Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s

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Tyson

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Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« on: 11 Jan 2022, 04:16 am »
Background
I am an inveterate upgrader of gear.  I tend to buy the very best basic design I can find and then upgrade it with premium parts throughout in order to really let that particular design shine.  I do it with DAC’s, Preamps, Amps, Music Servers and Speakers.  Nothing escapes my soldering iron!  :thumb: :lol:

In that light, I thought I would take apart my X3’s and get some upgrades done.  Obviously at this point in my life, I’ve taken apart (and built from scratch) a lot of speakers.  So taking them apart should be no problem, right?  WRONG!  Man, these speakers are tricky as hell.  I tried and tried but never could get them apart.  So I called Clayton to see what could be done.

During the call, it became clear that the best way to go about upgrading the crossover parts and the wiring was to simply create an external crossover with the new parts and unhook the existing wiring from the exposed backs of the midrange and tweeter.  Ah, that I can do!  Now I just need a schematic so I know the value of the parts to order.  Which Clayton was kind enough to provide.

Warnings and Caveats
I’ve done upgrades like this a LOT, so I am very comfortable doing this type of work.  If you are not, then I recommend NOT doing any of this as there is definitely risk that you can screw something up and cause damage.  And if you cause damage, well you already voided your warranty, so caveat emptor! 

The midrange driver is very easy to disconnect and re-wire because it’s just a clip on connection.  But the tweeter is a different story.  The wires are direct soldered.  And not only that they are encased in plastic, so if you use too much heat for too long, they will turn loose and float because the plastic will melt.  YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

I should also note that the parts Clayton uses in the original crossover in the speaker are already excellent.  No need for anyone to upgrade them, unless they are crazy.  I, of course, am crazy.

Reasons for Doing the Upgrade
If you read my review of the X3’s, you know they are world class speakers, one of the top 10 speakers I’ve ever heard.  The problem is that the speakers that I have in the #2 spot actually sit in my basement in my downstairs system, the GR Research Super 7’s.  The X3’s get compared to them in my mind, pretty much every time I listen to them.  Which is not fair because the Super 7’s are in a better room and they already have super-premium crossover parts and wiring. 

Thus, the crossover upgrades and re-wiring of the X3’s are my way of leveling the playing field so I can actually get a fair comparison between the 2 speakers.

Upgrade Strategy
I will be doing the upgrade in 3 stages. 

First, I will make both caps for the midrange and the tweeter Vcap ODAMs.  In the original crossover, only the tweeter has an ODAM.  And I’ll be changing out the existing Dueland hookup wire for the VH Audio OCC pure copper hookup wire.  I’ll be upgrading the existing air core inductor to a UPOCC foil/wax inductor by Jantzen.  And last but not least I’ll be updating the Mills resistor with a pure copper Path Audio resistor. 

I’ll listen to it like that for a while and get a feel for the speaker before making any other changes.

Second, I will bypass the midrange cap with a Duelund copper film capacitor and bypass the tweeter cap with a Duelund copper film capacitor.

I’ll listen to this for a while to get an idea of the overall sound quality.

Third, I’ll remove the Duelund copper bypass caps and replace them with Duelund silver film bypass caps.  And I’ll also remove the VH Audio UPOCC copper hookup wire and replace it with Nimak pure silver dead annealed wire hand-polished with beeswax.

I’ll let this run for a while and then decide if I like the all copper or the all-silver with the X3’s.  Should be fun!!
« Last Edit: 11 Jan 2022, 05:52 am by Tyson »

Tyson

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #1 on: 11 Jan 2022, 04:16 am »
Detailed Instructions for Those That Want to do This
I'd recommend calling Clayton to discuss it before making any of these changes.  He can provide you with a schematic so you know specifically what parts to order and how to wire them up.  What that said, here's what I bought (below).

Here's a link to the UPOCC wire from VH Audio that I used:

https://www.vhaudio.com/unicrystal-occ-copper-wire.html

Here's a link to the Jantzen pure copper foil wax/paper inductors:

https://www.parts-express.com/Jantzen-8375-1.2mH-14-AWG-Copper-Foil-Wax-Coil-255-565

Here's a link to the Vcap ODAM capacitors:

https://www.vhaudio.com/v-cap.html#vcap-odam

Here's a link to the Path Audio pure copper resistors:

https://www.partsconnexion.com/PATH-77846.html

Here's a link to the Duelund copper foil bypass caps:

https://www.partsconnexion.com/DUELUND-86921.html

And for later on, here's the silver wire and bypass caps I'll be using after I get done experimenting with the copper stuff above.  First is the Duelund Silver foil bypass capacitor:

https://www.partsconnexion.com/DUELUND-87178.html

Here's the Nimak dead annealed pure silver wire with beeswax polish hookup wire:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/123738204587

