Illuminismo Project Kickoff

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Bittermidget

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Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« on: 12 Apr 2019, 12:12 am »
Just beginning the project, but I have been working with Rick on a L/C/R setup to go behind an acoustically transparent screen wall.  I am currently using Jim Holtz/Curt Campbell statements V1 mains and a Statements V1 center channel.  If you're familiar with these speakers, they are a very large WMTMW design for the L/R and a large 3-way center channel that all use variations of the Dayton reference aluminum drivers, Tang Band full range 4.5" midrange, and the Fountek NeoCD3.0 ribbon tweeters.  I have been very happy with these speakers for both music and movies for the last 7 years.  I cannot recommend them enough for a relatively affordable high performance DIY speaker with great dynamics, clarity, and top-to-bottom coherence.

My situation will be changing and I will be moving to a new home where I have an opportunity to dedicate a space to a music/home theater with an acoustically transparent front stage.  Hoping this will be the last and best setup, I decided to go all-in with a Selah design as I've always wanted to take advantage of Rick's crossover and design expertise with high-end drivers.  The requirements that I communicated to Rick were: Dynamics for reference level music and home theater, ability to use the L/R without a subwoofer for  music, bass extension that could cover any music, and midrange/treble that equaled or exceeded the Fountek ribbons.  I also wanted to use identical speakers for L/C/R with the center being located behind the screen.

After a number of productive conversations via email with Rick, he suggested the new Illuminismo kit speakers to achieve the goals I requested.  Rick has been great to work with and has been extremely prompt and thorough when communicating.  So yesterday, I received part of the Illuminismo L/C/R kit and the balance is on the way this week.  All SB Acoustics Satori drivers in a large MTMWW arrangement.  Check out the kit page for details.

I will try to document some of the build on here, but I cannot promise a timeframe with work and family obligations (and a torn rotator cuff!).  I will however post pics as I can and will certainly provide some impressions once they are completed since this is a newer design based off the discontinued RC5.  As a teaser, here is the "waiting to be launched" section of my office.





mresseguie

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #1 on: 12 Apr 2019, 03:42 am »
Excellent first post!

I’m looking forward to your updates.

Michael

Bittermidget

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #2 on: 20 May 2019, 06:04 pm »
Slow progress, but at least wanted to keep the topic alive.  Ordered some nice MDF in 1" and 3/4" for the Illuminismos.  Rick designed a rectangular version of the cabinets, so this is what I am building. 

Decided to round over the front and rear panels with a 3/4" bit since I will not be veneering and just like the rounded look better.  I also decided to use a 1/4" dado on the front and rear panels with a matching rabbet on the inside of the side panels.  I did this because I am tired of panels slipping when gluing and did not want to use brads or screws during clamping.  We'll see how it goes.

Next step will be routing the driver recesses and holes.  Jasper circle jig and lots of test cuts!




Bittermidget

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #3 on: 12 Jan 2020, 09:57 pm »
Sorry for the long delay and lack of updates, but I'm feeling better and have made some good progress lately.

All the baffle holes and recesses have been routed and two of the 3 cabinets have been glued. The matching center channel is in final assembly.




I will say that these cabinets are some of the most challenging I've had to construct due to the substantial bracing and just the sheer number of cabinet clamps required along with the speed needed to get it squarely clamped before glue sets.  I've switched to Titebond III for the longer open time, but it is runnier than Titebond II.  I've tried assembling in stages with the cabinet back and braces individually first, followed by one of the sides, then the other side, then the baffle.








On the 2 assembled cabinets, I've installed the sonic barrier damping material and also Rick's crossover boards prior to gluing the front baffles.







I'll continue to post as I can during the final stages of assembly before moving to priming, sanding, etc.

mresseguie

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #4 on: 13 Jan 2020, 12:56 am »
It appears you are making excellent progress. I imagine those cabinets must be getting pretty heavy, yes?

Is there no need to apply the sonic barrier to the top part of the cabinets?

You mentioned you won't veneer them. What finish have you decided on?

Keep posting!

Michael

Bittermidget

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #5 on: 13 Jan 2020, 01:15 am »
Thanks, Michael.  And yes, they are getting on the heavy side, even without drivers.

