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Old 3rd July 2014, 05:46 AM   #1
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Cool Newb DIYer looking to build some quality sound for myself.

Hello there,
I am from East Tennessee USA. I am not an experienced sound guy but I am very much into building quality things I cannot afford to buy. I met a fellow on a CNC chat forum that has build some kickass looking tube amps and custom speakers full range style. I am very interested in learning about what is the best designs for the money and what I can build that will make my ears feel like I am sitting in a room that costs a LOT of money LOL. I love a beautiful shape and interesting design. I have been a custom cabinet builder for many years and I hope to use my skills with wood to create something that not only sounds amazing but looks beautiful. I have build CNC machines and custom airguns for competition from scratch etc. I hope to be able to build some monoblock amps and components from parts. The friend I met recommended a 2A3 style tube amp low power setup and some very efficient drivers in a custom enclosure. Sounds good but I have NO idea what it is going to sound like. I may take a trip down to meet him and hear this stuff in person before I spring for some parts. I enjoy a very wide array of music from space music from the likes of Klaus Shultze and Steve Roach, richard burmer etc to heavier harder music like Smashing Pumpkins and Nine inch Nails. I even enjoy some Yanni and Kitaro occasionally. I do enjoy some deep rich bass but it must be solid and not at all muddy. Nothing annoys me more than the kid in the car behind me with the rattling hood and tons of mud coming from everywhere. I like a clean punchy bass but it must be strong. The highs and mids are also very important to me of course but I think my ears are sensitive to bright and tinny upper end. I am not able to afford the crazy high end stuff but I sure would like to think it is possible to build some of it myself. That is at least my hope here . Either way it is nice to find this place and I hope to learn more about this interesting hobby. Nothing like beautiful music. Peace

Pete
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Old 3rd July 2014, 07:36 PM   #2
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Hello Pete, welcome to diyAudio.
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Old 3rd July 2014, 07:45 PM   #3
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Default Hello Cal..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cal Weldon View Post
Hello Pete, welcome to diyAudio.
Nice to meet ya man. I see your postings here an awful lot so it is nice to be welcomed by one of the regulars. I have been reading a great deal here today. I am interested in a couple different speaker designs. Mostly like the back loaded horn systems as well as the Frugal horns designs I have seen here. Who knows maybe I can afford to build both of them. I saw a posting from a fellow in Norway I think it was who had some really beautiful all white back loader horns with some paper cone full ranges that looked really beautiful. That is one thing that kinda sucks about all this beautiful eye candy....without hearing it in person it is difficult to tell just how beautiful it is going to sound. I know he has some youtube videos of the system and you can at least kind of get an idea what kind of performance to expect. They sure sound good even thru a crummy recording and then onto youtube and finally thru my laptop speakers LOL so that must say something...

I am also very interested in these 2A3 tube amps. I understand my friend has a set of stereo amps for a dual set of speakers in his sound room. I am wondering if these can be built as monoblocks or if there is even any advantage in doing so... I see a lot of the 300 amps as well. I am amazed that so much sound can come from such low wattage amps. Amazing stuff. It must be very very efficient to do this. Do most of these amps and speakers setups like I am describing need a subwoofer setup to round out the bottom end? I know the horns excel at mids and highs from what I am hearing and even have some quality bass but apparently only down to a certain level. I know too many questions right....

Pete
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Old 3rd July 2014, 07:53 PM   #4
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Every speaker and amp combo is a compromise in one form or another. Many will find the back loaded horns with the right driver gives them all the bass they need. Others will opt for smaller cabinets and fill in the bass with a helper woofer. Some like it when a small driver and woofer go together in the same cabinet, in what's referred to as a FAST system. It really is a personal thing, that's why there are so many ideas and systems out there. Me, I can't make up my mind so I go for the 'variety' type solution.

The reason you see me a lot is I am a Moderator so duty calls many times a day.

