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waveguides for SQ not DB?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
I have seen alot of interest in the DIY sound group's wave guide speaker kits and they appear to be a fantastic speaker with lots of output on relatively small power requirements. However, I am curious to hear what people think, when volume isn't the driving factor and sound quality is.

My current setup is from Ascend Acoustics. 2 pairs of CBM170's for the FL,FR,SL,SR, and a CBM 340 for the center channel, and by and large it sounds very good. It has excellent detail, and might be just a little too bright for my tastes (likely has alot to do with my space as much as the speakers. I typically prefer a warm sound with crystal clear vocals (I have my current environment with the center channel turned up 3db).

I do not watch movies at reference levels, I don't know what db output i typically listen to movies, but my wife prefers things on the quieter side. My question is, how do Wave guide speakers such as the Fusion 8 Alchemy and Fusion 8 MTM sound compared to speakers like the Zaph Audio ZA5.3 MTM? The cost for the kit from Madisound is around $400 which includes prebuilt cabinets and pre-built cross-overs.
http://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com/mtm-speaker-kits/zaph|audio-za5.3-mtm-pair-with-cabinets/

I already have all of the tools required to build the boxes (except for the front baffle) so the wave guide kits from DIYsoundgroup are very interesting to me.

Is the sound quality better from the waveguide. This setup would be primarily for a HT environment that is used for movies, sporting events and video games. Music is played on the system, but not for critical listening, and really mostly for ambiance.

My environment dictates speakers that can sit on shelves / stands and speakers that can be positioned relatively close to walls (so front mounted ports are a huge benefit) My current shelves (and they can not be easily changed) are approx. 10" wide and 14" deep. The CBM 170's sit on the front edge of each shelf toed in, and the center of the rear firing port is approx. 5" from the rear wall.

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 32
My zephyrs are better at low volume than any speaker I have owned to date (paradigm studio line, klipsch mid line, etc). Most of my listening is low level due to my living in an apartment.
post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nater1 View Post

My zephyrs are better at low volume than any speaker I have owned to date (paradigm studio line, klipsch mid line, etc). Most of my listening is low level due to my living in an apartment.

do you have a link to the build thread / pictures of the zephers?

Thanks
post #4 of 32
I'm not a reference listener either (although I seem to be really cranking it this week with my wife and kids away!). Waveguides do add an extra level of sound quality whether on a dome tweeter, a compression driver, a ribbon, or what ever. This is because you get a lot of advantages and the only disadvantages are driver spacing, cost, complexity.

As far as sound quality goes, my current favorite is the CSS Planar 2 I've been playing with. But there's no kits. The SEOS is quite popular for good reason. It's an excellent waveguide for sound quality.

If there's anything related to sound quality problems its usually not the waveguide. It might be a poor compression driver, a bad design, a nasty woofer, etc. but rarely the modern and good waveguides we use. Now, if you go listen to a PA waveguide which is designed for lots of acoustic horn loading, it may give up sound quality in regards to its off axis pattern, something called HOM (a touchy subject), and large peaks in the response.

Good luck on your hunt.
post #5 of 32
Not to take anything away from the SEOS designs, but the OP might find this one to his liking

http://www.audioheuristics.org/projects_gallery/ER18DXT/ER18DXT.htm
post #6 of 32
Clearwaterms, here is a link to my build. These speakers are far too large for your situation, but I think you would do well to consider one of the 8" woofer diysoundgroup designs if you want to go that direction.

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1455278/seos-zephyr-build
post #7 of 32
Jay, that's a pretty good speaker. Waveguide is pretty small to be very effective, but still, really nice.
post #8 of 32
I have yet to hear any waveguide come close to a mid to high end hifi speaker on music playback. Maybe the cabs have a lot to do with it, I don't know. For movie playback their unbeatable, but for high resolution audio content or vinyl they just can't keep up.
post #9 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

Jay, that's a pretty good speaker. Waveguide is pretty small to be very effective, but still, really nice.

Yeah, it's only a 4" waveguide. The speaker's polar looks great out to 90 degrees, but if you look closely you can see it collapses up to 45 degrees between about 2.5 khz and 3.2 khz.

Probably would work better used with a 4" - 5" mid for a 3 way.
post #10 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolrda View Post

I have yet to hear any waveguide come close to a mid to high end hifi speaker on music playback. Maybe the cabs have a lot to do with it, I don't know. For movie playback their unbeatable, but for high resolution audio content or vinyl they just can't keep up.

Why are they better for movies than music? is it imaging, etc? I have always thought that the ultimate goal is to reproduce the sound the engineer intended when he created the mix. The speaker that most accurately reproduces the sound that was intended is going to be the best speaker.
post #11 of 32
I
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolrda View Post

I have yet to hear any waveguide come close to a mid to high end hifi speaker on music playback. Maybe the cabs have a lot to do with it, I don't know. For movie playback their unbeatable, but for high resolution audio content or vinyl they just can't keep up.

