A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos

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easystreet

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I've posted on here before but haven't really given Lou proper credit for all the musical enjoyment I've experienced since I bought a pair of Athenas in late 2011. Almost five years and three upgrades to the Athenas later, I am still pleased as punch with these speakers. In those intervening five years, I've changed almost every other aspect of the system.

My Athenas reside in my living room in a 1923 Seattle Craftsman home. The living room is 21 feet by 13 feet by eight and a half feet, with a large five foot opening to the dining room along one sidewall and another opening to the entryway at the back of the room. There are many windows so the room leaks quite a bit of bass. But it sounds surprisingly alive and good. I use four (removable) fiberglass acoustical panels (two behind the speakers and one at the first reflection point for each speaker) and a bass trap/diffusor in one corner. Here are some photos:


























The photos don't really do Lou's speakers justice. You have to see them in person. About four weeks ago I drove from Seattle to Ferndale (about two hours) and dropped off the speakers so Lou could install the new woofers he came out with last year and the associated crossover changes. When I picked up the speakers after a day of bicycling, Lou gave me a bottle of speaker finish and gave me instructions on how to apply it. It was fun to provide a little labor myself and, I must say, the speakers look stunningly new and lustrous. A friend dropped by yesterday for a listening session and marveled at the difference the new finish made to the speakers' appearance.

Rather than go into the details of my system, you can find a comprehensive list of my gear here:

http://www.head-fi.org/u/125015/shuttlepod

A few points that may be of interest to Daedalus owners:

1) Listening chair and speaker placement:  Speakers are placed well out from the short front wall with the center back of each speaker 56.25 inches from the front wall. Speakers are placed 87.25 inches apart from tweeter to tweeter. Distance from each of my ears to the corresponding tweeter is 105 inches (to within .25 inch). With regard to toe-in, the speakers are firing just outside my shoulders. The listening chair (i.e., my ears) is placed about 64% of the distance from the front wall to the back wall. I am fortunate to have an understanding spouse who will tolerate speakers well out into the room and a listening chair that can remain in the middle of the room for longish periods of time. When we need to present the living room for company, I just remove the acoustical panels, and rearrange the listening chair and coffee table to look like a normal living room. If we really need space in the living room for a party or event (maybe a couple times a year), then I move the speakers out of the room.

2) Stillpoints under speakers:  I have eight Ultra SS footers under my speakers and these are screwed directly into Lou's inserts. This represents an investment of $2000 but, in my opinion, has paid great dividends. The floor beneath my speakers is a suspended oak floor that has quite a bit of give. Without resonance control, it can act as a giant tympanic resonator. Improvements with the Stillpoints include much greater focus, precision, detail retrieval, and lack of smearing. The Stillpoints themselves rest on IKEA bamboo cutting boards. This seems to provide an ideal interface for the Stillpoints and is aesthetically pleasing. The footprint of the cutting boards also tend to keep feet away from the speakers.

3) Speaker cable:  A couple years ago, when I switched from Shindo tube amps to a solid state Crayon integrated, I auditioned a number of cables, including full looms of top of the line Audience, Wywires, and High Fidelity Cables (not HFC's top of the line, which is uber-expensive). For speaker cables, Lou's speaker cable, designed by himself and manufactured by WyWires, easily beat them all. The synergy of this wire with the wire in Lou's speakers is something to behold.

4) Woofer upgrade:  While not as large an improvement as Lou's earlier upgrades, the woofer upgrade is well worth the money. Interestingly, the most significant improvement I hear is to the midrange. Basically, I hear less distortion, which means that vocals are more intelligible and instruments are more separated. The midrange improvement is not unexpected as the bass-to-midrange crossover is completely new. I don't necessarily hear more bass, but I do hear firmer, less distorted, more tuneful bass. We can count our lucky stars that Lou has continually improved his speakers in very tangible ways and offered very reasonably priced upgrade paths.

I think it speaks volumes that I have had no serious urge to upgrade speakers during a time when almost everything else in my system has undergone a LOT of change. I have spent considerably more on both my analog and digital front ends than on my Athenas, but I feel that the Athenas are revealing all the upstream changes in their full glory.

If anyone lives near Seattle or is visiting and is interested in hearing Lou's speakers in a real world setup, feel free to contact me.

Jon





 

nocrapman

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Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #1 on: 2 Sep 2016, 06:58 pm »
That's a beautiful setup, some serious gear and a very inviting room!

So these speakers are made of solid hardwood?
I love the rounded dovetails!
I wonder how he controls for wood movement and resonance?

aldcoll

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Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #2 on: 2 Sep 2016, 07:12 pm »
Solid hard wood over a 3/4 birch inner with hard wood bracing.  My small Pans weigh in at 50 pounds plus.

Alan

nocrapman

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Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #3 on: 2 Sep 2016, 07:23 pm »
That's awesome....

jonbee

Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #4 on: 2 Sep 2016, 07:24 pm »
I've heard this system many times. Hearing these Athenas the very first time years ago convinced me I needed a pair of Daedalus'. Jon gets real magic out of them, in a room which would seem unlikely.
I miss my DA-RMa v2s. Daedalus speakers present recordings as if they were living musicians. I never really figured out how Lou does that. It is subtle but unmistakable.
« Last Edit: 2 Sep 2016, 09:29 pm by jonbee »

aldcoll

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Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #5 on: 2 Sep 2016, 07:24 pm »
That's awesome....

That's what they sound like also

easystreet

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Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #6 on: 2 Sep 2016, 11:21 pm »
That's a beautiful setup, some serious gear and a very inviting room!

