Welcome to Audio Innovation. A truly one-of-a-kind speaker
resource center. A web site by the fanatics - for the fanatics.
Within these pages you'll find a vast amount of information to
quench your thirst for designing & building loudspeakers. I've
gathered as much useful information as I have been able to find
over the years and long with my own experience and knowledge and
compiled it here on this web site. My personal audio craze began
over 15 years ago when I built my first pair of mini two-ways.
The drive to build nicer and better-sounding speakers has only
escalated since and I have no plans for giving it up any time
soon. I have a passion for music, audio, Home Theater and most
of all - I just love building speakers.
There's nothing like being able to listen to a lifetime of great
music after having spent just a few months in the garage working on
a new sub or a pair of speakers. This
site is dedicated to all those who consider themselves (to steal a
phrase from Parasound) - literally obsessed with sound, to those of
you who stay up late at night envisioning new and innovative
subwoofer and speaker designs - and to those who are just starting
out in the world of DIY loudspeakers. I hope you find all the
answers to the questions you have and that your minds be enlightened and
opened up to the never-ending possibilities in loudspeaker design.
The Audio Innovation Blog
May 24th 2008 - My Home Theater is Finally Complete!
After 3-1/2 years in the new house, I finally finished
all the projects which would make up my home theater. Okay, well
it's more like a living room theater, but just the same. The only
speaker I didn't rebuild is the center channel, for now. But every
other speaker started from scratch and is brand new. Starting with
the new two-way bookshelf speakers modeled after Parts Express's Encore
speakers which utilize an RS-150 6" woofer and RS28A tweeter. These
speakers sound so great and take up very little room. They offer big
sound in a small package and I am very delighted with their performance.
You can read more about them here.
I finally got around to installed a new pair of Dayton
ES series 6-1/2" surround sound speakers. I haven't had surround
sound for so long, I forgot what it sounded like. The first few
movies I caught myself peaking out the back window wondering why it
suddenly started raining. So for the most part, they add enough
realism to movies to really bring in the action.
You can read about the whole
installation of these speakers on my blog.
I also finished building a new subwoofer using an
Audiopulse EPIC 12" driver. The sub sits in a modest 95L box tuned
to 22Hz but man oh man does it sound awesome. It was designed to be
integrated into the new entertainment center that I recently built.
It's hidden away and offers some great LFE for just about every movie.
It can produce some great bass into the high teens and sounds amazing.
I couldn't be more happy with it Click
here to read all about it.
And last but not least is the entire entertainment
center that houses all these new speakers. I thought building
speakers was hard enough, building this beast really took its toll.
But it was definitely worth it.
You can read more about the
entertainment center build here,
And that's about it. I'd say the first half of
2008 has been a productive one. I still have to get the new 1TB HTPC
up and running, but that's a topic for another day. On a more
personal note, my wife and I are expecting our 3rd child in August.
So that's always exciting. Until then, please click on the links to
some of the projects I've been working on and as always, feel free to
email me with any comments or questions! Thanks. -DM
March 2nd 2008 - Sealed TC Sounds TC-3000 Subwoofer
with PE's HPSA1000 Plate Amp
Here's my first sub
project for '08! It's TC-3000 sub mounted in a 100L sealed
enclosure with a Parts Express HPSA1000 amplifier. Click on the
picture below for more details. This sub rocks the house and looks
good doing it.
July 19th, 2007 - Got Some New Measurement Equipment -
Behringer ECM8000 and Xenyx Mixer
In my quest
to understand designing, building and testing loudspeakers better, I
bought a Behringer ECM8000 Omnidirectional Measurement Microphone and a
Xenyx 802 Mixer. They arrived today from
Parts Express and I've been
having some fun measuring my two-way monitor speakers in my living room.
If it weren't for the huge thunderstorm that passed over tonight, I would
have done these measurements outside. I've actually had more fun
trying to mic my piano so I could get some decent recordings of me
playing. The ECM8000 definitely sounds better than my old PC mic,
and a lot better than my old EV voice mic. If my piano only sounded
better and didn't squeak so much. Soon to come will be outside
measurements on several more of my other speakers I've built in the past,
as well as some FR plots of the Dayton RS1505 6" woofer and RS28A tweeter
which will be going into a new 3-way speaker design that's in the works.
Here's some pics!
The first plot of my Monitor
W625X Speakers measured at 10" from baffle and 34" from floor w/1/3
July 8th, 2007 - The Completion of the Dayton-Morel MTM
Home Theater Speaker System
We just finished a
set of MTM speakers for my friend's basement home theater. Click on
the picture below for more details.
- 7" Dayton Aluminum Woofers
- 1" Morel MDT-20 Tweeters
- MTM configuration
- Left/Right Speakers in a 1.52 cu.ft. box tuned to 34
Hz with 3" x 7-3/4" port
- Center Channel Speaker sealed box 0.88 cu.ft.
- 18dB/octave crossover at about 1.9kHz
- Cabinets mounted into wall
March 2, 2007 - 2nd Time FR Plot Looks Better
I ran another sweep of my Reference
10" sub and this time I got much more reasonable results. I'm
not sure what I did differently, but the measured response follows the
modeled response much more closely now, and is much more believable.
All in all it still looks very good though. There isn't a nice flat
region anywhere in the response, but it's only down 3dB out at 30Hz and
with the help of the low-pass filter in the amp, I can keep the upper
response from getting out of control. Without the low-pass filter
the response above 70Hz would most likely continue to rise therefore
creating a higher apparent f3, or 3dB down relative to some higher point
on the graph. You can see the 12dB high-pass filter kicking in from
the amp as well which accounts for the sharper roll-off below 20Hz.
I also did an in-room response first with the meter in
front of the TV and then again at the listening position across the room.
Even with the room modes, the sub still is pretty flat and plays plenty
low, considering its size. With some EQ'ing we could tailor out the
bumps, but since I don't have any EQ to play around with, I get to just
leave it at that. In the end it's how the sub sounds, and this sub
sounds great. I haven't listened to any music with it, but I imagine
it would be great for music too. But for movies it rumbles and
rattles the house and doesn't put a hole in your wallet. The last
graph compares the modeled response versus the measured response.
The 1dB bass boost shows up as well as the high-pass filter used to
created that boost. From here if I wanted I could start adding boost
to achieve a flatter response, but as you can see from the in-room
response, there's isn't much need for any additional bass boost. So
I'm going to leave it for now and call it done.
February 24, 2007 - Room EQ Wizard Proves to be Very
It turns out there's more than
one way to skin a cat, or rather, measure the frequency response of a
subwoofer, and the way I was doing it was definitely the hardest! I
ran across Room EQ Wizard the other night while reading in the DIY section
of www.avsforums.com and man do I feel behind the times. This software is
unbelievably easy to use and and as far as I can tell accurately measures
the in-room response of any speaker system in a matter of seconds.
So I thought I'd test it out on my latest 10" sub and see how it compared
to the plot I did a couple weeks ago. If you believe the graph, this
sub has an f3 of about 27Hz, which is hardly possible seeing as how it's a
sealed box with only 22 liters of air trapped inside. If you do
believe the graph, the response looks great, better than I could have
expected, unless of course I'm doing something wrong. But it looks
dead flat from 27Hz to 67Hz. The low-pass filter is kicking in just
about right, bringing the upper 3dB down point to around 83Hz. The
natural high-pass rolloff for a sealed box is around 12dB/octave, and the
low-pass crossover built into the sub is also a 12dB/octave design, so the
response plot essentially looks symmetric with the box response actually
looking a bit shallower than the active filtering, probably due to the
100% stuffing; about 60% fiberglass insulation and 40% polyfill. The
only thing I can figure is that the Bash amp comes default with more bass
boost than they claim, even though it says the boost resistors by default
are in the 1dB configuration. I think I located the 2 resistors
you're suppose to be able to change, but couldn't find the exact values
they referred to as being "next to the phase reversal switch". The
reference designators are covered up with the resistors installed, so you
have to start pulling them out to see if they're the right ones.
According to the chart for 1dB they should have been a 30k and 120k but
and I could only find the 30k resistor. So either I'm looking at the
wrong resistor, or the default values aren't what they say they are.
