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Old 01-21-2010, 03:20 AM   #105
Beerserker Beerserker is offline
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Dec 2009
Las Vegas
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PART FOUR!

Finally getting around to this update. Lets kick this off with the veneering.

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The veneer I am using is Fiddleback maple, or Flame maple, and is often used for guitars,or violins. I really like the figuring this wood has, and it usually has a really nice look when finished. Here I cut it using a straight edge, veneer saw, razor knife, and some clamps. I like to cut a little large on all dimensions and then flush trim the excess.





I am using HeatLock glue for this project. You apply the glue to both the box and the back of the veneer and allow it to dry. Two coats on the box is best because some of the glue will seep into the wood. I like this stuff because it is dry when fitting up the veneer, and only becomes sticky again when heat is applied. It allows easy positioning. This does take more time then other methods though because you are waiting for glue to dry.



To get the glue to reactivate you use a regular household iron. Put the iron on a high setting and use a piece of cotton fabric between the wood and the iron. An old T-shirt does just fine. Move slowly and press hard and the veneer will be bonded forever.



On the sides that have veneer I place some tape to protect it from the glue I am applying, and from the router afterwords. I neglected to get any photos of flush trimming, but I just use a flush trim bit on the router. It will get you 95% of the way there, and a little 150 grit sandpaper to clean up the edges does the rest.



One set of veneered surrounds.



Moving on to the mains. Veneering is done and I am using a chamfer bit on the edges of the baffle. I like the look of the chamfer and it helps reduce diffraction. In this case the design does not really call for a chamfer, but I like the look so I am adding one anyway. That's how I roll.



Normally you would apply a thin strip of veneer over the chamfer so it matches the rest of the speaker. I have a certain plan for the finish that does not require me to do this, so I wont waste my time. I sand the veneer with 220 and then buff it with 00 steel wool. I've discovered that sanding with coarser grits reduces the figuring effect of the veneer so I am going light here. YMMV so test your intended finish on some scrap veneer. This light of sanding on other veneer may produce a splotchy finish. It works well here.



Finally starting to look like speakers now that the driver cutouts are done. This would be all but impossible without my router and circle jig. I am flush mounting all the drivers because I like the look. For the tweeter there is usually a performance advantage to flush mounting.



Getting the drivers wired in and mounted up. Also filling the back of the cabinet with polyfill. You have to play with amounts of polyfill to find out how much is the right amount. I probably applied 6 inches thick along the back of the cabinet.





And that's it! They are playing. I am still tinkering with finish methods and options, but I plan on taking a bit of artistic license and doing something a bit different. I think it will turn out nice.

It's always so great to see the project come together and finally reap the rewards. These things are just great speakers. Part of the trouble with DIY is the fact that you can't audition the speakers before you build them. The outcome will be a bit of a surprise. Let me just say that I have never been let down by home built speakers. They perform in classes far above their price range. These here cost around $1100 in parts and wood, without veneer, and sound as though they could cost five figures.

I'm not one for flowery, boastful reviews, and am trying to view these with an open and honest ear, but frankly I can't find much to quibble about. As I stated before, the dynamic range here is fabulous. The bass is so robust, but integrates seamlessly. When I listen to music with these I turn off the sub, there is no need for it.

The mids and highs are very detailed, even at low volumes. It is perhaps a bit forward, but not too bad. Something like a B&W lets say for reference. I am thinking the mid range is a bit hot for my liking, but that is the beauty of DIY, I can always go back and adjust what needs adjusting. Still the mids here are great and if you like classical material or anything with fine detail that is well recorded you would love these speakers. The downfall of all that detail is it really exhibits the shortcomings of less well recorded material. Say anything Pop, or Rock or Metal.
Now I am on a really big Symphonic and Melodic Death Metal Kick right now and I have to say that these speakers are the best and worst things to happen to my music listening. The classically trained female vocalists that prevail in symphonic metal are represented wonderfully here. I have had Haggard, Nightwish, and Within Temptation on a nearly unending playlist. The vocals are rendered wonderfully. Also played quite a bit of Insomnium, Amon Amarth and old In Flames with mixed, but generally good results. The problem lies in the sub par production and engineering of the instrument tracks. I swear that metal bands must pay their sound engineers in beer. Lets just say that the shortcomings are made very apparent with these speakers.
Listening to something like Dire Straits Brothers in Arms is where you get to see how good these can be. Also played a bit of Steely Dan and Dead can Dance. On good material these things excell. Too bad most of the stuff I like is recorded by a tone deaf roadie. Don't even think about playing MP3's with these babies. You will want to throw up

I can't imagine a better HT speaker though. Honestly 0 gripes with these for watching movies. I detect a small null point on the center at about 25 degrees off axis but that is to be expected with any horizontal center. Even sitting right in the null, dialog is clearly audible and you don't even realize the null is there until you move out of it. I have never heard a speaker perform better for HT, period.

For all around general use this speaker is fantastic, and can handle anything you throw at it and leave you happy. For the price it is really one of the half dozen designs you should seriously consider. If I were building a dedicated music system, with a higher budget (and I will be shortly ) I would go another way. But that just speaks to my preferences, and please keep this in perspective, I am comparing these speakers to the best I've heard so when I say music reproduction could be slightly better, that is all relative.

Whew, long post. Next time some finishing pics and perhaps some measurements if my calibrated mic gets here.
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