Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers

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Ric Schultz

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Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« on: 25 Aug 2016, 03:35 am »
One of the beautiful things about open baffle speakers is that the xover and speaker drivers are more accessible and therefore lend themselves to changing to upgraded parts and better execution.  Why would you want to mess with a commercial speaker?  Only if you want better sound.  All commercial speakers are made to a price point so the execution in all but the most expensive in the world is not the best it can be.  A speaker is only as good as the weakest link. The xover parts transparency and purity, the quality of wiring and the general execution are all determined by the expertise of the designer but mostly the selling price.

Please read Tyson's comments on the bottom of the last page here and also you might want to read the whole thread for more details: 
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=141060.160

Tyson and two others upgraded the $20,000 Serenity 7 speakers.  Imagine what results you will get by upgrading the parts in speakers that retail for much less.

Here are some basic guidelines:
1. Remove the xover from the main panel and mount the parts on a damped panel or in a damped box behind each speaker.  Putting the xover in the speaker makes the xover vibrate and messes up the sound.

2. Remove any wiring from inside the panels.  Running wiring inside a panel wall is not good for the sound.  Run the wires from the external xover directly in the air to the drivers (do not let the wires hang on the floor).  Use the best wire you can......I recommend VH Audio hook up wires and Neotech 14 gauge litz wire you can buy from Zenwaveaudio.  Hardwire the wires directly to the xover parts.  Do not use any connectors.  Connectors suck.

3. Use the best Inductors possible.  My current fave is 12 gauge Jantzen wax foil coils for midrange and 14 gauge for tweeters.   The outside of the foil coils should go to the driver or to ground for best sound (input to inside of the coil).

4.  Use the best Caps possible.  I like Rike, Clarity cap MR and Jupiter copper foils.....I bypass with modified Wima caps and small Jupiter copper foils.  There are a lot of other great parts too.  Duelands are really expensive but much loved.  Also I like to put a WA Quantum cap chip on the caps.  Caps should be used so the outside foil is to output or ground for best sound.

5. Use the best resistors possible.  I like damped power Caddocks bypassed by damped nude Vishay.   If you need a 4 ohm resistor then use a Caddock 4 ohm and bypass with a 30 ohm nude Vishay.  Will not change the value much.  You need to damp the resistors.....and all parts.  Lots of other great resistors too....like Dueland, etc.

6. Use the best binding posts possible.  I like my binding post bypass system and also the Nexgen WBTs are great.  You only need these on the input of the xover.

7. Damp parts.  I use cardboard underneath my xover parts for good sound and also use cardboard underneath my xover board.  Sounds really good.  Way many possibilities here.

8. Be careful how you lay out your parts.  Inductors need to be at right angles from each other or they will interact.

9. Damp any drivers that have stamped frames with constrained layer damping material.  EAR SD40AL is great for this (available from Michael Percy Audio)...not cheap but the best damping material I know of.

10. etc.


Example:  Remove the xover from the Spatial M3 Turbos and measure the values of all the parts.  Then order better parts and build your own xover and wire to drivers using push on connectors.  This way you can go back to the stock xovers any time you like to compare.  You can always put the speaker back to stock anytime and sell it if you need to.  There was one guy on this forum that said he preferred the M3 Turbo to his more expensive Zu speakers overall but the Zu speaker had more detail.  Well, that makes sense.  The Zu speakers have no xover on the main driver and just a great cap on the tweeter.  If this same guy would make his own way better xover the way I just described his M3 Turbos would have way more detail.....in fact probably more detail than the Zu speaker and even mo better in all ways as well.  Damping the stamped frames on the Spatial speakers will bring more detail and warmer sound as well.

Most people who are reading this and who also own various open baffle speakers that could be upgraded do not have the skill to do any of the above nor the inclination.  I am writing this for the one or two people who want to experiment and feel they can do it justice.  Danny's customers are more DIY oriented so makes sense that they would try these kinds of things first.  I like to let people know that there is always more......if you have the inclination and skill.  We can also encourage the designers of these kind of speakers to make upgraded external xovers and wiring as an option.  They can make more money this way, customers can get better speakers without selling their speakers and the upgraded xovers can be installed very simply by the owners.