A 30k 5-band resistor should be orange-black-black- red which appears to
the resistor on the right. A 120k should be brown-red-black-orange
and that's the one I can't find. I can't see well enough to
determine the color bands on what may or may not be R25. I'm going
to pull out the amp and run a sine sweep again on just the amp with a 4
ohm resistor and see if I can plot the FR of the amp and see what the
boost looks like. If there is more boost than just the 1dB, it would
explain the flat measured response, but I'd suspect if there were more
boost, there's no way it would be dialed in just right to create this kind
of response. There should have been some peaking, or a dip in there
somewhere, and since the bass boost is just a high-pass filter, why does
the roll-off look so natural and isn't steeper? Anyway, I'm going to
look into it further, but for now here's the plot. There is no
smoothing applied. The measurement is done in the near-field, about
2" away from the driver. This is not a max SPL plot, just a simply
FR plot. I've got a pretty decent EV studio-type microphone I'm
going to test out tomorrow and see if using a real microphone instead of
the Radio Shack SPL meter yields similar results. From a subjective
point of view, this sub sounds awesome, with every movie (or even some TV
shows, like Grey's Anatomy) I've never been disappointed, this little sub
just pounds, and hits low too, it's quite surprising. Given the
low-cost and the space-saving size, I'd say it's a great compromise
between size and performance.
plot ended up being overly optimistic.
February 12, 2007 - New Speaker Stands, Frequency
Response Plots of the 10" RSS Sub and TC Sounds dB-500
Out of ease and simplicity, I've been updating my
blog with audio/video
related stuff instead of putting it here. Shame on me, I know.
But it takes so much less time to do the same thing in Wordpress than it
in Frontpage, and it actually looks better. But just to keep this
page from getting too old, I have been up to quite of bit of audio stuff
these last few weeks. First and foremost I built a totally sweet
pair of speaker stands for my
Monitor W625X speakers. I took some scrap MDF and a 10 foot 2x6,
made a few cuts, painted it all up, and voila, a perfectly good pair of
speaker stands for almost no money. And so much easier to build than
an actual pair of speakers.
Check out all the details
Second, I bought a
TC Sounds DB-500 12"
subwoofer. They were doing a blowout sale for only $75 and I
couldn't resist. Although not their most impressive driver, it has a
stamped steal basket, and an odd-looking one at that, but the rest of the
driver is top-notch, all TC- Sounds, hand-built, and ready to rock.
This sub models some amazing bass in a 3.7 cu.ft. box tuned to 21Hz.
I'm going to drop a 500W Bash amp on the back of it and have some fun.
Stay tuned for that project in the following months.
Third, I found my Radio Shack SPL meter so I finally got
a chance to do some in-room
far-field and near-field response plots of the 22L 10" RSS sealed sub
I built for my dad a couple months ago. This sub looks completely
barebone with it's raw MDF finish, but it sounds quite impressive, touting
a nearly flat in-room response down to 26Hz. The near-field response
looked almost identical to the predicted response, but the gain from my
living proved to be more than a bargain boosting the low end by several
dB. It certainly sounds pretty decent. Of course a better sub
whose natural response is flat to 20Hz would sound even better, I tend
to forget to consider room gain when building subs, but it makes a big
January 13, 2007 - The DIY Bug has Kicked In Again - New
Reference MTM Planned
Okay, the DIY speaker
building bug has kicked in again and I find myself designing another set
of speakers for no other reason than, well, just because it's fun. I
bought a pair of 6" Reference Series speakers from Parts Express almost 9
months ago along with a pair of the Reference 1" Dome Tweeters with the
intent of refinishing an old pair of speakers. Due to lack of
excitement in such a project, the speakers still sit in their boxes.
What fun is finishing an old pair of tiny bookshelf speakers, when I can
start from scratch and build something new, something I'll really enjoy
design, building and listening to.
So this is the plan, I'm going to pick up another pair
of 6" Dayton reference speakers and do an MTM floorstanding speaker,
similar to my Swans M3 with the 3/4" rounds down the front, with a thin
face, small footprint, and nice and tall. I'd like to do a nice dark
wood finish on the entire cabinet (no black paint like I've been doing
recently). I'm thinking about throwing the port in the back and
getting a pair of really nice brushed nickel bi-amp binding post style
terminals. The drivers will be flush-mounted with some overhang of
the drivers on the tweeter. As the plan unfolds, I'll go into more
detail, but for now it looks like I'll be looking at a box that's about
36x8x10 (HWD) for about 1.1 cu.ft of volume and tuning the box to 48 Hz
with a 3" port that is 6" long. This results in an f3 of 47Hz, but
with the dual 6" drivers we'll have an super-efficient speaker system that
will be able to play loud and distortion free, thanks to all the great
design features of Dayton's reference series speakers.
December 29, 2006 - Dayton RSS 10" High-Fidelity Sealed
I finally got cracking on this
subwoofer project that began almost 10 months ago, and wouldn't you know
that I almost finished it today. With the exception of the finish, I
started out with a scrap piece of 3/4" MDF and tonight I was listening to
it. The basics of the sub are:
Dayton RSS265HF-4 10" High Fidelity Sub powered by a 300W Bash plate
amp and mounted in a tiny 22L box built from 3/4" MDF and stuffed with
R-19 insulation and polyfill. This sub is about as simple as they
come. The plan (maybe) is to incorporate some active EQ via the
tweakable resistors on the Bash amp. For now the amp is in the stock
configuration, which I think is no boost, however we can dial in up to as
much as 5dB anywhere from 20-40Hz or so. Depending on how it sounds
right now, we may not use the boost. Even though it can improve the
low-end frequency response of the sub, or at least make it appear as
though the sub has more low end performance, it does this at the cost of
lots more excursion and lots more power from the amp, both of which may
have a tendency to run out of during heavy action while watching movies.
The result is clipping amps and popping subs, both of which we don't want.
Without any bass boost the sub models well in Unibox and
shows it well within the limits of the 14mm excursion all the way down to
10Hz at 300W input power (chalk one up for sealed boxes).
Unfortunately the F3 of the box is only 42Hz, not much sub in the
subwoofer there, but even at 30Hz we're still able to get over 101dB out
of this little puppy, which is pretty impressive considering the size.
The Qtc of the box is designed to be an eve 0.7 which is typically
considered optimum. Some people choose to overdamp and shoot for Qtc
< 0.7 (bigger box) or underdamp and shoot for Qtc > 0.7 (smaller box, but
most people only do this for car subs where space is an issue, and even
then really high Qtc numbers are still undesirable). Any size box
other than one with a Qtc of 0.7 will suffer a higher f3, therefore is
makes sense to go with 0.7 if the size of the box works out for your
application, and in our case it was a good fit. A ported box was a
bit on the large side for our room, requiring almost three times the
volume, but the payoff would have been an impressive 108dB at 26Hz and an
f3 of 22Hz (even lower if tuned lower). Basically the RS line of
subs from Parts Express can do some damage, even this little 10" in the
right size ported box. But I'm willing to bet that they can do some
damage in a small sealed box as well, which is what we're about to find
For now it's 11 o'clock at night and I haven't got a
chance to really listen to it at all, other than power it up and watch the
intro to Toy Story II, while trying not to wake up the sleeping kids.
Tomorrow will be the official break-in day. Until then, here's the pics,
from beginning to bumping.
Dayton RSS10-22 Sealed Subwofer with 300W Bash Amp
July 14th, 2006 - The Titanic 12" End Table Subwoofer
Project is About to Begin
So it's time to
design a decent sub in my family room theater and unlike any of the other
subs I've built, this one is actually going to be designed first as a
piece of furniture, namely an end table. We got our new sectional a
few months back and we have no end tables on either side, something most
people put next to their sofa/couch with a lamp and a picture on top.
End tables cost quite a bit of money, so do subwoofers, but by combining
the two I can save some money and have a fun project to work on (along
with all my others).
The great thing about designing a subwoofer as a end
table is you have almost more cubic volume than you need. I could
almost build an decent sized ported sub for a 15" woofer without it being
overwhelmingly huge as an end table. End tables after all are quite
large by nature. The one I've designed won't be that big, because
first off I don't want one that big and secondly, I'd like to just use a
good 12" sub since it should have plenty of bass for my room.
