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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello everyone.

Been doing DIY on very small scale for some time, but no workshop so no woodworking. My primary motivations for DIY are first, economy, and second, entertainment.

So a couple of years ago I decided to finally get into surround sound. I bought a secondhand receiver and some secondhand speakers that I really like because they are very cheap but sound pretty good.

The brand is Sapphire:

http://www.twice.com/news/audio/tivoli-founder-launches-sapphire-speaker-brand/46983

I started with a 5.1 setup with ST3 towers, SS dipoles and SC horizontal WTW center, then added 4 more towers and some bookshelf models to fill out an 11.1 system at a cost of approximately $100 per speaker. The speakers are actually the TSC rebadged version (cash cow sold to D&M) including the center (modified from the original by D&M) and everything is out of production now.

I added more speakers and refurb receiver to expand to 11.1 eventually when the used 7.1 receiver developed the Onkyo HDMI death.

I did all this with practically no experience in multichannel and only minimal experience in stereo. Why? I was bored with stereo and my decrepit vintage speakers sounded pretty bad.

If I had the cash I would have just bought quality new bookshelf speakers like the SVS Prime but the cost of 11.1 in anything new and quality was prohibitive for me.

It turns out that the center speaker has awful sound, and the modified center speaker from the rebadged line has even worse sound, probably explaining the mixed reviews these speakers got while they were in production. Those who heard stereo towers probably liked them and those who heard surround system with dedicated center and maybe bookshelf speakers and funky dipoles with one woofer too probably meh:rolleyes: or even hated them.

I started a thread on the intelligibility of dialog in my system:

http://www.avsforum.com/forum/91-au...73705-11-1-dialog-intelligibility-issues.html

and perused the Audyssey threads for a long time until I was confident I had done everything possible to address the issue including fiberfill comforter on front wall, tuning the reference level of DEQ/DV, reducing the surround channel levels, furniture and microphone placement, center speaker between or above shelves, vertical orientation etc. plus I tried lightly stuffing the center with towel and/or carpet padding (all I had on hand) in addition to the existing fiber and plugged the port with a balled up pair of socks. Nothing seemed to improve the sound of the center speaker much.

The issues with the center seem (from my ignorant view) to be:

1) Panel resonances with no bracing and large surface area on top and bottom
2) Rear port (whole line except the sealed dipoles and satellites are rear ported)
3) Port tuning especially the rebadged center with 2" shallower cabinet
4) Baffle step compensation not right for shelf mounting or maybe any mounting
6) Tweeter equalization padded down too low and spectrum warped
7) Tweeter waveguide too wide, separates the woofers too much and phasy
8) 2 way with inadequate stuffing and/or poor choice of cabinet dimensions

These were identified by me and a few kind souls here who helped me diagnose. The issues are so blatant they are plainly audible in the Audyssey calibration sweeps that are supposed to go SNAP SNAP SNAP but go fwwwp fwwwp fwwwp.

I installed a similar setup of 5 small ST1 towers and original SC center for my son and know from comparing them directly that in the original center with deeper cabinet, the tweeter in the original is louder and cleaner but the sound still goes fwwwp fwwwp fwwwp on cal and it still sounds muddled even though it also sounds better. Despite the blue color of the original tweeter all the drivers seem to be identical in the revised version with black tweeter but it seems that the crossover was also modified by D&M. I have not inspected it but that is the way it sounds to me.

I have a set of Sapphire satellites I bought for my bedroom. They sound pretty good for $20 per speaker on average and I repurposed the TSC subwoofer to the bedroom with them, using dual PB10s in the living room instead. All is good except the center in the living room is not up to the task.

So I tried the satellite version of the WTW center placed on top of the shelving (better), four WT satellites in a concave array (even better but a little phasy and they do not fit well on top because they block the TV), and finally bought another bookshelf speaker to use as the center. I had to raise the TV a little to put the bookshelf horizontally on top of the shelving but it sounds much better than anything else I tried.

It works OK now but the front sound stage is still lacking the complete seamlessness of the Primus 3-way my neighbor is using. I am wondering if constructing a new 3 way center is an option.

My other option is to buy another ST2 tower to match the front l/r but that means moving my shelving out of the way and putting the LCD on the wall above the towers, too high for 7' viewing distance in this shallow room. I might still try that but the Primus demonstrates that a good center does not need to be identical to the l/r. I also have to find towers locally or someone on ebay willing to ship. That is problematic both for cost and convincing the person to ship.

I have the following drivers available to experiment with:

5.25" x 2 from original center
3" x 2 from satellite center
1" from original center
0.75" from satellite center

My concept:

|=======|
|===T===|
|=W===W=|
|==M=M==|
|=======|

to minimize horzontal spacing like the Primus, using front port or not as appropriate. Essentially it will be the satellite center drivers with the woofers from the full size center.

If there is good chance of success I do not mind cutting the waveguide border on the tweeter etc. to allow for closer spacing, either tweeter will do for me.

