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marchel 20th August 2009 12:56 PM

L18/tbfc vs B&W N805 speaker review.
Dear Diy friends,

While DIYaudio was upgrading , I just finish my L18/tbfc of Zaph's design, Which I started doing many months ago.

I have the N805 for a long time , and I know inside/out what it's strength and weaknesses.

The L18 dont need long break in period, as opposed to the N805. The L18 woofer have loose suspension compared to the N805......

Fast forward to sound quality. Which what really matters.

On bass:
The L18 blows away the N805 in terms of extension and loudness, The L18 seems to have longer xmax than the N805 woofer, Although both produce thigh and clear bass, the L18 sounds more effortless on loud bass, and produces less audible distortion in the bass region when loud.

To be continued...

marchel 20th August 2009 01:22 PM

On midrange:
Both speaker retrieves details about equally, I dugged my music collection , form jass to rock, To expose any anomally, like cone break up or raggedness.
Both speaker are very smooth in this department, yet, doe'snt get shy on revealing details. Both speakers have the ability to differentiate between layers and layers of vocals. However, due to the lower xmax of the N805, the Midrange is affected when the bass hits, much earlier than in the L18.

On sensitivity or efficiency:
It is apparent at first listen that the L18 is less sensitive or less efficient than the N805, Which I can observe on the position of the volume control. However, the N805 have seems to have less baffle step compensation.

On treble:
In this area, The L18 cant touch the N805, The N805 is arier, the highs on the N805 is more dispersed, Due to the way the tweeter on the N805 is mounted, I wish manufacturers would make more/better top mount metal tweeter. The detail retrieval in the highs between the two is about equal though.

On dynamic distortion:
Again, Due to lower apparent xmax, The N805 could not keep up with the L18 in this department, The L18 could go substantially louder than the N805.

Tonal balance:
I like the tonal balance of the L18 better, The L18 have about 4db BSC, the N805 seems to have less, Or maybe its the electronics, but I wont go there.

Crossover integration:
While the N805 have seamless Xo integration , The L18 is even more seamless, Both uses 4th order xo, But the L18 have lower XO point, 2000hz vs 3000hz on the N805, This also means that the sound on the L18 change less as you stand and sit on the couch or chair.

I consider the B&W N805 , for a long time ,to be a high end, High quality speaker, And it is. But in terms of performance the L18 is even more High End. Only in the Highs, looks and box construction , where the B&W N805 wins, But the rest, The L18 gets the madal. Overall , The L18 wins, The L18 is more satisfying in terms of overall sound quality.

I hope I did'nt bore you.:)

BTW: The staff of DIYaudio did a great job in upgrading this site, I would like to congratulate them.

Thank you very much.

sangram 20th August 2009 01:54 PM

Thanks for the review Marchel. I was looking for a review like this for a while.

I bought my parts about three years ago and the project went into cold storage because of the lack of a good woodworker to make the boxes for me (small apartments = no possibility of woodworking).

I relocated and my project is soon to be completed, but I can tell it will at least be the equal of the Usher Mini-Dancers - basically Usher 8945P/9980BE or Dayton RS28A. The L18 sound excellent - what they lose out to more 'expensive' speakers in terms of absolute driver quality, they gain back from the wonderful crossover. I used some exotic parts in mine - Alpha-core coils, Eagle metal films and Solen caps - how was your crossover constructed? do you have more pictures of the insides and construction phase?

I took a lot of pics, will put up mine soon, comparing them with the Dynaudio BM6 and the Usher Mini-Dancers, and also what I remember of the Usher BE-718 I used to run. Both the Dynaudio and BE-718 are likely competitors for the L18, though I feel that the L18 will be a bit better than the BM6 and at least the equal of the Usher BE-718, as per my first impressions.

marchel 20th August 2009 03:37 PM

Hi ,

I forgot to take a pic of the xo recently, my old pic of the xo is in my dead laptop and I cant retrieve it.

