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PWatts 20th June 2003 09:39 AM

South African student, DIY-lover
 
Hi to all the members. I'm an electronic engineering student in my final year at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. Love for high-end audio and d the typical fuds shortage has forced me into the DIY area... as usual way too many parallel projects without the time, money or tools to actually complete most. Presently I'm working on:

1) a very high-end sub/sat system for my PC (completed, just have to finish the sub enclosure)

2) a pair of high-end 3.5way floorstanders using Scan-Speak drivers

3) a 1kW Balanced BJT amplifier using 20x 25A output devices per channel.

4) A fully automated power controller for all my hi-fi & home cinema devices with macro support, sequential switch-on and line regulation

5) A massive subwoofer using a Dayton DVC 12" woofer and a 350W DIY amplifier per voice coil

6) A smaller set of 2-way floorstanders using an 8" Scan-Speak woofer and 1" Seas tweeter

7) A simple, yet quality Delta-Sigma DAC for my PC

8) An ultra-stable clock buffer for a CD-Player

I had to sell my beloved racebike and live on bread&water to afford most of these, hopefully they'll all be finished someday. One of the biggest problems is components. Unlike in 1st world countries, almost every component (semiconductors, air-core coils, polypropylene caps, drive units, in fact anything which isn't a basic component such as a 2N3904 or no-name electrolytic has to be imported from overseas. That makes tinkering difficult, and a design has to be almost guaranteed to work before plunging into the ordering process with the troubles of shipping cost, import tax & customs duties.

When time and finances allows, I'd also like to start tinkering with zero-feedback amps & preamps, though it'll be tough as component quality and interference will start playing a role without the cleaning up of the feedback!

Anyway, as I've quite a lot of questions about some of the projects, you'll see me around.

Cheers,
Pierre Watts
South Africa

roddyama 20th June 2003 12:52 PM

Pierre,

Welcome to the forum.

Don’t worry about the race bike and the bread and water, because one day many years from now, when the race bike is in the junk yard, you’ll be slim and trim listening to your favorite CD on the super sound system that you made.

LaMa 23rd June 2003 08:00 PM

Welcome Pierre and good luck with your upcoming projects ;)

JOE DIRT® 23rd June 2003 10:39 PM

welcome Pierre...and I think some of the members here can help you out resourcing any parts you need

DIRT®

EC8010 24th June 2003 12:09 AM

Sold the racebike? Oh, no!
 
Racing bikes only end up in junk yards as consequence of hitting something unyielding very fast. Was it a racing pushbike or a racing motorbike?

Anyway, welcome to the forum.

PS I don't believe the bit about bread and water. I've only ever met two students that didn't understand the use of beer.

StuartH 7th July 2003 07:39 AM

Hi Pierre

Great to see that theres a growing contingent of South Africans involved in this hobby / capital drain. As you say sourcing parts is really expensive, and thats only if thery are avaliable at all. Maybe as the numbers of us grow we will be able to lean on the local suppliers to start stocking some decent parts!

That project list of yours seems all too familiar.

Just a question: Where in SA did you manage to find Scan speak drivers?

Stuart

Shaun 7th July 2003 08:04 AM

Hi, Pierre
 
Tinkering's easy when you understand that you don't always need the very best/most expensive components. I use whatever I can find when experimenting, and only opt for higher grade components once I feel fairly competent in a particular area.

Of course, this all goes out the window if the premise of your tinkering is that the more expensive part will improve performance!

Good Luck!

Shaun 7th July 2003 08:12 AM

Hi, StuartH
 
Foglar Sound in Cape Town stock some old SS drivers. TV Audio up in Gauteng (Pretoria?) have SEAS drivers.

A penpal in Shoshanguve imported Usher drivers for what seemed to be a much better deal than the ScanSpeaks he would have got from Foglar.

Regards

StuartH 7th July 2003 08:18 AM

Hi Shaun

Thanks. I will follow up on those.

I keep a small stock of reasonable components for tinkering. One can re-use them again and again so long as one is careful.

cheers,
Stuart

PWatts 7th July 2003 10:17 AM

Hi Shaun & StuartH,

I've done some considerate business with Foglar Sound before (with them being less than 50km's away from me), and in all honesty I can say you should rather go through the extra trouble of importing. Their prices are redicilously high. I've spoken a great deal to them, and they "adjust" the prices of the cheaper stuff to compensate for the more expensive goods. Furthermore the tweeters in particular are expensive because they're cheaper (lighter) to import, and their prices are therefore padded to compensate the heavier woofers. As a consequence, cheapish Vifa woofers retailing at $25 in the US go at Foglar for just over R1000! Going up in price it gets better, but the best ratio I've seen so far is about 2.5 times the US price. And don't think you can just drive there and pick up the driver of your choice. They've got almost no stock, and that they have is very old. They'll only import when they've got a large enough order- which is growing(?) for over a year now. Obviously most people are put off by the prices & especially the delay, so I doubt if they'll ever take through an order. The exception, though, is the old stock they have. Note I mean OLD; at least 5 years. Because they've bought it at a better exchange rate, the prices are roughly the same, some cheaper as the US ones. Unfortunately stocks are very limited. They have some 8542, 8543, 8552, 8553 and some Vifa 6.5" and 8" woofers left, plus the lone 8554 and 8535. Zero Vifa or S-S tweeters. Don't even think of any popular driver like the P13WH-00-08 or the 18W-8545. I've bought 6 8543 from them so far and 4 8552s. One of the 8543's was dead, and the magnets are covered with a thin rust layer. Not that it's visible from the outside or audible, but it just shows their age. Nvertheless, they sound great. One question may be how their T/S parameters could have been affected by age, especially because S-S drivers' paramters can vary considerably. 8542/3 goes for R650 each and the 8552/3 for R700 each (VAT incl).

TV Audio is almost useless. Ask them to fax you a pricelist and you'll soon realize. In the past I've bought some Excel tweeters from them, but now they have almost zero stock, and those they have are expensive. They also do not intend to import again- once the current stock is finished, they're done with SEAS.

Oh, don't forget about Focal (distributed by Aeolian in Pretoria, speak to Andrew Stuart there). They're actually quite helpful, and will speedily import your order from overseas to your doorstep, zero customs hassles etc. Of course that is reflected in the price, and you're looking at least at twice the normal price. For something like a big Audiom 15" woofer, which would be too expensive to personally import, it may be worth it, but nothing else.

Dynaudio has ceased dealing here, and Audax, Visaton, Thiel and Morel never have. That leaves one to use contacts overseas. I regularly ask relatives and friends in the USA and Europe to bring me back the odd capacitor or tweeter, but anything above 5" is a bitch. Still, considering the freight charges and customs duties, it is a much more affordable way.

Have you ever imported drivers? I'm interested in the Usher ones, but as I said the shipping & customs are daunting. Do you have any figures? Bear in mind that even though the Usher 9500 clone is very similar, it is almost 2dB less sensitive, which asks for a crossover redesign in situations where the tweeter isn't padded.

Anyhoo, this is a rundown of my experience with local speaker driver availability. If lower-end companies like Dayton Audio (they are actually very good, though not quite on SS level) would start distributing here, the local DIY speakerbuilding community would grow more. Few people has the capital, time, patience and sheer guts to go through the **** we have to. No wonder Mission and KEF are so popular here, despite the crap you get at high prices.

Regards,
Pierre Watts


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