Both tweeters are nearly as wide as the woofers in their respective WTW center speaker configuration. The drivers seem to be Chinese something and the model numbers etc. on them turn up no results on Google. All aluminum cones, polycell plastic dome tweeters. Quality of the drivers seems middling to good for consumer grade of 10 years ago to my uneducated ears and the rubber surrounds plus plastic dome seem OK. Plastic baskets/wave guides. The 0.75" tweeter seems to have a tiny magnet on it for fitting in compact cabinet and not sure but it looks ceramic. Both tweeters sound OK to me but my hearing brickwalls at 12KHz.

My last resort is to just use the drivers and crossover from a tower and build a custom center from that but it will be so big it might not work out well anyway plus the waveguide still puts the mids too far apart unless they are not all inline. One of the towers was pretty badly damaged and I would not mind junking the cabinet.

Without a shop I have to rely on contract help or a flat pack I can adapt.

I am aware that tuning a crossover is difficult, especially for a novice. I am also aware that using any old flat pack cabinet is a perilous path (but port tuning should help with that?).

I am aware that there are DSP units that can be used as crossover. I already have stereo receiver and stereo amp that I can dedicate to driving 3 channels of a triamp if I have to, but would probably use a dedicated small amp for the tweeter since no point in overpowering it. Would prefer passive crossover but understand it is black art tuning it and needs special equipment plus anechoic to do it right.

So, what do you expert DIYers think is my best option here? I am willing to $pend a little if the experience and result justify it, but I am not going to be able to do much if any work on the cabinet myself aside from very minor things like mounting drivers and sanding or drilling. I do not even own a router any more and never did get much use from it anyway. All I have is hand saw and circular saw and drill and hand tools, scope soldering iron meter signal generator and BSEE plus some DIY knowledge of measuring T-S parameters and winding inductors that I can look up for reference if need be.

Your comments? How should I proceed with DIY, what will it cost, is it advisable given the situation, should I use a tower, modify a tower, active biamp/brace/port tune the existing passive design, or should I just give up and keep the bookshelf?

This post encompasses most of what I know about speakers. No expert or DIY guru here.

Thanks for reading this.:)
 

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A few questions might help others give you better advice than I am capable of.


  1. What is your budget?
  2. What is your expectation of how this DIY center might sound?
  3. What receiver do you have that is 11.1 capable?

Most of us here have some DIY experience in some areas, but you are taking cheap parts out of cheap speakers with no specifications on how they perform, and there is no information on the cross over (XO). I think we might be able to help you get the best bang for your buck with answers to the first two questions. Then some cogent advice might be forthcoming.
+++

BTW, you said your Onkyo had a bad HDMI board. Did you know Onkyo has extended the warranty on many units with the bad HDMI board until 2018? What model do you have?
 

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Long post is long.

I tried to find info on these speakers but only came up with this image.
Seems like a real white-van walmart-parking-lot company.



Sounds like you got robbed. (Takes money. Runs away...)

You mentioned that you have hearing damage from being near too much loud music. I wonder if this has any bearing on what you are perceiving at all? (If you want to put your ears to a slight challenge-> https://www.goldenears.philips.com/)

To rule that out, have you bought a UMIK-1 to see what the center channel is producing?
http://www.minidsp.com/products/acoustic-measurement/umik-1
http://cross-spectrum.com/measurement/calibrated_umik.html

For a given room size / listening level, bad sound is typically related to:
1) Lack of speaker sensitivity
2) A non-flat or a narrow frequency response
3) Lack of room treatments
4) Lack of excursion, cone area, or thermal/power handling
5) Various DSP Hall effects enabled in the AVR, instead of direct-decode mode.

My reference disc for a well recorded (non-bass) movie sound mix is the bluray version of "Life of Pi", the sound is really good; and thus if it doesn't sound good, then it is your system/room FOR SURE.

A lot of people here are using Fusion 10's as centers with great success.
http://www.diysoundgroup.com/waveguide-speaker-kits/fusion-10/fusion10-pure-kit.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
A few questions might help others give you better advice than I am capable of.

What is your budget?
Dunno. I would prefer it not exceed $500 unless there are components I can reuse later like a MiniDSP as part of it, but if I can essentially duplicate the sound of the towers in the center that would be worth maybe $1000 to me. That basically doubles the price of the speakers overall and puts the total price in line with Primus 3-way, These Sapphires seem to perform similarly to Primus except for the lack of a decent center and I think I prefer the Sapphire sound, more laid back and open whereas Primus is very forward sounding but also very clear and crisp.

So far I have about $5000 in the system, plus another $1000 for the furniture so I think I am getting great bang for the buck so far. Center speaker and screen are the weak spots. DIY screen concept is ready but the center is still an open question.

The longer I wait, the more money there is available. I can basically spend/save about $100 per month on this, unless I dip into credit in which case it takes a little longer to pay it off with interest.