I modeled up the Titanic 12" MKIII in Unibox and came up
with a pretty good design that's nearly 90 liters and tuned to 21Hz
yielding a staggering F3 of 19Hz with a maximum SPL of 110dB at 22Hz with
500 watts in. The only downside to the design so far is I'll be
using one 4" port, so the port noise is going to be way up there at
anything above 200W, Unibox tells me it's "way above the red" and I need a
larger port. Which is true, a 4" port will probably be too small,
but it only needs to be 21" long to tune my box to 21Hz. Using a 4"
PVC pipe it only takes up 333 cu. in. of internal volume. It will
still need an elbow however, since the longest side on my box will only be
23". By contrast, using (2) 4" ports, the length would double for
each port therefore taking up 4X as much internal volume and requiring at
least one more elbow per port. Or using (1) 6" port takes up even
more volume requiring 50" in total length for a 21Hz tuning frequency.
A 5" port would be somewhere in the middle, but I have yet to find a piece
of 5" PVC that I can readily buy. But I may have to look into it.
I remember only seeing 4" and 6" that you can buy at Home Depot or Lowes.
So here's the design, the end table is nothing fancy,
just some bead board and trim on the front with an oversized table-top
piece and a fake knob or two, fake hinges, then painted and distressed
around the edges. But lurking inside will be a mind-pounding 12"
Titanic sub with a 500 watt Bash amplifier all hidden from view.
July 16th updated design: I've decided to make the
box a 1/2" wider and 1/2" deeper which gives me another 6L of volume and
allows a flatter response with a tuning of 20Hz and yields an F3 of
18.2Hz. It's amazing what half an inch can do, isn't it?
|Looks like an end table
||Flat, Smooth Response
||Excursion within limits
I forgot to change the name of the sub from MKII to MKIII, but I did
load the most recent T/S parameters from PE's site for the MKIII.
|Impedance is nominal
||Typical for a ported box
April 1st, 2006 - Speakers Have Arrived!
Speakers arrived yesterday and wow, they look unbelievable!
The RS lines are definitely some of the best speakers I've seen or used in
a long while. The cast aluminum frames are so beefy-looking and feel
super solid. The black anodized aluminum cones on the 6" and 10"
drivers look and feel amazingly tight and feel light at the same time.
I can't believe how heavy the 10" RSS sub is! I know they tell you
it weighs 18 lbs, but you don't realize how heavy 18 lbs. is till your
lugging what looks to be a relatively small sub (at only 10") out of its
box and it becomes no easy feat to accomplish. Wow is it one
sweet-looking sub. It's got all the features you want in a subwoofer
from the sewn-in speaker leads to the phat rubber surround. It looks
like it's going to be a real beast. After running some more box sims
I just love how low this sub can go in small sealed boxes and even ported
boxes that are only 1.6 cu.ft. There's a lot of options for boxes on
this one, and they all look promising. Anyway, here's some pics I
took this morning, they don't do these speakers justice, they just look
March 28th 2006 - New Projects in the Making: RS150-28A
Bookshelf Speakers and 10" RS High-Fidelity Sub
I've got an old pair of bookshelf speakers I built a few
years back using an MCM 5.25" aluminum cone woofer (cost $11) and an old
aluminum-dome tweeter (cost $8) which like a magnet has drawn the
attention of probing fingers to the point of permanent damage. Not
that I cared, the speakers were garbage from day one, but the enclosure
was nice, covered in 1/8" mahogany and stained to match some piece of
furniture I once owned. So the Extreme Makeover - Speaker Edition
has begun. I'll be taking this old tattered $38 pair of speakers and
turning them into a pair of Reference Series bookshelf speakers using
RS150S-8 6" woofer and the
RS-28A 1-1/8" aluminum dome tweeter.
I've read nothing but good things about both RS lines of
speakers from PE. While I browsed through their catalog looking for
some new speakers to put into my current bookshelf-sized cabinets, I kept
coming back to the RS line for their great specs, affordable price and
great looks. Not to mention downloadable response plots, a must for
anyone wanted to get a semi-decent crossover design. They
should arrive here this Friday, so I'll take some good close-up pics of
them and show them off. If they sound half as good as they look, I
should be in good shape.
But that's only the beginning of my spring
project, I also picked up an
RSS265HF-4 10" High Fidelity Subwoofer and a 300S Bash plate amplifier
and will be building a small sealed sub for my dad's home theater.
Details are still TBD, but I should have the sub long enough at my house
to be able to run them with the new bookshelf speakers and see how this
setup would work as a sub-satellite system. I'll probably be using
the RS150-28A's as surround sound speakers in my home theater, but I'll
design them so that they would work as just a great pair of main speakers
as well, and with the sub to go along with them, it could pose an amazing
listening experience from a fairly small package and for not a whole lot
of money. I'll start a new page dedicated to the goings-on of both
projects and keep just the short details here in my blog. Please
feel free to email me if you've got suggestions for the either the
RSS2265HF-4 10" sub or the RS150S 6" woofer or RS28A tweeter. The
plan is to be done within the next two months, so the designing phase will
be quick, and the fun phase of building will soon begin. Except in
the case of the Bookshelf Makeover, that box is almost already done!
It's going to get a new front baffle and a new paint job, but will
otherwise be the same box with a new set of drivers and crossovers.
Should be fun!
(I like the grill!)
March 20th 2006 - Some Thoughts on Different Sub Ideas
So it looks
like the Titanic vs. RSS showdown isn't going to happen after all.
Even though I would have liked to see how these two subs compared head to
head, I may end up doing a 12" Titanic in my family room theater and the
10" RSS sub for my dad. So even though I'm still going to build two
great subwoofers, it won't quite be apples to apples. My initial
thought was I wanted a small sub with a small footprint so it wouldn't
take up a ton of space in our room and boom out the sleeping kids and
nearby neighbors. That and you don't read too much about someone's
killer 10" sub, it's always a 12" or 15" home theater sub that gets most
of the attention. Well my dad can use the 10" for his small room and
will be perfectly happy, but for me I may be trying something completely
There's always the battle over a great-sounding sub and
the infamous SAF (spouse approval factor). It's been my experience
that great-sounding subs (movie-theater-bumping-rattle-your-head kind of
bass) comes from subs in big boxes and subs in big boxes have a very poor SAF. So in an effort to appease our better half, we sacrifice on the
enclosure volume and learn to live with a small +2dB hump in our response
and an f3 of only 26Hz, instead of 19Hz. It doesn't matter how many
times I show the graphs to my wife and say, "See, I need a 5 cu.ft. box and
two 6" ports sticking 4 feet out of the top to make the response look like
this!" My plea falls on deaf ears. So the compromise begins
between low f3's and high SAF's.
So last night I began looking into converting an old end
table that's sitting in our living room into a sub enclosure. It has
four legs that run the height of the end table which is 29" tall and about
16" wide x 14" deep and has one small drawer at the top about 4"
tall. I pulled the drawer out and begin inspecting this rather small
and simply-built piece of furniture and gauging how I could maintain the
same structure while reinforcing everything with 3/4" MDF and then sealing
it up completely so it didn't fall apart or rattle to pieces. I
quickly made an internal volume measurement to see what kind of sub I
might be able to put in there. After running some numbers, I came up
with a net internal volume of 2.00 cu.ft. Wow, that's a lot of room
considering up until yesterday I was going to build a sub 1/3 that
size, hence the desire to use a 10" driver. But with 2.00 cubic feet
(over 56L) to work with, I was going to have to do crunch some more TS
params and see what I could get away with. The first thing I thought
was vented 10" Titanic and ran the numbers and man, this thing would hit
deep and hard, tuned to 25Hz with a 32" long (heavily bent) 4" port we
were looking at 110dB at 24Hz before the response begins to roll off to
107dB at 21Hz. The box seemed a bit big though with the response
taking a dip in the 30-70Hz region and peaking out down lower. And
that super-long port was going to cause issues with all the elbows and the
port air speed was peaking out at whopping 35%. At least it took up
a ton of volume, which actually helped, but still it didn't seem like a
solid design. Sort of like and EBS enclosure but tuned too high.
