GR-research AV-3 - foresight please

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chris Tsutsui, Aug 6, 2002.

  1. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    Updated 11/22/02:
    I added my review to the top post, thanks for the help you guys I'm done and will have the website up soon enough. I posted the review in the speaker forum but since it'll probably drop out I'll post it here.
    The unknown AV3 loudspeaker rises from secrecy to do battle with the closely priced JBL S38. Read on to find out if this kit will live up to the expectation to compete with Paradigm 100s and B&Ws, in which case certain annihilation of the S38s is eminent.
    Hello, In case you don't know me I spend most of my time in the DIY and Speaker forums trying to go as deep in the audiophile rabbit hole as possible. Today I just heard my first hour with my now fully assembled GR-Research AV3s. Soon I'll be doing a more in depth review but for now I'll post my inital impressions and build. The speaker I can direct compare these to is the JBL S38 which I purchased for $245.
    Kit arrived this Friday after ordering them on Monday, shipped UPS. Total came up to $340 + $33 for MDF and fiberfill making a grand total of $373 for the pair. Kit included wire, speaker terminal, spike stands, and not to mention flashy gold emblems, solder and shrink wrap tubing. The wiring diagram was fairly easy to understand though it did take some thinking in assembling the crossover.
    The building instructions were very easy to understand and it only took myself and my friend 8 hours to build two pairs of enclosures. (One pair is for the builder and one for me) We only had the parts for one kit so only one was fully completed. Sometimes I find it hard to believe how fast we work on projects like this, I guess it helps to have a master carpenter as a friend.
    (I took pics of the build process and parts so they'll be added to a page soon enough)
    Well let me start...
    First the vintage equiptment list:
    Stereo Amplifier: Pioneer A-X900 (about 55 watts x 2)
    DVD Player: Sharp DV-710 (can't play CD-Rs and no optical or component video out!)
    Generic 16-18ga radio shack speaker wire
    I know some of you might be asking why does this guy use such horrible equiptment? Well, at least when you listen to them on your equiptment it'll sound better and you don't have to worry about me using $10k equiptment some can't afford. Besides this is my temporary downstairs jig. Tomorrow I will be moving them upstairs to a dedicated HT where they'll be teamed with some decent Rotel separate amplification and full blown acoustic treatments.
    Upon first firing up a random CD I found nearby (Titanic Soundtrack) I noticed an immense warmth in sound during music. Before I concluded that that's how I wanted to describe them I thought about break-in and then began to swap some other CDs such as Andrea Bocelli, Avril Lavine, Diana Krall, Brian Setzer, and some other soundtracks.
    I still concluded my S38s sound not only bright in comparison, but the highs are just plain raspy and artificial. When comparing, the S38s sound grainy, the vocals are coarse and the highs are a lot more fatiguing. It's as if I can listen to the AV-3s at a much louder volume, and longer periods of time than the S38s. My taste for music is that I LOVE warm sounding speakers as long as they stay away from sounding muffled or restricted of highs. Perhaps the highs could be a little more enhanced but then I'd fear it would take away from the immensly euphonic (pleasing) sound.
    The AV3s were remarkable upon my first critical listening session, to describe how it sounded would be like having a huge dampening wall and discrete sounds coming from different locations. The isolation was like adding cubicles around each music source so I could acoustically locate them, and easily focus in and out of them. Rather than having overlapped sounds playing from different locations, the sound was more focused as well as I could differentiate what was an echo (reflected sound) and what was direct. The depth was an immediate improvement since I never heard sounds come from behind the back wall before. However the width of the sound stage seemed the same, and the width of each source was the same. The main difference was the separation.
    The Bass extension is a -3db down point at 40hz while the JBls are posted down to 45hz. To me they both performed very close with regards to bass and I'd highly recommend a separate subwoofer for either. Because the response was so close, it was easy to compare them and notice that they both produced voices/tones the same way, it was just that one was more articulate in doing so. The mid to upper bass was very clean and smooth, much similar to the JBL though the S38s were a tad lumpier/muddier (Barely). It was the upper-mids and highs that had the startling difference.
    After music I fired up Star Wars TPM and Time Machine in 2 channel stereo mode. My first reaction to the AV-3s was that it made the room feel like it was acoustically treated. The sounds were discrete and clearly separated from eachother and I could clearly hear more details and isolation of voices. The left right transfer of sound was seemless just like the S38s though the depth of sounds was better. I played the pod race scene in pitch black so that I could visualize from just the acoustic information. During a couple parts I could easily tell how the pods were moving and where. This could also be done on the S38s but not without some ear discomfort. I could easily "listen" to an entire movie through just these speakers which was only done previously on my Sennheiser headphones. A funny point to mention is during "Time Machine" I wasn't paying attention and the main character said "Hello?". I turned my head and scanned the room because I literally thought somebody was in the room.
    Though I have not directly compared these speakers this is purely by memory of previous auditions: I prefer the sound of the AV-3s over Paradigm Studio 100s, Martin Logan Aeons, Energy Veritas, and Monitor Golds. Keep in mind the current equiptment used for audition of the AV3s are very low end and the room and placement were not exactly ideal. I could easily hear humps/dips in the response but my emphasis wasn't about testing response or noticing slap echoes.
    In conclusion I'll rate them:
    Out of 10 I give the JBL 8 for being the best commercial speaker I've heard for under $250. Their sound is accurate to how I want it to sound with regards to pitch (frequency), but the timbre (quality) could be improved in the upper spectrum. They're great for casual enjoyment or the average enthusiast but I have been aching for something more. It was the day when I just couldn't enjoy music like I used to when I decided to shop for a DIY solution.
    The AV-3 outperforms the JBLs in all aspects, in some ways more than others. I'd give them an initial 9 as I do feel that they arn't significantly better than other $2,000 speakers in the price range. I believe that the highs could be a pinch more live/forward in the AV3s. I'm really impressed with the similarities the AV3s have with quality headphones. Listen to any pair of $100 and up Sennheiser headphone and you'll hear a similar pleasing sound. To me, It is the soundstage and presence that puts the enjoyment of the AV3s over headphones. Like most speakers, it isn't perfect, but it did met all my expectations.
    I would definitly pay an additional $100-200 to upgrade S38s to AV3s. $500 would be pushing it and I'd rather buy the S38s. (However, I still love my JBLs and won't be parting with them anytime soon [surround duty])
    Of course this is my preliminary review as there'll be another when I use the better room/equiptment and can direct ABA test them again with them all broken in. Sorry for being blunt, I have some enjoyment and breaking in to do... Yep, I havn't done any enjoying yet... only critical listening.
    --------------------------------------------------------
    Previously posted:
    Today my friend (The Pro Contractor) and I cut out the panels and driver cutouts for two pairs of GR-Research AV-3 floorstanding speakers. Total time spent was 4 hours and total cost for wood was:
    14.98 for 1/2" sheet of MDF
    19.99 for 3/4" sheet of MDF x 2
    $55
    I will likely put up a site with digital pics of the process and how somebody can build these with only a table saw, jigsaw, drill press, and nail gun.
    We will probably use screws for the front and back and then fill them with bondo.
    I decided to use the "original" generic design but what I was thinking was adding some "diffusor" panels to the sides and rear of the speaker. Does anyone know if adding diffusor panels on the sides and rear of the speaker is a good idea?
    The room will also be heavily acoustically treated with 8 bass traps, corner traps, and absorbant panels in the 80hz+ region. Dimensions of room is
    13.5 L x 10 W x 8 H feet.
     
