X-LS Encore for AWFS 2021

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Norman Tracy

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X-LS Encore for AWFS 2021
« on: 14 Jul 2021, 10:37 pm »
I have been working bringing a painting shop up the learning curve of the unique (odd, eccentric, obsessive) requirements of the High-End audio market. This shop is to be an exhibitor at the upcoming Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers® (AWFS®) show. The shop’s manager is a national expert in interior finishes using the Italian Sirca product line.  After painting the first pair of speakers for me he had the idea to make part of his AWFS show display a pair of custom finished speakers. My high regard for Danny’s work based on experiences with Michael Lundy’s builds and LSAF demos made GR the obvious go-to for a kit to act as the blank canvas. This pair of X-LS Encores is the result.



Given the purpose is to showcase various finish options I designed a system of interchangeable side panels which along with the box and baffle allow five different finishes to be displayed.



The side panels increase the width 1” (1/2” per side) so baffle and side panels receive 45 degree chamfers to minimize effect on baffle step correction due to baffle width. Of equal importance the chamfers are an interesting design element flashing the finish.



A magnetically attached grill to protect the tweeter from show goers and children of all ages poking fingers was designed and laser cut.



The front baffle features frost effect clear over Champagne gold.



The high gloss black side panels with Champagne gold baffle and matt black top are my favorite.



The red plus frost clear and metallic blue panels really pop when the light hits them at lower angles.





Photographing the deep gloss of the black side panels is a challenge. So black without reflections and it’s just a black hole. With reflections it’s “what’s that on the speaker”? We’ll play the second game.



What is that? Zoom out and let’s see.



Oh, it’s Danny showing YouTube how to build the new Mini. A video of Danny building GR Research speakers playing through GR Research speakers. A bit circular, but cool. Now for another shot of the gold/red/blue/black option.



Despite some stressful days thanks to the hard deadline of the AWFS show this was a fun project. Lessons learned will be applied perfecting the processes and build flow to offer such finishing to the hi-fi community. If you want to get in line contact Michael Lundy (mlundy57 here on AudioCircle or mlundy57@cox.net). Be realistic and aware what you see above is up to a $500 (or more if you go super fancy) up-charge for the high gloss. The materials, shop, staff, and training to achieve this level of work is not cheap. It does get the X-LS Encores looking as good as they sound.

AlexH

Re: X-LS Encore for AWFS 2021
« Reply #1 on: 15 Jul 2021, 12:24 pm »
Wow! Just Wow!

nlitworld

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Re: X-LS Encore for AWFS 2021
« Reply #2 on: 15 Jul 2021, 01:03 pm »
Gorgeous set of speakers you have there! I've often wondered why more people don't finish out their speakers with good looking automotive paint. Knowing the process involved and materials (I sell auto paint) honestly $500 is about average for a decent color and the labor behind it. Really the amount of work to make them look pro, the guy is only making $15 per hour to paint them up.

Nice work  :thumb:

hawkeyejw

Re: X-LS Encore for AWFS 2021
« Reply #3 on: 15 Jul 2021, 01:22 pm »
Beautiful work, it’s great to see this option coming online for people if they want to go high end on the finishes!

Peter J

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Re: X-LS Encore for AWFS 2021
« Reply #4 on: 15 Jul 2021, 01:58 pm »
For me, finishing is every bit as interesting as building, but then I'm kinda obsessed with the whole shebang.

So cool to see this option explored more...they look incredible. X-LS has become a kind of modern classic and makes a great place to start whether embarking on an audio journey or furniture building.


mlundy57

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Re: X-LS Encore for AWFS 2021
« Reply #5 on: 15 Jul 2021, 04:09 pm »
Gorgeous set of speakers you have there! I've often wondered why more people don't finish out their speakers with good looking automotive paint. Knowing the process involved and materials (I sell auto paint) honestly $500 is about average for a decent color and the labor behind it. Really the amount of work to make them look pro, the guy is only making $15 per hour to paint them up.

Nice work  :thumb:

As a clarification, this isn’t an automotive finish. It’s an interior finish designed for wood, especially MDF

Skilly

Re: X-LS Encore for AWFS 2021
« Reply #6 on: 18 Jul 2021, 02:27 pm »
Side panels are an interesting approach. I am wondering whether they affect the performance? Do you have a sense of change of sound when they are added? Were you concerned about resonance?

Speaker Challenged

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Re: X-LS Encore for AWFS 2021
« Reply #7 on: 19 Jul 2021, 12:01 am »
Side panels are an interesting approach. I am wondering whether they affect the performance? Do you have a sense of change of sound when they are added? Were you concerned about resonance?

