Finezza Build Thread

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C5000

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Finezza Build Thread
« on: 4 Sep 2016, 10:43 pm »
Hi all,

I've been working with Rick to design a speaker for me to build that will replace my Aerial Acoustics 6.  In talking with Rick and describing what I wanted, he was familiar with both the Aerial brand and the designer, so I should have something along the lines I am looking for.  I have listened to the Aerial 7t, but at $11k...it's just hard to write that check.  The Finezza has very nice drivers, nicer than the 7t.  Quoting Rick..."anchored with the same bass section of the Estremo and Artista using dual 7" Scan-Speak Illuminator woofers. The Finezza employs a Morel composite cone midrange (Rohacell / carbon fiber sandwich) and Scan-Speak beryllium dome tweeter."

This thread will document the build process - hopefully putting a lot of construction info in one place for those who might be on the fence.  I will be painting these as well.

Phil A

Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #1 on: 5 Sep 2016, 03:14 am »
Looking forward to it.  Welcome to AC too

mresseguie

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Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #2 on: 5 Sep 2016, 06:42 am »
Excellent! Those are all fantastic drivers.

Welcome to AC.

maxboy00

Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #3 on: 5 Sep 2016, 09:33 am »
Welcome to AC,

Sounds like an excellent build project and another great speaker design, by Rick....look forward to seeing the project completed.

C5000

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Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #4 on: 11 Sep 2016, 05:40 pm »
First thing after getting the design and plans from Rick is to get the MDF.  I used a local specialty wood/lumber supplier that deals with exotics and millwork.  They will make cuts, and have a digital panel saw, which for me is shooting fish in a barrel.  I created a cut sheet (a piece of graph paper laid out for the shop with precise measurements and cut lines) and between the 3/4 and 1/2 inch MDF, plus the cuts, the total was $103.  This guarantees that each piece is exactly the right size, making it easy to get a square box. 

If I have to use a table saw/ circ. saw I would make all cuts on the table saw w/o moving the fence, so I would cut ALL 9" rips, then adjust for others (keeps them all the same).  For circular saw crosscuts, I would double and clamp the left and right side together for example, so they are identical. 

Here is the pile of MDF pieces...




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C5000

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Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #5 on: 11 Sep 2016, 05:53 pm »
Next I measured the cutouts for the braces and speaker jack plate, and cut these out with a jig saw.  One brace forms a "T" so I glued that together.  All glue joints are done with TiteBond III.

You can also see that I've made the front panel "sandwhiches" ...2 layers of 1/2" to make the 1" front baffle.  The extra thickness plus the glue sandwhich will keep that from resonating or moving...which means that the drivers energy will not be used to vibrate the baffle, just the cones.




Marked off teh location of the braces on the panels, so assembly would be easy.  Assembled the basic box...sides, top and bottom.  Used 18 ga 1 1/4 brads with compressed air nailer along with TiteBond to keep is square and not have it fall apart. 

 


Here is the box with the back attached, the braces added (just glue with these...they fit plenty tight) and the soundproffing panels added.  These are self-adhesive and I also used glue gun with a few drops on each for good measure.  No point having it detach inside next year.  Wood clamps from Harbor Freight in action here at the braces to tighten up the box.  I used a framing square to make sure the braces were level. 







C5000

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Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #6 on: 11 Sep 2016, 06:34 pm »
Next is to mark the locations for the drives on the front baffle.  Cool trick here...use a slide square.  The panel is 9" wide, so I set the square for 4 1/2.  Start on one side like in the pic, then the other.  IF both lines are on top of each other, you know you have perfect center...like dividing it with a compass.  I didn't draw a line all the way down, just made a mark where the centers are.




Now we get to routing.  I have a Bosch router with a plunge base.  I got a 1/4" spiral up-cut bit and a Jasper circle jig and got this all set up.  I started on a test piece and did the flange cutout and the hole, and popped the tweeter in to see the fit.  I should have mentioned this before, but I had enough extra MDF that I had a few extra front baffles made, for routing practice and for painting practice.  I clamped the baffles down...you don't want them walking away from you with the router at 15,000 rpm. 






