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Author Topic: Decided to have active speakers built............  (Read 9953 times)

Michael Hynes

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Decided to have active speakers built............
« on: June 04, 2011, 09:02:00 am »

Well for fun I figured I would share my speaker project with the mastering cats on this forum........
I have been a producer engineer for the better part of two decades and with my recent move
to Asheville NC my services have somehow morphed into Mastering. After doing some work for several
regional clients there is now demand but my speakers as you may imagine are more suited to mixing.
(Sonics by Jochim Gerheart Anima + HSU sub....
I started to check some of the classic units used by the top folks such as Dunlevy, B&W, ect.ect.
To bottom line this for y'all I heard Jim Wilson's Legend active system with the DEQX processor and have
never experienced resolution such as this. I felt like I had found my speaker system accept for the fact
that the system retails for about 3O K with all the components. What does a guy do for 7K?     quasi - DIY!

I contacted several speaker designers with my system specs and goals and settled on the great folks at
meniscus audio in Grand rapids to do the Build. The goals are as follows.......
A three way active system with a Deqx active crossover/processor with sealed enclosures. Flat from 25HZ to 25K , separate cabinets for the mid/Hi. In order to create my ultimate mastering towers I worked with my
designer and selected Drivers with the lowest distortion in there respective bands. I am using a RAAL OEM
ribbon for the High end, A Accuton ceramic mid and a scanspeak 12" woofer in its own enclosure. Since this
project is on a really tight budget I had to find a amp solution that had both resolution and economy. I contacted
the folks at class-d audio and contracted the construction of a custom 6 channel amp. I will use 125 watts into the Mids 125 for the Highs and about 4OO watts into the woofers. For the DEQX unit the top of the line processor is about 4K putting me way over my budget so I sourced a OEM module in Canada and am having it put in a generic rack case for less than 2.......

I will post pictures as the components come together.....

For now here is a picture of the amp that has just been shipped + a picture a unit with similar drivers for the tops. Also a picture of the basic vibe of what the stack will look like.

Best,

Michael
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SafeandSoundMastering

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2011, 06:25:13 am »

Interesting project, it would put the willies up me to not be able to hear a system before I plonked big wonga on it. Braver than me.
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Michael Hynes

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2011, 02:28:57 pm »

Yeah It could be scary but we are using the DEQX system which is quite remarkable...
It time aligns the drivers,corrects frequency response, group delay ect. ect. If i want to revoice
the system I can have my designer do this remotely based on measurements. The amp build
came out amazing by the way! I just hooked it up to my Sonics and it kills the Parasound Halo
I replaced it with. Deeper soundstage, much better control over low frequency response and very
clear mids. The hi-end is frankly easer to listen to...
So far so good.

Best,

M
 
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ggidluck

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2011, 01:11:18 pm »

Michael,
Lots of good ideas there. Thanks for posting the info.
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Michael Hynes

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2011, 01:34:35 pm »

Thanks!

I feel there are some things going on in the DEQX world that are revolutionary in its implications
for engineers. Upon researching Mastering solutions I found quite a bit of Audiophile mysticism in
regard to the superiority of passive crossovers and class A amps but the proof is in the Puddin....
I heard things in two Deqx based systems that I did not hear on any normal system + the new Class-d audio amp sounds like it cost 1OK.
If the project succeeds I will have a system that outperforms most traditional rigs at  a fraction of the cost, If I fail I will have a new home stereo  ;)   
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turtlerock

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2011, 11:14:09 pm »

hi michael
i feel like i am   2 or 3 years ahead of you on the same project
things i have discovered ...
is it has been twice as hard and three times as expensive as i thought  :(

to do it right you will need 2 if not 3  DEQX units .
when you get into the nitty gritty of trying to make it perfect you will need to run seperate mastering  grade DA convertors out of the DEQX ...so start saving
i have been using custom made  DEQX units with digital outs added  i am not sure if that is a current product though ?

my setup is  yet to be finished  to my satisfaction  i will post up plenty of promo shots if it ever is !

but it runs  2x 18" aura 2x15" JBL 4 x 6" scanspeak releators and a pair of scan speak revelator tweeters
i tried a bunch of  $$  custom ribbons  but it just  wasn't working for me  i hope you have more luck

all this in seperate custom boxes  for each driver in monolithic  doublewalled  designs which of coarse   makes  the whole unit is completely   unmanagable by even two people  !

I  also have  two sets of custum super  omni tweeters one pair of which is quite spectatular
but added them has made the budget quite embarrasing for something that was meant to be a sane thing

 So i would suggest when you get there ( super tweeters )  .. dont 

I hope that helps

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Michael Hynes

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2011, 08:18:14 am »

Wow........

That is a giant system!
Are you designing this your self? It seems like a larger undertaking than my modest system.
Anyway after hearing Larry Owens in Colorado set up the DEQX I am confident that he can bail
me out if needed. Also If I need I can have the stock boards upgraded with some better components.
Since I am just running a simple three way I am unsure how I would need more than 1 DEQX?  The speaker designers have been at it for 2O years so they are unlikely to send me a final design that doesn't smoke. ;)
At the end of the day if the DEQX'S D/A'S are not at the level of my ULN-8s I believe the benefits of
of the active corrected design will fix more problems than it creates. Thanks for sharing your experience
and I wish you luck with your system and look forward to pictures!
 