I have a waveguide based system (4 Pi, fully upgraded) that I primarily use for music (SACD, vinyl, and computer based playback). The 4 Pis are better than the Paradigm Studio 100s I auditioned. I also prefer them to my Magnepan MMGs.

I was very concerned about going with a compression driver/waveguide based system, but do not see ever going back. These are not old klipsch speakers with the cupped hands effect).
post #12 of 32
My CSS Planar2 tweeters that I have hooked up right now seem to do really well at music and movies. My SEOS speakers seem to do really well on music. All my custom dome tweeter waveguides do well on music.

Sure, flush domes do ok to in the right speaker with the right design and SPL limits. But I'm unsure why a waveguide would make them not good.
post #13 of 32
Are you willing to share your build using the CSS planar 2?
post #14 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

Not to take anything away from the SEOS designs, but the OP might find this one to his liking

http://www.audioheuristics.org/projects_gallery/ER18DXT/ER18DXT.htm

Thanks for the link Jay. What an excellent write-up. Has anyone built or heard these?
post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by a|F View Post

Thanks for the link Jay. What an excellent write-up. Has anyone built or heard these?
I built a pair in PE boxes, love them. Best speakers of the general type I've heard. I'm slowly gearing up for a 12" SEOS tower build only because I now have the space for larger speakers and I want to experience an impactful high-sensitivity design.
post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by a|F View Post

Are you willing to share your build using the CSS planar 2?
Ya sure I can. I've done some basic measurements. I paired it with the eminence delta 10b because I had test boxes around. Most people would probably prefer to use a higher end woofer with that tweeter though. 10" is about the biggest you can go. Ill start a thread or something later today.
post #17 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolrda View Post

I have yet to hear any waveguide come close to a mid to high end hifi speaker on music playback. Maybe the cabs have a lot to do with it, I don't know. For movie playback their unbeatable, but for high resolution audio content or vinyl they just can't keep up.

My SEOS's will be here in just a handful of days from now, and I'll be able to help answer this Hi-Fi question when I compare them to my current B&W Nautilus 800 Series tweeters.
My system is 90% music, and geared for SQ first and foremost.
Should be interesting...
post #18 of 32
Excellent. Very interested as I've been following the progress of the Seos systems. My personal favorite waveguide has been the Genelec since hearing them at the DTS booth at the 97 CES. I've yet to hear a system playback the Titanic trailer from the DTS demo disc of that year with the ferocity and midbass attack of the the ship breaking with such realism and intensity. But with music, while nice, it just doesn't do it for me. No waveguide ever has quite matched the SQ of the hifi speakers I've heard when I make my yearly 4-day pilgrimage to hifi heaven, aka, the top floors of The Venetian in Vegas. I don't expect them sound like the Magico Q7 or the MBL 101E's, my 2 faves of all time, but if the Seos hold their own, I'll definitely pick up a pair, assess, then go from there.
post #19 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolrda View Post

Excellent. Very interested as I've been following the progress of the Seos systems. My personal favorite waveguide has been the Genelec since hearing them at the DTS booth at the 97 CES. I've yet to hear a system playback the Titanic trailer from the DTS demo disc of that year with the ferocity and midbass attack of the the ship breaking with such realism and intensity. But with music, while nice, it just doesn't do it for me. No waveguide ever has quite matched the SQ of the hifi speakers I've heard when I make my yearly 4-day pilgrimage to hifi heaven, aka, the top floors of The Venetian in Vegas. I don't expect them sound like the Magico Q7 or the MBL 101E's, my 2 faves of all time, but if the Seos hold their own, I'll definitely pick up a pair, assess, then go from there.

I'm a little confused by the bolded part. Waveguides are pretty common with "hifi" speakers...

post #20 of 32
I agree with Jay. Maybe not compression drivers (lumpy response and difficult to shape into flat) but on domes lots of high end speakers use them. Revel comes to mind.
post #21 of 32
"I don't expect them sound like the Magico Q7..."

I wonder how much you may have been hearing the $185,000 price tag. That is quite a dose of placebo effect. Beryllium cd's on good horns might be something that you could take a look at. TAD has a pretty good rep.
post #22 of 32
Thread Starter 
I am still learning alot about this speaker stuff. I have heard that some of the best sounding DIY speakers are Jon Marsh Modula MT XE which uses a dome tweeter in a wave guide.
http://www.htguide.com/forum/showthread.php?35524-Modula-MT-XE-You-didn-t-ask-for-it-it-s-coming-anyway


So, lets modify the question, how does a compression driver compare in terms of SQ when volume isn't the driving factor?
post #23 of 32
They are quite good but they can't match the speed and decay of a ribbons. At the end, it's all about the whole system and crossover. Cd crosses lower and ribbons crosses higher. Horn has control directivity so the room has less influence. On some music such as vocal, horns can sound so sweet with a good design. Ribbons sound really good with certain instrument. I could be wrong with my limited experience.
Edited by datranz - 8/6/13 at 1:08pm
post #24 of 32
My seos jbl2226 is the best imaging speaker I've heard. It's the only speaker I could use without a center. My kef xq, zaph zrt, fountek kits all image good but not seos level, could be room acoustic problem.
post #25 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by clearwaterms View Post


So, lets modify the question, how does a compression driver compare in terms of SQ when volume isn't the driving factor?

