S15: Econowave DSP - a Constant Directivity vs Dipole study
I had been intrigued by constant directivity loudspeaker topology since reading rave reviews of Geddes speakers (gedlee.com). The cost of building one, however prevented me to have a go. Soon I found out that Zilch and his mates at audiokarma had been measuring impressive commercial waveguides available to the public. This had opened new possibilities.
I have since incorporated the waveguides to my dipoles with somewhat success. Then I also read a rather disturbing find when a group of listeners preferred a Behringer over the Orions which I look up to. The Behringers are in the same school of thought with CD design. Lacking tools, I pulled out my fingers and built these.
Unpainted and unglued at the moment. But sealed well enough.
The design is loosely based on Standard Econowave.
36.8cm (W) x 60.6cm(H) x 33cm (D). Sealed box.
Basically made from 33cm x 1.8cm cutouts.
Stuffed with pillow fill liberally.
High: Selenium D220Ti-8, a screw-on compression driver
Low: Woofer: Eminence Beta 12a - 8 Ohm.
DJCity YD-L033 - HORN ABS RESIN 162X303X107MM. $20.
This is similar to the Econowave Standard waveguide: JBL 1" thread-on Progressive Transition, Part# 338800-001,
or its clone: Pyle Pro PH612 (partsexpress.com) or Dayton clone
XO: Active, using MiniDSP
High pass filter: 1khz LR4
Horn Notch: 1900hz, -4db, Q=1.4
Tweeter protect: 68uF non-polar capacitor
Low pass filter: 1khz LR4
Driver notch 1 : 704hz, -3db, Q=3
Driver notch 2 : 1037hz, -3db, Q=6
Linkwitz transform (note: will depend on box volume & stuffing)
- measured f and Q: f=84.59, Q=0.82
- Target f and Q: f=20hz, Q=0.5. Calculated values:
Global (Baffle step compensation):
Shelving low-shelf: 186hz, 6db, Q=1
I encountered dramas with the measurement. My turntable is too small for the speakers (designed for flat dipole baffles). I could not rotate the speakers on its acoustic axis so take this with a grain of salt. I also had to normalise to 0deg. btw. it was unstable enough to fall and smash my window.
I'm in an early stages of understanding these types of speakers. But they are very positive. Let me address my intial skepticm with box speakers first:
- No, these speakers don't sound "boxy".
- No, the bass does not drone as I observed with many commercial designs.
- Yes, the big 12" drivers do reproduce high frequencies fine. Very fine in fact.
Comparing to the Dipoles, these are my first impressions which may or may not change over time:
The bass is not bad. In fact I thought they are tighter and went deeper than the dipoles although both are shaped to reproduce 20hz Q=0.5. Initially I thought the midbass was missing, but then baffle step compensation fixed it. The dipoles sounds more "even". This is perhaps why the CD speakers need multisub (?).
The CD speakers reproduce mid-high flawlessly and this manifest in very realistic female vocals. The dipoles have long had issues with high frequency dispersion which is not ideal and is work in progress.
Score: CD Speakers
The presentation of these speakers is definitely different than dipoles. They are more "forceful" to the ears/brain and very focussed. I am not saying the imaging collapses like generic hifi speakers. They are open, but not like dipoles. This was very impressive at first but I grew tired of it over time like in a few days.
I can relate people who owns dipole listening to these types of speakers and gobsmacked by the imaging. But I really don't think it holds well over time. We'll see.
Although I knew their sensitivity is ridiculously high (97+db), it is only when turning the knob that I knew the effect. They are willing to play at any level long....long .... before my ears gave up.
Comparing to dipoles, however, it is different. When the dipoles volume is turned up they don't "feel" loud but "more envelopment" rather. The CD speakers on the other hand sounds *very loud*. Again, feels like a forceful speakers. I don't know if it is due to pressure source vs. velocity source nature of both speakers.With the same level of comfort, I actually listen to the dipoles louder.
