Which to build / Listening Impressions? Ekta Grande, NADA, or Illumina-66? - diyAudio
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Old 30th March 2013, 12:07 AM   #1
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Default Which to build / Listening Impressions? Ekta Grande, NADA, or Illumina-66?

Iím looking for a floorstander for my living room/theater. The living room system is an Integra DHC-80.2 > Emotiva XPA-5, with dual DIY JL Audio 12w7 subwoofers, Polk LSiFX surrounds, and a Clearwave 2c center channel. My room is 15' deep x 22' wide, with an open stairway to the rest of the house. My speaker tastes are 38-45" tall towers under 10 inches wide. I like precise imaging, a wide soundstage, and laid back sound. I'll be using the subs 60Hz and under, but would like a speaker that plays loud with impactful bass in the 70-200 Hz region (which is what my current LSi25s are missing). In commercial speakers, I'm more of a Sonus Faber Cremona than B&W 802D guy.

After months and months of research, I was ready to build the Ekta Grande. I stopped by Madisound for a listening session with my test CD I've heard on dozens of systems, and listened to the Zaph ZRT, Rediscovery, Seas Idunn, and Klang + Ton NADA speakers. My hope was that the ZRT would sound great to confirm my build intentions of a revelator-based tower.

First, all the speakers sounded good. The differences really were about preferences. The ZRT was the first and last speaker listened to, and had nice deep bass, a smooth sound, but didn't stand out in imaging precision. On the positive, my "width" test track showed the sound extending well beyond the width of the speakers. Overall though, to me, it sounded like good speakers and not like instruments. The towers were short, putting the tweeters below my head while seated, so I tried sitting low to see if it improved anything, but it didn't seem to. These were the Madisound enclosures, so maybe that was the issue?

Next up was the Rediscovery. These were large bookshelf versions. They sounded very similar to the ZRT, just a little less refined, and a little boomier in the bass. They had a similar sound to the ZRT though.
The Idunn had very precise imaging. Musician locations were clearly and precisely defined, but the soundstage was limited to between the speakers. The tonal balance was bright to my taste, and lacked the bass of the rest of the speakers.

The NADA was up next. While it didn't go quite as low as the revelator based woofers, the illuminator had good punch in the bass it could produce. The width of the soundstage extended past the speakers like the revelator designs. The imaging precision was much better though, and shockingly, on one of my test tracks (Radiohead Ė Feral), the drums were clearly focused during the bass heavy segments. Iíve never heard this on any of the other systems Iíve auditioned.

After the experience at Madisound, Iíve started to rethink my decisions. Is the Illuminator woofer a much more ďdetailedĒ woofer than the revelator, or is it due to other factors in the system, such as crossover components, cabinet quality or tweeters? Will the 12M in the Ekta Grande match the 18WU in detail in the midrange?

Any thoughts from anyone else whoís heard both? I probably canít afford a three or four driver Illuminator based system, so I think my decision will be between a 3-way revelator and a 2-way illuminator. Any thoughts on this? My only other concern, with a 2-way design, will there be enough mid-bass punch from 2 7Ē woofers at my seating position 11Ē away?
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Old 2nd April 2013, 04:04 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by druf2000 View Post
Iím looking for a floorstander for my living room/theater. The living room system is an Integra DHC-80.2 > Emotiva XPA-5, with dual DIY JL Audio 12w7 subwoofers, Polk LSiFX surrounds, and a Clearwave 2c center channel.
Why the clearwave center with the Polks? Not to knock them in any way, but it is generally considered a good idea to try and keep things consistent between the two mains and the center channel, to help ease any L-C-R sound discontinuities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by druf2000 View Post
I'll be using the subs 60Hz and under, but would like a speaker that plays loud with impactful bass in the 70-200 Hz region (which is what my current LSi25s are missing).
Your LSi25s are not particularly efficient speakers, but none of the replacements you are looking at are either. It might be worthwhile to consider something with higher efficiency. A 94db efficient speaker would effectively give you x4 the power (relative to your LSi) with the same amp. Of course your LSi25s do have the powered woofers and they are what tend to suck up most of the power.