So then I ran the TS parameters of the 12" Titanic MKIII,
since PE sells that very sub in their kit with a 2.00 cu.ft sealed box, I
thought it would be a great option for my end table subwoofer and wouldn't
cost too much more than the 10" and if I could get away with doing a
sealed box, it would not only simplify the design but it just might sound
better too. So the result is an f3 of 40Hz while hitting 105db at
26Hz. No boost, no in-room response. Xmax is exceeded beyond
25Hz at 500 watts, but may not actually be an issue in real-world
applications. Based on the graphs and numbers alone, one would be
tempted to go with the 10"vented sub over the 12" sealed sub, but my gut
tells me that the 12" sealed sub is going to actually hit harder and
deeper and sound much better than the vented 10" sub in the same box.
A 12" driver can simply move more air than a 10" sub. Here's some
quick graphs of my simulations so far.
March 18th 2006 - 10" Titanic vs. 10" RSS Subwoofer
So my dad says he wants a sub for his 5.1 theater system
(which is currently only a 5.0 system at the moment) and wants me to build
him something to suit his room. He doesn't want anything
outrageous, something small that adds a good amount of bump and rumble for
movies but is no more than about $200. Since I'm looking at about the
same thing for my home theater room, I decided this would be a good opportunity to put
two different subs to the test. The contenders are going to be
Dayton Loudspeaker's 10" Titanic III vs. the Reference Series High-Fidelity 10"
sub. Both subs will be powered by a plate amp which is still
TBD, but since we're trying to get the most watts per dollar, the BASH
amps may be considered.
A quick look at the specs shows the Titanic to have a
much stiffer suspension and higher Fs (at 28Hz) than the RS sub which
touts a resounding 22Hz resonance. Those numbers alone
indicate that a small sealed box should yield better f3 numbers for the RSS sub than the Titanic sub. Which
is exactly how they model. Given the same size box and the same
power, the RSS will have more deep bass, however the mechanical limit is
soon reached on the RSS sub when pushed beyond about 250 watts, whereas
the Titanic can still take quite a bit more.
on this analysis, if you drop a Titanic and an RSS HF into the same size
0.68 cu.ft. box and drop the same amp into each, say a 240W plate, the RS
sub will play louder and deeper than the Titanic. But if you've got
more power to spare from a 300 watt or 500 watt plate amp, then the
Titanic will beat out the RS by 3dB alone just in the fact that it can
take twice as much power. More on this later...
March 17th 2006 - Search for 10" Sub Design
The traditional way to build a subwoofer is to pick a sub,
run some simulations, design a box suited for that sub and then build it.
Then afterward you might go ahead and measure its performance and see how
close your predictions modeled the actual behavior, or you can just invite
all your friends over to watch a movie and show off how much your new
littler woofer rocks (which is probably what most of us do). I've
considered reversing the sub-building process by designing a box that
suits my room and then picking the driver which best fits it. Right
now I'm looking at a box suited for a 10" driver that is no bigger than
12"x12"x15". Ideally I'd like the box to be as small as possible,
just slightly larger than the driver and no deeper than 15", since my
Swans M3's are 15" deep, and the plan is to have the sub sitting next to
one of the Swans. Doing some quick internal volume calculations, I
can get about 0.68 cu.ft. of volume out of 3/4" MDF with a brace in the
middle minus the driver volume and the volume occupied by the plate amp.
There are three subs I'm currently looking at; Dayton Loudspeakers Titanic
MKIII, the Reference Series High Output and and the Reference Series High
Fidelity 10" subs.
After doing some quick modeling with WinISD, the RS HF
subwoofer yields the lowest F3 of all three drivers given the same box
volume. In fact the F3 was more than 10dB lower, sitting at about 45Hz,
than either the Titanic or the RS HO subwoofer whose F3's were both in the
upper 50's. Hey this is great I'm thinking, the RSS HF sub offers the deepest bass
given the volume constraint and since I'm not looking for tons of bass,
just good clean, deep bass, this sub seems to be an ideal candidate.
Till I run the numbers in UniBOX and realize that the sub is pushed beyond
its rated Xmax at anything below 40Hz at 300 watts. I have to
decrease the power to about 180 watts to keep from exceeding Xmax.
The rated Xmax of the RSS HF sub is only 14mm, more than the HO sub which
is only 12mm, but less than the Titanic which boasts the most highest Xmax
of 18.7mm. The only way to keep the RSS HF sub from exceeding Xmax
below 40Hz at 300 watts is to port the box in the low 20's and then hope
your program material doesn't drop below 20Hz, where the sub will once
again exceed Xmax. But porting the box requires a bigger box and
port the length of my living room. That's not going to work, so the
box must stay sealed, but how to I keep the driver from exceeding Xmax?
Especially when I was hoping to use the bass boost circuitry available in
most of PE's plate amps to give the low end some added bump to help
flatten the response. That will only cause the driver to reach Xmax
at much lower power levels. Sure it will have lots of deep bass, but
it won't be earth-moving amounts of bass at those frequencies, not that
I'm expecting miracles from a 10" driver, but I can't have the voice coil
slamming into the magnet every time a car blows up in a movie. The
anticipation of cracking sounds from the sub make me anxious during any
movie, just wondering if something is going to pop.
So I'm not done doing my analysis, but this is where I'm
at. I may also look at Soundsplinter's 10" drivers as well since
they are made by TC Sounds, which is one of my favorite OEM's for
high-excursion drivers. So the is goal to go low and go small
without necessarily trying to break any SPL records. I'd prefer a
small sub that can hit 20Hz at a low SPL, than one that can boom way at
40Hz till the house comes down. We'll see what I can come up with in
the next few weeks. I'm also going to start working on my new
surround sound speakers utilizing some of PE's Reference 5" drivers
mated to a pair of their Euro-style 1" soft dome tweeters. That is
if I can drag myself away from my stinking new TV!
March 16th 2006 - HD is in the House
Six words - high-definition television is absolutely
amazing. We got our new television set last week, a Sony KDF-E50A10 rear-projection
3LCD HDTV and all I can really say is this TV is brilliantly stunning. I
ordered it from Amazon about two week ago and it was delivered in pristine
condition just before the weekend. I chopped up our exiting
entertainment center (which originally fit a mere 27" TV) and built a new shelf in the bottom and houses the TV perfectly with less
than a 1" gap all the way around the set. I was so excited the day
the set was to arrive that I took half the day off work just so I could be home
when it came. I
spent the afternoon building the new entertainment center, and wouldn't
you know it arrived about 20 minutes after getting it done, well almost
still need to sand and paint it and put on the doors, but it was done
enough to put the new TV in and check it out.
I read a million reviews about this TV and I looked at
it at every store in town, but nothing could prepare me for what I was
about to experience in my own home. I mean it's one thing to walk
into a Circuit City or Best Buy and see a wall of TV's, plasmas and LCD's
that all just look amazing, it's another thing to have such a TV in your
own living room, with the lights in the house dimmed nice and low, the 5.1
system cranked up, and you sitting on the couch in your pajamas at the
perfect distance from the TV with it dead-center in front of you and
high-definition pouring out of every pixel. I didn't know what kind
of HD we'd get through the COX, but I had read that they do have a few
shows piped down the cable, one of them being CBS, so that night the first
thing we watched in HD was David Letterman. Now I've been watching
Letterman in standard-definition for years and I know exactly what
Letterman looks like on SD television and it looks the same night after
night, it looks like, well, plain-old TV. But when 10:34 rolled
around and the screen popped over to 16:9 and began displaying that
beautiful 1080i signal, my eyes about popped out of my head. I
could not believe what I was experiencing. Everything about the
picture looked amazing. The detail, the contrast, the colors, the
picture was so sharp I could make out the tiniest little details in the Ed
Sullivan Theater, how shiny the floor was, how crisp everything looked and
then when Dave walked out on the stage I thought, "He looks so old!"
