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post #1 of 34 Old 10-04-2013, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, I have been an audio fanatic my whole life. I have research the topic of diy speakers vs. buying from a store extensively and come to the conclusion that you can build a better sounding speaker for fraction of the cost of buying comparable sounding one. So my question is how do I begin my project? I know this is a broad question and I appreciate any advice given. My current system consists of an HK AVR-635 and polk rt 55 mains, 400i center and rti38 rears. It is used %50 home theater and %50 music. One thing which has led me to the conclusion that I need something that sounds better is that I recently installed some diamond audio 6.5 components and a 10" sub in my jeep and the sound quality in the vehicle leaves much to be desired in my house. I realized that I have just become so used to the way the polk speakers sound that I forgot there was much better out there. I am honestly surprised that a component system in a car can sound that much better than the system in my house.
1. Do you guys think that the downfall in my system is the speakers or the receiver?
2. Where is a good place to start my diy project? (I am leaning towards a bookshelf speakers and a sub)
Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 34 Old 10-04-2013, 01:13 PM
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Your speakers were decent by consumer standards when they were new- if a car is sounding better these days they might just be old or tired (speakers are moving parts) or you might just prefer the punchy bass that's easy in a car (and not so easy in a house) Cars tend to be overly bright on top too... so while they can sound "good" they might not actually be "good" by this forum standards.

With speakers "good" is flat response- low distortion, good power handling, and good dynamic range. The ability to play loud, soft and everything in between in all frequencies flawlessly (no distortion) is what it's about. That's likely not what you have when you install speakers and sub in a car.

I mention this first so you understand what you are chasing and what you are not with DIY.

That said I would check out this:

http://www.diysoundgroup.com/

Lots of good option there - clearly explained and affordable. Lots of options for assitance (instructions, pre built or pre cut wood, even pre built crossovers)

Digest that and come back here with some more specific questions and I think this community will help you greatly.


Neither your speakers or your AVR are terrible by any stretch compared to other consumer options in the same price range. Of coarse this forum uses much higher quality components in many cases so in comparison there is also certainly room for improvement. When you DIY you get a higher quality driver set usually (woofer or tweeter) than what most consumer pre built MFG might use at the same price point a DIY project costs. So a $399 each Polk RT55 with dual 6.5" and a trilam tweet is pretty nice sounding but compared to something like below they might fall short in some areas


http://www.avsforum.com/t/1479331/a-3-way-99db-multi-configurable-seos-design/0_100

^
Above link is this forums version of a RT55 - so take a look as tux's thread and it should get you some insight.

That said ,


For the same $800 a pair your speakers cost 10 years ago you can get this:

http://www.diysoundgroup.com/waveguide-speaker-kits/fusion-series-kits/fusion12-kit.html


or even this:
http://www.diysoundgroup.com/waveguide-speaker-kits/alpha-series-kits/alpha12-kit.html


Much of the extra output comes from a bigger driver (12") and bigger tweeter - but if you wanted to retain a smaller footprint you might be interested in something like this:

http://www.diysoundgroup.com/waveguide-speaker-kits/alpha-series-kits/alpha8-kit.html


You can even buy prebuilt box for it if you want: ($25)
http://www.diysoundgroup.com/flat-packs-1/seos-flat-packs/eos-8-flat-pack.html

Here's a cool video of them:
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post #3 of 34 Old 10-04-2013, 01:31 PM
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mfusick's posts are getting better. :-)

"1. Do you guys think that the downfall in my system is the speakers or the receiver?"

both, but speakers first.

"2. Where is a good place to start my diy project? (I am leaning towards a bookshelf speakers and a sub)"

forget that idea. :-)~

the first thing to do is get some idea of what it is that you are trying to do.