What is your expectation of how this DIY center might sound?
I know that my budget and capabilities may be low so performance compromises are expected, just noticeably better than the bookshelf please.;) If it fails I can go back to the bookshelf but I would prefer it not be a total waste of time and money.

What receiver do you have that is 11.1 capable?
TX-NR929, refurb for $850 a year ago from Accessories4less.

Most of us here have some DIY experience in some areas, but you are taking cheap parts out of cheap speakers with no specifications on how they perform, and there is no information on the cross over (XO). I think we might be able to help you get the best bang for your buck with answers to the first two questions. Then some cogent advice might be forthcoming.
OK thanks and let me know if I have to add anything more, just ask.

+++

BTW, you said your Onkyo had a bad HDMI board. Did you know Onkyo has extended the warranty on many units with the bad HDMI board until 2018? What model do you have?
I have several failing or failed units that I bought on Craigslist for myself friends and family at about 2/3 to 3/4 off retail. I am in the process of replacing the failed capacitors. One is complete, one is in process. The one I used to have in my living room is TX-SR706 and it is basically my spare.

Onkyo will not repair my receiver that was not bought from authorized reseller (I guess they are afraid it might be stolen) but it really does not matter to me. I can repair them for less money and hassle than it would cost me to ship.

The TX-NR929 I am currently using seems like it might be covered under the warranty because accessories4less is authorized reseller.

Once the TX-SR706 is repaired to use as a spare I will ship the 929 in for repair because it seems to have the failing network chip problem and I do not have the tools etc. to repair that myself. I just do not use the network right now and it seems it gives me few problems with it disabled. The only thing I need that network for is firmware updates and there have been none since I bought it but I would like it repaired eventually anyway just in case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Long post is long.

I tried to find info on these speakers but only came up with this image.
Seems like a real white-van walmart-parking-lot company.



Sounds like you got robbed. (Takes money. Runs away...)
:D

Cary Christie cofounder of Infinity designed these. If you go to the link in original post you can see the writeup. I also have a thread on 11.1 intelligibility issues with pictures of the whole line scattered through it and specs too. They are definitely consumer grade but for the time they performed fairly well, at least that is my impression.

Actually at ~$100 per I paid less than 20% of retail (but the price did come way down as they went out of business, still I paid less than 30% of the final price).

They sound OK to me and I could not have made this system sound this good any other way that I know of for that kind of money. They sound comparable to the Primus 3-way except less forward and less fatiguing. If I knew about Primus when I bought these Sapphires I would have gone that route with sale prices and come out about the same investment but not sure I would have been as satisfied with overall sound. Primus can get a little fatiguing and i definitely use this system a LOT.

You mentioned that you have hearing damage from being near too much loud music. I wonder if this has any bearing on what you are perceiving at all? (If you want to put your ears to a slight challenge-> https://www.goldenears.philips.com/)
Loud music, medications, age, punctured ear drum from middle ear infection, boxed ear, you name it, been there, done that. Minor miracle I can still hear at all and the tinnitus is annoying but fortunately I do not notice it when listening to music.

Brick wall at 12KHz surely does compromise things but when comparing the original center to the towers it is obvious the sound of the center is completely fubar.

To rule that out, have you bought a UMIK-1 to see what the center channel is producing?
http://www.minidsp.com/products/acoustic-measurement/umik-1
http://cross-spectrum.com/measurement/calibrated_umik.html
REW is on the agenda but probably not until I finish installing the projector and screen. System is in final installation and tweak stage. If I had my e-mu sound card working properly I would buy the mic now but until I figure out why the driver is not working in Ubuntu 14.04 I am sort of stuck on that one. I will probably be ready for that, and hopefully for a new design or other solution too, within the next month or two.

For a given room size / listening level, bad sound is typically related to:
1) Lack of speaker sensitivity
2) A non-flat or a narrow frequency response
3) Lack of room treatments
4) Lack of excursion, cone area, or thermal/power handling
5) Various DSP Hall effects enabled in the AVR, instead of direct-decode mode.
The Sapphire towers are rated at 95dB and the center is rated at ~91dB. I do not think that is the problem since the drivers in the towers MTM and drivers in the center are identical (except 2 way instead of 3 way).

The frequency response is definitely off and the cabinet sounds like it might be rattling too (no bracing).

Room has poly filled comforter on the front wall and leather sectional, full carpet, drapes, stuffed animals, popcorn ceiling. Room treatments are going to be the final tweak because it is pretty dead in here already.

Cone area of the center is two 5.25" drivers. Not great but not horrible. I never turn it up in here because it is apartment and I am surrounded by cranky old people like me. Fortunately we are all going deaf and the couple downstairs have their own surround sound.

11.1 requires some sort of processing. Neo:x seems to be the best. I have tuned Audyssey, corrected the surround levels for DEQ boost, experimented with reference level adjustments etc. and optimized everything. It is definitely the speaker. The rest of the system sounds fine.