I could actually see all the little wrinkles on his face, the crow's feet
around his eyes, I mean it was like he was actually standing inside this
little box in my living room. I was blown away. Completely
Anyway, we've since watched several more shows in HD and
I continue to be amazed at this incredible technology, and how well this
Sony RPT LCD displays it. Not only that but I have to say that SD
(standard-definition) also looks great on this set. I've read a lot
of reviews from people who complain endlessly at how bad SD looks on an
HDTV (DLP's mostly), and it's true SD pails in comparison, but the Sony
A10 does an remarkable job of keeping noise and pixilation to an absolute
minimum so that even NTSC material is at least watchable. I can even
watch recorded NTSC programs off my VCR and they don't look half-bad.
The DVR is the next thing I need to look into. So we watched
SCI:Miami which looked great and CSI:NY which also looked great and
tonight we watched The O.C. and The Office and E.R. Oh yeah, we
watched all those shows via OTA HD (over-the-air high-definition). I
40" UHF boom antenna from Radio Shack
and installed it in the
attic only a few hours ago. Actually the term "installed" would be an
overstatement, I more like stuck in the attic, pointed it towards the
mountains (pretty much north for where I'm at) and went back into the
house and hit Auto Program and 3 minutes later was watching HD. It
was seriously that easy Hooking up my DVD player was more
complicated (ever noticed how the green and blue component cables look a
lot alike where there's little-to-no lighting?)
Which brings me to DVD's - my wife and I have watched
one movie so far and the kids have watched just about everything we own such as The Incredibles, My Little Ponies, Lady and the
Tramp and just about everything else. The girls love the "new big
TV", it's all they want to do is watch movies on it. DVD's also
look amazing on this TV. I've got an old Sony 480i DVD player, one
that cost $350 back in the day just because it had component video out
(component is old-school, where's the HDMI?) but nonetheless DVD's look
brilliant. The picture is so clear, the images are vivid and
despite what people say about poor blacks on LCD's, the TV still looks
amazing and with the Dynamic Iris, it really does a great job of making
the blacks look black. We don't watch a lot of dark movies
typically, and most of the kid's movies are pretty bright, happy shows, so
even if the blacks are better on other sets, I'd never notice it or
complain about it. The silk-screen effect (SSE) has taken some
getting used to, I used to see it all over the set, now I don't notice it
at all. My brain is slowly tuning it out. And at 15 feet away,
there is no visible screen-door effect (SDE) either. Chalk one up
I can't forget to mention the best part about this set -
hooking up my newly built HTCP, or as I prefer to call it, the Media PC. This
TV displays a 1280 x 720 computer image with perfection. Even though
I've got a 1" black border around the image still (I've got Powerstrip
installed, just haven't tweaked with it yet) the picture looks flawless.
Text is easily readable and movies play just as good as those from my
stand-alone DVD player. The Sony actually complains about
incompatible signal unless I set the resolution for 1280x768, which seems
odd as that's not the native resolution of the LCDs', but whatever makes
the set happy. I installed a farley cheap heatsink-only graphics card and
100-ohm resistors inline with +12VDC on the CPU fan to slow
that thing down to an absolute minimum, just enough to keep the CPU at a
decent temp. A Rosewell PSU supplies power to the system and has a
super-quiet automatic-controlled fan which is barely audible. So now the Media PC is only slightly louder than the
fan in the Sony TV, which BTW, is extremely quiet, I never even notice it,
again some people complain about being able to hear it, obviously those
people don't have kids. For anyone whose used to noises of all kinds
in their house, won't be bothered by the super-quiet fan at the back of
the set. With the TV volume even on low, the fan sound disappears.
Overall I am loving my new HDTV. Each new HD program
offers a visual experience that rivals actually being part of the action.
Now it's time to get the subwoofer designed and built, but so many choices
in that area, it might take me a while to decide exactly what I want to
RG-6's and a CAT-5
Cable/Antenna Jacks and RJ-45 Jack
||The Media PC
in the Making
|Flipped the Room - Now
on the Other Wall
||Close-up Shot HT
||Antenna in the Attic
Picks up all the HD
March 5th 2006 - They're
After almost 6 years since I started
these speakers, they are finally done! Talk about never finding the
time to build speakers, I never found the time with these until just this
year. I'm very happy with the way they turned out, even though the
finish is far from perfect, they look great to me. One of these days
I'm going to learn how to stain and how to apply varnish and how to wait
for it to dry, but until then I'll always put the emphasis on how well
they sound not so much how well they look. I haven't
listened to them yet today, I auditioned them a few weeks ago and tested
out the crossovers, so hopefully tomorrow I'll get to run through some
CD's and really see how they sound. Check out the latest pictures
below. I plan on picking up a pair of high-mass metal speaker stands
from Parts Express within the next few weeks so these babies will have
some place to go. Wow, I can't believe they are finally complete!
I hope it never takes me this long to finish a project again. And
speaking of projects, I need to start working on my new surround sound
speakers for the family room. I would use these, but I'm afraid they
are far too nice and their sonic purity would be lost on simple surround
sound effects, or something like that. Honestly though, I just need
a small pair of bookshelf speakers for my surrounds, and I think I have
just the idea. Stay tuned, more info will follow.
March 5th 2006 - Nearing Completion of Hi-Vi/Vifa
I'm down to the last couple coats of
polyurethane and my new two-speakers will be complete! I stained the
speakers using Minwax American Walnut, which is a water-based stain, and
it turned out exactly the darkness that I was shooting for after three
coats. This is the first time I tried using a water-based stain, but
they didn't have a color that was dark enough in the regular stain so I
figured I'd try it out. I prepared the wood with Minwax Pre-Stain
Conditioner to prevent uneven spots in the stain. I think it worked
out well. I've been bit before by not treating the wood and had the
stain just get soaked up in some spots and not in others, it drives me
crazy. Hopefully I'll be able to get the drivers in later today and
listen to them again. I may end up using these for either the main
speakers with my new 50" Sony LCD in the home theater or as the surrounds.
I may also make a dedicated 2-channel listening room in the living room.
The stain matches all the dark wood theme in that room (side table, piano,
bookcase, so they will blend in nicely sitting on either side of our
upright piano. I'd just have no way of playing them in there, they'd
simply be furniture until I got an amp or something, or wired the stereo
in the family room over to them. There's lots of options, so I may
see where they will get used the best, and where they will look the best.
Until then, here's the latest pics.
February 28th 2006 - Sony
KDF-E50A10 Coming My Way!
As fun as it is to
research out HDTV's endlessly, there comes a point when you just have to
make a decision and run with it. I may have been committed from the
beginning, but I couldn't find a set that looked better, offered more
features and was a better price than the Sony. One factor, which
probably wouldn't apply to most people, was the physical size of the set
had to be somewhere between 46" and 49" wide so that it would fit
perfectly in my entertainment center (not too much gap around the edges
and not so big that it wouldn't fit at all). There actually aren't a
lot of sets that fall into that dimensional category. Had I not
found a set that I liked, I may have scrapped the entertainment idea all
together and just got a stand. But since the Sony fit, and the Sony
looked amazing compared to almost every other set I looked at, and in my
book you can't go wring with a Sony display (but a pair of Sony speakers
I can do without!), I decided to go ahead and get it. We'll see if I
don't regret that decision once I get this thing in the house, but I'm
hoping I'm not as picky as I think I am when it comes to my TV and DVD
viewing experiences. I hope I can just sit back, pop in a movie, make
some popcorn and enjoy. Unfortunately I have a feeling I'll be
critiquing and tweaking the TV all through the first few movies, most
likely to my wife's discontent. Here's my pros and cons list for the
Sony KDF-E50A10 and my main reasons for liking this set (in no particular
- Perfect physical size to fit in my current
entertainment center (with some modifications)
- Crystal-clear picture (of HD images anyway, I have
yet to see SD on this set)
- High-contrast picture with bright, realistic,
- Excellent overall picture quality with minimal
artifacts or weird visual effects
- Very good darks (for an LCD, if only my 23" LCD in
the master suite was as good)
- No rainbows around high-contrast moving objects
- Sony brand reputation (Sony makes some of the best
- Matches the rest of my all-Sony Home Theater (Sony
receiver, VCR, DVD, CD player, tape deck.)