William Cowan does an excellent job of putting forward the objective, so i'll just quote him here:
Quote:
10 Steps To Excellent Sound

I've spent over 20 years passionately involved in audio both professionally and as a keen DIYer / hobbyist. I've learnt much about the art of audio during this time and I think my personal system can attest to that. Here I've presented my list of the ten most important things needed to achieve a truly transparent audio system. HiFi or High Fidelity has become a much used but rarely achieved goal in audio. To me, High Fidelity means true to the original, in every sense. This sounds easy in practice, but in reality, everything must be done right and this is actually very rare. Have a read of my 10 Steps below and have a think about the ramifications of these statements. I believe my current system is pretty much there, except for #1 and #5. I miss my target at the very lowest frequencies, despite having 1600W RMS powering eight high excursion 12" drivers.

•THD and IMD< 1% at all normal levels and frequencies
This should keep distortion down to inaudible levels. I've seen 3% as the level where THD starts to become audible, but this does change significantly with the order of the distortion, higher orders being audible before the lower orders. This spec most likely refers to the latter.


•Thermal compression less than 1dB at all normal levels
Lots of voice coil area and well designed voice coil cooling is required here at low frequencies. Higher up high efficiency can be a great benefit. When attempting to reach high output levels, a little dome tweeter or small voicecoil on a 10" woofer is just not going to be able to provide low enough thermal compression to be inaudible. Thermal compression will rob the system of macro dynamics.


•SNR greater than 90dB
This specification appears easy to achieve, but in practice is quite a challenge. Attention must be paid to the gain structure in the audio chain to ensure the SNR available from the electronics is achieved in practice. All stages in the signal path should approach clipping at about the same time. Any deviation from this ideal is simply robbing the system of precious dB's of SNR. A 90dB SNR gives a noise floor of 20dB SPL in a system that is capable of 110dB output. This should be at or below the ambient noise level in most domestic environments. As the output capability of a sound system increases, high SNR becomes even more important.


•Response flatness +/-2dB from target above 300Hz, +/-5dB below 300Hz at all listening positions
Pretty self explanatory, correctly designed equalisation is your friend. Correctly executed eq also has the advantage of undoing any phase errors within a drivers passband. A large well designed room and controlled directivity can also help.


•Output above 110dB at listening position
This should assure sufficient output for movies or dynamic music. Remember that a 4 meter listening distance will reduce the output from most speakers by up to 12dB compared to the 1 meter output. This requires more than 122dB output at 1 meter which is a tough challenge for most speaker systems. A true line source will only reduce in output by 3dB for each doubling of distance, making this spec easier to achieve in large rooms. Very few loudspeaker systems can claim true line source behaviour at all frequencies, they are simply too short.


•Controlled Directivity and/or a very well treated room
It's important to keep reflections in front of the listening position to a minimum. If reflection points exist, they can be removed with intelligently placed absorbent panels.


•Smooth power response or anechoic room
The off axis response must be very close to being the same as the on axis response, or any reflections off the walls making their way back to the listening position will have a different spectral balance and will ruin the sound. Very absorbent side walls can reduce the effects of a loudspeaker with poor off axis response. The ceiling and floor reflection points must also be dealt with. It can be helpful to use a mirror to help determine exactly where the reflections are occurring.


•No reflections closer than 10mS from direct signal
The ear has trouble differentiating reflections that are very close in time to the direct signal. 10mS to the first reflection will ensure these reflections don't adversely impact the sound. As the time to the first reflection becomes longer the brain


•Change in frequency response of less than 1dB with change in output level
This is closely tied to the thermal compression issue. It's a sad fact of life that many systems change their response significantly with changes in output level. It's always very telling to do a response measurement at 110dB(1M) and compare it to the response plot at 90dB. Differences of 5dB or more are common. As voice coils heat up, their DC resistance can almost double. This change in Re causes a huge shift in driver parameters and de-tunes your carefully aligned boxes. The higher order boxes (Bass Reflex, Band Pass etc) suffer more than the low order alignments such as the sealed box.


•Bandwidth from 20Hz to 15KHz
This should cover all audible input signal for most of us.

Now the controversial part.