My reference disc for a well recorded (non-bass) movie sound mix is the bluray version of "Life of Pi", the sound is really good; and thus if it doesn't sound good, then it is your system/room FOR SURE.
:)loved that film

A lot of people here are using Fusion 10's as centers with great success.
http://www.diysoundgroup.com/waveguide-speaker-kits/fusion-10/fusion10-pure-kit.html
OK thanks I will check it out!
 

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You posted that if you could build a center to match your current towers it would be worth $1000 budget. With that budget I would think you could build 3 fusion 10s from DIY sound group using all flat packs, and almost have enough to build 4 volt6's for a 7.1 system that would blow away your current system. Heck Craigslist the current setup and walk out even. Just a thought
 

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Cheryl, your situation has some self-imposed limitations or constraints.


  • Living in an apartment situation (volume must be kept low, or the other way around, you do not need high output volume)
  • Having 10 low-cost speakers you are committed to
  • Wanting to re-use or DIY old parts that aren't high quality
  • Wanting the sound to match the other low-cost speakers
The positive is that you have an outstanding AVR in the Onk 929.

The problem: Your stated goal is to keep costs down, re-use the old speaker drivers, and improve the clarity of the center channel. You are trying to match poor quality by adding poor quality and expecting the center sound clarity to improve; it won't.

I suggest:


  • Give up the idea of DIY a center speaker by using the old components.
  • Give up the idea of "matching" the sound to the old speakers.
  • Consider the idea of putting more money into a quality DIY center, at least $300.
I think if you accept the last three premises, you will find some outstanding specific recommendations coming from others, ie the suggestion you build 3 Fusion 10 Pures as L/C/R ($1,000).


Forgetting the specific suggestions for the moment, what do you think of the 3 general suggestions I made, directly above?
 

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Considering the fact that Christie designed these, I'm a bit surprised the sound is as you say- I installed a set of his Artison speakers (which is still in business) and they sound great. I spec'd them for that system because they showed the drivers used and I'm a big fan of those (Vifa and SEAS). They didn't disappoint.

Have you removed the drivers, to have access to the crossovers, just in case they have been modified/disassembled and reassembled wrong, etc? If it's not a lot of trouble, maybe you could post a photo of the front and back of the drivers- if they have the regular manufacturer's part numbers, it would be easy enough to design a different crossover or modify the OEM. While you're at it, a photo of the crossover (front and back) would be helpful. If you can draw a diagram of the crossover, that would be good, too.

If you decide to use different cabinets, look at the Parts Express site- their boxes are excellent and come with veneers or painted black.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You posted that if you could build a center to match your current towers it would be worth $1000 budget. With that budget I would think you could build 3 fusion 10s from DIY sound group using all flat packs, and almost have enough to build 4 volt6's for a 7.1 system that would blow away your current system. Heck Craigslist the current setup and walk out even. Just a thought
Flashed through my mind also...

Got into this a couple years ago with no experience whatsoever, before I even stumbled across AVS Forum. At the time all I had was a vintage Pioneer receiver and some vintage budget Marantz Imperial 7 speakers that did not even have a real crossover or intact surrounds on the midranges.

Truth is I like the sound of the Sapphire towers and I already have them. Not sure the work is worth the upgrade, but then I have no frame of reference to compare them to. This is my first build.

I will investigate your suggestion. Any idea how I can get a listen to those in advance of buying? I am in the East Bay of San Francisco region. Must be some DIYers out here. Not everyone is a stock option start up millionaire out here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I skimmed the other thread and saw the discussion of rotating the center to verticle.

Have you tried unhooking the center and re-running your calibration using only the L&R?
No, but I have tried disabling the center in the cal setup menu.

It does improve the frequency response but the imaging takes a pretty severe hit. I am sitting only about 7' from the speakers/TV (12' depth of room and strong bass null close to the wall) and my favorite spot is slightly off-center in the chaise part of the modular sofa. The center image collapses to the right tower.

The bookshelf center I am currently using is much better than nothing at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Cheryl, your situation has some self-imposed limitations or constraints.


  • Living in an apartment situation (volume must be kept low, or the other way around, you do not need high output volume)
  • Having 10 low-cost speakers you are committed to
  • Wanting to re-use or DIY old parts that aren't high quality
  • Wanting the sound to match the other low-cost speakers
The positive is that you have an outstanding AVR in the Onk 929.

The problem: Your stated goal is to keep costs down, re-use the old speaker drivers, and improve the clarity of the center channel. You are trying to match poor quality by adding poor quality and expecting the center sound clarity to improve; it won't.

I suggest:


  • Give up the idea of DIY a center speaker by using the old components.
  • Give up the idea of "matching" the sound to the old speakers.
  • Consider the idea of putting more money into a quality DIY center, at least $300.
I think if you accept the last three premises, you will find some outstanding specific recommendations coming from others, ie the suggestion you build 3 Fusion 10 Pures as L/C/R ($1,000).


Forgetting the specific suggestions for the moment, what do you think of the 3 general suggestions I made, directly above?
Excellent suggestions actually.