Early B.

Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #1 on: 25 Aug 2016, 04:20 am »
Some good stuff here.  I agree -- stock crossovers are begging to be upgraded, regardless of the price of the speaker.

I modified the crossover in my OB speakers and achieved great results. Luckily, Hawthorne Audio attached the crossovers via connectors to the drivers. Yeah, directly soldered connections would be better; however, I can easily remove the entire crossover anytime I want, so that's the trade off. I started with 12 ga. Jantzen copper foils on the mids, then added a Jupiter bypass cap on the mids a few weeks later. I might bypass the highs accordingly later on. These cost effective mods provided a significant improvement in sound.     

nicoch

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 169
Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #2 on: 25 Aug 2016, 10:02 am »
we made all the point from 1985 ;)
we use external  xo in non OB too, point 6 better don't use ,solder !

YashN

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 27
Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #3 on: 14 Oct 2016, 08:25 pm »
Great tips and I agree with them. I would also add that if you're going to tinker that much (all worthwhile), you can also start building a proper multi-amping setup, with the crossover before the amps.

Early B.

Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #4 on: 15 Oct 2016, 03:00 am »
Great tips and I agree with them. I would also add that if you're going to tinker that much (all worthwhile), you can also start building a proper multi-amping setup, with the crossover before the amps.

What you're describing is a complete system overhaul costing many more thousands of dollars. The mods mentioned here are a couple hundred bucks, at most. A moderate approach to a multi-amp setup is to employ separate, dual, powered subs. That way, you get at least three amps powering your system, and if you use monoblocks, that's four amps. Some designers use multi-channel amps which doesn't make sense to me because sound quality is usually comprised.

Chicken Man

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 22
Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #5 on: 16 Oct 2016, 08:33 am »
One of the beautiful things about open baffle speakers is that the xover and speaker drivers are more accessible and therefore lend themselves to changing to upgraded parts and better execution.  Why would you want to mess with a commercial speaker?  Only if you want better sound.  All commercial speakers are made to a price point so the execution in all but the most expensive in the world is not the best it can be.  A speaker is only as good as the weakest link. The xover parts transparency and purity, the quality of wiring and the general execution are all determined by the expertise of the designer but mostly the selling price.

Please read Tyson's comments on the bottom of the last page here and also you might want to read the whole thread for more details: 
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=141060.160

Tyson and two others upgraded the $20,000 Serenity 7 speakers.  Imagine what results you will get by upgrading the parts in speakers that retail for much less.

Here are some basic guidelines:
1. Remove the xover from the main panel and mount the parts on a damped panel or in a damped box behind each speaker.  Putting the xover in the speaker makes the xover vibrate and messes up the sound.

2. Remove any wiring from inside the panels.  Running wiring inside a panel wall is not good for the sound.  Run the wires from the external xover directly in the air to the drivers (do not let the wires hang on the floor).  Use the best wire you can......I recommend VH Audio hook up wires and Neotech 14 gauge litz wire you can buy from Zenwaveaudio.  Hardwire the wires directly to the xover parts.  Do not use any connectors.  Connectors suck.

3. Use the best Inductors possible.  My current fave is 12 gauge Jantzen wax foil coils for midrange and 14 gauge for tweeters.   The outside of the foil coils should go to the driver or to ground for best sound (input to inside of the coil).

4.  Use the best Caps possible.  I like Rike, Clarity cap MR and Jupiter copper foils.....I bypass with modified Wima caps and small Jupiter copper foils.  There are a lot of other great parts too.  Duelands are really expensive but much loved.  Also I like to put a WA Quantum cap chip on the caps.  Caps should be used so the outside foil is to output or ground for best sound.

5. Use the best resistors possible.  I like damped power Caddocks bypassed by damped nude Vishay.   If you need a 4 ohm resistor then use a Caddock 4 ohm and bypass with a 30 ohm nude Vishay.  Will not change the value much.  You need to damp the resistors.....and all parts.  Lots of other great resistors too....like Dueland, etc.