But it does sound like the aesthetics of the cabinet are likely to be an issue for you. Most of the high efficiency designs have very plain boxy cabinets and a waveguide for the compression driver, neither of which are lovely to look at.

Quote:
Originally Posted by druf2000 View Post
First, all the speakers sounded good. The differences really were about preferences. The ZRT was the first and last speaker listened to, and had nice deep bass, a smooth sound, but didn't stand out in imaging precision. On the positive, my "width" test track showed the sound extending well beyond the width of the speakers. Overall though, to me, it sounded like good speakers and not like instruments. The towers were short, putting the tweeters below my head while seated, so I tried sitting low to see if it improved anything, but it didn't seem to. These were the Madisound enclosures, so maybe that was the issue?
As long as you are not using an enclosure which is either unsuited for the design or which makes changes (like in the geometry of the front which affect baffle step compensation) that the crossover was not designed with in mind, the "quality" of the enclosure shouldn't be anything other than an aesthetic issue.

It is possible to adjust things like height in an enclosure without needing to worry about changing things. You shouldn't dramatically decrease the internal volume, but increasing it usually shouldn't hurt things and can provide at least somewhat improve bass. Just make sure to check out the new volume in something like WinISD and don't forget to take into account things like stuffing or bracing and how they reduce the available volume.

Quote:
Originally Posted by druf2000 View Post
Next up was the Rediscovery. These were large bookshelf versions. They sounded very similar to the ZRT, just a little less refined, and a little boomier in the bass. They had a similar sound to the ZRT though.
The Idunn had very precise imaging. Musician locations were clearly and precisely defined, but the soundstage was limited to between the speakers. The tonal balance was bright to my taste, and lacked the bass of the rest of the speakers.

The NADA was up next. While it didn't go quite as low as the revelator based woofers, the illuminator had good punch in the bass it could produce. The width of the soundstage extended past the speakers like the revelator designs. The imaging precision was much better though, and shockingly, on one of my test tracks (Radiohead Ė Feral), the drums were clearly focused during the bass heavy segments. Iíve never heard this on any of the other systems Iíve auditioned.
Don't forget that the room can have a substantial effect on the sound of things and that is the first thing I tend to think of when I start hearing descriptions like "bright". After better speakers, room treatments offer the next biggest bang for your buck in improved sound quality and a bad room can ruin the best sounding speakers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by druf2000 View Post
After the experience at Madisound, Iíve started to rethink my decisions. Is the Illuminator woofer a much more ďdetailedĒ woofer than the revelator, or is it due to other factors in the system, such as crossover components, cabinet quality or tweeters? Will the 12M in the Ekta Grande match the 18WU in detail in the midrange?

Any thoughts from anyone else whoís heard both? I probably canít afford a three or four driver Illuminator based system, so I think my decision will be between a 3-way revelator and a 2-way illuminator. Any thoughts on this? My only other concern, with a 2-way design, will there be enough mid-bass punch from 2 7Ē woofers at my seating position 11Ē away?
IIRC, you will loose about 10db at 11 ft. So a 88db speaker driven by 350 wpc (4 ohm xpa-5) will have a max spl of about 106db at full blast.

You cannot cheat the laws of physics, if you want "punch" you need either power or surface area to move air. However, your XPA-5 is going to provide about as much power as makes a difference. Given the way power requirements double for every 3db increase in SPL, you would need about 2800 watts to provide a a 9db increase in SPL.

The crossover, is going to have a significant effect on the final "sound", in many ways just as much as the drivers chosen. Since it does really determine what the drivers "see" in terms of output and it has to compensate for any quirks or flaws.
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Old 2nd April 2013, 05:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Generic George View Post
Why the clearwave center with the Polks? Not to knock them in any way, but it is generally considered a good idea to try and keep things consistent between the two mains and the center channel, to help ease any L-C-R sound discontinuities.

Your LSi25s are not particularly efficient speakers, but none of the replacements you are looking at are either. It might be worthwhile to consider something with higher efficiency. A 94db efficient speaker would effectively give you x4 the power (relative to your LSi) with the same amp. Of course your LSi25s do have the powered woofers and they are what tend to suck up most of the power.