My biggest limitation in that respect is having no frame of reference. I have no access to the DIY world so far and nothing to compare my current system to except the Primus line my neighbor has. All my ventures into the stereophile stores local to East Bay SF CA have resulted in severe sticker shock and disappointment with the budget offerings.

Plus I have only just started on this home theater adventure a couple of years ago and my ears already took a beating. Makes it hard to objectively evaluate what I am checking out.

If I had better frame of reference to work from and basis for comparison I would know what to do about this situation. That is main reason I asked for your inputs.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Considering the fact that Christie designed these, I'm a bit surprised the sound is as you say- I installed a set of his Artison speakers (which is still in business) and they sound great. I spec'd them for that system because they showed the drivers used and I'm a big fan of those (Vifa and SEAS). They didn't disappoint.

Have you removed the drivers, to have access to the crossovers, just in case they have been modified/disassembled and reassembled wrong, etc? If it's not a lot of trouble, maybe you could post a photo of the front and back of the drivers- if they have the regular manufacturer's part numbers, it would be easy enough to design a different crossover or modify the OEM. While you're at it, a photo of the crossover (front and back) would be helpful. If you can draw a diagram of the crossover, that would be good, too.

If you decide to use different cabinets, look at the Parts Express site- their boxes are excellent and come with veneers or painted black.
Excellent suggestion to check Parts Express. Looking into it. I had forgotten they sell cabinets.

I already googled the driver part numbers. They are definitely no-name Chinese with no hits at all on the part numbers despite a couple hours of checking. I think the intention was to make the best sound possible from cheap drivers using careful cabinet and crossover design. That maybe makes this whole adventure more difficult since I do not have expertise or tools to apply the same rigor to the design of a replacement.

I will take some pictures. The crossover is hidden deep on the side and maybe glued in, not sure, I was not so interested before but now you got me curious.

The center and dipoles are the weakest speakers in my setup. I swapped out the dipoles with towers. Not huge improvement but with 11.1 it seemed to help with the imaging plus it was far easier to place a tower in an open space than it was to bungee a wall-mount dipole to a stand with a cinder block necklace around the base to keep it from toppling over.

I do think the towers sound excellent for $100 each. Aside from the outdated/no-name driver tech they seem to hold their own against the Primus towers, in fact in some respects I like the Sapphires better. Less fatiguing in-your-face midrange, more open and airy sound makes the room vanish, good clarity, good imaging, no sibilance, etc. but with my hearing loss I have to say I would be oblivious to any treble anomalies above about 11KHz since I can barely perceive 12KHz with the volume at '11'. Plus I have never really heard anything approaching pro audio speakers so my frame of reference is not so expansive or all-encompassing.

Of course in the towers the 5.25" drivers in the MTM are in a small sealed enclosure and crossed over at much higher frequency so maybe that is a big factor, especially with the drivers being probably lesser quality than even the Primus in some respects despite the original retail price.

The center speaker I own is a D&M cash-cow version that was spun off and produced by The Speaker Company when Denon ventured into Internet Direct selling discontinued models purchased from other vendors.

I have the original Sapphire version of the center at my son's house and it sounds better than mine but still not up to snuff.

The revised cabinet is 2" shorter than the original and the tweeter sound is definitely more muted and less crisp, but both designs seem to have a boomy resonance to them that might be the drivers themselves combined with the rear port and unbraced cabinet.

I did swap out the drivers in my TSC version of the center speaker with drivers from my dipoles because one of the towers I bought had MTM with the motors snapped off from being dropped. I used the center speaker drivers in the tower because the center and towers have shielded magnets and I wanted the towers to match each other. Even with swapped out drivers (unshielded magnets) the center speaker sounded the same and the towers match each other so it seems the drivers are OK.

I suppose I should take out the crossovers from the two versions of the center and compare them to see if D&M altered any components. Also there are rumors that the original Sapphire line (pre-MKII revision) had some issues with the crossovers quality, maybe capacitor plague or something. One of the dipoles I have has a much different (brighter) sound to the woofer so I suspect the crossover in that one has a failed component, but I did not put anything from that dipole into the center cabinet.

Rotating to vertical is not really an option in here and in that case I might as well just get another tower and wall-mount the TV. If you look at the intelligibility thread you will see why. Anyway I tried it temporarily and apart from fixing the combing and lobing it did not really help the frequency response. Still poor match, boomy mid-bass, muted treble.

The bookshelf version is lacking the boomy resonance but does have a slightly boxy sound. Not really that annoying but I would like it to match the mains better for that seamless sound stage if I can.

Excellent suggestions everyone.:)

Pictures of the guts coming in a little while... for your evaluation.
 

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Excellent suggestion to check Parts Express. Looking into it. I had forgotten they sell cabinets.

I already googled the driver part numbers. They are definitely no-name Chinese with no hits at all on the part numbers despite a couple hours of checking. I think the intention was to make the best sound possible from cheap drivers using careful cabinet and crossover design. That maybe makes this whole adventure more difficult since I do not have expertise or tools to apply the same rigor to the design of a replacement.

