Sealed Super-V

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Jonathon Janusz

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Sealed Super-V
« on: 18 Apr 2011, 10:51 pm »
I'm reserving a few posts after this to fill in more information later and take some better pictures when I get some time and a better camera, but I really wanted to share with everyone here right now :green:.

The short version:

p-audio BM12CX38 coaxial.
8-ohm GR servo sub drivers x 2.
Externally mounted crossover.
600w PEQ servo amp.
Completely sealed cabinet design, independent chambers for each driver.
A few hundred pounds of CNC-cut MDF with HDF skin.
A gallon of mil-spec black paint, high gloss polished.
A pile of miscellaneous hardware.

Sealed Super-V concept/discussions by me.
Original Super-V design, crossover design, crossover build by Danny @ GR-Research.
Final cabinet design, completed build, delivery by Jason @ dBaffled.
Base design by Art (arthurs) here on AudioCircle.

Coax drivers and crossovers from Guy (playntheblues) here on AudioCircle.
Servo sub drivers and amps from Danny @ GR-Research.
The rest from Jason @ dBaffled.

Thanks again to Danny, Jason, Art, and Guy for everything!







Jonathon Janusz

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Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #1 on: 18 Apr 2011, 10:52 pm »
[EDIT 03.04.12]

I wanted to post a follow up on this thread, kind of as a "last words" about the project, as I have had to break the speakers down and retire them from service.  I thought it important to take the time to do this while the ideas about the sound are still fresh in mind, keeping my interpretations accurate and so that the ideas are not lost for anyone who might want to give the project a go themselves later on. :)

So, after living with these for almost a year, they have been very impressive to me, a good learning experience in building speakers and in high-efficiency/pro-audio driver designs.  I won't necessarily go in to "what they did wrong", as I don't really have a lot of good bases for comparison, so I'll just focus on "what they did right" in my room and let folks consider if the idea then sounds like their particular cup of tea.  That said, what they did right, in no particular order:

Rock.  Specifically, amplified guitar.  They just flat out got it "right" for me, really sounded like what a live amplified guitar sounds like, with the notable exceptions of less overall volume (by choice, and that my room just couldn't handle the volume well with these - a little more on that later) and a little bit of the reverberant ambiance of a live venue missing from the equation.  I listen to studio recordings mostly, so I interpreted this as a positive for me in that it gave the sound a clarity (sometimes piercing - in a very good rocking out, Jimi Hendrix kind of way) and focus that really let me "feel" the last 1% of what the guitarist was trying to get out of the instrument.  In retrospect, I guess I wouldn't expect much else from a pro-audio driver that was probably engineered for this kind of configuration (maybe a wee bit bigger box volume) and for this specific purpose.  As this kind of music is a good bit of my collection, very good for me!

Classical/Orchestral/Instrumental music:  They were good, very clean in presentation, didn't always get the scope/scale 100% "just right", but plenty good for me (I'm going to blame my room and normal, less than optimal placement on this one).  What they really shined at with this kind of music (as well as pop and elecronica) was bass.  The open baffle version of this speaker may very well have an edge in "openness" and a little finesse (I'm splitting hairs now), but for tuneful, way deep, musical bass you can feel in your rib cage on a rolling low effect or when the music demands a solid kick in the chest (I'll note here a slight difference in how I would describe bass that kicks you in the chest, versus the same "kick" to the guts - one being a solid start-and-stop-on-a-dime hit up high, the other being a punch down low that sort of sticks with you for a second or two) I have yet to find anything that matches Danny's paper cone servo drivers.  Just get however many you need to make the SPL you want in your room, and call it a day.

