What can I do to make the speakers I allready have, Better?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brett DiMichele, Jan 17, 2003.

  1. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

    Sep 30, 2001
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    Hey Folks,

    Since I won't be embarking on my own DIY mains for a while
    I want to do some modifications to what I allready have.

    I am running AR9 mains, the driver compliment is a 1"
    Sealed Back Titanium Dome, 2 Open frame 5.25" Mag Alloy
    Mids and 1 10" Bass Reflex sub per enclosure.

    The cabinent is heavily braced internaly from the factory
    so adding braces isn't needed. The Mid's have thier own
    "sub enclosures" within the main enclosure. I was thinking
    about lining the outside and inside of these mid range
    enclosures with some sound deadener and then stuffing the
    enclosures with polly fill (try like 50% for starters and
    see if it makes a difference) and also stuffing the sub's
    cavity with polly fill.

    What about removing the crossover's and noting the values
    of all the components and replacing them with the same
    exact values only using something like AudioCap Theta film
    or Solen metalized polly caps ? And removing all of the
    internal wiring and replacing it with 99.999% OFC 12AWG.

    Just things to make a well built mass production speaker
    even better, and it's allready pretty good..


    It's not like any of this is non reversible and it should
    be beneficial even if in a subtle way.
  2. ColinM

    ColinM Cinematographer

    Dec 9, 2001
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    Stuffing is reversible, so why not try?

    I wouldn't fiddle with the crossovers, though...but like NHT's Zero upgrade fromm North Creek, there are ways to improve.
  3. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

    Sep 30, 2001
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    I am stuffing the sub cavity and the midrange enclosures
    for sure. And I am wrapping the inside and outside of the
    midrange enclosures with some sort of sound barrier not
    sure what yet (V-Blok or Asphalt Sheets) The Sub could be
    transfering vibrations to the midrange chamber which in
    turn could excite the air inside the sealed midrange
    enclosures and could mess with the sound the mids output.

    I think those two modifications alone will help a great
    deal. They did put stuffing in the cabinents but as usual
    not nearly enough, plus they just used sheeted dampening
    material rather than polly fill.

    The internal wires are all 20awg I was thinking about
    replacing all of the wire with 12 awg 99.999 OFC I have a
    few feet (50 or so) on a spool left over.

    I just figured that replacing all of the capacitors with
    better quality Solen or AudioCap brands in the same exact
    values would make a difference. I don't see how I could
    screw with how the crossover is designed if I am using the
    same value replacements across the board.

    Other then those mods I can't think of anything else they
    need. The cabinents themselves are very well built (65 pounds
    each) they have numerous braces running the length of the
    cabinents tying each internal wall together.
  4. ColinM

    ColinM Cinematographer

    Dec 9, 2001
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    Are you unhappy with the speakers?
  5. Tim Morton

    Tim Morton Stunt Coordinator

    May 5, 2000
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    If this is mainly a "jonesing for a tweak project"...why not rebuild the crossovers in a way to let you bi-wire or tr-wire the drivers? Course that could get into real money and that money might be better spent tweaking something else.
  6. Allen Ross

    Allen Ross Supporting Actor

    Sep 30, 2002
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    i have also thought about tweaking my CSW Newton M80s, i poened them up the other dat and low and behols there was a foot square sheet of some tpye of filler, that did nothing for the accoustics, i might try and add some more.

    Alos the mid range and the tweeter is in a closed off compartment with very little stuffing and room as well, do you think adding any polyfill will do anything to the sound.

    And i love these speakers, they roll of around 50 cycles, but i would never take them that low at any sort of volume, you should see the movement of the woffer, damn.
  7. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

    Sep 30, 2001
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    It's honestly hard to say if adding pollyfill will help
    or hinder. It should help because it will make the open
    air drivers see the enclosure as a little bigger than they
    actualy are, and it will help break up and deflect standing
    waves that occour inside the enclosures.