I will take some pictures. The crossover is hidden deep on the side and maybe glued in, not sure, I was not so interested before but now you got me curious.

The center and dipoles are the weakest speakers in my setup. I swapped out the dipoles with towers. Not huge improvement but with 11.1 it seemed to help with the imaging plus it was far easier to place a tower in an open space than it was to bungee a wall-mount dipole to a stand with a cinder block necklace around the base to keep it from toppling over.

I do think the towers sound excellent for $100 each. Aside from the outdated/no-name driver tech they seem to hold their own against the Primus towers, in fact in some respects I like the Sapphires better. Less fatiguing in-your-face midrange, more open and airy sound makes the room vanish, good clarity, good imaging, no sibilance, etc. but with my hearing loss I have to say I would be oblivious to any treble anomalies above about 11KHz since I can barely perceive 12KHz with the volume at '11'. Plus I have never really heard anything approaching pro audio speakers so my frame of reference is not so expansive or all-encompassing.

Of course in the towers the 5.25" drivers in the MTM are in a small sealed enclosure and crossed over at much higher frequency so maybe that is a big factor, especially with the drivers being probably lesser quality than even the Primus in some respects despite the original retail price.

The center speaker I own is a D&M cash-cow version that was spun off and produced by The Speaker Company when Denon ventured into Internet Direct selling discontinued models purchased from other vendors.

I have the original Sapphire version of the center at my son's house and it sounds better than mine but still not up to snuff.

The revised cabinet is 2" shorter than the original and the tweeter sound is definitely more muted and less crisp, but both designs seem to have a boomy resonance to them that might be the drivers themselves combined with the rear port and unbraced cabinet.

I did swap out the drivers in my TSC version of the center speaker with drivers from my dipoles because one of the towers I bought had MTM with the motors snapped off from being dropped. I used the center speaker drivers in the tower because the center and towers have shielded magnets and I wanted the towers to match each other. Even with swapped out drivers (unshielded magnets) the center speaker sounded the same and the towers match each other so it seems the drivers are OK.

I suppose I should take out the crossovers from the two versions of the center and compare them to see if D&M altered any components. Also there are rumors that the original Sapphire line (pre-MKII revision) had some issues with the crossovers quality, maybe capacitor plague or something. One of the dipoles I have has a much different (brighter) sound to the woofer so I suspect the crossover in that one has a failed component, but I did not put anything from that dipole into the center cabinet.

Rotating to vertical is not really an option in here and in that case I might as well just get another tower and wall-mount the TV. If you look at the intelligibility thread you will see why. Anyway I tried it temporarily and apart from fixing the combing and lobing it did not really help the frequency response. Still poor match, boomy mid-bass, muted treble.

The bookshelf version is lacking the boomy resonance but does have a slightly boxy sound. Not really that annoying but I would like it to match the mains better for that seamless sound stage if I can.

Excellent suggestions everyone.:)

Pictures of the guts coming in a little while... for your evaluation.
Do you have photos of the drivers? Remember, Peerless/Vifa are now part of Tymphany, which still makes excellent drivers, IMO. The speakers I built are all Peerless, but I have some Vifa tweeters, too. The Chinese have been buying speaker manufacturers like they're toys. Hopefully, they won't turn them into broken toys.
 

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Email Erich at diysoundgroup, see if he'll sell you just 1 Fusion10. Build that, and I'll bet you order 2 more the day you finish it to complete out the LCR. If you don't like it, I think someone will take it off your hands for retail if you cover the shipping....You would be risking $60 or so. Then start adding Volt 10's to replace the other channels.


You will notice a huge difference since you are running your AVR maxed out with 9 channels of low sensitivity speakers, I have the same one. You should be well into clipping at around -10 on the dial.

Since you pieced together your system at closeout prices, you shouldn't lose anything selling them...Ask for $1500, you may get it.

Once you build the LCR and one volt10, sell the speakers you currently have and pick up the other 7 volt 10's. ~$1000 upgrade , and I bet you are blown away by the difference.


8x volt10's and 3x fusion 10's with 11 flat packs=$2116 +shipping
 

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Excellent suggestions actually.

My biggest limitation in that respect is having no frame of reference. I have no access to the DIY world so far and nothing to compare my current system to except the Primus line my neighbor has. All my ventures into the stereophile stores local to East Bay SF CA have resulted in severe sticker shock and disappointment with the budget offerings.


If I had better frame of reference to work from and basis for comparison I would know what to do about this situation. That is main reason I asked for your inputs.:)
And I agree with you! :)

I've never heard your speakers, so I don't know what they sound like, and I don't mean to diss them, I was just assuming they might have been "white van" type speakers, as alluded to above in Post # 3 in this thread.