The mid bass, and the transition between the servo drivers and the coaxial was kind of a mixed bag, and the one place if I had it to do over again, I might go a ways different overall.  First, I want to make clear that it was not in any way that it wasn't "good" - it was actually pretty nice, all things considered.  The transition (after a lot of playing around with the controls on the servo amps) between drivers was also smooth in that there wasn't any particular frequency where I felt there was a gap or something lacking.  Actually, the nice thing about this arrangement is that I came down to picking between one of two different sets of settings on the plate amps (really could have been tweaked depending on the music I was listening to) depending on whether I wanted the speakers to be a little more hard-charging with a fuller body in the mid-bass, or if I wanted them to be a little smoother and relaxed (relative term here) in character rolling down to to a deep, dark, low.  More on this below.

Continuing thoughts on presentation, these really are "front row" kind of speakers.  Not quite as "you are there" as maybe the open baffles would be, but more like being front row at the concert rather than center section or balcony seats.  The soundstage was wide enough, comfortably filling the room and if it makes any sense wrapping more "around" than spanning beyond the walls, and when pulled out in to the room properly the soundstage was plenty deep.  The speaker actually behaved pretty textbook, from what I've read, in this regard - closer to the wall equals shallow and very wide/broad stage, further out gets you deeper staging with a more enveloping effect.  These weren't necessarily a "they'll sound great anywhere you place them in the room" kind of speaker, but rather one that gave very clear and easy to follow options in how you want your music done that were in the end simple as "if you want X, place them like Y".  More on the room interaction stuff below.

Girl-with-a-guitar, chamber, small set-piece music, etc.:  Real brief, because I don't have a lot of this music in my collection to work with.  Coherence in the sound is one word that comes to mind, which I think is something Tyson has discussed regarding his V2s, which I think is a result of using the coaxial up top.  It really helps with this kind of music to have the first traditional transition between drivers in the cabinet being at a frequency range below a good chunk of the music content (I'm pointing at vocals in particular here).  The other thing I'm going to note is that the huge tweeter crossed low gave these a great level of pinpoint accuracy and air without a lot of "breath", if that makes sense, and the high sensitivity in so much of the frequency range delivers a lot of tiny, tiny details (and some warts upstream in gear - more below) that I'm thinking many, many speakers just can't pick up.  Maybe put more simply, these speakers gave me less "goosebumps" than others I've had, but gave me more "I never noticed that before" kind of moments.  Again, more on this bit below.

At some point, I would really like to get to hear the open baffle Super-V as designed.  It would be a fun experience to compare to what I have heard from these.
« Last Edit: 4 Mar 2012, 04:39 pm by Jonathon Janusz »

Jonathon Janusz

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Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #2 on: 18 Apr 2011, 10:52 pm »
[EDIT: 03.04.12]

Now, the other side of the coin.  If I were to to it all over again, what I would do differently:

Sonicap platinums.  The tweeters deserve (would "need" be too strong a word?) it, and for as much detail as I was getting, I could just feel the drivers had more to give.  Either add some bypasses into the crossover, or maybe even go to a higher-end cap in a few places, for my preferences maybe to something that was characterized by a smooth/softer sound - think jazzy kind of vibe (completely personal preference).  Being as efficient as it is, I really also got to thinking that the coax would be one of those speakers to see a more noticeable benefit from going up the ladder in inductors to some air-core foils or something of the kind than some lesser efficiency designs where the results would maybe end up more subtle?

Cabinets.  Version 2.0 of the cabinets would be stacked lamination again, but I would probably stack the other way so I could play with the internal cavity shape to manage the backwave a little more (dead cabinet is good, dead cabinet that doesn't rely as heavily on just absorbing the backwave even better).  Leaving the crossovers outboard worked well enough, and I inadvertently ended up doing the "binding post wire clamp" kind of thing some folks have recently been discussing, so all good there; I would just put the crossovers into some (nice) boxes.  I would also pull the plate amps from the lower cabinet and run them completely outboard as well.  I was just now thinking it might be kind of neat to have small "equipment racks" near the speakers to stack sub amp, main monoblock amp, and crossover on to.  I wouldn't want to put them all in the same box, but I think it might look kind of cool.  Lastly, no-res and poly fill, no matter what the box shape, is probably a must.  They sounded okay with the drivers loaded into the bare (admittedly overbuilt and pretty darn dead) cabinets, but just cleaned up more and more with improving the internals of the cabinets.  Again, a lesson learned - or more clearly displayed - with a high-efficiency designs seems to be that where little changes can bring rewards normally, little changes make even bigger changes on the final end the higher speaker efficiency goes.