The MTM sealed sub-chamber does not get the sonic barrier, but it will have poly fill when completed. Rick could probably comment on the need or lack thereof for the damping material in that area.

I've waffled on the type of finish to use on these because ultimately, they will not be seen behind the acoustically transparent screen wall. Originally, I figured I would just seal the MDF, do some decent priming/ sanding, and use Duratex or a matte black paint and call it a day.  Then my anal retentive side steps in and reminds me how nice these drivers look and how I should take more pride in the finished cosmetics.  It's the battle between wanting to hear them ASAP and just using patience and effort to do it right.  I'm leaning hard toward wait and work!

I'm contemplating using a Benjamin Moore product called Advance. It's target application is for kitchen cabinet refinishing, so it has some good qualities like durability, some degree of hiding ability (MDF seams), and it is supposed to level to a very smooth finish.

I'll keep you posted when I get to that stage because Bondo, primer, sanding, sanding, and sanding for surface prep could take a while.

Bittermidget

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #6 on: 16 Jan 2020, 09:41 pm »
3rd cabinet constructed. Drilled out the binding posts from inside on all three to clear the lower brace. Also cut, hot glued, and taped the ports.

After tonight, it's onto filling imperfections, seams, and getting the cabinets sealed, and prepped for primer.  I've decided on Benjamin Moore Advance paint, so prep will be important and pretty time consuming.

After the sad news of my favorite drummer passing away this week, I've given these internal code names: Neil, Geddy, and Alex.




mresseguie

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #7 on: 17 Jan 2020, 12:31 am »
I think those name choices are excellent.

Have you settled on a color yet?

Michael

Bittermidget

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #8 on: 17 Jan 2020, 01:22 am »
Pretty sure I will go with a very deep intense grey...just light enough for contrast with the black drivers.  Picking from swatches is tough, so I will narrow it down and get several samples this week or next. 

I'm not a big fan of doing all the sanding in my basement shop this winter, so there's a possibility I wait for final prep and paint until April when I can do these in the garage. If that's the case, I'll temporarily install the drivers and test them for a few months before pulling them and finishing. Stay tuned.

Bittermidget

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #9 on: 25 Jan 2020, 02:01 pm »
Brief Update for anyone following.  I've decided to go ahead and finish the speakers completely. Spent about 10 hours sanding cabinets, smoothing roundover edges, filling seams with Bondo glazing putty, and sanding up to 400 grit with a 24" DuraBlock.



Have the first coat of tinted Zinsser BIN primer rolled on and it looks pretty good.  Next step is light sanding and one or two more coats of primer before I'll lay down paint. Hope to have the priming stage done this week.









Given the long cure times of the paint I'm going to use (Benjamin Moore ADVANCE cabinet paint), my goal is to have the speakers ready for use by mid February.  So hopefully some images of completed Illuminismos by then and then some listening impressions a few weeks afterwards.

HT cOz

Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #10 on: 25 Jan 2020, 03:02 pm »
It’s looking great. I look forward to your listening impressions.

jowoo919

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #11 on: 25 Jan 2020, 11:56 pm »
Just registered to say i'm very interested and following.

I sold my pair of Aerial Acoustics 10Ts a little while ago and have been researching replacement options since. I was scoping some DIYSoundGroup speakers until I decided they would not be quite what I was looking for for high end listening, so I began looking for other DIY Speaker kits. It didn't take long to find Selah as a manufacturer of nice kits and I think my jaw hit the floor when I realized that Rick lives less than two miles from me! I've been skimming through the forums and it seems most reviews are for the bookshelf speakers. I did see that someone else came from Aerial Acoustics speakers and that Rick helped customize some speakers to match the sound to what he was looking for. I haven't reached out to Rick because I have no idea when i'd be ready to pull the trigger, so i'm just lurking the threads. The Illuminismo seems like it would likely tick the boxes for me so i'm excited to see your build and hear how they sound.

Bittermidget

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #12 on: 28 Jan 2020, 03:23 pm »
Thanks for the interest!

Small update as I have started painting.  I have always veneered in the past, but this time I'm trying paint.  I do not have a spray setup, so I'm taking the plunge with rolling on the paint.  Using Benjamin Moore ADVANCE cabinet refinishing paint in a satin texture, color is Wrought Iron.  After getting about a dozen different opinions on roller size, nap, and material, I settled on a 1/4" nap Purdy Jumbo White Dove woven fabric 6 1/2" roller.  I realize I cannot get (and don't really want) a gloosy glass like surface with a roller, but I at least want to avoid major orange peel look.  The extra challenge is I'm painting them vertically.