I was thinking the same. Also does the tweeter cover help or hinder off axis response? Looks great for stopping children poking the soft dome. :)

Norman Tracy

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Re: X-LS Encore for AWFS 2021
« Reply #8 on: 19 Jul 2021, 10:31 pm »
Skilly and Speaker Challenged I have certainly thought about how the side panels effect performance. In an ideal world I would say the AWFS pair are the tenth pair of X-LS Encores I have built and side panels did ..this…and that…and another thing. In this real world the AWFS X-LS are the first pair I have personally built and the third of forth set I have heard. Most of the others I have heard feature upgraded crossover components, that and time between auditions invalidate any listening comments I would offer with vs. without side panels.

So into the area of design intent and theory. The primary intent was to allow more than one finish to be displayed at AWFS. After the show these X-LS will be moved to domestic use. So the wilder red/blue sides can be stored away and the elegant high gloss black panels used. But of course as audiophiles and hi-fi designers we are also interested in what sound effects are. I see these as two areas. First the change in width effect on baffle step correction, second how double thick panels might change the enclosure’s contribution to the sound.

Baffle step correction (BSC) is designed into the X-LS crossover (and all other modern competent designs) adding extra bass to account for the transition from the sound radiating forward into 180 degrees to in all directions 360 degrees as the sound wavelength increase deeper into bass. The primary first order effect into the physics of BSC is the width of the baffle the woofer is mounted on. Using this (https://diyaudioprojects.com/Technical/Baffle-Step-Correction-Circuit-Calculator/) calculator we can compare the effect of increasing the designed in 8.5 inch width with ¼”, ½”, and ¾” added side panels. The frequency F3 sited is the BSC frequency midpoint of the transition from 4π space to 2π space.

Width F3
8.5    537 Hz
9.0    507 Hz
9.5    480 Hz
10     456 Hz

So Danny has designed the BSC for 530 Hz (a process for an experienced designer like him that is much more complex than the F3 number implies) then added side panels making the baffle wider move the BSC frequency down. So with an unchanged x-over wider baffles could give a bit more bass in the 450 to 540 Hz zone. Alas I lack experience to judge how immediately audible that will be. Given the choice most of us prefer a tad more bass vs less. The AWFS X-LS in my room exhibited ample strong bass.

Next is how the added thickness and mass of the side panels’ second layer change how the enclosure vibrates and radiates unwanted noise/distortion along with the desired outputs from the drivers. Given we are in GR Research’s sphere of influence start by saying the recommended attack to this issue is NoRez. No doubt it’s a more cost effective solution vs layering on extra layers of MDF or plywood. If you follow the innumerable online discussions on the topic of advanced hi-fi speaker enclosures you will have noted it typically goes something like this:

1.   Poster #1 proposes using MDF or cement inches thick to brute force the enclosure spurious vibrations into compliance.
2.   Poster #2 reminds the thread of the “BBC method” as in the LS3/5a when purposely light thin plywood boxes are used because they resonate at higher frequencies with Qs more easily damped with bituminous sheets (or here in GR land NoRez).
3.   Poster #3 cites B&Ws matrix enclosures.
4.   Posters #4 through Z cite everything from advertising fluff to peer reviewed AES papers as the thread’s signal to noise ratio approaches zero.

In the case of the AWFS X-LS with added side panels they exhibit a satisfying heft, our scale reported this to be 24.4 pounds for a fully loaded speaker. Presently there is no damping between the enclosure side walls and added side panels. Deadline and the priority to allow easy changing of panels for the show took priority over tweaking. When time allows I would try first felt between layers for damping that still allows easier panel swaps. If the side panels are to be permanently attached next step is to look into lossy adhesives that will convert the enclosure side walls and side panels into a constrained layer damping system. That is of course a deep rabbit hole to dive into that can vary from trying the first thing found at the hardware store up to experiments documented with accelerometers on the enclosure.

Regarding the tweeter cover’s effect on response that is something Danny could measure, I have some wave guides cooking and when those go to him I will send an example for him to test.

Norman Tracy

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Re: X-LS Encore for AWFS 2021
« Reply #9 on: 20 Jul 2021, 08:17 pm »
Here are the X-LS in Sirca's booth at AWFS 2021 (https://www.awfsfair.org/).




Skilly

Re: X-LS Encore for AWFS 2021
« Reply #10 on: 21 Jul 2021, 06:52 pm »
Nicely stated. So may I paraphrase, to "It makes them even better and just a bit heavier!" lol Seriously, I do appreciate your thoughts on how it might change the sound.