My room.  Unlike the open baffle Super-V, these speakers can load (and overload) a room fast.  It was refreshing for me in that I really found with these speakers my room's limits in both the highest frequency ranges (more easily done in the past) as well as the lowest frequencies (my room is darn good at handling bass, but I'm pleased to say that these found the point at which structurally my humble home said, "No more."  I wanted to go all-in on these speakers, and I did as best I could, and they really were just "too big" for the space, being completely honest with myself.  Pulled into the room and set up "Cardas-ish", it was awesome, but it really just underscored that to get everything these could deliver out of them, they just needed more (and better) space than I have to provide.  I couldn't go crazy with professional treatments, and whatever I could do roughly (I'll use the term "field prototyping" lovingly in this regard) following the basics many folks here on Audiocircle recommend as to treatments helped each step of the way.  For my living situation, the best permanent purpose-built solutions just weren't in the cards, and my best efforts just kept saying to me, "That's great!  Now, just do more!"  For the record, it was not that they didn't sound great anyway, but it was like having a governor on a sports car - you know the performance is there, and even worse yet is you know there is just no way you can get to it.  Such is life, as it were, but it was fun for me to learn about it first-hand.

My amp and upstream gear.  I have been running these with my Virtue Sensation M901.  Works nice, sounds nice, perfect feature set for this kind of speaker design regarding the integrated preamp - need to accommodate passive crossovers in the speakers, high-pass functionality to the mains out, stereo plate amps needing volume controllable full range line level output.  These speakers are very efficient, yes, but they can also soak up the power if you have it on tap.  As beefy as this little tripath is, If I had it to do over, I would get myself some more power just to stretch the amazing dynamic range these speakers can provide. . . and or go tubes.  For the record, I've looked into tubes occasionally, and at least for now, tubes just aren't my thing, but I can now see why there are a lot of folks using pro-audio driver speaker designs really liking the combo of using them with tube gear, considering what I have read to be the advantages in general of what tube gear brings to the sound.  I'll admit, whether I like it or not, tube gear could do darn well with this setup.  I'm not going to comment on battery power or power conditioning, but I would just presume the basic rules apply, blown up proportionately as the speaker efficiency goes up - get as clean a power as you can, it can do nothing but help.  As to upstream gear, the only note I feel confident in making is that my Virtue amp has Sonicaps bypassed with Sonicap Platinums at the output, and if I were not going to try tubes, I might again try a softer/rounder flavor of capacitor here. . . but I would probably either do one or the other that way - speaker crossovers or amp/pre/source - but not both.  I think "too much of a good thing" would probably lose you out on the crazy good detail and microdynamics going on here.

The Drivers.  This last one is me just thinking out loud a bit.  There was enough power on tap from the 600W plate amp to keep up with my main amp in driving the servos to match the coaxes.  The transition between drivers was good, and I was able to play with the controls to change the flavor of the speakers to taste.  If I were to do it all over again, and I was in the mood to tinker, I might try another route with the low drivers to pair with the coax, just to get the overall "flavor" of the drivers, and their sensitivities, more in sync.  I know this would lose a lot of good (great!) things the servo drivers do, but I'm thinking that maybe another (or pair) of pro-audio high efficiency woofers run off something like Danny's SA-1 plate amp could solidify this design as a "hard rock" kind of concept, to give it a sense of overall identity.  I know this sounds like a bit of a ramble, but I hope it kind of makes sense.  Going this way would probably lose some low-end extension and maybe provide some more hard-driving punch (crunch?) to the sound that might end up making a speaker that not everybody is going to like, but as a DIY kind of thing for someone with very specific ideas/goals in mind, I think might take it down a road that could end up somewhere pretty cool.  The only other real question rattling around my head regarding the drivers is what would happen if one were to pull the titanium diaphragms from the tweeters and get them cryo'ed?  Again, thinking "micro changes, macro scale" with the high-efficiency design, might be an experiment worth chasing.