- CableCard (for $1.99 a month I can get HD through
Cox, no antenna required)
- Wide Viewing angle 160º
(my main reason for disliking CRT-based HDTV's)
- Built-in ATSC tuner (HD tuner)
- Thin black bezel with clean sleek look (no speakers
on the sides or at the bottom)
- Screen-door effect is minimal beyond 8 feet (at 15
feet to my sofa, it's a non-issue)
- HDMI input (too bad it just has one, time to pick up
a Denon w/HDMI switching)
- PC Input via 15-pin VGA (I've got my budget HTPC all
ready to go)
- For the price, you really get a lot of great features
(Wega, DCR, 3LCD technology, etc.)
- Currently rated the #2 rear-projection HDTV from
ConsumerReports.org (the #1 is a Sanyo??)
I suppose I can't really do a cons list until I
get the set, since the only cons I know of at this point are what
I've read from other people. So if I get a lot of dead pixels
or blue blobs I may comment on those. I'm hoping that my set
already has the updated firmware, because I don't want to go through
the hassle of that with a brand new set. It seems like it
shouldn't be that big of a deal, I have to update software or
firmware on my computer all the time from the BIOS in my mobo to my
LinkSys router. So we'll just have to see. For now I
need to figure out how to chop up my entertainment center which was
designed for a 27" TV to fit this massive 50"er. I think all I
need is my saw and a Saturday afternoon. In addition, I have
to run an RG-6 and CAT-5 down the wall where the new TV is going, on
the other side of the room from where the current TV is.
Everything gets a 180 when the new 3-piece sectional arrives a few
weeks after the new Sony. Now I just have to figure out what
kind of sub I want to build! That's where this is going to get
interesting. So far I'm trying to decide between doing a 10"
Titanic III with a 250 watt plate amp in a small sealed box painted
and stained to match my Swans M3's or doing a 15" Titanic III with a
1200 watt Crown amp and external active crossover. The one may
not be enough to satisfy my need-for-bass , and the other my wife
will hate. So it's really a toss-up - happy wife or more bass?
I guess I can't complain too much, after all, she did let me get the
February 26th 2006 - The HDTV Quest Continues
I went to Costco, Best Buy and Circuit City yesterday to
look at HDTV's. I realized that the Sony KDF-E50A10 at Costco
actually comes with the stand, which I really don't want. So even
though the price is really good, it's not as cheap as it is at Amazon.
I wish there was some way I could pick it up from Costco w/o the stand.
It's a $349 stand they're practically throwing in for free (compared with
BB and CC) but if they sold the TV alone I'm sure it would be right at
$2K, which is exactly what I'd like to spend. After looking at TV's
all morning long till my eyes couldn't take anymore, I've decided I really
like the Sony RPT 3LCD set. At BB, they had 6 sets in a 2x3 matrix
along the back wall so you could see all 6 sets relatively well from one
spot. They had the 60" Sony SXRD, an older 55" Sony LCD, the 50"
Sony A10, and a Magnavox DLP, an RCA DLP, and a Mitsubish DLP (I can't
remember all the model numbers). By far the worst-looking set was
the Magnavox. It just didn't know what to do with moving objects,
the screen was just chalk-full of artifacts around anything that moved.
It had horrible color banding as well. I'm not sure if there is a
technical term for this, but any kind of soft gradient color, like a dark
blue sky going to a lighter sky, was broken down into displaying just two
or three colors of sky. You could see where the one color ended,
which was half the sky, and where the other color started, which was the
other half of the sky. It looked absolutely ridiculous. It may
be an artifact of having so many TV's hooked up, or really long component
cables, because the RCA set had the same phenomena. I've actually
seen it quite a bit on many HDVT's in various different stores.
(UPDATE: So I read up about this and they call it false contouring,
when you see color in very distinct bands or segmented artificially across
Another example of banding (false contouring) is when they show the side of
someone's face, there cheek an cheekbone look completely unnatural in that
there are only two colors that make up their cheek. It could be a
setting on the TV, it's like the color just gets washed out past a certain
brightness level and everything just goes flat. Whatever it was,
none of the Sony sets exhibited this, nor did the Mitsubishi set.
The best-looking picture had by of any of the sets was from the Sony SXRD.
Having 1080 lines of vertical resolution makes a huge difference, even
when displaying content that I'm pretty sure was just 720P (or 1080i)
which is typical for what they show in stores. But images on the
SXRD had no visible pixilation even from a foot away from the set and
colors and images just blended perfectly together. But the A10
wasn't far behind. From 1 foot away of course you get the screen
door effect (SDE) big time, but in my family room the average viewing
distance from the sofa will be about 15 feet, which is plenty for a
50"LCD, I don't expect to have any issues with SDE. To me SDE isn't
really noticeable beyond about 6 feet from the TV. My daughters will
probably end up sitting closer, as they like to lie on the floor right in
front of the TV and watch their movies, but I doubt my 3 year-old will
care too much about SDE. But you know what she does care about?
When her movies skips! That always makes her mad.
Anyway, I've been reading all I can over at AVSforum.com,
they've got official threads for owner's of all the many displays
available where people who have the TV's can talk about them,
and the thread for the Sony KDF-E50A10 is about 170 pages long at 60
posts per page, so needless to say I've been doing a lot of reading.
For the most part it seems like everyone whose bought this TV really
enjoys it. People comment about everything from stuck/dead pixels,
the firmware update, and red push to lamp life, fan volume, color
uniformity and blue blobs. With new technology comes a few caveats,
and you're either willing to live with them, given the price you pay, or
you're not. To some people the weak speakers in the TV are a real
concern, but for me I will never even use the internal TV speakers.
I have the 5.1system going all the time, no matter what the program
material. My center channel speaker, with real drivers, and a real
crossover, and damping material, and 3/4" MDF, will sound better than any
3" full-range driver in a plastic box any day of the week.
What no one has commented on (that I have found) is what I can only
describe as "sparkly whites". Any program material showing whites
have a sparkle to them, they sparkle every color of the rainbow. For
example with this years winter Olympics, there's a lot of snow, and the
snow sparkles, like the pixels are dancing, or changing color rapidly.
Sort of like when you clean your TV or monitor with a damp cloth, and
before you've completely wiped it clean, where it's still wet, you have a
rainbow/sparkle from the light diffracting through the moisture on the
screen. I've seen it in the Sony, and I saw it horribly bad on a
Samsung DLP, to the point that I couldn't even watch the TV, it was so
annoying. Maybe it's a setting? Maybe it's the way it's hooked
up in the store? I don't know what it is, and I'm not talking about
the rainbow effect from DLP's, I'm talking about stationary whites just
dancing, flickering, fluttering, whatever you want to call it. I
find it terribly distracting. My Samsung 930b monitor I'm looking at
right now doesn't do it, my 23" LCD flat panel in the bedroom doesn't do
it, and my 27" Panasonic CRT doesn't do it either. I need to look at
this TV a few more times before I settle on it. So far however,
nothing else has caught my eye as looking better, given the price.
Even the Panasonic 3LCD TV's look terrible. At CC they had the Sony
next to a Panasonic and it was night and day, the Sony was brighter, the
picture was sharper, the color was deeper, I mean everything about the
Sony set looked better. And I'm a big Panasonic fan. The most
obvious answer is the TV isn't calibrated or even set up right for that
matter. But what else do I have to compare? If they can't make
the all sets look good in the store, then the guys who set them up
shouldn't be working there, or they should bring in a guy to calibrate
them every so often. It just makes sense from a business point of
February 20th 2006 - Painting My Speakers
I put on
the first two coats of flat black enamel today. Actually I put on
the first coat last night and did the second coat today. I sanded
with 400 grit sandpaper between coats and will probably do two more coats
before I'm done. I need to buy a better paint brush though before I
do any more coats at all, the brush I have is getting thrashed, and it's
leaving too many brush strokes. Not that a few brush strokes are
bad, since I'm not trying to do the super-deep piano black look, I've
tried that before and it's just beyond my skill level as far as finishing
wood goes. But I do want the black to look smooth and even.