The Xo is made of 4X5" piece of 1/2" mdf, With terminal stip running along the center, The coils are positioned on one side so that the interference would be minimized and the caps and resistors are placed on the other side of the terminal strip, Using zip tie and bluetack , to eliminate vibrational noise. The board is then screwed on the floor inside the box, The Box itself have vertical brace.

I did'nt veneer the box, cause I wanted it to look like a real DIY amateur speaker.

I'm sure you're gonna like what you'll hear once you finish yours, I'm sure you're gonna find these metal drivers are very good in retrieving details.

This speaker is very transparent sounding.

sangram 20th August 2009 03:56 PM

Thanks - what I like best is the complete absence of intermodulation of the midrange by loud bass, it just sounds louder and louder till the woofer runs out of excursion, but the midrange is still clear as a bell. I estimate they will be about 85-86dB efficient when put into their final boxes (they're in open air testing now).

The Usher woofers are excellent too, but they seem to start muddying the midrange when pushed a little hard, but overall the speakers are a fraction cleaner (they're a full 6dB BSC, as far as I could tell, they hate being pushed to the wall) due to the better motor of the Usher tweeter too. They cost about 6x of the L18s though, but I already love them to bits. I can't wait for the boxes to come in :)

I assembled my crossovers on copper clad board with large groundplanes (not carrying current), and used two pieces of board back to back to create a full ground shield, and used hot glue and cable ties to hold down the components, and soldered them point-to point on a pattern I created on the top face, using an angle grinder :p

marchel 9th March 2010 12:59 PM

Dear all,

It's been a long time since I've done a DIY audio , But now I finally have the time and desire to do so. :)

To Whom this may concern.

I decided to update and upgrade this project, The changes I made are:

1. Change the color to metallic black.

2. Increase the tweeter level by 2 db, By changing the 3.9 and 3.3 ohms resistors to 3.3 and 4.7 ohms respectively.

3. I increased the baffle's edge radius from 1/2 inch to almost 3/4 inch.

4. Did away with the felt in the front baffle.

5. Changed the mdf xo base to acrylic.

6. Added more mdf braces on top, bottom , rear , front and sides using liquid nail like adhesive.

7. And added more foam sound dampeners inside.

As of now I still haven't finished the xo. The tweeter level will be tuned by adding resistance before the 6.8mf tweeter caps.

Pix below.

sangram 11th March 2010 04:38 PM

Looks nice :)

I just got mine up and running earlier today. My reference speakers are the Usher mini-Dancers and yes, these don't match the highs and don't have the air of the Beryllium tweeters.

The bass also doe not reach as deep because the enclosure is smaller than the large floorstanding ones built by Usher.

However, the midrange coherency is absolutely stunning, and the amount of detail is also very very good for a speaker with such a humble price tag. I still have to put some felt on the baffle (terribly cut countersinks, a job gone wrong) and it looks pretty ugly, so no pics from me just yet. But I'm so satisfied with these that I feel no need to switch back to my reference speakers just yet.

I'd say I got much more than I bargained for. Very nice sounding project :)

marchel 12th March 2010 11:22 AM

Hi, Thanks,

I just have these running yesterday, And would say that increasing the tweeter level is a definite must try, The highs are better now.

sangram 13th March 2010 03:43 AM

I'll try that - though I don't have an issue with the level, but the quality of the highs. Seems to be getting a little better as they run in, or maybe I'm getting used to it :)

I have one question for you - when you cut the felt around the driver rims in the earlier avatar, what did you use? Was it a perfect circle? I have some kind of felt that frays at the edges as it cuts, so the edge is not going to be very neat. Any tips will be appreciated.

marchel 13th March 2010 04:37 AM

I used a sharp cutter , a drinking glass and a soup bowl of appropriate size to cut.

First I drew the pattern on paper , then stapled the paper on the pre-cut piece of felt, Then laid the felt and pattern on a piece of flat surface. I then placed the glass upside down in the circle pattern on top of the paper, Pressing the glass down, I then used the cutter to cut through, I used the bowl for the woofer's hole.

I did several gentle passes with the cutter until the circle separated. The circle is pretty much perfect and clean.

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