Wiring.  For what it is worth, I didn't mess around with the wire on the servo drivers at all, but I did try out some thin silver/copper wire on the coax, as well as straight copper.  I liked the straight copper better myself, probably because of the sonicaps in the crossover/amp in combo with it, but I just thought I would mention it.

I've probably missed something somewhere, but that should cover it enough for anyone following along.  One last thanks to everybody who had a hand in getting this project done - it was a fun and educational ride!
« Last Edit: 4 Mar 2012, 05:53 pm by Jonathon Janusz »

Jonathon Janusz

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Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #3 on: 18 Apr 2011, 11:06 pm »
Hey, Charles!  Glad you stopped in to see the final product. :)

Regarding pricing on the cabinets, I'll have to bow out on that one and point folks directly to Jason Smith at dBaffled http://www.dbaffled.com/.  He would be glad and excited to discuss folks' custom projects.  He took very good care of me and my project - both in computer/design time and during the build.

Cheers!

jparkhur

Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #4 on: 18 Apr 2011, 11:09 pm »
Very nice, why sealed?

dvenardos

Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #5 on: 18 Apr 2011, 11:45 pm »
I am guessing because of the distance he has them from the back wall in the picture.

Very nice, why sealed?

I am curious how V1 and V2 sealed would compare to N3/N3S?  :scratch:
I have no room for OB, though I wish I did...

Jonathon Janusz

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Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #6 on: 19 Apr 2011, 12:35 am »
Hey, guys!  as to, "Why sealed?" two reasons:

First, as suggested, I just don't have room in my room to pull an OB speaker out far enough to make the back wave work right.  I "cheated" when running my dipole planars by playing with the rake angle of the panels, using a quick-and-dirty version of the Peter Gunn trick using some old phone books and sheets of paper.  Kind of funny, that - after a lot of playing around experimenting with it, I ended up basically where PG did at about 2-3 degrees back. 

The placement of the speakers almost against the front wall is really just me quickly getting them shoved out of the way and playing at least passably while I break them in and before spending the time to really start moving them around.  There are some big, beefy black chrome steel spikes waiting to get installed until I get the positioning dialed in better.

Second, as a design goal for the project, these speakers also are used for watching movies.  I'm an action/sci-fi/adventure movie guy, and I had a pair of the factory built single-driver GR servo subs with the 370w amps.  They did well enough to fill out the low end, but I set the controls on the back to 14hz/low dampening with the rumble filters off, which gets me great extension and detail, but I lost in the SPL race.  I didn't want to go ported because I liked the SOUND of the subs I had before, so I really only had one option to get the SPLs where I wanted them to be - more displacement - hence, duals per side.  In retrospect, I'm also glad I decided to spend the extra money and go all in on the amps and go for the 600w version; I would have always second-guessed myself and my need for headroom otherwise.  Add all this said to my desire for these speakers to be able to deliver orchestral performances (and Chinese/Japanese drums which I think are awesome) at liver-rattling levels on demand and. . . :D  I'm sure OB bass may sound a little "better" than what I've got in this package, and again if I had the space, but for grunt, raw, output while keeping the sound I enjoyed the first time around with the servo subs. . . :D

I cranked it a little for a few songs last night when we were making sure everything worked.  One of these songs was "Night Fight" on the soundtrack to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  I found out that if I go up to about half way on the volume knob on my Sensation M901 amp, it will just barely start to clip on very dynamic recordings.  I also giggled. :)

jtwrace

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Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #7 on: 19 Apr 2011, 12:39 am »
using a quick-and-dirty version of the Peter Gunn trick using some old phone books and sheets of paper.