So these speakers are made of solid hardwood?
I love the rounded dovetails!
I wonder how he controls for wood movement and resonance?

Yes, solid and extremely beautiful hardwood with a nice range of choices. The hardwood itself is extremely stiff and the cabinets are very well-braced. Because this type of hardwood is so difficult to work with, you just don't see other speakers like this. Extremely good value from both a sonic and aesthetic standpoint.

audioguy213

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Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #7 on: 2 Sep 2016, 11:28 pm »
beautiful!

dodgealum

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Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #8 on: 7 Sep 2016, 04:16 pm »
Hey thanks so much for sharing. My wife and I are also fans of the Craftsman style and Lou's speakers beautifully compliment our home furnishings. Lou built a very special pair of DA-1.1s for me when they were first introduced, crafting them out of quarter sawn white oak to match our Stickley furniture. He liked the grain structure so much he added it to his line up of wood finishes! Since then I have sent my DA-1.1's back to Ferndale twice for various upgrades that have significantly refined an already great sounding speaker. Thanks for the feedback on the new woofer upgrade--that is the one that Lou has yet to do on my speakers but I am hoping we can arrange that someday so that I am able to enjoy his latest thinking on speaker design. Mine has also been a love affair with these speakers. I owned countless other brands over the years and it was not until I met Lou and acquired a pair of his creations that I knew my search was over. Daedalus speakers are end of the line speakers. I NEVER wonder what I might be missing with another brand and ALWAYS leave my listening sessions with renewed admiration for Lou's work and that of the musicians his speakers bring into the room.

Phil A

Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #9 on: 7 Sep 2016, 05:03 pm »
Great looking setup!

kenreau

Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #10 on: 7 Sep 2016, 05:49 pm »
Beautiful room and kit.  Admiring the room, I really like the violet colored sofa.  What can you tell me about the sofa? Manufacturer, etc.  We just moved into a 1913 Craftsman home and starting to furnish it.



Hey thanks so much for sharing. My wife and I are also fans of the Craftsman style and Lou's speakers beautifully compliment our home furnishings. Lou built a very special pair of DA-1.1s for me when they were first introduced, crafting them out of quarter sawn white oak to match our Stickley furniture. He liked the grain structure so much he added it to his line up of wood finishes! Since then I have sent my DA-1.1's back to Ferndale twice for various upgrades that have significantly refined an already great sounding speaker. Thanks for the feedback on the new woofer upgrade--that is the one that Lou has yet to do on my speakers but I am hoping we can arrange that someday so that I am able to enjoy his latest thinking on speaker design. Mine has also been a love affair with these speakers. I owned countless other brands over the years and it was not until I met Lou and acquired a pair of his creations that I knew my search was over. Daedalus speakers are end of the line speakers. I NEVER wonder what I might be missing with another brand and ALWAYS leave my listening sessions with renewed admiration for Lou's work and that of the musicians his speakers bring into the room.

vinyl_lady

Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #11 on: 7 Sep 2016, 08:01 pm »
Hey thanks so much for sharing. My wife and I are also fans of the Craftsman style and Lou's speakers beautifully compliment our home furnishings. Lou built a very special pair of DA-1.1s for me when they were first introduced, crafting them out of quarter sawn white oak to match our Stickley furniture. He liked the grain structure so much he added it to his line up of wood finishes! Since then I have sent my DA-1.1's back to Ferndale twice for various upgrades that have significantly refined an already great sounding speaker. Thanks for the feedback on the new woofer upgrade--that is the one that Lou has yet to do on my speakers but I am hoping we can arrange that someday so that I am able to enjoy his latest thinking on speaker design. Mine has also been a love affair with these speakers. I owned countless other brands over the years and it was not until I met Lou and acquired a pair of his creations that I knew my search was over. Daedalus speakers are end of the line speakers. I NEVER wonder what I might be missing with another brand and ALWAYS leave my listening sessions with renewed admiration for Lou's work and that of the musicians his speakers bring into the room.

Mark,

I highly recommend the woofer upgrade!

Best,

Laura

easystreet

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Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #12 on: 8 Sep 2016, 03:46 am »
Beautiful room and kit.  Admiring the room, I really like the violet colored sofa.  What can you tell me about the sofa? Manufacturer, etc.  We just moved into a 1913 Craftsman home and starting to furnish it.

Hi Kenreau--

We bought the sofa at an import furniture store that was located on Western Ave. in downtown Seattle somewhere around Madison and Marion. I'm pretty sure it's not there anymore ((I just spent some time trying to locate it on the internet to no avail) and it was a one-of-a-kind store, so I don't think you'll find it somewhere else.

I'm traveling for the next few weeks so I can't look and see if I can find a tag or name on the sofa itself. If I remember when I get back, I'll check.

Daedalus Audio

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Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #13 on: 9 Sep 2016, 09:19 pm »
Thanks much for all the kind words!!! :D  Makes the work worthwhile :thumb:

Great pics and house!

btw, we are running the first batch of the DiD for speakers, I may send a set down to see what you think?



easystreet

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Re: A Belated Appreciation of my Daedalus Athenas with Photos
« Reply #14 on: 23 Sep 2016, 02:20 am »
Thanks much for all the kind words!!! :D  Makes the work worthwhile :thumb:

Great pics and house!

btw, we are running the first batch of the DiD for speakers, I may send a set down to see what you think?

Lou--

So sorry for the late reply -- we just got back from a 3000-mile, two week plus trip to the canyon country of Utah and the Sawtooth wilderness Idaho. Lots of biking and hiking.

Of course you can send me a set of the DiDs for speakers -- I'd love to hear what they can do.