Ok this question is a better question. Still not totally apples to apples, but fair enough. I don't see how the root of the concerns can be asked any better way.

I think compression drivers really excel in dynamics, and this isn't totally limited to high SPL dynamics. Geddes goes on and on about compression even at lower levels, and he makes an excellent case for it. As for my personal experience, this does hold true. The CD is very clean and effortless. Effortless is really a good way to describe the difference between domes and CDs. Ribbons are also pretty effortless, but have many other issues. So even in your low SPL scenario I'm still going to give the CD the upper hand for dynamics.

For flatness of response, it's really hard to beat a dome. I mean, really, even in a waveguide they are mostly all a straight line. If you like simple cross overs, it's hard to beat the dome. I've used the SB29RDCN-0004 in about 4 or 5 different waveguides and with a very simple XO I get +/- 1db. That's tough to beat. Also good domes have a very tight impulse response/ CSD. So that can be good. How audible, I dunno. The dome also will extend to 20khz and beyond fairly easily. The CD doesn't.

As for the subjective side of things, it depends. This is where it's not apples to apples. It depends on implementation and budget. Going to go with big cabs, $1000 budget, and ok with an active or very complex cross over? I really think the compression driver with a quality hifi waveguide is going to sound better. It's going to sound very life like, dynamic, clear, clean, effortless, and powerful.

Gonna spend $200 for a pair of speakers and need it to be simple? Go with the dome. CDs are expensive and a waveguide adds another cost, and at that budget they get very very bad. (although the DNA-150 is a real giant killer for $15). I did about 5 different small/budget designs with the DIYsoundgroup stuff when it first came out to pump them up. All of them are ok, except your can get the same thing with a dome speaker with less complexity. So they haven't been very popular, and I don't blame people.

It's the 300 to 500 $ range where it's a bit fuzzy (talking DIY costs here). Depends on what you want. Domes fit narrow speakers better. They're very smooth, easy listening, snappy. But compression drivers on big waveguides really sound like real life.

Ribbons are another story, but are to weak sauce for me. Gotta cross to high.
post #26 of 32
Yep, true, my seos sound like you re a a concert, all the others just compress and sound like crap at high volumes. Seos jbl just sound effortless and have an extra gear that my other speakers can't reach.
post #27 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post


It's the 300 to 500 $ range where it's a bit fuzzy (talking DIY costs here). Depends on what you want. Domes fit narrow speakers better. They're very smooth, easy listening, snappy. But compression drivers on big waveguides really sound like real life.

When you quote these prices are you talking per speaker, or per pair? I ask because that price range puts me pretty squarely in the topic of conversation.

The kits that I am looking at are things like the Zaph Audio ZA MTM which costs around $200 per with cabinets ($600 for the LCR) and something like the Fusion-8 Alpha from DIY sound group, at a cost of around $140 plus some wood for the cabinet.

Given that Erich makes almost nothing on the stuff he sells on his site, I think it is safe to assume that the quality of the drivers would be better in the Fusion 8 setup.

When you consider on the Zaph kit you are getting a completed, staind box, and a built cross over, there is quite a bit of labor taken out of the equation.

I don't have the luxury of being able to try both out before I make a purchase. I am fairly certain that what ever I choose, I will be happy with the result, but at the same time, I appreciate all of the input everybody has given me.
post #28 of 32
Well it always depends. Does size and looks matter? Does SPL matter?

Can't really go wrong with either.
post #29 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

Well it always depends. Does size and looks matter? Does SPL matter?

Can't really go wrong with either.

Size ALWAYS matters. wink.gif As for looks, in a dark room, nobody notices looks.

Honestly, I am looking for the exception to the triple constraint. I want a great speaker, that fits in a small space, and doesn't cost too much money.

My ultimate goal is a solution that is perceptively better than what I have, and something that I built myself. In much the same way that my home theater (basement) has lots of photographs and what not as conversation pieces of places I have visited, things I have done, stuff that interests me. I would like my speakers to be the piece in the room that people go, man your setup sounds really nice, what brand of speakers are those.

I enjoy building things, but in order for me to start something, I have to have a justification for the "things" existence. Also, financially, I don't have the luxury to build every option and audition them.
post #30 of 32
You have to make that decision. Maybe someone near you has a pair you can hear?
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