Initial Setup

Here's the initial setup, I've not done a neat job with it because I'll be rewiring a bunch of stuff and swapping out several parts before I tidy up the work and make it look nice:








« Last Edit: 11 Jan 2022, 04:37 pm by Tyson »

Tyson

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #2 on: 11 Jan 2022, 04:46 am »
Initial Listening Impressions

So I got all the parts wired up about a week ago, along with the new copper hookup wire.  Well there was good news and bad news.  The good news is that overall clarity, detail, microdynamics and macrodynamics all improved by a fair bit.  The bad news is that the Vcap ODAMs sounded weird.  Like almost 'out of phase' type of weird.  So when a piano note was struck, it would get propelled from the speaker in to the room with a very weird 'bloom'.  I can't really describe it better than that.  But if you heard it in real life you'd recognize it. This is actually not the first time I've noticed this behavior with these caps.  I ran them in a DAC and in one of my amps and they also sounded weird, until I put a bypass cap in parallel.  After a few days of burn in on my X3's, I did just that.

Adding Duelund Copper Bypass caps
I added the Duelund copper bypass caps for the mid and the tweeter ODAMs and wow, that really elevates the sound of those caps.  Don't get me wrong, the ODAMs have some great attributes on their own like really great dynamics, ultra clarity and incredible neutrality.  But what they don't have is great tone or amazing soundstaging.  Adding the Duelunds brings those qualities, in spades. 

So this is where I am right now.  Everything is still burning in.  But even now I can tell that the upgrades have taken the basic, core sound of the X3's (which I love) and elevated it.  Especially in 2 areas I felt that they really fell short of my Super 7 speakers, namely dynamic liveliness and mid/tweeter integration.  Don't get me wrong, the X3's are excellent in those areas even with the stock crossovers.  But now they are world class.  Can't wait to see how it all sounds when I move everything over to silver in the next week or 2.
« Last Edit: 11 Jan 2022, 06:02 am by Tyson »

howard1818

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #3 on: 11 Jan 2022, 02:15 pm »
You are pretty crazy but I do enjoy seeing your adventures. I have had the honor of hearing Tyson's systems and can confirm the quality and wonderful listening experience.

RonP

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #4 on: 11 Jan 2022, 02:39 pm »
You are pretty crazy but I do enjoy seeing your adventures.

+1

ric

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #5 on: 11 Jan 2022, 02:54 pm »
People may think you're crazy, but the bottom line is if it sounds better, then it sounds better! To me it makes perfect sense--you never really know what a speaker sounds like until you've upgraded it's parts--I did that with my M3Turbo S', not at the same level but HUGE improvement. I also ended up with some Duelund Silver for the tweeter.
Just don't get into tweeks, like I did, that's a whole other can of worms! Let us know what happens!

AKLegal

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #6 on: 11 Jan 2022, 03:46 pm »
Tyson, love the thread. I have my own pair of Super 7s so I am curious how the upgraded X3 will compare.


« Last Edit: 11 Jan 2022, 11:23 pm by AKLegal »

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #7 on: 11 Jan 2022, 07:06 pm »
Tyson, I am sure you know this but give the caps 150 to 500 hours to burn in.  I replaced all 12 of the PIO Jensen super pak caps in my BAT preamp with the same caps and I thought I ruined the preamp.  They finally broke in at about 150 hours.

franSSS

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #8 on: 11 Jan 2022, 07:08 pm »
Really Interesting this upgrade. I am sure many will follow it closely.

Thank you for sharing your Journey

timing3435

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #9 on: 15 Jan 2022, 09:07 pm »
Initial Listening Impressions

So I got all the parts wired up about a week ago, along with the new copper hookup wire....

Thanks for doing this. Keep the info coming.

Tyson

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #10 on: 15 Jan 2022, 09:16 pm »
You are pretty crazy but I do enjoy seeing your adventures. I have had the honor of hearing Tyson's systems and can confirm the quality and wonderful listening experience.

You'll have to come by again once the burn in is all done.  Of course, I am about to complicate things because I just bought a new piece of gear (a DHT Type 31 preamp) to go into my upstairs system.  Currently my iFi iDSD Pro tubed DAC is driving my amp directly.  It's a great DAC, but driving an amp directly is not really its strength.  It sounds much better as a plain DAC and feeding a quality preamp.  We'll see how it goes...



