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Old 4th August 2010, 05:38 PM   #1
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Default So much to read, point me in the right direction!

Hey folks, I am hoping some of you can take a moment to get me started down the right path...

I have been doing a lot of reading and searching, here, and anywhere else I can find anything remotely close to sounding like something that may be what I am looking for. The problem is, the more I search and read, the more certain I am that I have no idea what I should be searching for and looking into.

I will tell you what I am working with, and trying to accomplish, and maybe you can give lost diyer some sense of direction.

What I have...

A nice large screen mounted flush in the center of...
A nine foot long and eight foot high wall framed (but not yet finished) built with 2x8's (1.5 x 7.25 actual) at the end of...
A twelve foot by thirty foot room
A sectional couch that will sit against one side wall, putting me and the wife about 12-13 feet from the screen
A decent computer to which I intend to add a nice sound card outputting 7.1 channels analog (thinking Asus HDAV 1.3)
An old Kenwood reciever
A crappy "HT in a box" system that I clearly should never have bought

I also have...

A basic understanding of electronics, including some pcb experience (smt components and diy board etching included)
A strong mechanical aptitude
A proficiency in woodwork
A strong background in metalwork, including cnc machining and sheetmetal work (think chasis and heatsink work at minimal, or in some circumstances no, cost to me)
Some simple electronics test gear like a quality meter, and possible access to scopes and such
A tendency towards DIY that borders on obsession
A tight budget (I can throw a little at a time at this. Anything over a couple hundred at a whack is basically out, so no high dollar components. Also, I am hoping to keep the whole project under a g, or certainly not too far over. )

What I want...

The best sounding home theater system I can get, with the ability to also play music as well as is feasible. I'd like to have as clean an appearance as possible. I am thinking of building boxes into the walls. I have gotten the impression from reading that this may not be the best way to go, but am willing to make some tradeoffs for it, so long as folks don't tell me it would be a disastrous and fool hardy mistake. I could certainly live with a sub box disguised as an endtable, and if I absolutely had to a couple of floor standing mains, but I'd like to hide as much as is possible.

Where to start? Start with drivers and work towards the source, or vicey versey? What sort of gear should I be looking at? I have a system to get me by for now, so I don't care if this takes a while. Maybe I should focus on the sub (existing one is really sub par, even to my inexperienced ears) and the two front channels first, then pick away at the rest? In the end, I want to end up with something that will keep me happy for a long time to come, and something I can look at and be proud I made it. What would you do in my place?
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Old 6th August 2010, 03:36 PM   #2
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I would start with one area at a time so you don't lose everyone. Tell us what your money allows you to buy and we'll see if we can help ie: are you planning to buy a 5.1 receiver, a 7.1 or stick with the Kenwood? What is the Kenwood?
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Old 6th August 2010, 04:32 PM   #3
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Reasonable deent HT receivers can be had, but that doesn't satisfy the need to diy.

You'll get lots of opinions, but my 1st thought given your requirements would be a brace of chipamps and a good small FR all the way around (EL70 or CHR70 would be at the top of my list). When looking at the sound card for the HTPC consideration of volume control, bass management, decoding will drive your choice.

It is possible to mount speakers in the wall, but that gives you no versatility to optimize the position of the mains for hifi (so those, i would at least have separate). Subs also need to be mobile (for optimimim control of room resonances you need at least 2, 2 small are better than 1 big -- to help on the budget, the Foster plate amps Jack Hidley is selling are the subwoofer bargin of the decade (2 for $70 + shipping))

dave
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Old 7th August 2010, 07:19 AM   #4
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Thank you both for your responses...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cal Weldon View Post
I would start with one area at a time so you don't lose everyone. Tell us what your money allows you to buy and we'll see if we can help ie: are you planning to buy a 5.1 receiver, a 7.1 or stick with the Kenwood? What is the Kenwood?
The question is, where to start?

I am planning to use my pc as my source.

I want to run 7.1.

I was looking at receivers, but have since gotten myself caught up in the DIY vortex (love a good project) and have abandoned that thought. The receiver I currently have is a kr-200ht. It has been in the closet for some time, and was never really used before being put there after I picked it up from a friend years ago. Looks like it will output 5.1, so I plan to use this as a hold me over until I build my system. What I was thinking was that I'd tackle one or two channels at a time until this unit is phased out completely and replaced with my new and (hopefully) much better performing DIY components.

Quote:
Originally Posted by planet10 View Post
Reasonable deent HT receivers can be had, but that doesn't satisfy the need to diy.

You'll get lots of opinions, but my 1st thought given your requirements would be a brace of chipamps and a good small FR all the way around (EL70 or CHR70 would be at the top of my list). When looking at the sound card for the HTPC consideration of volume control, bass management, decoding will drive your choice.

It is possible to mount speakers in the wall, but that gives you no versatility to optimize the position of the mains for hifi (so those, i would at least have separate). Subs also need to be mobile (for optimimim control of room resonances you need at least 2, 2 small are better than 1 big -- to help on the budget, the Foster plate amps Jack Hidley is selling are the subwoofer bargin of the decade (2 for $70 + shipping))

dave
Ok, so this gives me something to chew on, and certainly some direction. I have a couple questions though if you don't mind.