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turtlerock

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2011, 11:01:47 am »

i have been working with a bunch of very clever people on these speakers
i am now on my second set of very clever people :)
the real issue i have had was matching bottom end to the room
the midrange and top was much easier (once i gave the ribbons away )
we had done 3 sets of bass boxes  then we got notice  we had to move the studio 
so i am currently building the new place 
i hope the last set of boxes is the last we make !

i think the deqx system is brilliant , i would  have liked to be able to work the lake system
as i think its probably a bit better  but i couldn't drive it

i have learnt so much about speakers but i dont think we had cracked it  when we closed down the old place
Its a tough thing to do i reckon  but your on a winning idea i think 
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KAyo

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2011, 11:44:52 pm »

Yeah.. Thanks Michael, for putting us through the paces here.
After reading here, I went on to further investigate the Tikandi & DEQX system. It gets some serious rap there. Especially the guys from Boulder Co. Wow!
On top of me dream list of speaker set-ups now..

Thanks again for evoking the topic.
KAyo
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Michael Hynes

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2011, 09:06:24 am »

When I went out to Boulder to hear the system Jim told me that after hearing the Legend system
that his Dunlevy's sounded Mid-fi! I must say again that this represents the state of the art in
my opinion. As for my rig I am mounting the OEM DEQX boards in a chassie this week and then
shipping off to the Cats for crossover design. I should have this system in room by early August
for my launch. Other Data points for the system are as such. Cables by DH Labs, Metric Halo ULN-8s
for AD/DA, Buzz Audio REQ 2.2 Mastering EQ, Foote P3S ME Edition comp and maybe a BAX EQ. Computer
for the system is a 3Ghz 8 core macpro with a dualcore laptop running the DEQX. Nearfield monitoring
will be Sonics Anima's, A single Aventone for mono and a JBL onstage for lowfi check. Bye the way
y'all really should check out the Class D Audio guy's if you need an amp! The 6 channel amp is all
burnt in and is among the nicest amps I have used at any price. I am not sure how they do it but the
this unit is head and shoulders above the Parasound I was using.
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KAyo

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2011, 01:06:10 am »

That sounds like another wonderful room, on its way.
Keep us posted and some pics of the room is mandatory. 8)

Goodluck.

KAyo
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SafeandSoundMastering

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2011, 06:56:00 am »

Certainly respectable, you are in nuts deep man.

I could not go that far in, I am pretty happy with monitoring arrangements here but
I can respect someone who is going to the Nth degree to get what they want and need.

I am glad to have the understanding the the PMC IB1 are defiicient in a number of areas cause that makes my mastering work better. They are good, but not that good.

You really could blow a mortgages worth of money on the ultimate loud speaker systems.

Good luck, may the force be with you. ;)
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Michael Hynes

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2011, 10:39:59 am »

Thanks Bro.......

I just want a system that is a great microscope while sounding great. (It is not too much to ask for  ;)
Also I have owned so many speakers in the last 18 years that I am ready for something radical.
The DEQX with great drivers and great crossover design is like nothing I have heard before. You can perceive room problems
with such ease and listening to mixes is so revealing that theoretically there will be much less revision needed on a technical level.
I should have my Buzz Req 2.2 this week so the fun is starting!

I keep y'all posted
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Michael Hynes

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UPDATE....
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2011, 04:38:59 pm »

I am near completion of the mounting of the OEM DEQX boards and power supply in the Rack case.
Just have to tie in the IEC socket and the power supply then connect a ribbon cable and test.
Wish me luck! Once this is completed the unit and 6 channel amp will ship to my designer for
crossover and tweaking. I should have a system with 3 or 4 weeks.

Here are some pictures of the progress.

Best,

Michael
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Michael Hynes

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Update 2....
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2011, 06:09:53 pm »

If anyone is interested I have finished the DEQX build and sent the amp and crossover to the
designer. The measurements will start on monday and now this beast is out of my hands!
The system is going to be sick! I'll have some pictures soon from the builders of the units themselves.
I think my Buzz rec 2.2 MP should be done around the same time  8)

Best,

Michael
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Michael Hynes

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Update 3....
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2011, 08:35:30 am »

Here is a shot of a stack waiting for calibration.....
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mpdonahue

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2011, 08:49:41 pm »

Michael,
I have to say that your build looks great.
I was just taking a look at your DEQX and was wondering- With all the space in your chassis, did you consider using a linear supply as opposed to the switcher? Obviously it is a mixed signal board but I assume that there are independent 12v or 15v bipolar supplies for the analog audio.
Just wondering.
All the best,
-mark
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Michael Hynes

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Switching Power supply..
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2011, 10:03:30 pm »

According to the guys I got the OEM boards from The linear supply was tested and created a "minute
Psychoacoustic difference but not subjectively superior"
I am going to see how the rig sounds stock and if need be I will do component level upgrades and possibly
the digital board option. So in the later case AES into the DEQX then digital board out to the UNL-8.
If all goes well with plan A I will Aes out from the ULN and come out of the DEQX into my power amp.
The Boards are technically the same as the $4K version so those units are well thought of in Audiophile
circles....