The router has depth adjustments by 1/8.  Of course one depth needs to be 3/16, so I used the slide square to check it, and did a good test with that.  My method was for each driver, to rout on the test piece, and if it all was good I would leave the setting on the router and immediately move to the real baffles, so there were no changes made to the router.  I would rout the flanges on both baffles, then route the cutouts, which kept both baffles identical for size/depth.  I figured the more consistent the construction, the more consistent the sound.  You can see the practice baffle behind me, with 3 tweeter holes.




Cleaned up the routes with some 150 grit...




I used a 1/2" roundover bit on the back of the baffle for the midrange and woofers to give them a little more breathing room.  The tweeter and port don't need this.








C5000

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Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #7 on: 24 Dec 2016, 03:57 pm »
Sorry for the delay, biz travel and it's just so many steps to upload pics from my phone...

Here is the assembled cabinets ready to start the paint process.  So far so good, everything lined up pretty well.  Sanded the joints as flat as I could.



I tried a bunch of methods in terms of sealing the MDF.  First I brushed on a coat of Titebond wood glue thinned with water.  I rubber undiluted glue into the seams and raw edges of the cabinet with a wet rubbver glove to get it to sink in.

I tried some bondo on the edges, but the stuff dried really fast and also was very hard to sand. 



After that and getting them smooth again, I sprayed the primer.  This is a sandable 2k automobile primer.  You can see the portable spray booth.   I screwed on some cheap furniture dollies so I could roll them around without touching them.



Since I haven't build boxes before it's a little trial-and-error in terms of "how smooth is enough?"  for the original seal coats as well as the primer.  As I sanded the boxes down, I used an old trick for filling in low spots...drywall compound.  I've used this on guitars.

Here is the first coat of metallic silver.  Yes, it looks tiger-striped, which I've never had happen before.  I figured it would level out with the consecutive coats.  I used a Mazda color. 



I put on 5 coats of paint, then a whole pile of clear.  Here is the clearing process.




At this point I could tell there were a few seams that telegraphed through, the tiger stripping didn't fully cover, and I also noticed that the paint bounced off the carpet on the furniture dollies and created a rougher texture on the bottom.  I had 2 choices...back to sanding to correct the issues and respray, or wetsand them down and get them up and running.  The overall look we (the boss (my wife) and I) were going for was a metal look to match another piece of furniture in our living room.  We decided to wetsand at this point.  I was running out of good weather to paint - needs to be 65 degrees - and the thought of waiting until spring was too much. 



C5000

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Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #8 on: 24 Dec 2016, 04:25 pm »
After waiting a day for these to fully dry, I carefully wet sanded the cabinets to remove dust and any unevenness in the finish.  I used 1200 grit paper for this.  Next was rubbing compound with the random orbit, and lastly 3m Finesse It to polish them up. 

Time for assembly...




This went well, although the tweeters were a little tight and their holes needed some sanding.  Make sure the drivers fit in easily, because if you force them the paint will chip when you pull them out.  Don't ask how I know one of the tweeters was too tight.  You can see in the pic that in this light you can see some striping.  Depending on the angle of the light this is less noticeable. 

Drumrolll here...we got them upstairs and did one final listen of the Aerial 6s these were going to replace, so we could compare them a little.  Subjective tests aren't the best...but you have to do it. 





Overall the finish is such that they match what we wanted them to and they have a slightly industrial look to them.  In the light we have, you don't really notice the issues so much (but I do, being the builder). 

The sound....

This project was a risk, and one I (we) were willing to take.  The DIY hope is that if you are willing to do the work, you get four to one or five to one against retail.  That would put these in the $12-$15k neighborhood. 

We were not disappointed when we fired them up to say the least. My wife teared up and exclaimed "You did it!".   They sound absolutely amazing.  I had been considering the Aerial 7t, and glad I didn't fork out the $11k for those.  When I spoke to Rick and we discussed what I was looking for, he was quite familiar with both the Aerial house sound and Micheal Kelly, so as we listened and they broke in, we found them to be detailed yet smooth.  The tweeter and midrange combo is fantastic.  I went with the Scan/Morel combo because I'm used to dome tweeters and didn't want to put anything radically new to me in the mix.  They reach lower than our old speakers, so the subs needed to be dialed in.  They aren't really necessary, but after years and years of less punch and kick, this is really fun.  My wife was into the $14k Focals at last years Axpona, and she said she likes these better.  I don't see myself wanting or needing to replace these.   