  2. Chris Carswell

    Chris Carswell Supporting Actor

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    Hi Chris,
    The price is for the pair, hence the single center speaker is about half price of the kit price [​IMG] As Jim Cary once said "It's not a dumb question, just dumb people who ask questions." [​IMG] J/C Chris, no harm intended. Seriously though, I've seen the sub you built and that was no easy job anybody could do!!!
    I would go for the AV-1+ for the surrounds. The timber & sound will match that of the other speakers providing better acoustics. What the hell, it's only money and you only live once..........
    How long till you build them? Ya need to hurry up and get'em that way I can see how you like em [​IMG] I'm considering 5 AV-3 for my project, maybe 4 plus an AV-1+ for the center, still not 100% sure. I like to have my speakers set to large (THX) when I watch movies so I think I should go with the bigger AV-3 all the way around. I too have talked to Danny several times. Nice guy & great products. Nothing but good things about GR from all the different HT/DIY forums on the web. It got me convinced!
    You can bet I'll be emailing you to see how things are comming. Keep us updated.
     
  3. Hank Frankenberg

    Hank Frankenberg Cinematographer

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    Chris, I assume you looked at the AV3 pics on my web site, so you can see the quality/beefiness of the cabinet design.
    BTW, the kit will include internal wire, so you don't need to buy any extra. Crossover parts quality is top-notch, including heavy foil inductors.
     
  4. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    Chris,

    Also, there really is no AV-C. That's simply an optional baffle layout that Danny offered for people that need to place the center channel in a cabinet. That way the port could be placed on the front. If possible, simply build it like a regular A/V-1+ cabinet.

    Brian
     
  5. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    Chris, I plan on ordering them in a week or once I design a cabinet challenging enough for my friend and I to build.
    I was thinking of modifying a Wilson Audio design for the center channel and towers. Using maple and ebony plugs for screw holes. I've seen some $6,000 furniture with that combo that turned out great.
    Actually, I don't feel too dumb for asking [​IMG], especially since the website only says "Complete kit $329" and has a picture of a single tower. I also thought the shipping weight of 20lbs was too light for 6 drivers + materials but I guess I was wrong.
    The 12ga wire I included in my budget was for external wiring.
    Brian, I'm gonna get the AV-C fully shielded kit for $169. I guess the $20 is for the shielding. I didn't see an option of buying an AV-1+ as each. I thought that they only sold them in pairs for $300.
    I'll have some designs posted later and I'll do what I did last time with the sub and request criticism. Thanks
     
  6. Adam Bluhm

    Adam Bluhm Supporting Actor

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    I'm anxious to see the designs, Chris. [​IMG]
     