The ADVANCE paint is very thick, but it sets very slowly and goes on really nice if you keep roller pressure low. This image is after about an hour of curing and I'm cautiously optimistic about how these are turning out.  Tomorrow I will scuff sand and apply a second coat.  Not sure if I will need a third...just depends how the 3/4" roundovers absorb and how deep I need to sand.

I'm sticking to my mid February goal of having these up and running, and then providing some feedback on how they sound.







Peter J

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #13 on: 28 Jan 2020, 03:34 pm »
They look nice from here!

 I don't know this Ben Moore product, but slow drying was the hallmark of old-timey oil based trim paint. It allowed the finish to flow out and flatten over a period of time. All but impossible to do that with modern acrylics... they dry too fast.

I remember my painter talking about some hybrid he liked that combined the best of both worlds, maybe this is it.

Anyway, they look great. I'll bet you're excited to hear them!

Bittermidget

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #14 on: 28 Jan 2020, 10:40 pm »
The BM paint is a sort of hybrid. They call it a waterborne Alkyd. Apparently it has oil-like resins in a water-based suspension...or something like that.  It cleans easily with water and doesn't smell bad, but takes a long time to fully harden.

To say I am anxiously waiting to hear these would be an understatement.  I am literally at the "watching paint dry" stage.  :)

Bittermidget

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #15 on: 30 Jan 2020, 12:28 pm »
2nd and final coat of paint went on all 3 cabinets yesterday morning.



Last night I told myself they were cured enough and was able to install all the drivers, ports, binding posts, and polyfill to complete 2 speakers for brief testing.  Really just wanted to make sure everything worked. Please pardon the mess of tools and crap all over...you know how it goes when you're itching to hear your work!







I'm going to hold off on giving any detailed impressions of their sound until they are placed in a real location, not in the middle of my basement on hard floors, 2X4s, and a drop cloth.  Having said that, I was able to pull out a 30 year old cheap receiver and connect a portable FLAC player with some cheap interconnects and speaker wire.

Initial observations:

1. They are VERY efficient. The 40 cheap watts per channel from the old Sony receiver was able to get these playing at a nice volume with very little effort from the volume knob.
2. Clarity is amazing.
3. Bass was very extended and tight with a lot of impact on electric bass and kick drum.
4. I need to get these spread out and aimed properly in their real locations before I can listen for imaging and other critical aspects.
5. I'm very excited at how well these sound right now given all the obstacles I've just mentioned.

Will post again with impressions after I get them placed properly and hooked up to my main electronics.

cstory

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #16 on: 30 Jan 2020, 05:30 pm »
Wow, I wish I had the ability to make cabinets like that. They look great.  :)

I think these speakers have moved to the top of my wish list, if I am looking to replace my Martin Logan Vista's. I love the way the Sartori midrange and beryllium tweeter sound in my Vigores.

Thanks for sharing the build.

Chuck

jowoo919

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #17 on: 4 Feb 2020, 06:14 pm »
Wow! Those are looking great. I love the color! They stand out, while still looking very clean and modern.

I am sharing in your excitement as you get these up and running. I'm quite big on electronic music and the efficiency of these and the low end impact i'd expect from the larger drivers made them seem like the ones to look at, and your initial comments confirm that.

I'm not very well versed having only had experience with Definitive Technology Studio Monitors, Aerial Acoustics 10Ts, and Martin Logan Source Electrostats, but i'm curious to hear how they compare to nice speakers that you've listened to in the past.

Congratulations on having them almost finished!

HT cOz

Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #18 on: 5 Feb 2020, 12:49 am »
Very impressive, I’m sure they are heavy as heck!!!

Bittermidget

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Re: Illuminismo Project Kickoff
« Reply #19 on: 5 Feb 2020, 03:23 am »
Thanks for the compliments everyone.  I've moved them to my main system but have only had a few short listening sessions since I am swamped with work deadlines at the moment. Hopefully will get some extended listening time in the next week or so and will report back.