After two more coats, making 4 total, it should look good enough and be
ready for the final topcoat of clear polyurethane. I think
I'll wait till after I've stained the sides though and do the whole box at
once thus integrating where the black meets the stain under one seamless
|Sanded 1st Coat
||Sanded 1st Coat
February 19th 2006 - Masking the Oak Sides of My
Speakers for Primer
the oak sides of my W625X speakers in
preparation for the first coat of primer and lacquer. I used that
blue 3M tape you use for masking the edges of your walls in the house for
painting since it sticks really well and doesn't allow any bleeding, as
long as the surface is smooth. I finished sanding down the boxes
yesterday so they are nice and smooth and ready for the finish. In
the past I have stained the box first by masking off the black lacquer
part first, and then after staining masking the stained part to do the
black part, as with my center channel speaker,
but I decided to do it the other way around this time and see if I can't
get the stained part to turn out a little better by doing that last.
A few sheets of computer paper cover the sides of the box and prevent any
overspray from the primer from getting on the oak sides.
|3M Tape & Paper
||Ready for Lacquer
February 17th 2006 - Some Things I've Been Thinking
an hour or so in the garage today working on my
two-way speakers. I just need to sand
down the boxes with some 150 grit sandpaper and I can start to stain and
paint them. I've decided that these speakers are going to go into
the master bedroom for the main LR speakers of our Master Bedroom Theater.
That project just keeps getting put on the backburner, so far we've only
got a 23"LCD mounted to the wall with a DVD/VCR combo hooked to it.
I've got the center channel and in-ceiling surround speakers just waiting
until I find the time to get them installed. I'm planning on
building a small 8" sub as well for that room. I've got (4) 8"
woofers that I could use, I was thinking I could build some sort of
under-the-bed sub, with the 4 drivers in one big low-profile box that
could slide under the bed and provide some thump for our movies. At
least that way it's out of the way and not visible in the room.
So we've been watching the Olympics this past week and
all I can think about is why don't we have our big-screen HDTV yet?
We've decided to finally take the plunge and buy a widescreen HDTV for the
family room. For the last 5 years all we've had is a small 27"
Panasonic TV and it's time for that poor old thing to be retired. I
haven't looked at TV's in so long that I feel like I don't even know
what's good anymore, so I've basically spent the last few weeks just
reading up on all the latest HD technology and the TV's that display them.
I went to CES this year in Las Vegas and was pretty impressed by all the
new gear that's available. High Definition has never looked better
than is does on a 1080P display. Of course you pay quite a bit more for it,
and there's not a lot of support for it right now, so I'll be sticking
with a 720P/1080i display for our family room. It will already be a
huge step up from our 27" 480i TV.
It seemed as though at one time a good High Definition
CRT TV was the way to go, if you could deal with the narrow viewing angle,
the sets were cheap and provided outstanding HD quality without too much
worry as far as long-term reliability. My father-in-law bought a
Mitsubishi 65" HDTV a few years back, and even though the thing is the
size of a small automobile, the picture looks great and provides them a
trouble-free, cinematic movie experience with each rented DVD. My
biggest issue with CRT-style HD sets is they have an very narrow viewing
angle, you basically have to be sitting right on front of the TV to get
the best picture. Not to mention the weight and the size is
outrageous. To me CRT is aging technology, even the computer screen
I'm looking at right now is an LCD (I got rid of the old CRT just last
year and replaced it with a Samsung 930b) and I absolutely love how detailed, crisp, and
bright the picture looks. I'll never go back. Now I just need
two of these puppies!
Anyway, so with CRT's out of the picture, there are
several other options to go with which basically are Plasma, LCD and DLP.
I've installed Plasmas into a few homes in my day and I love the way they
look, the picture quality is great, the viewing angle is wide and the
price is coming down a lot. For our family room however, I've got an
entertainment center that I don't want to get rid of just yet and a pair
of speakers that don't exactly hang on the wall, not to mention all the
home theater equipment sitting in the entertainment center which would
need a new home if that were to disappear. We've got a small 23"
widescreen LCD mounted on the wall in our bedroom which works great.
We wanted that TV out of the way and not noticeable. But in the
family room a TV on the wall just isn't going to work out. So that
pretty much negates a Plasma, that and they are still pretty expensive,
and given an affordable price, the displays don't go much bigger than 42"
and then you've got the whole long-term reliability issue as well.
So it comes down to getting a projection TV, so it can
still go in the entertainment center, and the two most affordable and
practical technologies right now are for those is DLP and LCD, more
specifically 3LCD. I've read up on both, I've experienced both (I
was sold on DLP the first time I watched a movie on a DLP projector, it
was nothing short of amazing) but right now, from what I've seen, I'm
leaning towards getting an LCD. The unit I'm currently looking at is
the Sony KDF-E50A10 which is a 50" widescreen HDTV which uses the latest
3LCD technology. I watched this set side-by-side with a Samsung DLP
55" (I can't remember the model number) and basically found everything
people say about both technologies completely true. The DLP has a
much softer, smooth, more fluid image, and even from up close looks
absolutely great. The Sony 3LCD set looked much more detailed, the
images were sharper and more defined, the colors appeared to be brighter
and had more impact, and with HD images the Sony just looked better
overall. However, my two biggest issues with LCD technology is black
levels leave something to be desired and the screen door effect is
noticeable at any distance closer than probably 5 feet in the case with
this set. Which for most people is impossible to get past.
Something they should teach those guys at Circuit City who have all their
rear projection LCD big screen sets along one wall with another aisle no
less than 5 feet away so for any given TV you look at, you can't get more
than 5 feet away from them. I had to walk around into the next aisle
and looking over a bunch of other TV sets just to get a reasonable
distance away to enjoy any of the LCD sets. Not only that but
comparing a bunch of LCD's made by Sony, Panasonic, and Samsung don't
really tell you much since to me they all looked the same. Why not
through in a few DLP's in the mix so you can see the two technologies side
So what about the downsides to the DLP? It depends
on whether or not you can get past the infamous rainbow effect. As
long as no one points it out to you, you'll probably never notice it, and
with the color wheels sporting more colors and spinning 4X as fast, the
effect has been reduced over the years, but for me it still sticks out
like a sore thumb and is a major negative in my book. It's just such
an unnatural phenomenon, it's like your eyes are playing tricks on you,
and you can't figure out if you're seeing things or hallucinating or
what's going on. At least with the screen door I can understand it,
my brain can see it, and my eyes just tune it out. But that rainbow
effect drives me buggy.
Screen door and rainbow
effects aside, the Sony does a great job of incorporating 3LCD into an
affordable HDTV. They've got a special Iris control which is suppose
to help with the black levels, and by using 3LCD technology, the colors
and picture quality are on par if not better than competing technologies.
So for now it's the set that I'm looking at getting. We're still a
few weeks away from buying anything, so I'll keep my eyes and ears open
towards other options, but for now I'm loving that Sony. And hey
it's a Sony, all my other HT gear is Sony, and honestly I believe that
Sony make some of the best displays available anywhere.
June 12th 2005 - Starting to Think About a Home Theater in the Bedroom
The beginnings of our Master
Bedroom Home Theater - and it all starts will a sweet widescreen 23"
LCD HDTV that we just picked up. Originally we had
purchased a ProView HV-175 LCD TV but
after setting it up and watchign a few movies we decided it was just
too small and we wanted something bigger and
Soon to follow will be the 5.1 surround sound system consisting of a
set of matching front main 2-way
Vifa speakers and MTM-style center channel,
in-ceiling surround sound speakers, and a sweet little dual
8"subwoofer with a
10" passive radiator. It's the DIY Home Theater for Your
Master Bedroom on a Budget Project. Can't wait to get started!
June 2nd 2005 - This Web Site Gets
Audio Innovation gets a makeover!
I've finally updated the look and feel of this web site after almost 5 years of
it looking pretty much the same. I guess you could say that along with
speaker building, designing web sites is another hobby of mine. There's
less sweat and tears involved with sitting at the computer. Especially
when it's a 115 degrees outside. So a long with the new site, I plan to
add some new content as well. Such as Dan's Album Picks of the Month.