Having a look at this list you might notice that most of the problems highlighted are room and loudspeaker related. It's a sad fact of life that this is where most of the non linearities in a system exist. Apart from SNR there is really nothing that's electronics related, and even that has more to do with the application of the electronics than it's actual design. Even the cheapest CD/DVD source will be "blameless" in even a high end sound system. VERY FEW components can't achieve 20Hz-20KHz, 0.1% distortion and 100dB SNR. If they can't, they don't have a place in ANY high end sound system - PERIOD. If any component will colour the sound AT ALL it is not worthy for use in a high end sound system.
Some of you might think "where do all the fancy electronics, valves and high end cables fit in?" Well, IMHO, the fancy electronics and cables are there to make you feel good about your system, and they do. You are simply kidding yourself if you think a $500 cable pair will sound different to an interconnect using Neutrik connectors and good quality Belden microphone cable, or similar. As long as the connectors are clean and sound, the cable capacitance is low enough not to impact the top end and the shielding is sufficient not to impact the SNR, there is no benefit spending more money on the interconnects. This money will have a far greater effect if spent where it counts, on the speakers and room. I maintain that most of the budget should be spent on the speakers and the room they are in. The end result will always be better than dumping a pile of money on the electronics and signal path. Valves are another can of worms. Sure they can give you a "warm glow" but to base a high fidelity system around a valve amp is a real challenge. I have not yet heard a valve based system that was not coloured. Lacking in dynamics usually describes them too.

My Perspective on audio is from a purely engineering based perspective, however I can see where tweaky stuff has it's place. It helps the local audio shops that we buy CD players and electronics from keep their doors open. There is not a lot of profit in main stream electronics these days and the retailers need their little golden egg.

The funny thing is it's actually pretty easy these days putting together a reference class audio system for not too much money. To tick all the boxes in my 10 steps (above) all you would need to do is stick a pair of, say, Danley SH50's in the corner of your room, power them with a simple 100W RMS per channel amp, team the lot with a sub that can match the output of the SH50's (Horn, IB, multiple sealed or vented boxes) and you're done. The Danley boxes come to mind because they are one of the few well engineered full range loudspeakers on the market that can meet my output, distortion and directivity specifications laid out above. Another loudspeaker that would provide what I am after is the Gedlee Summa. If the amplification and crossover are from one of the many pro sound manufacturers (many honest well priced products), the entire system could be put together for probably $10K and rival the monitors in most recording studios. The biggest hurdle would be to make it all look pretty in a domestic environment, but as I've proved with my Unity build in, even that's possible. Please note that I have no affiliation with Thomas Danley or Earl Geddes, I do however have great respect for their electro acoustic engineering ability.

If price is not an issue and you can't live with the poor aesthetics of the above choices (And don't want to hide them behind a screen) the Wisdom Audio l150i is probably the best option available. This system solves several acoustic and aesthetic challenges.
-William Cowan, http://www.cowanaudio.com/

he mentions the geddes summa and the danley sh50. those are nice, but are pricey. the tempest speaker linked to above does much of the same thing--controlled directivity, uncompressed dynamics, yadda, yadda, yadda...

so to that a subwoofer system that can keep up would be the next addition. I would point you to at least 2 stereo integrity ht18 drivers in a pair of MARTY SUBS! and an amplifier such as an inuke. we can pick specific drivers and amps once you get more comfortable with the whole idea. it is a big change...but that is a good thing. :-)



^^ always seems to show up whenever the MARTY SUB! is mentioned. not sure why... :-)

"Thanks in advance."

:-) no-pro-blae-moe.

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post #4 of 34 Old 10-04-2013, 02:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LTD02 View Post

mfusick's posts are getting better. :-)

I'm trying biggrin.gif I ask lots of questions but I don't mind paying forward the things others generously share with me (like you tongue.gif ) I was like him (still am) so I know how he feels.
Nothing worse than asking for questions or help and being ignored, or overlooked. A couple good posts to get him started can turn him into a DIY too- and lead to much satisfaction. (hopefully)

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post #5 of 34 Old 10-04-2013, 02:49 PM
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I've only done two DIY speaker projects. Both involved buying precut cabinets. The first one was a pair of large two way MTM speakers each with a Vifa soft dome tweeter and a pair of Vifa 8" woofers. I even cheated and used a ready made crossover, but one that fit the requirements of the drivers. The result was fantastic. The boxes were big and heavy but the sound was magnificent. They acted as mixing monitors for many years and always sounded as good as most high end commercial speakers.