Score: Unsure (CD speakers if mere SPL is the concern)
Not a straight "These speakers are better than those" it seems. The CD speakers are great speakers in a lot of ways and are cheaper to build than the dipoles. But they may be tiring to listen to over time. If I have Home Theatre (which I don't) then these are the speakers which I would choose. These would be the speakers to impress friends.
The dipoles, on the other hand, are very neutral speakers to listen to music to. The mid-high transition needs to be fixed somehow to be on par with the CD. The dipoles would be the speakers to choose for long term listening, which I do (generally 3-4 hours of listening every day).
I will report in a few weeks time should my opinion change. If you have experience with both types of speakers please do post your opinion
I like these macho speakers )
you may try to listen to woofer and compression driver separately.
that "foceful" sound may come from 12" woofer being crossed too high.
also I'd try lower crossover.
"Forceful" is due to lack of better word. I am trying to describe the way these speakers presents the wall of sound.
Perhaps someone else can propose a better word.
SL did a similar study, and his choice of word was "rectangular window"
I cannot relate a "rectangular window" in my observations with these speakers. It's hard to describe subjective observation.
I can, however relate to SL's finding that the speakers can be tiring to hear over time.
Excellent work and superb summary. You have a way of expressing thoughts in a simple manner that is easy to understand.
I've been enjoying my dipoles too and I'm reading about the Econowaves..... I may build something similar... so keep the thoughts coming.
Thanks. I am struggling with English actually as my native language does not have any Gender, Time (past, present, etc), nor Singular-plural concept of expression :p
If you're planning to build the ewaves, I can only recommend them. They are superb speakers and the design approach I think is valid. Then hopefully we can compare notes !
I missed this out:
One ascpect which I anticipated with monopoles is the "slam" factor. I expected that the CD will perform better in terms of dynamics, the snaps of snare drums, for example. But as I found out, this is not the case. The dipoles are actually more dynamic and snare drums and percussions are reproduced with better transients and gusto. The CD excel in low frequency slam like bass drums. No clear definite winner.
Thanks for your comments. Some may look at what you built and suggest it's nothing more than a dj speaker. I am familiar with dj speakers and the latest ones i 'fixed' had blown tweeters. They were being blasted for hours a day at a karate school. The crossover was 6khz... mated to 15" woofers. Obviously this was done to allow the speaker to handle more power rather than sound its best. Your speaker is built for good sound in a home environment. I like pro sound drivers and bet you have something interesting and worthwhile there.
PS, currently i am building something with the Beta 12lta and CD tweeter... but crossed around 8 - 10khz... i am hoping for something good.
Thanks Zilla! I can provide some perspective on the other end... I've heard a big tractrix horn with JBL CDs mated to two sealed kappa pro 12" woofers. The crossover was 400 Hz. Ohhh... what realistic sound. Simply effortless and real. Trumpets sound like trumpets... one of the hardest instruments to reproduce correctly.
I bet the ewaves don't do this and probably because the horn is crossed too high. Anyway, crossing it lower using a horn is a whole different ball game... it certainly won't be 'econo!'
Looking good, great post as usual, will follow with interest.
I assume the "Tweeter protect: 68uF non-polar capacitor" is just incase the MiniDSP goes haywire & sends the LF to the tweeter?
How did you implement the "Tweeter protect: 68uF non-polar capacitor" a photo would be good:D
How did you learn how to do the the "Transform Thingy" Would it be useful in my new OB's I'm going to start playing with the MiniDSP in a couple of days.
The cap is basically a 300hz highpass 1st order passive xo:
amp ==> 68uf caps ==> tweeters
The implication is there will be phase shift so this needs to be accounted in the delay.
About Linkwitz transorm, yes it's one of the most powerful filter in existence. Even more important with dipoles. Have a read here:
And for miniDSP implementation, download the spreadsheet:
MiniDSP - Linkwitz Transform
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