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Old 3rd July 2014, 09:32 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forum Pete. See you on the forums... as Cal says, lots of different ways to approach things... and a warning, like cookies, it is really hard to stop at just one, so don't be afraid to just build something, what you learn will influence what you build next

dave
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Old 3rd July 2014, 09:57 PM   #6
chrisb is offline chrisb  Canada
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Pete: yes, Cal is our own one man welcoming committee

as for "suggestions / guidance" from any forum members, or your local audio-nut friends - remember to be careful what you wish for - it's way too easy to get dizzy from the contradictory helpful advice

trust your ears - if a pair of 2A3 mono blocks and 4" full ranger in a BLH work for you, don't let anyone talk you out of it - with any luck you won't hear or read about something "better" that you could easily build, and will be blissfully groovin' while the rest of us obsess and gnash our teeth over each perceived minutia of imperfection of our ever changing systems - aka pernicious audio nervosa

geeze, I made that sound like a bad thing
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Old 3rd July 2014, 10:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planet10 View Post
Welcome to the forum Pete. See you on the forums... as Cal says, lots of different ways to approach things... and a warning, like cookies, it is really hard to stop at just one, so don't be afraid to just build something, what you learn will influence what you build next

dave

Thanks man.... Unfortunately I am kinda feeling just the opposite here. I have been into a lot of different hobbies. The reality of this is that I have come to see that there is usually a BETTER way to do things and components to buy and things to build and then there is the Cheaper way or ways more accurately. The thing is that I have been down the road to the cheaper paths and typically wound up redoing things and wishing I had done this other thing the first time. I really do not want to go this route again. I would much prefer to delve deep into this and buy and build the right stuff the first time and then worry about it once and enjoy it for the duration. I also realize that sound is very subjective and everyone probably has their own version of what is BEST. I think that the 2A3 amps look very cool and without having heard them before I am not sure what exactly they will sound like. I also like the sound of those back loading horns and I am sure they are amazing if done properly. What I am not sure of is what is the BEST SOUNDING fullest and most clear setup I can get into that I can build myself here that will not break the bank. Is there a setup to be the most widely enjoyed type that you guys are building?

Is the monoblock setup pairs the best way to go or is the stereo tube amp better overall.. This is the kind of information I am wanting. You mentioned a club or social music enjoying community and I would LOVE to hear that there are some local to me that I can experience and meet like minded folks. I have found this to be very stimulating and enjoyable in other hobbies. The fellow who turned me onto this idea lives down in northern Ga and I will most likely try to get with him and maybe pay a visit to meet him and see his custom build audio componentry. This is probably going to NOT be the first setup I build but I DEFINITELY want the first one I do to be something very special. Peace

Pete
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Old 4th July 2014, 10:16 PM   #8
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Make it special Pete but make sure you research all avenues first and come back here with your ideas. Research involves listening to a lot of systems in many different rooms.

diyAudio: Next to women, probably the most effective way of eliminating disposable income.

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Old 4th July 2014, 10:57 PM   #9
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Monoblocks have that air of high-end, and definitely have their advantages. The main disadvantage is cost. Chassis fabrication can be expensive and is time-consuming, but great fun.

Building the entire setup up from a scratch without some kind of reference will be challenging, but certainly possible. If i were you i'd examine what audio setup you have or can scrape together today, and get a baseline going. Horns and tube amps are held by many to be the gold standard of fidelity. Its downsides tend to be WAF(Wife Acceptance Factor) and cost of operation for the amps. Not only do they generally consume more energy(less efficient) but tubes invariably wear out(although with some careful considerations they can last a long time).

If i were you i'd start by getting a cheap but good second hand set of speakers and a stereo integrated amp. Also consider the sources, where is the music going to come from?

In my own case, i had converted my music from CD's to mp3s(lossy format) but once i upgraded my amp and got a bigger listening room, all of a sudden the mp3's weren't good enough("a veil was lifted...") and i had to go back and re-convert to FLAC(lossless format).