The second was my 15" sealed subwoofer which I completed a month ago. I built it to replace a ported 12" sub for my home theater. I bought a "flat pack" or precut parts for a cabinet made specifically for the driver I used. The result again is fantastic. It blows away the old 12" it replaced not just in terms of bass response and power but in terms of tight, clean sound.

I mention this only because I know nothing of speaker design. I couldn't calculate the proper components for a crossover if you held a gun to my head and I've never even soldered one together. Yet I've had outstanding results with DIY each time I've stuck my incompetent foot into it. If you buy precut cabinets and the stuff provided in the many available kits on the market, it is pretty hard to end up with a dud. These systems have been tried and tested and tweaked for years and they work. Don't be afraid of them. Just pick what works for you and go to town. When you are finished you will wonder why people spend so many thousands of dollars on commercial speaker systems. There. Consider yourself encouraged.
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post #6 of 34 Old 10-04-2013, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Damn....... thanks for all the responses and encouragement guys. I knew I loved this forum for a reason it has just been a while since I've been on it. I have wood working skills and I know how to solder, that part of it does not intimidate me. What does is making the right choice. Why does LTD02 say that I should forget the idea of a bookshelf speaker and a dedicated subwoofer? If you were to build a set of speakers would you run an eq system like the ez/set eq on my HK or simply turn the eq system off? It has been my experience that the HK's eq mostly adjusts bass.
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post #7 of 34 Old 10-04-2013, 04:02 PM
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"Why does LTD02 say that I should forget the idea of a bookshelf speaker and a dedicated subwoofer?"

because the typical sub/sat system is crossed to the subwoofers around 80hz and something like a 6.5" woofer in a bookshelf just can't reproduce the spl required for uncompressed live levels at those frequencies. most of the "fun" in music is in the midbass region which run from around 60hz to about 200hz or so. miss that and music just won't be the same.

now if you are talking about a "bookshelf" with a high sensitivity 12" woofer...that's a whole...'nother...story.

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post #8 of 34 Old 10-04-2013, 09:40 PM - Thread Starter
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So do you guys think that the fusion 8 or the alchemy 8 from the diyaudiogroup would completely trump my old polk audio's? One of the reasons I mentioned some small bookshelf speakers with sub earlier is my listening room is not that big. maybe 20x20 in listening area with vaulted ceilings and an open floor plan to the kitchen. Someday when we finish our basement I might have more room for bigger speakers. It's as they say, "happy wife happy life". For now I just want to get into the hobby. I visited Madisound in Madison WI. 5 years ago and demoed some speakers and could not believe how great they sounded in comparison to my polks and thats when I decided I needed to build some of my own. Are there some other diy websites like the diysoundgroup or Madisound that offer speaker kits?
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post #9 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 03:18 AM
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I am sure those would be a welcomed step up from your Polks, but if it were me, I would go with the Fusion-12's or something else that uses the Seos-12 with the DNA-360, as that would be a huge step up.

If you can't afford to do the Fusion-12'a for your entire theater, then why not just start with 2, one for the left and right. Also, you might want to check out Zaph Audio's site and see if any of those designs would be ok for you. That listening room that you mentioned is pretty big from what you described, as I wouldn't call a 20' by 20' room that is open to the kitchen a small room!
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post #10 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 03:41 AM
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It's as they say, "happy wife happy life".

this guy was wondering the same thing....
Quote:
Although my warden gives me a hall pass when it comes to my dedicated room (basement), she did comment on the unusually large dimensions of the Tempests. However, while I was testing the speakers with some familiar songs she came downstairs and commented that it sounded like a live band was playing. Now she says I can build anything I want regardless of size. I am planning on quad SI 18s subwoofers in four of Erichs sealed flat packs, as well as two more SEOS kits for surrounds. This DIY thing is addictive.