Well will see!
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KAyo

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2011, 12:41:01 am »

Yeah Michael,

That looks beautiful and solid.
Ribbon tweeters and all.. nice!

KAyo
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Michael Hynes

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2011, 07:04:41 am »

Thanks Kayo!

The ribbons are RAAL Oem's which are the flattest tweeter my designer has measured.
They are supposed to disappear in use.

M
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KAyo

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2011, 12:20:05 am »

I bet..
Big fan of the ribbons. They really do diminish overall listening fatigue from experience.
This system is going to have a nice sound I bet with a lower cost on the whole.

Wish, I could hear it.. For you, it’s time to enjoy after all the hard work and waiting.

Ciao’
KAyo
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Michael Hynes

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2011, 07:23:17 am »

I have never been drawn to Ribbons before finding these units so this will be new for me.
The Guy who designed my small monitors is quite a genius in the speaker design world
and when he heard the RAAL ribbons he had an epiphany of sorts. I believe he was quoted as
saying something like the tweeters sound like music and nothing more. As for how the ribbons measure
it is as accurate a tweeter as one can find this side of a diamond unit. The combination of the Accuton
ceramic mid and this tweet should be quite a microscope. This system and the Buzz REQ-2.2 should be
in at around the same time so its christmas time here in Asheville!
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Michael Hynes

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The Speakers are done!
« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2011, 03:47:09 pm »

My project is done and the rig is going on a pallet on monday...
I will report when the units arrive.

M
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Michael Hynes

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Here is the calibrated profile of system performance
« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2011, 03:56:21 pm »

The shot in the last post was testing in the listening room but the profile was taken in the lab.
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Michael Hynes

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There done!
« Reply #24 on: August 31, 2011, 07:21:03 pm »

Got the monitors set up today and simply turned it on and listened to some mixes and records.
Wow.....
The system is very revealing...
Never, save the time I heard a DEQX system in Boulder has a set of speakers shown the flaws in
program material so brutally! If the MIX is lovely, Angels sing but if there are technical inequities
they are obvious. Subjectively  more detail than the B&W's and Dunlevy's I have heard before. 
Now the fun starts as I can hear things in the room that need attention + I have to delve into
the room correction measurements.

The bottom line is I am very satisfied with the rig!

I will be back with pictures and more data after I room correct..

M
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lowland

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #25 on: September 01, 2011, 03:36:10 am »

Congrats Michael, I'm watching this with great interest. Have you really been able to do it for $7k, or has 'budget creep' occurred?

It appears there's never been a better time to get 'bang per buck' with speakers - I heard a prototype set of the Unity Audio Boulder actives (Tim De Pavaracini amps) the other day, which to my ears were suitable for mastering. They should sell at £4,300 + VAT, also about $7k according to Google's currency converter.

http://www.unityaudioproducts.co.uk/boulder.php
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Michael Hynes

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #26 on: September 01, 2011, 09:58:16 am »

Hey Nigel,

I stayed below 7k actually but I put 5 months of leg work in on this! The units I have are proof of concept
but my intention was to create a system that is at the cutting edge of technology but did not have some
of the audiophile esthetics that drive the price mile high. The more I listened last night I must say these
units function in a much more refined manner than almost any monitor I can recall. The Low end is
quick and extended easy into the twenties with room gain, the mids are holographic and the tweeters are invisible and non fatiguing. The mid and high drivers are found in systems that cost ten to fifty K and the 12 integrates very well and functionally replaces the need for a sub at least for my workflow. Thanks to Chad at Meniscus for a killer invisible crossover and his partner Mark for great build. Stay tuned for pictures in room and the possibility of a limited number of turnkey systems in the future. (they came out so good I may have to share!

Best,

Michael
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lowland

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Re: Decided to have active speakers built............
« Reply #27 on: September 01, 2011, 12:36:44 pm »

Stay tuned for pictures in room and the possibility of a limited number of turnkey systems in the future. (they came out so good I may have to share!

Will look forward to it.
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Nigel Palmer
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Michael Hynes

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Wow..
« Reply #28 on: September 03, 2011, 12:00:42 am »

After many hours with these speakers I am actually shocked how good they are......
I was expecting very functional for the budget but I think we have landed on something special.
The last full range speakers I had in the shop was the Barefoot mm 27s but this is a whole
other animal in terms of resolution. Even before room correction I am hearing deeper into recordings
than I can ever remember and without fatigue. The Raal OEM tweeters don't sound like transducers the
music just floats and with the ceramic mids the presentation is holographic. I checked translation on a
master and was very pleased
with the result.

More to come after room correction.......









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