6. Use the best binding posts possible.  I like my binding post bypass system and also the Nexgen WBTs are great.  You only need these on the input of the xover.

7. Damp parts.  I use cardboard underneath my xover parts for good sound and also use cardboard underneath my xover board.  Sounds really good.  Way many possibilities here.

8. Be careful how you lay out your parts.  Inductors need to be at right angles from each other or they will interact.

9. Damp any drivers that have stamped frames with constrained layer damping material.  EAR SD40AL is great for this (available from Michael Percy Audio)...not cheap but the best damping material I know of.

10. etc.


Example:  Remove the xover from the Spatial M3 Turbos and measure the values of all the parts.  Then order better parts and build your own xover and wire to drivers using push on connectors.  This way you can go back to the stock xovers any time you like to compare.  You can always put the speaker back to stock anytime and sell it if you need to.  There was one guy on this forum that said he preferred the M3 Turbo to his more expensive Zu speakers overall but the Zu speaker had more detail.  Well, that makes sense.  The Zu speakers have no xover on the main driver and just a great cap on the tweeter.  If this same guy would make his own way better xover the way I just described his M3 Turbos would have way more detail.....in fact probably more detail than the Zu speaker and even mo better in all ways as well.  Damping the stamped frames on the Spatial speakers will bring more detail and warmer sound as well.

Most people who are reading this and who also own various open baffle speakers that could be upgraded do not have the skill to do any of the above nor the inclination.  I am writing this for the one or two people who want to experiment and feel they can do it justice.  Danny's customers are more DIY oriented so makes sense that they would try these kinds of things first.  I like to let people know that there is always more......if you have the inclination and skill.  We can also encourage the designers of these kind of speakers to make upgraded external xovers and wiring as an option.  They can make more money this way, customers can get better speakers without selling their speakers and the upgraded xovers can be installed very simply by the owners.


Well, thank you for that condescending remark, I'm sure I'm not the only who objects to being thought of as being unskilled or being an ignoramus in a hobby I have pursued for 50 years. Swapping more expensive components over for cheaper ones doesn't elevate you to a position as being a discerning critic of other people's appreciation of what might sound good to them. Any numbskull can have that opinion of himself.

C.M

mcgsxr

Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #6 on: 16 Oct 2016, 12:39 pm »
Chicken Man welcome to AC.

We value lots of opinions here and I trust that you will participate and share as many do.

I am unclear why you feel Ric was singling you out when he made his comments?

If you are interested and capable of making upgrades on your own, that's great.  Not all are.  Some will pay others to do so. 

In any case, this is a big community and not all share the same direction or opinion. 
« Last Edit: 16 Oct 2016, 03:22 pm by mcgsxr »

Wind Chaser

Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #7 on: 16 Oct 2016, 03:16 pm »

Well, thank you for that condescending remark, I'm sure I'm not the only who objects to being thought of as being unskilled or being an ignoramus...

Ric wasn't condescending to you or anyone in particular. The difference between most people and all people is still some people. :wink:


Freemand

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 32
  • "To smoke is human; to smoke cigars is divine."
Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #8 on: 16 Oct 2016, 10:43 pm »

Well, thank you for that condescending remark, I'm sure I'm not the only who objects to being thought of as being unskilled or being an ignoramus in a hobby I have pursued for 50 years. Swapping more expensive components over for cheaper ones doesn't elevate you to a position as being a discerning critic of other people's appreciation of what might sound good to them. Any numbskull can have that opinion of himself.



C.M

I would say your not one of those most people Ric was talking about as it sounds like you have the skills.

I would not take it so personally!

Chicken Man

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 22
Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #9 on: 17 Oct 2016, 12:44 am »
Thank you for being so consolatory, it is that attitude of pushing expensive 'upgrades' that add little, if anything, to loudspeaker systems built by novice speaker builders.