But it does sound like the aesthetics of the cabinet are likely to be an issue for you. Most of the high efficiency designs have very plain boxy cabinets and a waveguide for the compression driver, neither of which are lovely to look at.

As long as you are not using an enclosure which is either unsuited for the design or which makes changes (like in the geometry of the front which affect baffle step compensation) that the crossover was not designed with in mind, the "quality" of the enclosure shouldn't be anything other than an aesthetic issue.

It is possible to adjust things like height in an enclosure without needing to worry about changing things. You shouldn't dramatically decrease the internal volume, but increasing it usually shouldn't hurt things and can provide at least somewhat improve bass. Just make sure to check out the new volume in something like WinISD and don't forget to take into account things like stuffing or bracing and how they reduce the available volume.

Don't forget that the room can have a substantial effect on the sound of things and that is the first thing I tend to think of when I start hearing descriptions like "bright". After better speakers, room treatments offer the next biggest bang for your buck in improved sound quality and a bad room can ruin the best sounding speakers.

IIRC, you will loose about 10db at 11 ft. So a 88db speaker driven by 350 wpc (4 ohm xpa-5) will have a max spl of about 106db at full blast.

You cannot cheat the laws of physics, if you want "punch" you need either power or surface area to move air. However, your XPA-5 is going to provide about as much power as makes a difference. Given the way power requirements double for every 3db increase in SPL, you would need about 2800 watts to provide a 9db increase in SPL.

The crossover, is going to have a significant effect on the final "sound", in many ways just as much as the drivers chosen. Since it does really determine what the drivers "see" in terms of output and it has to compensate for any quirks or flaws.
Thanks for your response! It's great insight.

I have the LSiC, but it's "boxy" or "cupped" sounding with some dialog, so I'm using the 2c instead, which has improved things. I don't use the powered subs in the towers, and use 2 JL Audio 12w7 DIY subwoofers instead. It's not so much that I'm looking for more SPL from the speakers, just that the Polks have several nulls in the 70-160 Hz area, which I think are stealing the "punch" from the kick drum area. I measured them in two separate rooms and verified the null isn't created by the room. Overall SPL is fine, it's just a very specific frequency region I'm looking for improvement in.

It's not a dedicated room, so yes, aesthetics are an issue.

As far as the listening test, the Idunn speakers had a brighter overall sound (to my ears) than the other 3 designs. Bright in this case, may have meant a lack of low end to round out the sound, as opposed to a rising treble response. The speakers were in the exact same locations in the same room, the same equipment, and same listening position.

I've decided to give the "Jenzen Illuminator" speakers a try for what will be my 8th DIY/kit speaker, except that I'll use D3004/6620 speakers I have on the shelf instead of the 6600.
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Old 2nd April 2013, 07:51 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by druf2000 View Post
It's not so much that I'm looking for more SPL from the speakers, just that the Polks have several nulls in the 70-160 Hz area, which I think are stealing the "punch" from the kick drum area. I measured them in two separate rooms and verified the null isn't created by the room. Overall SPL is fine, it's just a very specific frequency region I'm looking for improvement in.
I suspect that your problem is that you aren't using the built in subs. Two 5.25" drivers aren't going to be producing much output in the 70-160hz range. That's what the powered subs are for, their crossover range is listed as 60hz-180hz

Have you tried turning them back on?

Quote:
Originally Posted by druf2000 View Post
As far as the listening test, the Idunn speakers had a brighter overall sound (to my ears) than the other 3 designs. Bright in this case, may have meant a lack of low end to round out the sound, as opposed to a rising treble response. The speakers were in the exact same locations in the same room, the same equipment, and same listening position.

I've decided to give the "Jenzen Illuminator" speakers a try for what will be my 8th DIY/kit speaker, except that I'll use D3004/6620 speakers I have on the shelf instead of the 6600.
That should probably work. Their impedance curves seem pretty much identical and the D3004/6620 seem to be smoother with pretty much the same frequency response. You might want to get some input on the crossover though. It may have some tweeks to handle some of the areas with less than ideal responses on the other tweeter.
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Old 2nd April 2013, 08:16 PM   #5
ScottG is offline ScottG  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by druf2000 View Post
..I like precise imaging, a wide soundstage, and laid back sound. I'll be using the subs 60Hz and under, but would like a speaker that plays loud with impactful bass in the 70-200 Hz region (which is what my current LSi25s are missing). In commercial speakers, I'm more of a Sonus Faber Cremona.. guy..

