My latest speaker builds. Solstice, SR-71 and XLS Encore. - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 15 Old 12-03-2016, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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My latest speaker builds. Solstice, SR-71 and XLS Encore.

From left to right Solstice from Parts Express, Zaph Audio SR-71 from Madisound, and XLS Encore from GR Research.
The Solstice was a knock down cabinet kit, I had to assemble the Cross-overs and used ClarityCap for the highs and Mills resistors instead of the supplied Dayton. Finished with red oak Veneer and Briwax teak furniture wax. The front baffles are done in a piano black.
I built the cabinets for the SR-71's, actually the ones the XLS Encore are in first and then had a bunch of MDF left over and wanted to build something different. So I built the multi faceted front baffle cabinets and did a piano black finish on them.
I had the XLS encore in another project which I gutted and then just put them in the old SR-71 cabinets.
These kits are a real value for anyone with experience woodworking, they are a great way of getting excellent speakers that would cost way more than the initial build cost.
























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post #2 of 15 Old 12-03-2016, 05:18 PM
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Those are some great looking speakers. Nice job on the finishes. I am thinking about building a pair of those av123 kits from GR Reseach myself for surrounds.
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post #3 of 15 Old 12-03-2016, 05:21 PM
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Great looking speakers!


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post #4 of 15 Old 12-03-2016, 05:28 PM
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These speakers turned out so nice! I see these are seamless what did you use to cover the seams bondo or drywall mud the finish is perfect. It looks like you also used 1" mdf on the front baffle how did you make that angled cut did you make up a jig for it or something. Great job man!
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post #5 of 15 Old 12-03-2016, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by eng-399 View Post
These speakers turned out so nice! I see these are seamless what did you use to cover the seams bondo or drywall mud the finish is perfect. It looks like you also used 1" mdf on the front baffle how did you make that angled cut did you make up a jig for it or something. Great job man!

Thanks, I used spot putty Bondo brand you can get from any auto parts store. I just glued two pieces of 3/4" MDF together to make a 1 1/2" thick front baffle. I drew lines on the speakers of what I wanted to remove and then just free handed with a right angle grinder and an 80 grit flap disc. I did the final with an electric orbital sander. I used zinsser shellac primer first because it seals raw MDF like no other. Sand, more spot putty more primer but just regular filler primer and repeat until you get it smooth.
I still have some minimal telegraphing on my seems now after playing them but nothing can really be done about that.
Those AV 123 kits are simply amazing for the money and then some, definitely the sleeper of the bunch.

Last edited by anothername; 12-03-2016 at 06:39 PM.
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post #6 of 15 Old 12-04-2016, 05:56 AM
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You did those cuts free hand with an angle grinder?!?!?!? My god man, bravo!
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post #7 of 15 Old 12-04-2016, 06:59 AM - Thread Starter
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You did those cuts free hand with an angle grinder?!?!?!? My god man, bravo!
Thanks, I was skeptical I could pull it off myself, I have years and years of experience using them but with metal. I did one cut at a time and it really wasn't that bad, it just made one hell of a mess.
These are one of the reasons I went with the Flat pack on the Solstice build. I don't have a router so I cut the countersinks with a Rotozip and a 1/8" metal cutting bit. I don't have a table saw and cut all my wood with a Ryobi 18v combo kit saw, which I like better than my big skill saw. I have a compressor but no paint gun so I used spray paint for the finish. It came out OK but got dust in the clear coat which didnt bother me because I wet sanded them and polished them to the Piano finish, like my dad taught me, you do the best with what you got.
One day when we move away from rat race Colorado and can actually afford to buy a house I want a proper wood shop and might take on more complex projects.



Here you can see the cuts made by the grinder.

And the final with the orbital.

All done
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post #8 of 15 Old 12-04-2016, 08:25 PM
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post #9 of 15 Old 12-05-2016, 03:27 PM
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Great job on the build. They all look really nice. Would you mind sharing your listening impression of each of them and how they compare to each other? It would really help someone like me who's considering building any of them (Solstice and SR-71 for me).

Thanks.
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post #10 of 15 Old 12-05-2016, 08:08 PM
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Yeah nice angle cuts with the grinder. I can imagine the cloud that happened there. But yeah the grinder is one of my favorite tools just never did that with it. Very nice.

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post #11 of 15 Old 12-05-2016, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by thucker View Post
Great job on the build. They all look really nice. Would you mind sharing your listening impression of each of them and how they compare to each other? It would really help someone like me who's considering building any of them (Solstice and SR-71 for me).