This I've got to hear about.  Can you explain more about this?

TrungT

Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #8 on: 19 Apr 2011, 12:53 am »
YES
My kind speakers.  :thumb:
Can't wait to read more.
Thank you.

Pez

Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #9 on: 19 Apr 2011, 01:12 am »
Wow. The only word I can think to describe how amazingly awesome those are is 'boss'. They just look so badass and mean! Totally Boss!!!!!! :thumb:

saisunil

Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #10 on: 19 Apr 2011, 01:21 am »
amazing ... awsome ... wow~

persisting1

Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #11 on: 19 Apr 2011, 04:13 am »
Did the crossovers have to be redesigned for the sealed version?

Danny Richie

Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #12 on: 19 Apr 2011, 04:19 am »
Hey, looks great. And yes the crossover is completely different for a sealed box.

corndog71

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Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #13 on: 19 Apr 2011, 04:36 am »
Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh, that is a beautiful beast! :notworthy:

JerryM

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Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #14 on: 19 Apr 2011, 05:34 am »
Bitchin'   :thumb:

That's all I can say.

HT cOz

Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #15 on: 19 Apr 2011, 01:27 pm »
Wow this should have been done sooner.  Talk about a speaker that can do double duty.  That thing must be the ultimate Home Theater Speaker!  :thumb:

Jonathon Janusz

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Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #16 on: 20 Apr 2011, 12:27 am »
Glad you guys are liking my little experiment. :)

Now a minor aside for jtwrace:

This one is pretty simple.  The speakers I've had in place until these arrived are a pair of Eminent Technology LFT8b with the most recent tweeter upgrade.  I could go on quite a bit about this speaker, but in the interest of staying (almost) on topic in this thread, I'll focus sharply on the question at hand. 

Notice that right now my room is seemingly completely untreated.  That is not an oversight/mistake.  The original intent with the ETs was to not kill the room reflections such that the ambiance and effect of having the dipole speakers would become lost.  When working with the ETs, if set up flat on the floor with the panels straight at me, and as near-field as I am currently set up, the back wave did just what one would expect from a dipole shoved up close-ish to a hard wall - the sound energy was almost identical to the front wave and basically ended up in a distorted sonic mess.

One of the things Peter Gunn did when creating his mod for the Magnepan speakers is adjust the rake angle of the panels in relation to the ground/floor in an effort (if I'm remembering his essay correctly) to counteract the Magnepans' tendency to beam at the listener.  Bottom line, tilting the panels back 2-3 degrees from vertical delivered a better overall sounding Magnepan.  In my case, using the base design of the ETs (two steel bars extended front to back under the speaker, with about a half a foot of steel bars sticking out front and rear for stability), I grabbed a pair of phone books and about a half a ream of copy paper and propped the front of the speakers only up with the phone books.  Then, I slowly added up a stack of copy paper for each speaker in addition to the phone books until I got the sound to bounce off the floor/wall/ceiling instead of just the wall - just enough that I got the nice dipole ambiance and sense of space but not so much that I lost the direct output (image positioning and focus) from the tweeters, which themselves have a very narrow sweet spot in the vertical axis.  Put in terms like folks have discussed the AV123/Onix Strata Minis (which I also have a good amount of experience with), a lot of folks spiked the back only to bring the tweeter in line and gain high frequency energy; in this case, I "spiked" the front only to take the edge off the same energy and shape the effect of the back wave in my room.

. . . and of course, with these new speakers, the whole plan pretty much goes out the window. :roll:  The good news is that my room has a few really positive things going for it:

Dedicated 20 amp power run to the front wall with a short wiring path to the breaker box that doesn't cross any other electrical/data/water/etc. lines. with two outlets almost amazingly placed just where they need to be - one for each speaker.

A window with a deep cove/cill to my right and an open doorway into the next room on my left almost exactly at the first reflection points for my listening position - basically almost ideal natural first-reflection treatment (even funnier is the same situation goes on a little ways further into the room basically at the second reflection points too. . .).

