Nada has a "mere" beryllium tweeter and parts alone are in the 2K range without beginning to max out the last Nth degree of tranparency in the crossover components.

I will go out on a limb and say it will be hard to reproduce the B&W sound at 93dB sensitivity as Tuxedo suggests, well without bespoke drivers. The drivers on the market that one would normally go to for a B&W type presentation are going to be low sensitivity "audiophile" speakers.

My guess the guinea pig who makes a solid 800D clone both in voice and aethetics will be out of pocket 10 grand or more. I have yet to here a non-diamond tweeter sound like a diamond and the Accuton D20-6 is going to run you near $6k for a pair or the Jantzen 1024 for about 4K... Not sure if B&W will sell rare drivers to anyone but an owner but the 8 drivers (with the tweeter encolsure) run just under 5K. Iirc the Xovers are about 1k. I am not saying there aren't DIY designs that you may not like as much or better than the 800D for well under $10K but you are likely to have far different ears than I do if you can find one for 2.5K in parts.

Good luck.
BassThatHz's Avatar BassThatHz 10:28 PM 01-22-2013
B&W will sell you all the component individually if you phone them. But NEVER tell them what it is for, or they WON'T!!! If they ask just say you are doing repairs on yours that suffered from an earthquake or something.
However... the cost of the parts individually, like a car, will cost you more than the speaker from a store. eek.gif

All of their drivers are made with double and even quad-stacked neodymium's, and the tweeters are made of synthetic diamond dust, the the XO and binding posts are made of gold and platinum metals.

They say that even with 20 employees working in parallel with all the specialized tools, whom have tonnes of experience in making them, it still takes two weeks to make a single pair.

If you forgo the fancy tweeter and the fancy paint and metals, you could probably make a look-a-like that is fairly close in performance for cheaper but it still wouldn't be easy.



















tuxedocivic's Avatar tuxedocivic 10:36 PM 01-22-2013
Not quite the right driver to fake the mid, but looks like the same thing.

http://www.solen.ca/pdf/zrspeakerlab/zrno1.pdf
pokekevin's Avatar pokekevin 10:46 PM 01-22-2013
Awesome pictures!
Jay1's Avatar Jay1 11:00 PM 01-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

Not quite the right driver to fake the mid, but looks like the same thing.

http://www.solen.ca/pdf/zrspeakerlab/zrno1.pdf

Nice one. You could probably get really close to the look by rear mounting it. The surround would give it away of course
PsychoM3's Avatar PsychoM3 11:14 PM 01-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

Not quite the right driver to fake the mid, but looks like the same thing.

http://www.solen.ca/pdf/zrspeakerlab/zrno1.pdf

ZR Labs makes some pretty pricey drivers, my guess is those are at least $1k plus each. The B&W drivers are actually cheaper if I am not mistaken.
tuxedocivic's Avatar tuxedocivic 07:30 AM 01-23-2013
Those are $1700 per pair iirc. It wouldn't be a very good mid. I meant more the look. I'm not sure how easy getting the B&W drivers would be. Getting the mid would be the hardest part I think. Finding a comparable woofer would be easy.
BassThatHz's Avatar BassThatHz 10:17 AM 01-23-2013
Actually getting the mid is the easiest part and cheapest part. About ~$350 for a pair.
A pair of tweeters will be ~$3500.
Four 10's will be ~$2500.

and now your into the price range of a used (but authentic) 2005 802D; which includes everthing the 2010 800D has, such as the marlan head and 3 XO boards, with the exception of the the newest neo-magnets and bigger woofs/box and slightly higher-end XO.

The thing is, if you have an authentic one, many places allow you to trade-up to the 800D for the difference.
djkest's Avatar djkest 10:43 AM 01-23-2013
Sure, it could be done. You might get 95% of the performance for 1/5th to 1/10th the cost. (how much are these speakers?) No need to buy stuff that is really expensive unless it provides an appropriate boost in performance. For example, no need for silver wiring or binding posts.

The Scanspeak Revelator mid would be a good choice, or this Satori
http://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com/satori-woofers-6-7/satori-mw16p-black-egyptian-reed-cone/

The SB Acoustics Woofers would be more than adequate and would save you a huge chunk of change. But even if you selected the right drivers, you'd have to get someone really talented to design the crossover; otherwise your efforts would be wasted.
PsychoM3's Avatar PsychoM3 11:13 AM 01-23-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by djkest View Post


The Scanspeak Revelator mid would be a good choice, or this Satori
http://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com/satori-woofers-6-7/satori-mw16p-black-egyptian-reed-cone/

But even if you selected the right drivers, you'd have to get someone really talented to design the crossover; otherwise your efforts would be wasted.

While I agree the SS Revelator is an excellent mid (probably my favorite) I don't think you are going to be able to voice a split paper cone to sound like a kevlar cone nor will you be able to voice a silk dome or even a ceramic dome tweeter to sound like a diamond. In the lower frequencies you can probably get away with a beryllium tweeter but on the high end the beryllium teeters sound much different compared to the B&W diamond.

