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DIY Pair 1k Budget (1 Viewer)

Chris Tsutsui

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I'm shopping for a DIY loud speaker kit for my family and would like to stay in the $1,000 range, for just drivers and crossover.

I would prefer a smaller sized one that is easy to transport for demo purporses. I do have a sub so they don't have to be full range but am willing to try anything from Line arrays, TLs, Horns, to ribbons.

They will be likely be used with a very wide range of music from Pop, Jazz, classical, and folk, to rock, hip-hop, and movies. They will be powered with a transistor Rotel 100WPC separate amplifier "for now". Some people are going to want to listen to these at high volumes to reproduce almost concert like levels, while others will prefer very low volumes at night.

They will be primarly used in near-field listening situations like 5-10ft from speaker to listener in a very heavily acoustically dampened room. Sweet spot can be very small as these are intended for single person stereo use.

Here are some of the designs I've seen so far:

Scan-Speak Solist Premium- $1100
GR-Research Diluceo - $1043
Seas Thor Transmission line Premium - $1195
Seas Froy MK3 - $850
NorthCreek Rhythm 9500 or Borealis Unlimited - $1,099
Lynn Olsen Ariel Kit Signature - $1069
Madisound Eton 11.2 - $1023
Zalytron Aria 5 or 7 TD5 - $1200-1400
Excel lent 3 Seas Odin/Raven - $1064
Accurate A, Accuton - $1580
Selahaudio Phast Est - $1075
Linus 2 Line array - $1072

Anymore worthy DIY kits I'm forgeting?

Anything by Scan-Speak and some of the ribbon designs look appealing. As does the Seas Thor TL.
 

Andrew Pratt

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I highly recomend the M8a's that Jon designed here. I have four of them in my HT and they are very nice sounding speakers. I have two small sealed ones (as seen on my website) and I rebuilt the other two into large ported cabinates to use as my mains.
 

Dan Wesnor

Second Unit
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Apr 28, 1999
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Don't make the mistake of assuming that because they cost more they are better. With DIY, diminishing returns start rolling in about $600 or so.

Here's what I know about some of the kits you mention:

Soloist, other dual SS 7" designs: The second woofer is used to increase total system output. For most people, it is completely unnecessary. If you don't need to hit 110dB at 60Hz, or if you own a subwoofer, stick with a single woofer design.

Thor: There have been general complaints about a lack of bass. Other than that it's supposed to be good. I would hardly consider it transportable - it's huge.

Ariel: I see nothing about this design that would cause it to live up to its mythology. Massively overbuilt cabinet, probably adds little to the sound, but lots to the mythology. The fact that Version 1 was "the ultimate speaker" and we are now up to Version 6 is a hint. In reality, probably not any better than the dozens of Vifa/SS MTM's on the market. Beware of any speaker with a reputation of sounding good on tubes but not on solid state.

Zalytron Aria derivatives: Joe D's original Aria with the tweeter of the week installed. IMHO, most of these were desgined to help Zalytron clear inventory.

Northcreek: Again, I think there's some mythology going on here, but probably woth the money.

Linus: If this is your idea of easily transportable, I'd like to know what you drive!

You should add the Ellis 1801 to your list. Also look at the BESL designs. I would trust Rick (Selah) or Danny (GR) before I'd trust most of the others listed above.
 

Michael R Price

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I think a second woofer is necessary, and a smart choice at a $1000 pricepoint. I don't think it's just about maximum output but rather the efficiency and dynamic quality in general. I suggest you ask Jon and Thomas about their MTM version of the M8a, which appears to have the high-end drivers du jour.. and the designers really know what they're doing. There's more information about their stuff at the HTGuide forum.

If you can spend a little more money, I'm sure the GR Diluceo (that one has a serious tweeter) and any of the Scan Speak ones would be great. Actually, I'm sure all of them are great.
 

Chris Tsutsui

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Thanks for the suggestions and advice guys,

Anthony recommended I wait until I get to hear a bunch of high end DIY models at the next DIY meet which I'm likely going to do. (Gotta wait 1.5 months)

I was also told by two people to email Rick Craig and see what his thoughts are on a loudspeaker.

I read somethings about the Criterion and Diluceo at a couple forums that are making me think twice about it. I may be able to hear a pair soon though.

That's a good point that just because a loudspeaker is $1,000, it doesn't mean it will be better than cheaper models. I was more of looking at the nice components used in the more expensive kits, but it still doesn't mean that they were designed well.

The one model that was pro designed and I've heard nothing but good things about is the Seas Thor TL. It's about a year old and the only thing people have said in reviews is the somewhat lack of deep bass. The review in AudioXpress sounded very promising as they supposedly have in-room response to 35hz. I can live with that as I enjoy stereo music with speakers that only extend to 45-55hz. I also have a tempest I could add if I ever got the urge for some deep bass. All my speakers are bass reflex, and was also curious as to how a TL speaker sounds. The one con I personally have is the size and weight, and perhaps aesthetics.

I'd hate to be close minded about the decision though. The BESL site seems to not want to work so I havn't been able to check out their kits yet though I hear some use Seas Excel.

I was also wondering about DIY high end "studio" monitors. I've been in some studios and I love the way music sounds in a very quiet room. Plus the speakers are more compact to carry around. Would the DIY home speakers sound slightly different compared to them? I guess studio speakers are designed for near-field while audiophile speakers are more for wide soundstages.
 