    I know in my case that adding a sound deadener to the
    inside and outside walls of the midrange enclosures will
    help because the subwoofer in each cabinent could easily
    transfer vibrations to the midrange enclosure and that
    would muddy the midrange.

    The tweeter is sealed so this won't affect it at at all
    the only thing I could do to alter the tweeters would be
    to add custom acoustic lenses to the outside to make the
    trebbel more directional, AR uses a dense foam acoustic
    lens around the tweeter to control it's dispersion and I am
    not changing that because I love the way the tweeters sound
    as is..

    Like I said, I am not doing anything that is irreversible
    and I just want to see if there are any changes even if they
    are subtle in nature.

    I don't believe installing better wire and better sound
    dampening materials inside is a bad thing, it's just that
    with mainstream speakers your never going to see a cabinent
    that is as overbuilt as a DIY'r will do simply because of
    the labor involved.


    The crossovers are Bi-Wire Bi-Amp as is, tri amp is getting
    too complex and I don't have the equipment to support tri
    amped mains.
  8. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

    Jul 22, 2001
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    Polyfill... upgrading crossover components... front baffle damping... sounds good to me. Maybe you'd want to replace the internal wires with something better than 12awg copper... like braided [teflon] Cat5, or 89259 for example. Hey, you never know, it might make a difference. (And I'm this close to performing some of those upgrades myself.) I don't know how much else you can do without changing the design of the speakers... start saving up for those new mains.
  9. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

    Sep 30, 2001
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    I dunno, Do you really think the Cat5-E I have would out
    perform the SoundKing 12Awg Stranded OFC?
    I have more than enough Cat5-E to do it that's for sure..
    I just don't know if it would yeild a noticeable difference
    to me (the Cat5-E cables I made didn't make a difference
    that I could hear)
    There isn't much I can do to the baffel of the speakers
    all the drivers are flush mounted, time aligned to each
    other and then there is an acoustical foam lens that fits
    around the entire M-T-M section. The drivers are also gasketed
    fairly well so there isn't much I can do there.
    I just think Isolating the mid enclosures better and stuffing
    the sub cavity and mid cavities will help. Changing the
    crossover components well.. That may not be as beneficial
    as I think.. Could be detrimental dunno.. The way everyone
    makes crossovers out to be, magical mythical things that
    no mere mortal like me dare touch.. LOL [​IMG]
    I am saving up for the mains, I decided I will spend up to
    2 grand just on drivers, not including cabinent materials.
    I am still up in the air as to want I want.. I want something
    with wide dispersion so if I don't do the Mangers I am
    looking into Line Array's or something using a B-G Planar
    Transducer (72" tall) sitting open baffel on a sealed
    enclosure running a Focal PolyKev Mid Bass playing down to
    about 80Hz and letting the sub take over from 80 down to
  10. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

    Jul 22, 2001
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    The Cat5 is a lot of small wires with thin insulation, so the quality of the insulation and the way the cable is made has a significant effect on the sound. Belden 1585A or 1701A (teflon coated) braided made a noticeable and worthwhile improvement in my system. I had at one point used regular Cat5e with the HF braided and LF using a bunch of the wires strapped together, and that sounded no better than zip-cord. (Tighter bass, and sort of clearer midrange but the highs were a bit blurred and tizzy sounding... couldn't really live with it).

    Depending on the quality of the crossovers you already have, installing better resistors/capacitors/inductors will probably help. I'm not an expert on this subject but I have heard nothing but good things about Auricaps (expensive though). The only possible problem with such an upgrade might be finding the exact values AR used. My solution is not upgrading the components I have, but rather getting rid of them entirely (going active).

    Now I'm still getting used to the sound because the combination of the Class A amplifier, the Cat-5 wires and my speakers with silk dome tweeters has made it much "warmer"... but in a good way. It's sort of like there's less treble, but the sound is more detailed and clear than before. I imagine that as you upgrade your components this may happen to your sound as well.

