A short time after sending Phil my old system of the Scan Speak 8545 and 9300 drivers mounted in cabinets, I receive them back. After opening the meticulously packed box I noticed that he had cleaned everything so they look new again. Thanks Phil. I had in fact, sent him a system that was old, came from storage and somewhat dusty with bits stuck to the tweeters, and looking fairly well neglected.
There were a couple wires on the tweeter had pulled and broken a couple terminals during the trip to him. I really should have mounted the crossovers in the box better. In these particular tweeters, when the terminals get broken off, there is not much to solder to, so Phil cleared out a little bit of the plastic so that he could rewire the tweeters. Phil also mentioned that he was none too impressed with the large gauge stranded wire that I had used previously and replaced it with a much higher quality, 20 gauge which he claimed was more appropriate for the tweeter.
It was late when I hooked it all up and programmed my Behringer dcx 2496. I was very excited and sat down for a listen. Unfortunately, it was rather late and my wife had gone to sleep in the next room. I didn't want to wake her and desperately wanted to hear how the crossover work had affected the sound.
Since the volume very low, there was a lot I couldn’t hear, like bass. I could tell that there was lots of “air” though. But the balance just didn’t seem right. It was so bright. I was starting to be a bit concerned about what Phil had done. Not another builder who over drives the tweeter to get sizzle and detail? God I hope not. I tried to chalk it up to being late. I’d listen again in the morning.
The next morning I had the option to crank it up a bit but my goodness, my ears felt abused and I was thinking to myself, what have I done? And what had Phil done?! I took a couple of weeks of my life a few hundred bucks and entrusted my project to a well-respected designer only to have a system that I couldn't listen to.
What a bummer!! I thought I was back to square one. I started to think, forget this DIY stuff. I’ll just get myself a nice pair of commercial speakers and be done with it all.
After a brief conversation with Phil, I was very pleased to find out that I failed to program the DCX correctly. I missed a 3.5db of tweeter cut. Ooops. And I had put 0db in one of the midrange EQ bands instead of the 15db of cut called for. Double oops. I was in fact listening to a speaker with almost no crossover between the mid and tweeter. How do you feel like a supreme idiot?
After correcting my mistake in programing, I sat for my first real listen. Wow….. What I was listening to now was a supremely accurate, open and very pleasant presentation with a super deep sound stage. I was hearing the brass in the orchestra deep and well into the next room. The room came alive. Rebecca Pidgeon was slightly off center and the positions of all the instruments in the room were clearly and precisely placed as if I was in the recording studio. This is good I thought. This is real good.
Since I’ve just got the speakers up and running, I am still looking forward to getting fully into my musical options, but wanted to give you my first impressions of Phil Bamberg’s work. I will say, he just lets the music out of a set of drivers. For some reason, unknown to me, he is able to unleash some sort of magic so the drivers join in unison and allow music to flow unimpeded into the room.
The recording environment is transplanted into my living room in a way I have never heard before. It really is amazing to me how this happens, but in one moment, I am in Germany listening to Pink Floyd live in an open air concert and in another moment, I am in an intimate Jazz bar listen to a singer, bass player and drums. I can almost smell the smoke. Then again, the environment changes to a well damped recording studio and I am again, there. This is really amazing to me and I truly appreciate what Phil is able to do.
I’ll give theses speakers a week of listening and see if there is anything I would hope for and then Phil will design a passive crossover off the DCX design. I really like this option of trying out a design before getting the passive done.
In the meantime, I’ve talked with him about integrating my stereo subs with these satellites. A two way is great for certain kinds of listening, but being able to take the bass out of the woofers and integrating with a nice set of stereo woofers will help fill in the bottom end and give some nice impact a 7” could never provide.
This is a process. What has turned into a very exciting process now that I have heard what Phil has done with these satellites. I look forward to hearing what he can do to integrate the sub section with these now very nice sounding satellites.