I believe 'Ric' meant well by his post but preaching as such does not help. What does help is providing 'pinned' workable designs that are not overly expensive to reproduce.
This helps build up the knowledge base for newcomers to loudspeaker design.
 Open Baffle in particular is an art form not easily mastered and requires some guidance to get the basics right and then followed by hours of tweaking component values. Components fashioned out of exotic materials do little to help at any stage of the build.
Personally I have been visiting 'Audio Circle ' for years now without actually posting anything until recently, but I will in future, as there is a good resource of knowledge here and I would like to contribute.

Sorry 'Ric' if I bit your ear off, it's not my usual habit.

C.M

nicoch

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 169
Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #10 on: 17 Oct 2016, 08:01 am »
Thank you for being so consolatory, it is that attitude of pushing expensive 'upgrades' that add little, if anything,

Lucky we have difference opinion and consolidated experience ,good component is a must or at last must have the same quality of speakers you are using......

MJK

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 440
    • Quarter Wavelength Loudspeaker Design
Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #11 on: 17 Oct 2016, 11:10 am »
I believe 'Ric' meant well by his post but preaching as such does not help. What does help is providing 'pinned' workable designs that are not overly expensive to reproduce.
Quote
Open Baffle in particular is an art form not easily mastered and requires some guidance to get the basics right and then followed by hours of tweaking component values.

You and Ric seem to be on the same page.

OB is not an art form, it is physics. Designing an OB speaker is no more or less difficult than designing a boxed speaker. Crossover choices are the same set of challenges. You can design a dipole speaker with predictable results and choose different trade-offs to meet your desired goals. In some ways a dipole is easier to design since the acoustic issues inside the box are eliminated, one less variable.

YashN

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 27
Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #12 on: 17 Nov 2016, 08:40 pm »
What you're describing is a complete system overhaul costing many more thousands of dollars. The mods mentioned here are a couple hundred bucks, at most. A moderate approach to a multi-amp setup is to employ separate, dual, powered subs. That way, you get at least three amps powering your system

I said nothing about the cost, it's your assumption that it should cost that much, whereas it's possible to do that at a low cost.

And no, what you're proposing with two subs isn't the same thing at all. We're not counting amps here, we're connecting the amps directly to the drivers.

Tyson

Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #13 on: 17 Nov 2016, 08:57 pm »
2nd the rec for Jantzen Copper Foil/Wax/Paper inductors and Jupiter Copper Foil/Wax/Paper capacitors.  I think the 2 things that make them so great are the use of copper and their resonance control.  I also like Clarity Cap MR's if the Jupiters are too pricey.  The MR's don't use copper foil, but they do use very good resonance control (almost as good as Jupiter).  I've been running MR's in my speaker crossovers and Jupiters in my amplifier for a few months now and it's amazing sounding. 

Just ordered 2 pairs of .22 uf Jupiters to try as bypass caps on the MR's in my speaker crossovers.  Hopefully we'll have some nice synergy there.  Seriously, my crossover uses a 10uf tweeter cap and a 15uf midrange cap.  A full 10 uf and full 15 uf cap from Jupiter is EXPENSIVE.  But the tone with Jupiter is so freaking amazing.  Anyway, we'll see....

Also, since the wiring is usually exposed it's pretty easy to re-wire them with better wire.  The OCC copper wire from VH Audio is the best I've found for a reasonable price.  I think it's the use of the pure OCC copper and the use of foamed teflon.  Foamed teflon sounds a lot better than regular non-foamed teflon.  I believe it's because foam means less teflon and more air (inert gas) is in physical contact with the wire.  Plus it's super easy to work with. 

nicoch

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 169
Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #14 on: 17 Nov 2016, 09:48 pm »
try resistor ,I like kiwane better then duelund on my scanspeak

Wind Chaser

Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #15 on: 4 Mar 2017, 07:36 pm »
Does anyone else think this topic might be sticky worthy?  :D


Wind Chaser

Re: Modifiying and upgrading open baffle speakers
« Reply #16 on: 4 Mar 2017, 07:38 pm »

Wind Chaser