Thanks Rick, you really delivered on these! 

If any of you are hesitant because you can't hear them, don't worry too much about it.  If you happen to be in the Chicago area and want to hear these, I may be tempted to work something about with a nice-bottle-of-red bribe.  You can email Rick to get in contact if I don't pop in here enough. 


stlrman

Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #9 on: 25 Dec 2016, 02:16 pm »
Bravo !! They look great !! Enjoy them for May years.
What was the total cost of the build ?

C5000

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Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #10 on: 25 Dec 2016, 04:48 pm »
If you go to the Selah Audio page and look at the kits, The Finezza is similar in build and price to the Estremo.  Best to contact Rick if you are interested, there are a lot of driver options. 

The mdf, which I had cut at a hardwood supplier...the total cost with cuts was about $100.  I already had the compressor and spray guns and other tools, so then it's glue and probably $100 worth of auto paint products. 

If I had a veneer press....

mresseguie

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Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #11 on: 26 Dec 2016, 02:32 am »
Excellent looking and, I'll wager, they sound wonderful. What an amazing Christmas present!

What amp and how many watts are you using to power these? Do they sound the same at low volume as at mid- to high volume?

Thanks,

Michael

Rick Craig

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Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #12 on: 26 Dec 2016, 06:11 pm »
Excellent work! It's always gratifying to hear about positive comparisons against far more expensive speakers. Enjoy!  :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:

C5000

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Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #13 on: 5 Jan 2017, 04:52 pm »
Thanks for the positive comments!

I'm using a Nord 400 w amp...found him on one of the other forums around Class A amplification.  It uses the same Hypex internals as some very expensive OEM products, and was a big step up from my Classe 200w amp, and our electric bill went down!

I think once the speakers are up to listening level, they do not change in balance as they get louder, but the dynamics change quite a bit as do most.  Bass just needs a certain amount of oompf to feel right.  They have no problem reaching some big volume levels or filling up my room.  The cabinet volume is probably close to double that of my old ones, which is a good thing for the room I have.

C5000

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Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #14 on: 22 Jul 2019, 02:52 pm »
Hello Rick and friends,

Just thought I would update on my speakers.  These things are AWESOME! 

After a couple years of listening, I couldn't be happier.  Everyone who comes over loves how they sound, and when they find out that I built them they fall down on the spot.  I wouldn't change anything about them or the design.  At some point, if I can stand to have the system down with stand-ins, I would like to veneer the top and sides and repaint them to get the finish perfect.  I know I can do better there. 

If you are thinking about building up some speakers and working with Rick, and have a lot of "what-if??" hesitations and fears about being disappointed and losing your money....don't worry.  I can't speak to your overall taste, and it is not easy to describe what you like, but I don't think you will be disappointed.  If you like the way Aerial, Focal, Joseph Audio sound, you should talk to Rick...he gets it.  My wife also tells everyone we got $15k return out of our $3400 investment.  She has been to the shows and the stores to listen with me.

Thanks Rick, hope you are doing great!!

Cal

Rick Craig

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Re: Finezza Build Thread
« Reply #15 on: 22 Jul 2019, 10:06 pm »
Hello Rick and friends,

Just thought I would update on my speakers.  These things are AWESOME! 

After a couple years of listening, I couldn't be happier.  Everyone who comes over loves how they sound, and when they find out that I built them they fall down on the spot.  I wouldn't change anything about them or the design.  At some point, if I can stand to have the system down with stand-ins, I would like to veneer the top and sides and repaint them to get the finish perfect.  I know I can do better there. 

If you are thinking about building up some speakers and working with Rick, and have a lot of "what-if??" hesitations and fears about being disappointed and losing your money....don't worry.  I can't speak to your overall taste, and it is not easy to describe what you like, but I don't think you will be disappointed.  If you like the way Aerial, Focal, Joseph Audio sound, you should talk to Rick...he gets it.  My wife also tells everyone we got $15k return out of our $3400 investment.  She has been to the shows and the stores to listen with me.

Thanks Rick, hope you are doing great!!

Cal

Thanks for your kind words. It's great to know how much you're enjoying the Finezzas. You also have an outstanding wife that appreciates good value. Priceless!