In the end forgetting voice I think cloning the 800 cabinets will cost a ton of money, this is one DIY project, if a "true clone" is the goal, is stillborn. I actually think it would be more cost effective to buy a used version, even if it weren't the current version.
imagic's Avatar imagic 11:16 AM 01-23-2013
I don't get it. What characteristic is present in the material such that it would color the sound so much that DSP could not compensate? Why would anybody want or care for these materials if they sound so drastically different, the implication being that they all change the sound in some significant manner...
Quote:
Originally Posted by PsychoM3 View Post

While I agree the SS Revelator is an excellent mid (probably my favorite) I don't think you are going to be able to voice a split paper cone to sound like a kevlar cone nor will you be able to voice a silk dome or even a ceramic dome tweeter to sound like a diamond. In the lower frequencies you can probably get away with a beryllium tweeter but on the high end the beryllium teeters sound much different compared to the B&W diamond.

In the end forgetting voice I think cloning the 800 cabinets will cost a ton of money, this is one DIY project, if a "true clone" is the goal, is stillborn. I actually think it would be more cost effective to buy a used version, even if it weren't the current version.

tuxedocivic's Avatar tuxedocivic 11:49 AM 01-23-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by PsychoM3 View Post

this is one DIY project, if a "true clone" is the goal, is stillborn.

Well, ok. Anyone would agree you'd have to buy the exact same drivers. Build the cab the exact same way. Somehow steal the cross over schematic. Etc. Of coarse you're not going to make an exact clone. But not to sound rude, but with a large budget and a master cab builder, I think it can be BEAT!!!

I think you're a little in love with diamonds. I'm with imagic here. There's nothing so special about their tweeter to make it unbeatable. Looking at the stereophile measurements, the sweet sound of the diamond is probably just an inaccurate reproduction artifact caused by the peak around 10khz. A lot of listeners probably enjoy this. But I wouldn't, I'm quite sure.

If I was going to "clone" this speaker. I'd merely make it look the same. I'd try and improve on everything. For starters, I'd go fully active. Target a higher effeciency. Give up <40hz content and build 4 x dual opposed 18" subs. For the money, most DIY'ers could crush this joke of a speaker. It looks like a penis and that's about the only thing that makes it unique. Ya, I'm being tough on it, but really, other than a diamond tweeter, I don't see much here.
tuxedocivic's Avatar tuxedocivic 11:52 AM 01-23-2013
Oh and at that price, they really should have put an LCR across the network to suppress that impedance peak at 2khz for all of stereophile's tube lovers. Personally I wouldn't waste the copper, but really rolleyes.gif
imagic's Avatar imagic 12:15 PM 01-23-2013
The 800 Diamond's cabinet can be cloned. My father built this model of the USS Enterprise, the hull is made of plywood. He actually built the whole thing from scratch but that's another story. Good enough for the Smithsonian Air and Space museum to put it on permanent exhibit. You can create almost any shape out plywood, if you are patient.



http://airandspace.si.edu/imageDetail.cfm?imageID=3852

I wish I could convince him to make me a pair of cabinets, lols. He'd consider it way beneath him. mad.gif
djkest's Avatar djkest 12:29 PM 01-23-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by PsychoM3 View Post

While I agree the SS Revelator is an excellent mid (probably my favorite) I don't think you are going to be able to voice a split paper cone to sound like a kevlar cone nor will you be able to voice a silk dome or even a ceramic dome tweeter to sound like a diamond. In the lower frequencies you can probably get away with a beryllium tweeter but on the high end the beryllium teeters sound much different compared to the B&W diamond.

In the end forgetting voice I think cloning the 800 cabinets will cost a ton of money, this is one DIY project, if a "true clone" is the goal, is stillborn. I actually think it would be more cost effective to buy a used version, even if it weren't the current version.

I think you are putting way too much stock in the idea that materials make that sort of difference. Do you really think that in a double blind test you could say "oh, that woofer sounds aluminum" or "oh, that midrange has a kevlar feel". If it's accurately reproducing the sound, it shouldn't be coloring it. And if it's not coloring it, than all your left with is the design of that individual speaker. Yes, I think that paper coned Satori could sound as good or better than the B&W midrange. They aren't saddled with the burden of making things different for the sake of being different and appearing "innovative" and "high end".

I don't think many people could tell the difference between this:
http://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com/approx-10-woofers/scanspeak-revelator-26w/8867t-10-woofer-black-aluminum-cone/
And this:
http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=295-357

properly implemented in a double-blind test.

AFA the B&W goes, much of the "look" is non-functional but aesthetic in nature. Their tweeter for example is probably closed back, and doesn't need that ridiculous looking teardrop shape for performance.
PsychoM3's Avatar PsychoM3 12:31 PM 01-23-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

I don't get it. What characteristic is present in the material such that it would color the sound so much that DSP could not compensate? Why would anybody want or care for these materials if they sound so drastically different, the implication being that they all change the sound in some significant manner...

Let me ask you a question. Can you hear the difference between a hard dome and soft dome tweeter? Say a titanium vs a silk. If you can't the point is moot. Another example is the midrange, as Paul Kilpsch pointed out, where we live. Compare guitar driven rock on a paper cone vs a ceramic like an Accuton.

In the end each speaker could have ruler flat EQ and I mean theoretical dead flat and one can hear the difference in cone material. This is partly analogous to playing Concert A (440hz) on a trumpet and a piano both are the same fundamental but sound wildly different. Although the effect is not as obvious with cone materials. Drivers are a musical instrument and the cone material makes a difference in the sound much like the tonewood in an acoustical guitar or violin. I am also not talking about snake oil audiophile differences here either.
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