Chris Tsutsui

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The cheapest one that comes to mind is the Vifa Studio kit for $325 at madisound.

I've heard great things about that tweeter, and the Polk LSI comes to mind.

It's the Vifa XT25TG30, however it is not shielded so some may need the Vifa XT25SC30 which is like $20 more ($80ea). Of course I'm looking for a speaker that'll best Polk Lsi series. :D
 

Henry_W

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May 7, 2002
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I tend to agree with Wesnor on the diminishing returns, but can't speak to his specific kit critiques.

If you spend the $600 on parts you can afford to get to the crux of the matter on solid box and Xover work - at this point you will get great results to detailed attention in these areas.

IMHO
 

Chris Tsutsui

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I could also be on the wrong path, and a $1000 budget on a commercial set of bookshelf speakers could perform better than the designs listed above.

DIY is such a risk when it comes to the more expensive designs.
 

Andrew Pratt

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I could also be on the wrong path, and a $1000 budget on a commercial set of bookshelf speakers could perform better than the designs listed above.
The only real risk building a proven design is that you won't like the way it sounds..not that it would sound bad but since speakers are a personal prefference you and I may disagree just as much about a $100 pair of speakers or $10000 speakers. That said there' some things you can do to help this problem in that listening to say some Polk LSi's that use the Vifa Ring tweeter will help you decided if you like that tweeter or not. Its going to sound a little better with the M8a kit due to the crossover point and the sophisticated XO Jon designed but you'd be in the ball park etc. Keep in mind that many of these kits are aimed at sounding better then speakers several magnitudes better then the cost of the kit so my $1200 M8a's are intended to compete against the Avlon Eclipse's which cost $$$$:)
 

Brian Bunge

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Chris,

I haven't found a pair of $1K commercial speakers that I feel compare to any of the DIY designs I've built for much less money.
 

Dan Wesnor

Second Unit
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Apr 28, 1999
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I sold my $750 Monitor Audio speakers after building John K.'s $200 Vifa design.

A typical pair of $1000 commercial bookshelves cost maybe $150-$200 to build.
 
A

Anthony_Gomez

Chris, if you want to try something interesting, you could always go the high efficiency route! :) you have the wood shop access to build some of those horns. I know your room is small, but that also means you can use juvenile flea powered amps :D
 

Chris Tsutsui

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I found the replies from Zalytron to be interesting which consisted of two consecutive emails:
if you look at the photo gallery you will also see the new aria7w with audiom tweeter these are great
http://www.zalytron.com/photos.htm
The two speakers are a bit on the ugly side for my taste. I am also skeptical about this website since the web design and replies were not very enticing.

After reading a series of emails, I guess I'm back to where I started, and that is a DIYer that still can't find the perfect kit.

Maybe I should just spend $1,000 on a silver interconnect to improve my current sytem for the best bang per buck. J/k :D

Oh, btw, I just bought myself a nice soldering iron from Action electronics. The store is only a block away from the wood shop and the owner is friendly and informative in almost a geeky kind of way. He kind of reminded me of Anthony Gomez.

:D

Anyways, I'll be breaking her in about week when I start making some crossovers.
 

CarlDais

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Sep 24, 2000
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PHL makes some very nice drivers
can be a bit pricey
not the usual Driver du jour of these boards.

Mr Wesnors comments are pretty good, especially
reading between the lines. I had a pair of
Borealis spkrs. Yes, the kit was $$ but the design was well done, and the box plans yileds a very nice enclosure.
Which brings you back to Henry W's comment and Brian Bunge's
...attention to detail takes time and effort, which translates to $$ in the commercial/retail realm. In DIY, it's your time. And $600 seems about right for the point of deminshing returns for parts. I never really gave it that much thought...but I did some adding up and I'd say yeah
$600-800 is a good range. After that the slope of the curve changes.

5-10 feet isn't near field....more midfield, and depending on the extent of the rooms acoustic treatment it can be far field.

You really need to hear a few designs and decide what suits you. 5-10 feet in an acoustically controlled room..the dulcea or criterion or 1801 should do quite well... don't move too far from the sweet spot.
 

Chris Tsutsui

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Feb 1, 2002
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I agree that 5-10feet isn't really true nearfield. The reason I say nearfield is because I will likely do some critical listening that is actually about 3 feet because of my listening situation. While sometimes I will move the seat back, or sit further and listen in the 5 ft range.

Then on special occasions when I decide to move the speakers to a bigger room, the listening range becomes 10ft.

my room

The only difference now is i've added four 16" diameter ASC type bass traps to the corners, and will have multiple binary array diffusor panels to play with. (All somewhat overkill for what I have, but are simply fun projects)

I guess I will hear as many DIY models as I can before I make a decision. Thanks
 

AjayM

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Aug 22, 2000
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I have the older Aria 7 TLR kit and I have to say they are a really nice sounding speaker system, you can see them here;

http://www.geocities.com/ajay213/aria.htm

This was just after they were built.

I'd agree though with Dan and the rest of the posts above that when you start getting around the $600 range the price/performance ratio starts to drop off. But if you have the extra cash you will get more results (comparing two well designed systems).

Andrew
 

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