You are right, it is really hard to spend good money based only on faith! But that is exactly what I did when I bought my Fusion 10 Pure in 2013. The following link will tell you what I think compared to an older high end Klipsch speaker. See my write up on the DIY Soundgroup site:

(in part, written Jan 2015, written by wvu80)

LISTENING IMPRESSIONS:

The Fusion 10 Pures were used with a Klipsch 12" sub, and sound every bit as good and loud as floor-standing Klipsch CF-4 Epics, which feature dual 12" woofers and are horn driven, and originally sold in 2004 for $2,500 a pair.
http://www.diysoundgroup.com/review/product/list/id/339/category/115/


Here is my comparison of the Fusion 10 Pure to the popular Bose 301:


Fusion 10 v1 vs Bose 301 Series II, 2.1 setup for music, Review

Fusion 10 Pure, version 1: Two way system, SEOS wavebuide with DNA-205 compression driver. Woofer is ten inch Eminence 10-A. This original version has now been replaced with a version 2 which features a slightly smaller enclosure and a ten inch SEOS waveguide. The cost new using the DIY Soundgroup flatpack was approximately $500 pr.


Bose 301 Series II. Two way system, dual 3" tweeters in di-pole configuration mounted outside the enclosure. Woofer is 8 inch. The current Bose 301 are series V and the internet cost for the current version is $330 pr. The Series II new were approximately $250 pr.

+++

The Bose 301 series may be the best selling speakers of all time due to their longevity on the market, price level and very favorable opinons of those who own them, including me. Many audiophiles pan the Bose speakers, but check on the reviews; many owners love them.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/bose-30...lack/4746449.p?id=1051806235077&skuId=4746449

The Bose 301 makes a good yardstick to compare with DIY kits because so many have heard the Bose and may be considering the Fusion series speakers.


This is a general listening impression of both, not a controlled test with all components optimized. The Bose are direct reflecting, meaning they need a flat wall behind them to bounce sound off, creating a larger sound stage. This was not possible in this test so they were placed at ear level toed in to the main listening position (LP). The Fusion 10's were tested in the exact same position, near field which is also not optimum for them. The bedroom sized listening room was 14x10. FYI both speakers cross over at 60 Mhz as tested by Audyssey on an Onkyo TX-NR 717, but were not tested on that AVR.


The Bose was designed as a free standing main speaker, the Fusion was designed to be used with a sub woofer. Both were tested using the Klipsch RW-12d, a mainstream $300 sub. The 2.1 setup was done with a Pioneer VSX-DS14, 100 wpc, EQ was set FLAT with no room correction.

The Bose did not disappoint. They had a pleasant mid-range sound, and dialog was very full, especially with the sub. You can listen for hours without ear fatigue. The Bose lose in comparison to the Fusion when it comes to excitement, and there is no punch whatsoever in the Bose unless pushed to its upper limits in volume. When the volume is pushed, they are still not very loud and the sound becomes muddy especially in the mid range, the bass becomes boomy, and there is compression in the upper sound as the ranges become unbalanced. You will hear the sound of the snare drum, but you will not hear the CRACK of the snare drum.

The Fusion 10 Pure puts out a larger sound stage with way less power than the Bose. The Fusion is every bit as smooth in the mid range as the Bose, but articulates the different instruments much more clearly. I am being very picky here, but Fusion is not as strong in the very upper range, which is where cymbal overtones and decay live. Drums especially snare and kick bass drum sound very lifelike. especially at loud levels. The Fusion 10 has the mid-bass kick many people like, when used with the sub. The sub does not really provide the sound as much as it reinforces the he Fusion's woofers which really produce the sound.

While both speakers are good, the Fusion 10 walks away from the Bose 301 at moderate to loud levels, at LIVE levels. That is where the Bose needs more power than my 100 wpc receiver can provide, but it almost doesn't matter because the Bose gets very unpleasant to listen to, not because of distortion, but because of the lack of balance between the various ranges.

The Fusion 10 on the other hand really shines with very life-like sound reproduction at higher sound levels. This speaker could easily fill a large living room or home theater. The Bose is much better suited to a bedroom or small living room at moderate to low levels.

That being said, it my personal preference to use the Fusion 10 in virtually any listening environment, including near-field when connected to a computer. The Fusion 10 requires much more floor space than the Bose 301, and is not a bookshelf speaker, at 65 pounds.

The Bose 301 actually makes a good surround speaker for a living room because of its attractive design, smaller design and light weight. The Bose 301 would also make a good speaker for mains in a living room when on a TV console listening to TV at lower sound levels due to its small size and excellent reproduction of male and female vocals.

Since the Bose 301 is the "standard" I will arbitrarily give it the middle rating of 50 on a standard scale of 1-100, with plus or minus 10 points being in the "average" range. That means a speaker scoring 40-60 would be in the "average" range.

Compared to the Bose, the Fusion 10 Pure would get a rating of 75, making it about 50% better sounding than the Bose, in my opinion, in this very limited, subjective listening impression.