  7. Chris Carswell

    Chris Carswell Supporting Actor

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  8. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    THose are some handsome speakers. Really good looking. [​IMG]
     
  9. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    Chris, yours are the only ones I remember seeing. They look great, those alphas are also pretty darn nice.
    I'll be working on designs with my friend today, I'll try and have the best ones posted by tonight.
    edit: Oh, I remember somebody saying that they helped build the speakers but they weren't going to own them. I thought it was you [​IMG]
     
  10. Daniel T

    Daniel T Stunt Coordinator

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    I am interested in building either the 281s or the AV3s but I have not been able to find the plans for the enclosures for the AV3 on the gr-reaserch web site. Am I overlooking something. Thanks

    Daniel T
     
  11. Chris Carswell

    Chris Carswell Supporting Actor

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    Chris T.
    I think you might have me confused....That link I posted isn't my stuff (as much as I would like to take credit for it[​IMG] ). It is Hank Frankenberg's page with the projects he has done.
    BTW, where can I look at some "Wilson Audio design for the center channel and towers" ? Is there a link you could post?
    I await to see those of your plans of yours......
     
  12. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    Click here to choose a Design for my AV-3 floorstanding DIY speakers and center channel.
    Well folks, the picture is a bit small... You may not see the labeling but you could probably figure out which letter or number is next.
    On the bottom you can see how I was planning on using an aluminum plate or some ebony plugs for surface design. I prefer mohogany, maple, birch, and aluminum as laminates.
    My tempest sub is still unfinished maple... what's funny is that the other side of the MDF panels is pine which we thought was maple at first. oops
    (If you see that chrome knob close up on my PC, that controls fan RPM that lowers my PC noise up to 6db. hehe)
    BTW, just got resident evil for $15 which is LOADED with bass in addition to having trailers for spiderman, triple X, MIB II, Final Fantasy, Formula 51, and Res. Evil.
     
  13. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    Hi Chris. Despite the fact that you have a small room, I'm visualizing a larger room coming some time in the near future. If so, I like the speaker marked (F)only because matching subs and mains, especially with the pyramid design of the sub and would be overkill for a normal size room. However, the speaker marked (F) is 'RETRO' enough to fit with the Pyramid scheme of your sub and break the monotony of a room full of pyramids. Also, the center of choice would be number(2)because of the same reason I chose speaker(F).
     
  14. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    Have you asked Danny how changing the enclosures width will affect the sound of the speaker? I know Dan (Adire) has said on numerous occations that you have to keep the Kit281 baffel width at what he recommends, but you can change anything else.
     
  15. Danny Richie

    Danny Richie Stunt Coordinator

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    Changing the size of the baffle around the drivers will alter the response.

    The bigger the change the more it will alter the response.

    So I would try not to alter that portion of the design to much.

    Beyond that just maintain the correct air space and have fun. This is another one of the great things about building kits. You can build them any way you want them.
     
  16. Rob Lloyd

    Rob Lloyd Stunt Coordinator

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    Dan at Adire said I could change the width of the 281s about 1"-1.5" without affecting it. I made mine 1" wider to accomidate the rounded edges.
     
  17. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    The volume of the baffles I was going to calculate to be the same. Does the shape of the enclosure really affect the response? I didn't think it would... I was under the impression that the less boxy the design the more reduction of standing waves in the enclosure.

    These will be moving to a bigger room of course.

    I kind of like "N" which is similar to the Wilson Audio Maxx, except for the fact they won't be 2 enclosures. Instead I was going to just double layer the bottom and make it appear to be separates.

    As for Center channel I was thinking of something like "I" except not as dramatic of slopes on the sides. That too can also have "Cosmetic" design only and have a box enclosure on the inside.

    Some of these designs could actually be AV-1+ with cosmetic stands to make them look like floor standers.

    If I decide not to stay traditional I'll probably make the box of maple with an aluminum plate on the front like on the bottom pic. Either that, or I'll make the box of maple and use screws that are plugged with ebony and sanded smooth.
     
  18. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    (First Design in color) link
    Anyone have any color suggestions I'm open for combinations of wood grain/metals/or paints.
    I'd also like to hear any thoughts on whether the design will affect sound and have any detrimental effects. The internal net volume is 2.2 cubic feet, same as the cabinets the AV-3s come in.
    It will be internally braced, and the bottom acts as a stand to raise the larger sized box up to the same level.
    BTW: It took me a couple hours to make the website (fast) using Microsoft frontpage 5.0, and I made all the sketches and drawings using Microsoft Paint because I don't have any graphic making programs. [​IMG] They turned out pretty decent though.
     
  19. ThomasW

    ThomasW Cinematographer

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  20. Clay Autery

    Clay Autery Stunt Coordinator

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    I am admittedly clueless when it comes to building crossovers (a shortcoming I plan to remedy after I build all the Adire kits I have on hand.... gotta have something to listen to while I start learning how to design custom stuff), BUT...
    I've read virtually every word on the Northcreek site and a bunch of sites that are related to Northcreek kits and speakers...
    I'm pretty much impressed with Northcreek in general (wish I could afford a Leviathan driver for a sub!) So, if they use wire inductors, I suspect that they work well... [​IMG]
     

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