People may think you're crazy, but the bottom line is if it sounds better, then it sounds better! To me it makes perfect sense--you never really know what a speaker sounds like until you've upgraded it's parts--I did that with my M3Turbo S', not at the same level but HUGE improvement. I also ended up with some Duelund Silver for the tweeter.
Just don't get into tweeks, like I did, that's a whole other can of worms! Let us know what happens!

So far so good  :thumb:

Tyson, love the thread. I have my own pair of Super 7s so I am curious how the upgraded X3 will compare.

Certainly much closer now. 

Tyson, I am sure you know this but give the caps 150 to 500 hours to burn in.  I replaced all 12 of the PIO Jensen super pak caps in my BAT preamp with the same caps and I thought I ruined the preamp.  They finally broke in at about 150 hours.

It's crazy.  Some days the system sounds amazing other days it sounds distressingly bad.  Guess I just have to ride out the burn in process. 

Really Interesting this upgrade. I am sure many will follow it closely.

Thank you for sharing your Journey

Thanks for doing this. Keep the info coming.

You are both very welcome!

Desertpilot

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #11 on: 22 Jan 2022, 12:34 am »
Okay Tyson, it's been 10 days.  Either your are busy soldering everything like crazy or you are chill, drinking wine, and listening to fabulous music.

Marcus

Tyson

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #12 on: 22 Jan 2022, 06:22 pm »
Haha, you're right - time for an update.  Man, these ODAM caps take for ever to burn in.  I feel like the new crossovers have only really come in to their own over the last day or 2.  And I generally play them about 14 to 16 hours per day.  So probably 150 hours on the new crossover right now. I'm running everything through the VH Audio OCC copper hookup wire and using copper foil Duelund film caps to bypass the ODAMs on the tweeter and midrange both. 

What I can say is that the overall sound of the X3's is not fundamentally changed in any way.  The new crossover sounds pretty similar to the old crossover.  But, there have been improvements.  The slight lack of integration between the mids and highs is now fully resolved.  The slightly curtailed dynamics are now fully in the 'jackhammer' level now.  In addition, things like detail and soundstage have improved nicely.  Where before the stock crossover was a very clear window into the original recording, now it's like the window has been removed completely.

Jon L

Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #13 on: 22 Jan 2022, 07:08 pm »
No need for anyone to upgrade them, unless they are crazy.  I, of course, am crazy.

This being the case, what would be interesting is to compare the upgraded passive x-over to high-quality active crossover including room measurement and DSP correction.  :thumb:

Daryl Zero

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #14 on: 22 Jan 2022, 07:14 pm »
Sounds a bit like, with apologies to Pete Townsend, meet the new crossover, same as the old crossover.

Tyson

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #15 on: 22 Jan 2022, 07:48 pm »
This being the case, what would be interesting is to compare the upgraded passive x-over to high-quality active crossover including room measurement and DSP correction.  :thumb:

I ran a fully active setup (with room, speaker and implulse/phase correction) and realized after living with that approach for a long time, that a well done passive approach is better.  At least for me.

mick wolfe

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #16 on: 22 Jan 2022, 08:07 pm »
I ran a fully active setup (with room, speaker and implulse/phase correction) and realized after living with that approach for a long time, that a well done passive approach is better.  At least for me.

+1 for a passive approach to room treatment.

Endo2112

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #17 on: 22 Jan 2022, 08:17 pm »
I respectfully disagree, recently heard an active 2 way that blew my mind!! DSP technology is advancing every month ie. look at the capabilities on the new Minidsp Flex which has the ability to really help the tweakers move thing forward. Not trying too lick a beehive, just pointing out the fact that DSP today is not like DSP of yesterday.

Cheers,

Don

mkrawcz

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #18 on: 22 Jan 2022, 08:26 pm »
Where before the stock crossover was a very clear window into the original recording, now it's like the window has been removed completely.
This is pretty much the same thing I experienced with the ODAM/Duelund combo on my NX-Oticas and NX-Studios. I found that the Duelund bypass caps took even longer than the ODAMS to break in. Probably 300hrs. 

Daryl Zero

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Re: Tyson’s Adventures Upgrading the X3’s
« Reply #19 on: 22 Jan 2022, 09:47 pm »
I respectfully disagree, recently heard an active 2 way that blew my mind!! DSP technology is advancing every month ie. look at the capabilities on the new Minidsp Flex which has the ability to really help the tweakers move thing forward. Not trying too lick a beehive, just pointing out the fact that DSP today is not like DSP of yesterday.

Cheers,

Don

What do you mean by "yesterday?" How fast is DSP technology advancing in relation to cost?