    I can imagine replacing those last few feet of wire between the amplifier and the drivers would make a bit of improvement. And if it doesn't, you have the piece of mind that the wires are not a problem.

    Knowing your taste in sound you may want to look at having a dipole line array of midwoofers alongside the RD-75 (super-tweeters too, because the RD drivers aren't very extended). There's a great discussion about such systems, started by Thomas W and Jon Marsh, at the HTGuide.com forum. (This, along with a fully horn loaded Unity-based system, is one of my "dream" speakers.)
  11. Terrence Carter

    Terrence Carter Auditioning

    Jun 6, 2002
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    I apologize, as I am not an avid poster here (I mainly do audio, not HT) but I do have some experience in "customizing" the soundstage a tad.

    Although all of the suggestions definately have their merit, by far and away the easiest and most noticeable impact you could make on your sound system would be room treatment.

    I do not know what you already have, or what you have attempted prior. As well, I am not familiar with your experience in "doctoring" the room to fit the equipment either. If you could give an approximate of what you have tried and what your room is like, it might be interesting to see what a few well-placed panels/traps could do.

    If you have not tried anything to this point, just for giggles and grins, try hanging a blanked on each side wall on the reflective portion of the wall from your speakers and directly behind the center. (A great job for your kid to hold a mirror to determine where you "see" the reflection of the speaker off of the wall, then hang a heavy blanked or prop up with a couple of 2x4's).

    Psycho-acoustics is a "black-magic" art (not really, but without a lot of study it is somewhat confusing), but makes an incredible impact on the sound quality of a system.

    I personally do not even use a center channel in my HT setup, as I get incredible imaging and soundstage running my full-rangers in stereo for the fronts. However, I am also an odd duck too!

  12. Stephen Dodds

    Stephen Dodds Second Unit

    Aug 29, 1998
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    I'm a little biased here because I have one, but why not bypass all your passive crossovers and use an active one such as the dbx Driverack PA. It also has room EQ so you can play with that as well. Cost is $500.
    On the downside you will need two more amps, but you might want to go this way with your big project as well, or simply pick up a cheap used four channel amp. The poer requirements will be minimal.
    Of all the things you could do with standard drivers, going active would make a real difference, especially when combined with room EQ.
  13. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

    Sep 30, 2001
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    Active EQ nah good idea but nah.. I have a good parametric
    EQ with Notching and Shelving Filters and it's a Constant-Q.
    I haven't had a chance to run an RTA on the room yet and I
    am planning on doing that (the reason why I have the parametric
    But what my ears tell me is that it's fairly non reflective
    as is.. If you clap there is no echo. 10' of one wall is
    covered with a Levelor Blind which is a good diffusor, the
    other wall has a large canvas painting (5' wide) on that
    wall, the wall directly across from the speakers is bare at
    the moment but there will be a picture hanging up there as
    well (but there is a love seat against that wall) thick
    carpeting (real thick) and flat 8' celing with a textured
    finish. The wall behind the speakers is also textured dry
    The room dimensions are 16.5' x 13.0' x 8' celing. Speaker
    placement is W.A.S.P my listening position varies depending
    on where I am, I have no "set in stone, must sit here" spot.
    And the stereo image is precise whether I am 10' away or
    5' away it doesn't vary much due to the M-T-M layout of the
    Towers they have great imaging properties.
    Bass right now is great, I am running the Bass Reflex 10"
    subs (one per cabinent) off a dedicated Carver 500 watt amp
    with the crossover maxed out at 120Hz (since the internal
    XO of the towers crosses the subs at 100Hz) and I am running
    the mains as large.
    I have a pair of acoustic foam pannels placed behind each
    speaker to breakup the port air comming out of the sub
    section which helped tremendously since one tower is sitting
    basicaly in a corner (2' off the wall for both, but one sits
    in the corner)
    Bass is tight and fast with no hint of boominess with the
    pannels sitting up against the walls letting the port air
    hit the pannels rather than the walls.
    The stereo image of these speakers is so good that I often
    have to get up and go over to the center channel just to
    make SURE it's not on, even though in Direct Mode it can't
    possibly be, But it sure as hell sounds like the music is
    comming from the center of my big screen......
    I know my speakers are anything but "high end" but I think
    I have put so much time into placement and tweaking it has
    paid off.. I can close my eyes and sit back and pick out
    exactly where every single person was sitting when they
    recorded Manheim SteamRoller's Christmas Extrordinare. It
    literally is that precise, depth, height and width.. Of
    course not all music is that good, it all depends on the
    quality of the recording, and most pop music well forget it....
    I was listening to Diana Krall this morning and WOW this is
    the first time I have heard her (downloaded a song off the
    net to see what all the hype was about) now I am going to
    go out today and buy her CD's! [​IMG]
    The quality of the crossover components is in question. They
    certainly are not AudioCap or Solen but they are yellow if
    that means anything... [​IMG] LOL
    I think I will stick with the 12AWG for the internal wiring
    sorry I know you're a big Cat5 supporter but I just could
    not tell any difference.
    I am going to do the packing today.. I need to get something
    to line the mid enclosures with..
    I wonder, would thick rubber matting work? Or how about some
    sort of asphalt sheets.. I don't particularly want to place
    and order to PE again for like 2 meesly sheets of VBlok
    if I can find something local [​IMG]
    Thanks for ALL the tips everyone! This forum rules because
    of the people here. [​IMG]
  14. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

