Couldn't stand it any more, now that the cabs are all but done. I decided to rough in the speakers tonight, just wiring them up (reversed polarity on the tweeters) and bolting them down, no gaskets or anything since I'm gonna pull the drivers to finish the cabs in Duratex.
We compared them to Pete's B&W 804s in 2ch stereo, with a signal chain of an Oppo 103? and Outlaw 200W mono amps (?) per channel, with no subs or processing. Here's a quick shot of the smackdown.
Some of the demo material included a couple of really dynamic recordings of Diana Reeves with exceptional mixing of all the accompanying musicians; almost the entire Cincinnati Pops (?) recording of "Carmen the musical" including the clearly apparent HVAC in the background, especially focusing on "Los Torreadors;" a track with great vocals from The Charlie Daniels Band, Yo-Yo Ma's "Appalachian Waltz," Sublime's "Date Rape;" and many others.
The difference between these DIY TD12X and the B&Ws was really pronounced, with the B&Ws being overwhelmed (at moderate volume levels) by the high vocals of Ms. Reeves pretty much right away. All meaningless audiophile speak aside, I felt like the B&Ws were pretty good until they weren't. They overemphasized the vocals (which made me wonder if the reversed polarity on the TD12X + 360 XO was right or wrong) and sacrificed a lot of clarity & depth in the mids and bass. They started to show their limits at well below the full 200W output of the amps.
By contrast, these DIY behemoths stayed true to the recording on everything, with the Denovo DNA-360 CD & AE TD12X performing amazingly well. The dynamics and headroom are simply shocking with this combination - from the absolutely THUNDEROUS-yet-controlled tympani in Los Torreadors and the spectacular imaging in the other tracks of that musical, to the intricate mixing of Diana Reeves' supporting instruments, to the subtleties of the bassline in Sublime's stuff, everything was expertly reproduced by these DIY speakers at every volume level. The only area where I felt like they might be slightly overemphasized was in the deep bass, or the area usually reserved for the subs. While they were good, sometimes there was a pronouncement in this region that sounded a little overblown. I think it may have been the recordings, though, as it wasn't evident on every recording (and not all of which I was familiar with).
Overall, these DIY so far get 5 stars for clarity, dynamics, and headroom. They weren't tested on any movies, but I can't imagine them being anything less than amazing for HT content, especially if crossed well above their tuning. I think the design ends up around 36Hz tuning with a power handling capacity of some ~5 or 600W, which is well beyond what I'll ever give them. I'm out of town this weekend, so Pete's gonna put them through their paces on movies and concert DVD content. He was pretty blown away by them in the 2ch audition, and I can't wait to hear his thoughts on other content.