A drop ceiling covered in the lighter kind of fiberglass-backed tiles, with six inches of insulation above that, and about six feet of airspace above that.  Although I know that reflected mid-high frequency energy is going to be a challenge for these new speakers, let's just say that the room all but laughs at controlling bass.  Actually, this "feature" is I think one of the challenges I had with the ET planars - with all the bass dampening I have naturally going on, the woofers (which were already a little thin for the midrange panel and tweeter) just couldn't keep up.

One of these days, when/if I have to move out of this apartment, I'm probably going to really miss having this particular room.


Okay, back to our regularly scheduled program.  I'll be back with a quick bullet point list of things on the to-do list for these new speaks. :)

jtwrace

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Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #17 on: 20 Apr 2011, 12:32 am »
Now a minor aside for jtwrace:

This one is pretty simple.  The speakers I've had in place until these arrived are a pair of Eminent Technology LFT8b with the most recent tweeter upgrade.  I could go on quite a bit about this speaker, but in the interest of staying (almost) on topic in this thread, I'll focus sharply on the question at hand. 

Notice that right now my room is seemingly completely untreated.  That is not an oversight/mistake.  The original intent with the ETs was to not kill the room reflections such that the ambiance and effect of having the dipole speakers would become lost.  When working with the ETs, if set up flat on the floor with the panels straight at me, and as near-field as I am currently set up, the back wave did just what one would expect from a dipole shoved up close-ish to a hard wall - the sound energy was almost identical to the front wave and basically ended up in a distorted sonic mess.

One of the things Peter Gunn did when creating his mod for the Magnepan speakers is adjust the rake angle of the panels in relation to the ground/floor in an effort (if I'm remembering his essay correctly) to counteract the Magnepans' tendency to beam at the listener.  Bottom line, tilting the panels back 2-3 degrees from vertical delivered a better overall sounding Magnepan.  In my case, using the base design of the ETs (two steel bars extended front to back under the speaker, with about a half a foot of steel bars sticking out front and rear for stability), I grabbed a pair of phone books and about a half a ream of copy paper and propped the front of the speakers only up with the phone books.  Then, I slowly added up a stack of copy paper for each speaker in addition to the phone books until I got the sound to bounce off the floor/wall/ceiling instead of just the wall - just enough that I got the nice dipole ambiance and sense of space but not so much that I lost the direct output (image positioning and focus) from the tweeters, which themselves have a very narrow sweet spot in the vertical axis.  Put in terms like folks have discussed the AV123/Onix Strata Minis (which I also have a good amount of experience with), a lot of folks spiked the back only to bring the tweeter in line and gain high frequency energy; in this case, I "spiked" the front only to take the edge off the same energy and shape the effect of the back wave in my room.

How about some room measurements from the listening position?

Jonathon Janusz

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Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #18 on: 20 Apr 2011, 02:20 am »
 :banghead:

I would have been glad too. . . if I hadn't packed away the ETs the morning before the SSVs arrived.  Sadly, I live in an apartment. . .

I still need to get my hands on (and some time to figure out) REW.  When I did the work, all I had (have) is a set of test tone sweeps, my trusty ratshack meter, and Microsoft Excel.  My gross measurements got me in the ballpark, the last 10% was done to taste/by ear.  I guess the important part of what was done by ear was also done sitting at my main listening position, standing at the same position, and sitting/standing at two other positions further back in the room.

I really wish now I would have documented my tinkering  better. . .



. . . spent a little time tinkering with the SSVs. . .

. . . inserting crappy Tom Cruise movie now (War of the Worlds). . .  :flame:

dvenardos

Re: Sealed Super-V
« Reply #19 on: 20 Apr 2011, 02:34 am »
My current speakers are Minis, how would you compare them to your sealed Super-Vs? Have you heard the N3s? If so, how do they compare to them?

Put in terms like folks have discussed the AV123/Onix Strata Minis (which I also have a good amount of experience with), ...