Each month, or so, I'm going to pick a new CD that's I've bought recently and do
short review on it. Most of my opinions will be completely biased, since I
usually only pick up CD's of bands that I actually like. But for what it's
worth, I've always been a little opinionate when it comes to music, so what
better way to express some of my views than to do a small review section on this
site. Also, I'm working on several new speaker projects (check out the
links to the left) which include a pair of 2-way studio monitor-type speakers, a
pair of computer speakers for my Baby Theater, as well an extreme makeover of a
pair of cheesy 2-way bookshelf speakers with the goal to make something great
for use in the master bedroom. And later on down the road, we've got a
sweet new 10" or 12" subwoofer for my home theater to design, build, and
install. So that's the update from me. Hopefully I'll be able to
dedicate a lot more time to my passion for audio, DIY, and loudspeakers over the
next few years. So if you'd like, take a seat and click around Audio
Innovation at your leisure. And thanks again for stopping by!
Sept 27th 2003
Where do the years keep going? This site is now 3-1/2
years old and not much has changed since I last updated it nearly two years ago.
Anyone care to venture a guess as to the most popular page within this site?
Subwoofer Theories continues to get the most hits
and is linked to by the most web sites. I never thought it would contain
such popular information. I've decided to jump back into speaker building
again this year, and finish building my Monitor 690's. Only now they're
going to be called the W625X's - W6 woofers and DX25 tweeters in a compact
bookshelf-style speaker. I've been wanting to finish up these speakers for
a very long time, and just haven't had any time to do it. My wife and I
have a daughter now who is 8 months old and the joy of our lives. I think
it's about time to build those grills for my Swans speakers, before the dust
caps get all poked in! I'm planning on hitting CES this year for sure and
hope to get to check out all the latest and greatest innovations in audio since
the last time I went. Maybe I'll see you there?
July 16th 2002
I can't believe another year has
slipped past. The news is this - www.audioinnovation.com
has now become www.danmarx.org/audioinnovation. The
old domain name will no longer work and this site will experience bugs and broken
links for a while till I get everything moved over. I haven't had time
to mess around a whole lot with speakers and audio, but I have had time to
mess around with a few other things. Drop by www.danmarx.org
and see some of the other fun stuff I've been working on, from music, to
Honda's to R/C cars and my wife and I are having a baby. That's the
news, have a great one.
July 11th 2001 - The Swans M3 Tower Speaker Project Begins
I've officially started on my Swans
M3 tower speakers. Click here for all the
details. I also finally got set up at home with a nice fast internet
connection. So some of the pictures on my site are going to be a bit
larger than they used to be. I promise to at least keep them under
100K. But I've been using a friend's digital camera lately and I want to
suck as much resolution as possible out of each picture. Hope you enjoy!
Also check out my forth coming speaker, the
Monitor W690. Click here for details.
June 30th 2001
Check out my brand new pair of surround
sound speakers. I don't have all the production notes on their
design up just yet, but I do have lots of cool pictures showing their
March 13th 2001
So much has happened the last few
months I don't even know where to begin. I started out the new year
heading to Las Vegas for CES. It was such a blast. We spent an
entire day at Alexis Park auditioning just about every speaker creation known
to man. After all was said and done, my ears were beat. I'd
have to say that the one pair of speakers left a real impression on my
senses were the MBL 101 D Radialstrahlers. These speakers were
nothing less than breathtaking. I was simply blown away by everything
about the way they sounded. Most incredible speaker at the whole
show. Well there were many others too, most I can't even remember
the manufacture's name. But it was certainly a great time. I'll
definitely be at the next one next year.
I just completed another 15" TC Sounds
subwoofer for a friend. This one we covered in a birch veneer, and one
day I suppose we'll get around to staining it. That is, if he can live
to be without his sub for a week straight. This sub sounds just as
amazing as the first. In room response is incredible. It hits
deep, it's powerful, it physically moves you and most of all, it just plain
I've got a small project in the works to build
one of Swans older kits the M3. Parts Express supplied me with the
drivers and Jon Wan of Ohio hooked me up with the crossovers. Hats off
to both of them, especially to Parts
Express for sending me a totally free replacement driver via FedEx.
They definitely know how to keep a customer happy. This project
information can be found by clicking here or
checking out the Future Projects link under the Projects
Now to all of you who have e-mailed me with
questions regarding Shiva's and TC-Sound's drivers, I am very sorry I have not
been able to respond to everybody. Please don't be offended. Just
realize that I am a very busy person and don't always have time to write
e-mails to answer all of your questions. Believe it or not, I get
numerous e-mails a day from people asking me very simple questions that I
believe if they just did a little bit more research, could find the answers to
on their own. I hope I'm not sounding too mean, because I know how much
I hate it when I never get a response from someone and I sit around wondering
whatever happened. Don't worry, I read your e-mail. I read them
all. And respond to the ones I feel my input will be most
valuable. I thank you for stopping by and supporting the site and hope
that the content herein is useful to you.
On a lighter note, I began doing home theater design, audio
engineering, whole house audio/video distribution, and a great deal of
installation and project management for a local home theater company. It has been a blast and has
occupied most of my time. I've also gotten quite a bit into the video
side of audio and home theater (since their is a HUGE video world out there
right next to audio). We just caught glimpse of the new Dwin
Transvision DLP Projectors and wow are those things amazing! This
projector can do almost anything and the picture quality is absolutely
stunning. And it should be, it retails at just around $12,800 yet can
blow out of the water many projectors costing twice as much. Bottom line
- I want one. I want one bad. So aside from all that, life moves
September 20th 2000
I wasn't sure where else to throw
up this picture where it could be seen, but check out Denis
Dube's Shiva/PR Subwoofer setup. I am also currently working on
various projects that are still under wraps and cannot be discussed as of
yet. But you will soon be seeing a few subs along the lines
of professional end tables as well as a couple of subs using the infamous Aura
1808 (Seismic) driver.
July 18th 2000
Added a page giving the meter
correction values for the analog SPL meter from Radio Shack. Includes a
printable text file for easy reference. Also includes a link to a post
made on the Home Theater Forum describing the procedure for
measuring a loudspeaker properly. Check it
July 8th 2000
15" Subwoofer. Check out the plans and pictures of my latest work
of art. This subwoofer is going to absolutely pound. Buckle your
seat belt before proceeding to this link...
June 29th 2000
The hottest news going around
the DIY circuit these days is the release of a variety of brand new 10",
12", and 15" Extremely High Excursion subwoofers. We're talking about
subwoofers with excursion capabilities up to 3.0 inches. Magnets
as heavy as your average 14 pound bowling ball. Surrounds that extend
nearly the entire surface of the cone. Power handling capabilities
into the megawatts. Specially designed spiders and motor structures
that can withstand 300 pounds of force. Yet the fun doesn't stop
with just the subs. There is a new line of 10", 12" and 15" Passive
Radiators up for sale with 3.75 inches of peak-to-peak excursion and are
capable of of supporting over 3,000 grams of added mass. The inventor
and co-designer of these outrageous speakers is none other than Deon Bearden
himself. Yes, the man behind The Beast. Check out The
Basszone for more information. You can also go to The
Home Theater Forum and read what's already being said about these drivers
including a post from Deon explaining how these drivers came to be.
Thanks Deon for all your hard work!
June 15th 2000
This web page is undergoing
a major change. Some of the links may be down or a few of the pages
not totally complete. Some of the older stuff will be deleted completely
to make room for all the new stuff. Let
me know what you think of the new site.
May 15th 2000
Make the famous THX introduction
the opening sound for your Windows Startup. Click
April 24th 2000
For those of you who have
been waiting patiently for the arrival of my 10" sub with 3 10" Passive
Radiators, you need not wait any longer. The tiny subs of all tiny
subs has arrived and it's punching out bass like no other. But be
for warned, this sub is having a major identity crisis - it thinks it's
a 15" woofer in a 5 cubic foot box. Click
here to find out more.
March 15th 2000
I finally got
back the pictures of my 15" Ultimate Attitude Subwoofer.
Follow the link to find out more.
Sometime in 1999
This web page is created
and hosted under the name of my high school DJ gig called Audio Innovation.
This site is intended for personal and/or private use only. All ideas,
quotes and formulas give full credit to original authors. All
other information is strictly my own. I do not claim
responsibility for personal, physical, mental psychological, and/or
financial harm done to anyone in any
way, shape, or form as a result of the publication of this site.
Site best viewed using
Netscape 4.0 or Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher with 1024x768 screen resolution or larger.
This site is
hosted by Total Choice Hosting and
maintained by Daniel Marx.