I'm not sure how much "punch" these speakers will provide, and they aren't floor-standers, but they should otherwise *very* closely match the sort of sound you are looking for:

Kairos (Pair)

View topic - The Kairos thread • Meniscus Audio Forum

http://meniscusaudio.com/images/The%...ff%20Bagby.pdf


Apparently meniscus even sells cabinets if so desired..

Other links:

SB Acoustics Satori Monitor
http://www.zaphaudio.com/blog.html
http://www.audioexcite.com/?page_id=3131

Same midbass driver design used as a mid. for the latest Wilson Audio Alexia.
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Last edited by ScottG; 2nd April 2013 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 2nd April 2013, 08:17 PM   #6
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Regarding the LSi25, the built in subs are pretty terrible. Their default crossover is 80Hz, which is what JL Audio subs are crossed over at. I'm sure there is something with either the porting or crossover on the 5.25" drivers that's causing the nulls, but it doesn't matter much, as I'll be selling them anyways and don't really need to troubleshoot the issue.

Regarding the tweeters, that was my observations too. If figured if the levels, rolloff, and impedance curve were exactly the same, it should work ok. I don't see anything in the crossover that should cause issues, such as notch filters beside for impedance, but I'm not expert, and Troels won't offer help with that.
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Old 3rd April 2013, 02:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by druf2000 View Post
Regarding the LSi25, the built in subs are pretty terrible. Their default crossover is 80Hz, which is what JL Audio subs are crossed over at. I'm sure there is something with either the porting or crossover on the 5.25" drivers that's causing the nulls, but it doesn't matter much, as I'll be selling them anyways and don't really need to troubleshoot the issue.

Regarding the tweeters, that was my observations too. If figured if the levels, rolloff, and impedance curve were exactly the same, it should work ok. I don't see anything in the crossover that should cause issues, such as notch filters beside for impedance, but I'm not expert, and Troels won't offer help with that.
Have you asked him, if he thinks there would be an issue? He was quite helpful when I had some questions about some minor changes to the SEAS W15CY001 + Fountek NeoCD3.

People seem to be asking about the Beryllium tweeter and mods, but these two are significantly different. Where as these two are in the same series and I think the only real difference is the "diffraction Damping Rubber Front".
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Old 3rd April 2013, 07:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Generic George View Post
Have you asked him, if he thinks there would be an issue? He was quite helpful when I had some questions about some minor changes to the SEAS W15CY001 + Fountek NeoCD3.

People seem to be asking about the Beryllium tweeter and mods, but these two are significantly different. Where as these two are in the same series and I think the only real difference is the "diffraction Damping Rubber Front".
Yeah, he said "You would need a new tweeter crossover and I canít help due to this: http://www.troelsgravesen.dk/crossovers.htm"
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Old 3rd April 2013, 08:22 PM   #9
SpirosZ is offline SpirosZ  Greece
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I can't help you as I haven't heard any of the speakers you mentioned but I believe you should also put these on your shortlist.
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Old 3rd April 2013, 08:30 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ScottG View Post
I'm not sure how much "punch" these speakers will provide, and they aren't floor-standers, but they should otherwise *very* closely match the sort of sound you are looking for:

Kairos (Pair)

View topic - The Kairos thread • Meniscus Audio Forum

http://meniscusaudio.com/images/The%...ff%20Bagby.pdf


Apparently meniscus even sells cabinets if so desired..

Other links:

SB Acoustics Satori Monitor
Zaph|Audio
www.audioexcite.com SB Acoustics “Satori” MW16P-4

Same midbass driver design used as a mid. for the latest Wilson Audio Alexia.
I've heard good things about that driver. I already have the Illuminator tweeter and midwoofer though...
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