    Sep 30, 2001
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    I am in the process of rewiring the XO in one of the AR9's
    right now... So I took the time to note the values of every
    component except the small polyester capacitors.
    Here are the values of the main components.
    Front of Crossover:
    Capacitor F 4.3J MT100V
    Capacitor F 40.0K MT 100V
    Capacitor F 12.0j MT 100V
    Capacitor 60 Uf 150v
    Non Inductive Resistors:
    Resistor 10w 4Rj
    Resistor 10w 4Rj
    Resistor 10w 25Rj
    I-Core Inductor:
    Back of Crossover:
    250 uf 100v
    Non Inductive Resistors:
    10w 30rj
    I-Core Inductor:
    Standard Inductor:
    And here are pictures of the XO fron and back with the
    wiring removed.
  15. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    AR skimped on the XO parts with mylar caps and Non-polar electrolytic caps. They also cheaped out on the gauge of the inductors too.

    I'd just create new XOs for each speaker based on the values for each driver segment of crossover, and then just store the original XO away in case you want to sell them later (and recoup your after-market XO investment in case you could re-use some of the parts).
  16. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

    Sep 11, 2000
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    The yellow caps are probably Bennics or something equivalent. Definitely not high end! [​IMG] And Pat's correct. They really skimped on the crossover parts.
    I'd definitely take Pat's advice and simply rebuild the crossovers on separate boards and save the existing ones for when you decide to upgrade the speakers all together.
  17. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

    Sep 30, 2001
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    Please.... Like anything in a $500.00 pair of speakers is
    high end? LOL
    Well it took me all day to rewire all of the speakers and
    pack the cabinent with polly fill (yeah I didn't get the
    other one done...) But I am listening to them and the one
    I tweaked has much better midrange since I properly stuffed
    all of the enclosures, I'm sure the wiring didn't hurt
    The nice thing is that I do have all of the values for
    every inductor, resistor and capacitor so yes I can place
    and order to Parts express [​IMG]
  18. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

    Sep 30, 2001
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    I can't see a point in building new boards since I am
    keeping these speakers for Home Theater anyway, for that
    purpose they will always be more than good enough.

    Since I am building my own speakers for 2 channel and I am
    not getting rid of the 9's I might as well just unsolder
    all of the components and reuse the boards (plus it makes
    it easier for an idiot like me....)

    What should I replace those little blue polyester caps
    with? The same type as the larger ones?
    And can I replace the inductors with Alpha Cores rather
    than wire wound on bobbin jobs? And what about that I-Core?

    Fun fun fun...

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