Thanks.
I don't have the Solstice fully broke in yet so hard to say, they sound better every time I listen to them. I probably have 60 hrs or so on them. I like to give speakers 100 before considering them broke in.
Listening impressions for the Solstice this far is Very neutral midrange is just about as good as it gets out of any speaker I have ever heard. All vocals female and male, screams to whispers come across smooth and natural. I used to be a drummer so know what drums should sound like, Toms bass snare all sound lifelike and no reduction or small thin sounding. Highs are non fatiguing and crystal clear. I can hear every nuance of the drummers cymbal work, to a slight bell tap to some mistakes they probably thought no one would ever hear. I have heard things I have not heard on too many other speakers in my life. All instruments come across natural, a violin sounds like a violin a grand piano sounds just as it should, again nothing sounded reduced in size or small. Sound stage is quite large extending to outside of the speakers by quite a ways, It is also very persist, everyone and everything is in the correct place. They are pretty brutal of revealing the source though, if you have poor recordings they will sound poor and thin, but all my speakers are like this. Bass is extended deep and tight. It never sounds boomy or muddy and I was shocked by the amount of bass these two 6" drivers in this MLTL cabinet deliver. I was fully expecting to have to use my subwoofer but I have not used it at all since I got these. bass is better deeper and tighter than some Klipsch Forte II (12" woofer, 15" passive) I had. You should go to the parts express forum and read some other reviews on these as well, all of them are excellent.
The SR-71 are also neutral sounding, smooth and revealing. I have heard things on these I have not heard on other high end speakers. Non fatiguing, not laid back not forward, just a pleasure to listen to with or without a sub. No slouch on bass either down to 38 HZ. Note: I made mind a bit bigger 1.8 liter and tuned them a litter lower than the specs. Soundstage is not as big as the solstice though, but impressive for a "bookshelf" speaker. Sometimes thought they made me jump with some recordings, it sounded like someone was right next to me. The Solstice have done this as well. It has been real hard picking a winner between the two on mids up but will give it to the Solstice just because of its deeper bass and bigger soundstage. Both sound like speakers costing several thousand dollars if you got them from a big chain manufacturer.
One note, the Solstice need an amp, they are a 4 ohm load and a bit power hungry. I am running mine with a B&K Reference 125.2 S2. putting 185 watts RMS into each one and they sound plenty good and get loud enough for me.
The XLS Encore are an unbelievable bargain, a tad on the bright side of neutral but not bad at all and seem to sound good no matter what you throw at them. I have listened to them all day pretty loud and no fatigue. All the time I was listening to them I was thinking this kit cost less than 200 bucks?
I hope this helps. Kevin
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post #12 of 15 Old 12-05-2016, 08:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Vince_B View Post
Yeah nice angle cuts with the grinder. I can imagine the cloud that happened there. But yeah the grinder is one of my favorite tools just never did that with it. Very nice.

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Thanks, The garage was toast and I was yellow! I had to get the leaf blower to get all that dust out of there.
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post #13 of 15 Old 12-06-2016, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by anothername View Post
I don't have the Solstice fully broke in yet so hard to say, they sound better every time I listen to them. I probably have 60 hrs or so on them. I like to give speakers 100 before considering them broke in.
Listening impressions for the Solstice this far is Very neutral midrange is just about as good as it gets out of any speaker I have ever heard. All vocals female and male, screams to whispers come across smooth and natural. I used to be a drummer so know what drums should sound like, Toms bass snare all sound lifelike and no reduction or small thin sounding. Highs are non fatiguing and crystal clear. I can hear every nuance of the drummers cymbal work, to a slight bell tap to some mistakes they probably thought no one would ever hear. I have heard things I have not heard on too many other speakers in my life. All instruments come across natural, a violin sounds like a violin a grand piano sounds just as it should, again nothing sounded reduced in size or small. Sound stage is quite large extending to outside of the speakers by quite a ways, It is also very persist, everyone and everything is in the correct place. They are pretty brutal of revealing the source though, if you have poor recordings they will sound poor and thin, but all my speakers are like this. Bass is extended deep and tight. It never sounds boomy or muddy and I was shocked by the amount of bass these two 6" drivers in this MLTL cabinet deliver. I was fully expecting to have to use my subwoofer but I have not used it at all since I got these. bass is better deeper and tighter than some Klipsch Forte II (12" woofer, 15" passive) I had. You should go to the parts express forum and read some other reviews on these as well, all of them are excellent.
The SR-71 are also neutral sounding, smooth and revealing. I have heard things on these I have not heard on other high end speakers. Non fatiguing, not laid back not forward, just a pleasure to listen to with or without a sub. No slouch on bass either down to 38 HZ. Note: I made mind a bit bigger 1.8 liter and tuned them a litter lower than the specs. Soundstage is not as big as the solstice though, but impressive for a "bookshelf" speaker. Sometimes thought they made me jump with some recordings, it sounded like someone was right next to me. The Solstice have done this as well. It has been real hard picking a winner between the two on mids up but will give it to the Solstice just because of its deeper bass and bigger soundstage. Both sound like speakers costing several thousand dollars if you got them from a big chain manufacturer.
One note, the Solstice need an amp, they are a 4 ohm load and a bit power hungry. I am running mine with a B&K Reference 125.2 S2. putting 185 watts RMS into each one and they sound plenty good and get loud enough for me.
The XLS Encore are an unbelievable bargain, a tad on the bright side of neutral but not bad at all and seem to sound good no matter what you throw at them. I have listened to them all day pretty loud and no fatigue. All the time I was listening to them I was thinking this kit cost less than 200 bucks?
I hope this helps. Kevin
Thank you very much for this write up. It's actually very helpful. It sounds like the Solstice is a real winner. I've been looking for a small-medium sized tower speakers for the living room. These are on top of the list right now.
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post #14 of 15 Old 12-06-2016, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you very much for this write up. It's actually very helpful. It sounds like the Solstice is a real winner. I've been looking for a small-medium sized tower speakers for the living room. These are on top of the list right now.
Your welcome, If you bought only the four mid woofers it would cost you just about the price of the entire kit. The cabinets went together easily and were easy to finish out. These would cost you about 3k or more if bought from a big name manufacturer.
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post #15 of 15 Old 12-08-2016, 08:47 AM
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http://www.avsforum.com/forum/attach...4&d=1450846184

http://www.avsforum.com/forum/attach...0&d=1450910711

http://www.avsforum.com/forum/attach...2&d=1452040304

thanks for great pics and write up,
sometimes another box just doesn't quite cut it

I keep a model SR-71 in my mancave, for *inspiration*

Your box is totally cool, hence the name,
your process -only for the daring

mine ended up looking like the USS Monitor, for it's day, another first.
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