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1490827/another-seos-tempest-build

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post #11 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 06:15 AM - Thread Starter
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while I like the idea of the fusion 12 and I appreciate the feedback, that is simply too large of a speaker for my application. My wife would kill me. I can do something like that in the basement but eventually our upstairs living room will not be where the "blow your ears off impressive" home theatre is. I just need something small that sounds good. Cant I always build a sub to match and reinforce the lows? I cant have that intrusive of a speaker in this room. I know in your guys mind I will be sacrificing something (probably the rolloff around 60-80hz where a smaller speaker cant reproduce) but I don't even have a powered sub right now. With those 5 polk's running 12ga. wire I have always been impressed with their bass reproduction so I never bought or built one. So all I am looking to do is upgrade, it doesn't have to be a perfect system just an upgrade in sq, clarity, without taking up more space than I am.
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post #12 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 06:33 AM
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that's cool. everybody has to work within constraints. if those are yours, no problem.

have you looked at the alpha 8" by jeff bagby that was linked to by mf? that may be what you are looking for or even the mtm version if that's not getting too big.

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post #13 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 06:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LTD02 View Post

that's cool. everybody has to work within constraints. if those are yours, no problem.

have you looked at the alpha 8" by jeff bagby that was linked to by mf? that may be what you are looking for or even the mtm version if that's not getting too big.

Yeah that is a dimension that I can totally work with. Now is there a reason that all of the choices we have come up with are from the diyaudiogroup? Is that just the best bang for your buck? As I mentioned before I have been to the store madisound and while they have very nice sounding stuff, the price reflects this. Why is there such a price jump between their kits and the diyaudiogroups?
I have a friend who built these http://www.audioheuristics.org/projects_gallery/ER18DXT/ER18DXT.htm and he loves them. I have not heard them but what are your thoughts on this design?
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post #14 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 07:06 AM
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DIY sound group is a collection of some of the best designs from the DIY community. It's not a for profit company - check out how there is a different designer and parts in different models ???

Far different from a MFG that uses the same parts across the line.

If you look further you will see the brand and model of the parts listed with prices available. Go to a big third party retail site and price out the parts ??? Something like partsexpress for com.

You'll see the prices are more than fair. In same cases like the DNA 360 that is way cheaper than the retail alternative.

If the price is higher at DIY that's because the parts cost more and are also likely much higher quality.

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post #15 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 07:38 AM
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What about the Zaph SR71's or the Zaph Z5.3? Those would sound absolutely terrific and should be a welcome step up from your Polka. Add to that a pair of Dayton UM15's in some 3cuft sealed enclosures powered by an iNuke 3000 and you will be in heaven!
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post #16 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 07:53 AM
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"Yeah that is a dimension that I can totally work with. Now is there a reason that all of the choices we have come up with are from the diyaudiogroup? Is that just the best bang for your buck?"

yup.

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post #17 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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So which speaker would sound the best the zaph sr71, the alpha minion 8, or how about this one http://www.audioheuristics.org/projects_gallery/ER18DXT/ER18DXT.htm.
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post #18 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 01:13 PM
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Impossible to say which would sound best to you. I own a pair of ER18DXTs, and they are really excellent speakers of that general type (7" woofer plus dome). I expect the SR71 to be more similar than different (it even uses the same woofer). But the Minion will be different in lots of ways: high sensitivity and robust pro-style drivers for effortless dynamics and the ability to go really loud if desired, better directivity control for less room influence and a balanced power response, potential for great imaging across your whole sofa if set up properly. As to whether the particular sound or voicing is exactly your cup of tea, well, you have to either find a pair somewhere to listen to or just take a leap of faith knowing that most who have built the diysoundgroup kits have raved about both the quality and the value for money spent.
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post #19 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 01:25 PM
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Do you want the directional apsect ? The benefit of something with a horn and wave guide is the directivity - it puts the sound where you want it and keeps it from where you do not. In a bad room- that's usually a better option than a dome tweeter that's going to throw sh!t everywhere....

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post #20 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 01:27 PM
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^^to add to antisuck's great post, non-directivity controlled speakers tend to give a lot more room reflections which creates more ambience and can make music sound a little more enveloping. the tradeoff is all those reflections reduce intelligibility of vocals, which is where the controlled directivity speakers have a significant advantage. but the biggest difference is in dynamics. the high sensitivity speakers just have it in spades.