Remember, the Fusion 10 is not getting a 75 out of 100, it is getting a 75 compared to the 50 of a Bose 301.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
...Have you removed the drivers, to have access to the crossovers, just in case they have been modified/disassembled and reassembled wrong, etc? If it's not a lot of trouble, maybe you could post a photo of the front and back of the drivers- if they have the regular manufacturer's part numbers, it would be easy enough to design a different crossover or modify the OEM. While you're at it, a photo of the crossover (front and back) would be helpful. If you can draw a diagram of the crossover, that would be good, too...
Thank you for suggesting I check this.

Attached is a photo of an original shielded woofer motor from this center speaker. I used the drivers from the center speaker to repair a tower that had its MTM motors sheared off the baskets.

The other photo is an unshielded woofer motor taken from a dipole -- a driver that was, until a few minutes ago, in the center speaker as a replacement since the damaged tower now contains the original drivers from the center speaker.

See if you can figure out what I did wrong.:eek::rolleyes:

The dipoles have one woofer and two tweeters, whereas the center speaker has two woofers and one tweeter. Guess I was not paying attention when I swapped drivers around.

I may have to use the center speaker with its original drivers and lose a tower, or figure something else out.

Even with the original drivers this center speaker was boomy, but obviously I made it worse.:(

I have a spare center speaker (original Sapphire version) but it is doing rear surround in a 6.1 at my son's house. Looks like it is time for us to put the dipoles in his home instead as originally planned and try this again.

I have forgotten exactly how good/bad this center sounded with the correct drivers in it. All I remember is it was boomy and the tweeter was a little quieter than the original Sapphire version. At that time I also had it inside the shelving unit rather than on top and I suspect that was also a problem.

I am not sure yet what will happen, but I am curious now how a properly configured center speaker matches the towers, aside from the combing and lobing.

Thank you all for your excellent suggestions.:)
 

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Attached is a photo of an original shielded woofer motor from this center speaker. I used the drivers from the center speaker to repair a tower that had its MTM motors sheared off the baskets.

The other photo is an unshielded woofer motor taken from a dipole -- a driver that was, until a few minutes ago, in the center speaker as a replacement since the damaged tower now contains the original drivers from the center speaker.

See if you can figure out what I did wrong.:eek::rolleyes:

The dipoles have one woofer and two tweeters, whereas the center speaker has two woofers and one tweeter. Guess I was not paying attention when I swapped drivers around.

I may have to use the center speaker with its original drivers and lose a tower, or figure something else out.

Even with the original drivers this center speaker was boomy, but obviously I made it worse.:(

I have a spare center speaker (original Sapphire version) but it is doing rear surround in a 6.1 at my son's house. Looks like it is time for us to put the dipoles in his home instead as originally planned and try this again.

I have forgotten exactly how good/bad this center sounded with the correct drivers in it. All I remember is it was boomy and the tweeter was a little quieter than the original Sapphire version. At that time I also had it inside the shelving unit rather than on top and I suspect that was also a problem.

I am not sure yet what will happen, but I am curious now how a properly configured center speaker matches the towers, aside from the combing and lobing.

Thank you all for your excellent suggestions.:)
I see that one driver is 4 Ohm and the other is 8 Ohms- any crossover for these will be wrong by one octave if used for the incorrect impedance. That includes the LP and the Zobel, if there is one. Assuming there is one, this could easily explain the boominess- the free-air resonance won't be dealt with if the Zobel is wrong.

The frames of the drivers in the center channel speaker look like Peerless and the tweeter looks like Vifa.

Without knowing the driver parameters, mixing and matching is a matter of luck, at best. Size matters little- it's all about the parameters.
 

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Flashed through my mind also...

Got into this a couple years ago with no experience whatsoever, before I even stumbled across AVS Forum. At the time all I had was a vintage Pioneer receiver and some vintage budget Marantz Imperial 7 speakers that did not even have a real crossover or intact surrounds on the midranges.

Truth is I like the sound of the Sapphire towers and I already have them. Not sure the work is worth the upgrade, but then I have no frame of reference to compare them to. This is my first build.

I will investigate your suggestion. Any idea how I can get a listen to those in advance of buying? I am in the East Bay of San Francisco region. Must be some DIYers out here. Not everyone is a stock option start up millionaire out here.
i live in the north bay and have 3 1099s from diy soundgroup and a couple of si18s in marty cubes
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I see that one driver is 4 Ohm and the other is 8 Ohms- any crossover for these will be wrong by one octave if used for the incorrect impedance. That includes the LP and the Zobel, if there is one. Assuming there is one, this could easily explain the boominess- the free-air resonance won't be dealt with if the Zobel is wrong.

The frames of the drivers in the center channel speaker look like Peerless and the tweeter looks like Vifa.

Without knowing the driver parameters, mixing and matching is a matter of luck, at best. Size matters little- it's all about the parameters.
So if these are Peerless and Vifa drivers, what is the relative quality of such drivers? Can any tentative qualitative statements be made without knowing more about them? Can I find any info on them?

Is there any way to measure any T-S parameters on the woofer (besides free air resonance and whatever that measurement is of resonance with a lump of mass attached to the diaphragm)?
 
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