That started the craze again for me and i got my hands on a Subbu/J-P DAC expertly built by a fellow DIY:er here. I already had a commercial DAC i had bought second hand, and this allowed me to try them both for extended lengths of time, and in the end i preferred the Subbu DAC. Next up was an amp, also designed by diyaudio members, the Fetzilla. It's still getting the finishing touches but so far it has also delivered the goods. A preamp using LDR's is in a project planning phase, and when it's complete my signal chain will be all diy, save for sources and speakers.

TL;DR:
* Get a baseline going. You need a point of reference to know if your efforts are in the direction you want them to go.

* Don't be afraid to experiment. Not everyone has similar taste, and don't be afraid to try something out even if people here(usually who have never built it) dismiss it.

* Limit your scope, especially at first. Pick one component you want to make a DIY version of, such as the amp. If tubes tickles your fancy, by all means go for it. Expect to pay a premium for quality iron. Start with current-production tubes, then check out NOS.
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Old 6th July 2014, 06:18 AM   #10
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Default Okay...

I actually already have what I thought was a decent system before I realized what you all were up to around here. I have a Denon AVR3000 receiver with a Denon CD and some KEF mains, I have some Boston Acoustics rear speakers and an Miller and Kreisel powered sub. The center is an off brand unfortunately. The problem I am seeing is that if I want to go with this hifi low power tube amps the speakers must be very efficient and most of the full range drivers I am finding here are relatively low max watt rated. I could probably run them off the Denon to test my new speakers but it would not be optimal whatsoever apparently. I am also quite interested in getting a better input option than the CD's altho I have the vast majority of my music collection on them. I have ripped them all seemingly to the PC now and onto my smartphone. I would be interested in hearing ideas for how to best get this music into the system and in what format to attain the very best possible sound recreation.


The comment you made about horns and tube amps being the pinnacle is interesting. I personally have never heard such a system but looking around at various audiophile sites and other sources this seems to be the case. I know not having a frame of reference and limited experience in this field overall limits my chances of hitting the home run here. However I intend to lean on you folks to find well trodden paths and avenues that lead to what would be a successful end. I see a lot of different speaker designs. I think the fact that I want most likely to do a full range horn style makes it simpler overall. You may find me guilty of being the type that is almost as concerned with the way a speaker looks as the way it sounds. Being a Professional woodworker for many years I have grown accustomed to seeing beautiful wood and finishes so I will do my best to make whatever design I decide on something special.

The amp part of the equation is another story. As I said I am not new to wiring, soldering, or electronics. I am however completely new to building these tube amps and again I was hoping to be pointed in the direction of a style of amp that is both beautiful sounding and adequate for the speakers I intend to build as well as well doccumented here so I can just follow the path grasshopper and hopefully I can find my way. I also understand that there are many different kits available in various stages of completion for many of the more common amp styles. Hopefully with some version of this and whatever I feel competent attempting myself I will be able to arrive at a suitable amp setup to be proud of. I have already been contacted by a couple members who offered advice and help for which I am most grateful.

The thing that I really want to avoid however... and I have been down that road before, is to decide on something simply because it is EASY or COMMON. This is precisely what I do not want. I wish to challenge myself with this endeavor and learn from it. If there is an amp out there that is perfect for the kind of music I listen to and the type of speaker I am going to build yet it is NOT as simple or easy to do as others, well.. that is precisely the one I want to build. If the fact of the matter is that a particular amp is both simple to construct as well as highly efficient and sounds wonderful for the type of speaker I am going to build then so be it. I will spend my extra time and skill doing whatever I can to make it look more beautiful so when people come over to hear that beautiful sound coming from my house they will get to enjoy that part of it as well. Does that make sense?

I wish to thank all of you in advance for all of the ideas and suggestions that have been given, and those that will be given. I really want to get all of your best ideas for this. As it has been said before previously I am quite sure this is not the only system I will wind up building but I fully intend to build something to be proud of and something beautiful both sonically and aesthetically. Thanks guys. Peace

Pete
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