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post #21 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 04:17 PM - Thread Starter
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OK. Well tell me what you guys think. My room is in my opinion not the easiest room in the world as far as sound imaging. I was going to try and explain my room specs but instaed It just occurred to me that instead of trying to tell you guys I will just take a pic. So here you go. http://i938.photobucket.com/albums/ad228/jaybob1807/IMAG0358.jpg and http://i938.photobucket.com/albums/ad228/jaybob1807/IMAG0359.jpg. Giving what Mfusck said earlier about directivty and imaging maybe a horn tweeter setup speaker is best for my application. You guys will laugh at this I am sure but my only experience with horn speakers has been with Klipsch.............LOL. When you see the room you will probably see that a huge cabinet and driver setup is just not going to work. Happy wife, happy life! I am not as concerned with sensitivity either as my HK has plenty of power. The only thing I am unsure with the receiver is the eq. Would you guys recommend using that option? Do you guys eq your diy speakers with an automatic setup as the ez/set eq? I have always loved what it does for the bass but not so much the highs and mids but I have always wondered if that was a shortcoming of the polk audio speakers. I know this is alot of questions but I am learning and you guys are helping. Thanks.
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post #22 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 04:36 PM
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generally best to avoid eq, particularly above the so-called Schroeder frequency. it is all so sensitive to minor adjustments too. eq doesn't take into consideration the transfer function of your head for example, so right there what is going in your ear is not what is arriving at a measurement mic. also, the reverberant field a good portion of what you will be hearing so the type and nature of what you are actually eq'ing is quite complicated. i know it sounds simple enough...just eq, but like many things, it is much more complex and in this case the best advice is to give it a shot. if you like it fine. if not, just as good.

i'll take a look at your picture.

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post #23 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 04:40 PM
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i suggest that you read this article: http://audioroundtable.com/PiSpeakers/messages/23369.html

and place the speakers in this position:



that should provide good coverage for your main seat and medium good coverage across the rest of the room.

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post #24 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 05:04 PM
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i don't know how to draw "toe in", but this is what i would suggest. :-)~

if that will get you killed just scale it down.


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post #25 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 05:11 PM
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or you could build some more traditional towers with the 8" seos in the top position and use the rest of the cabinet for dual 8" powered subwoofers.


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post #26 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 05:15 PM
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or sneak a set like member java built into the place where your speakers are now. then sneak them up on to some stands later. :-)

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post #27 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
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or sneak a set like member java built into the place where your speakers are now. then sneak them up on to some stands later. :-)

That is so awesome you photoshopped some speakers into my space. That kind of puts things into perspective as to how I cannot go over my current speaker size. One thing I have noticed with the eq on the HK is that with it on my bass is full and I usually set it to 0. Without the eq I cannot turn the bass up enough to replace what is lost. My speakers also sound much brighter with the eq off and muddier with it on. So I feel like it is a trade off and with my room shaped the way it is I can have a totally different sound on the sofa(too much bass) than say the chair in the middle(just right) than the far left of the room(not much bass at all). Do you think it is the eq, my ears, my tatstes? I just cant get comfortable with this setup anymore.
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post #28 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 06:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Which build are these speakers anyway?
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post #29 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 07:24 PM
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Which build are these speakers anyway?

Deltalite 12 (not the full kit as currently offered, but with a custom box and baffle)

http://www.diysoundgroup.com/waveguide-speaker-kits/seos-deltalite-kit.html

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1417294/seos12-2512-build
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post #30 of 34 Old 10-05-2013, 07:32 PM
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scott did a really nice job with his (he went with sealed "bookshelf style" over subs, but if that is too big...it's too big!

i'm sorry I just can't help myself...that is what you should have in there. :-)

it is what I was trying to draw in the first picture!!!

and even toed in just like that...



http://www.avsforum.com/t/1426846/seos-12-dna-360-deltalite-ii-2512-build/90#post_23802761

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