Why chip amps? I'm not asking for an in depth lesson, just a simple explanation. ex: "Chip amps are simple, if you try to build a BA-2 on your first go round, you'll probably burn down your house" or "Unless you want to spend ten grand, chip amps are the way to go"...

On the FR's, when you say "all around" do you mean for me to use those on all channels (except the sub I'd assume)?
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Old 7th August 2010, 08:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave McReeferson View Post
Why chip amps? I'm not asking for an in depth lesson, just a simple explanation. ex: "Chip amps are simple, if you try to build a BA-2 on your first go round, you'll probably burn down your house" or "Unless you want to spend ten grand, chip amps are the way to go"...
Chip amps are simple & cheap (especially of you buy one of the kits, and can scare up transformers cheap) -- T-amps & the like can be fit into this category too. They can sound pretty good too. Part of the secret is to size the rails appropriately for the speakers & make sure they have a benign impedance curve. (part & parcel with the FR thing). You could certainly start with a couple and then shift them around as budget & skill grow, leaving room for more ambitious projects if you get the bug.

Quote:
On the FR's, when you say "all around" do you mean for me to use those on all channels (except the sub I'd assume)?
yes. Important to keep the same voice from all the speakers. You can double up in some places (main surrounds, mains) if size isn't an issue and you have the budget. You can also "grow" things (ie start with a pair of drivers, small boxes. Then migrate these to the surrounds, after bulding more ambitious mains)

One thing you should put on your shopping list to start is a copy of Sound Reproduction by Floyd Toole. Probably pay for itself by saving you from some blind alleys.

dave
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Old 8th August 2010, 01:53 AM   #6
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Ok, what do you think of this, or this, for my mains?

Of course, being inexperienced with audio, my first reflex is to think two is better than one, but perhaps this is not the case... Maybe the single driver box is just as good or better?

What about stacking two of the Ken10's? Two separate units, yet built together. It would still be reasonably sized (a key concern for me), but maybe produce more? Perhaps I am missing something about how this all works though and that would not work out acoustically...
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Old 8th August 2010, 02:22 AM   #7
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The latter being my design i'm kinda soft on it. Within a week i should have a set of the prtototype Gen 2 Alpair 10 in my Mar-Ken10.

The Alpairs have more finese than the entry level CHR. Consider that 4 pair of CHR is about the same price as a single pair of Alpair10. If you have the budget (and can wait till they are made & make it this side of the Pacific) then go for it.

As to doubling up, there will be at least a double driver version of the CHR-Ken (kraken) -- a double EL70 already exists. As the drivers get larger and centre-to-centre spacing increases you need to increase the listening distance for cohesion.

In the interests of your expressed budget, and to use 1st builds as learning for more advanced builds, a pair of CHR-70 are probably called for as a start.

dave
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Old 8th August 2010, 05:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planet10 View Post
The latter being my design i'm kinda soft on it.
Totally understandable, of course. What might one expect for differences between these two if the same drivers were used and appropriately driven?

Also, just to be sure I am not way out in left field here, both of these enclosures would be appropriate for either the CHR or EL drivers, correct? The first one I listed I was pretty sure of, the second (the Onken) I was not clear if I had tracked down the right one or not (as mentioned by you here [being run with an EL]).

Just to clarify, I am intending to use these as my L+R fronts/Mains (as well as possibly adding an additional 1 or 2 for my center channel).

Quote:
Originally Posted by planet10 View Post
In the interests of your expressed budget, and to use 1st builds as learning for more advanced builds, a pair of CHR-70 are probably called for as a start
As opposed to the EL-70's? From what I am reading, it seems the EL's are a shade "better", but perhaps the newer "en" versions of both are fairly equal overall?

I appreciate the help, it can be a bit overwhelming walking into this without any idea what you are looking for other than a misty idea of where you'd like to end up.
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Old 8th August 2010, 06:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave McReeferson View Post
Ok, what do you think of this, or this, for my mains?

Of course, being inexperienced with audio, my first reflex is to think two is better than one, but perhaps this is not the case... Maybe the single driver box is just as good or better?

What about stacking two of the Ken10's? Two separate units, yet built together. It would still be reasonably sized (a key concern for me), but maybe produce more? Perhaps I am missing something about how this all works though and that would not work out acoustically...
Looks like I may have linked to the wrong enclosure (second one, the onken), I think I was looking for this.
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Old 8th August 2010, 08:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave McReeferson View Post
Looks like I may have linked to the wrong enclosure (second one, the onken), I think I was looking for this.
The Mar-Kel70. It is a stunner. And comes in a double version. More than 1 person has asked me if the sub is on (it was not) when playing these. I have a preference for the EL70 over the CHR-70, but it is very much a case of 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of another. There is also a similar box (slightly smaller) for the CHR. The EL70 doesn't do as well sealed as the CHR so small boxes for surrounds and stuff are a little trickier (will be, but haven't yet, been done)

Click the image to open in full size.

dave
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