|11th June 2004, 04:05 AM||#1|
Join Date: May 2004
Cloning the BassZilla Platinum
I am very interested the BassZilla Platinum designed by Mr. Dick Olsher (http://store.hifiauthority.com/olsherkits.html). The plan was last revised in April 2004.
Given Mr. Olsher's reputation, I have absolutely no doubt that his design sounds good. It seems silly if I don't fully adopt his plan, given that Mr. Olsher must have already designed and made the speaker to sound as good as it can get, and especially given that I am a new DIYer with little knowledge about speakers.
So, why cloning? Have a look at the prices (all in USD$) for the Aussies:
2 x Fostex FE208EZ - USA: $350 (Madisound) OZ: $643 (syntec.com.au)
2 x Aurum Cantus G2Si - USA: $198 (e-speakers) OZ: $400? (import)
2 x Audux ? 15" - USA: $700? OZ: $1100? (import)
2 x Fostex FE206E/FE207E - USA: $168 (Madisound) OZ: $293 (syntec.com.au)
2 x Fountek JP3.0 - USA: $162 (Madisound) OZ: $164 (Wescomponents)
4 x Peerless XLS 12" - USA: $576 (Madisound) OZ: $630 (Wescomponents)
In the U.S.A: Platinum USD$1,250 Clone USD$906
Down Under: Platinum USD$2,250 Clone USD$1,087
Therefore, the Clone is meaningless for the Americans but for the Aussies it is only HALF of the price! Thanks for the expensive shipment costs, insurance, custom duties and GST / taxes.
Of course, whether I am going to build the Platinum or the Clone, if I proceed with the project I will definitely purchase Mr. Olsher's plan. It is for only $20 and I need to learn much from it.
Here is my plan:
1. Fostex FE206E/FE207E to substitute FE208EZ
Fostex FE208EZ: Fs 42Hz, 8 Ohms, Qts 0.21, Vas 36.9 Xmax .75, Watts 100, 96.5dB
Fostex FE206E : Fs 39Hz, 8 Ohms, Qts 0.18, Vas 54.5 Xmax 1.5, Watts 90, 96.0dB
Fostex FE207E : Fs 39Hz, 8 Ohms, Qts 0.26, Vas 56.3 Xmax 1.5, Watts 90, 95.0dB
The FE206E/FE207E is a newer product than the FE208EZ and it is said to have very similar sound quality, better in some areas and worse in others, while the price is half.
2. Fountek JP3.0 to substitute Aurum Cantus G2Si
They look nearly identical. Most parameters are the same or similar. or Aren't they?
3. Each woofer uses 2 x 12" XLS in isobaric, sealed enclosure. This can make the woofer boxes to be substantially smaller, in line with the width of the dipole panel.
4. Use Active 4th order LR XO between the low and the mid. This is required because of the driver changes. Use LR Transform on the woofer to bring it flat down to 20Hz.
5. Woofers are driven by Slone's Optimos 200w / 300w / 400w (1 or 2). The Fostex and the Fountek are driven by a SE DHT.
Will it work? I hope it will require no alternations to the Platinum's circuits but perhaps only some adjustments of transistor and capacitor values and take out the low frequency passive XO.
I had searched the Forum and it appears that only Variac has built / modified an earlier version of the BassZilla. There is a wonderful thread here: (Finally - some speakers). Because the last post of that thread is dated March and Mr. Olsher released the Platinum in April, I thought I would start this new thread and hopefully you guys can help me with this project.
Thanks in advance.
|11th June 2004, 06:09 AM||#2|
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: San Francisco, USA
Dear Mr. Nut,
I think you are wise to pursue this. BUT I haven't heard the platinum edition.
In all modesty I must point out that I bought a pair of 208 Ez drivers and FT 17 tweeters and convinced Dick to upgrade the speaker to the current Platinum form.
The upgrade to the 208 EZ from the 208 E is pretty obvious. I'll admit, but when Dick and I tried the Fostex Ft 17 tweeters we were disappointed, so I (and others I suspect others) told him about a tweeter that was getting quite a reputation- the Aurum Cantus.
It seemed especially appropriate to me because it is made to handle only higher frequencies, was efficient, and I had recently heard other ribbbon tweeters and had been really impressed.
I agree that you should get the infomation from Dick- the $20 is a bargain for the info you receive- although for a clone might not be as helpful.
I made Dick a set of baffles like mine that tilted, to experiment
with - it ended up that tilt isn't needed on this model, so construction is easier! (I''ve never met him- just mailed him the baffles for which he paid me.)
Ironically the speaker is now a true 3 way, with all the crossovers that that implies. The 8" Fostex is now used as a wide midrange and crossed low and high!
So the speaker has changed from one with just one filter to one with 4- some reasonably high order. Dick says it just sounds bettter that way.
The 15" woofer is an important part of the speaker, and he has now spec'ced the Eminence Magnum 15HO. I''ll bet you will be pleased with the price- in the US you can get it for about $250 each which is a very good deal. In Oz I hear that Eminence is pretty reasonably priced so it might work out.
So, to sum up, my advice is get the Em Mag HO 15" woofers- otherwise it's not a Basszilla! I suspect a pair will cost less or similar to the 4 Peerless.
The 206E 207 E drivers are older than the new 208 EZ I believe,
the 208EZ is the latest thing I think. BUt I suspect that one of them would sound vewr ygood in the speaker.
I also thought that the Fountek was identical almost to the AC, but it actually is somewhat different, and AC has a better reputation for quality control. BUT I suspect the Fountek would work fine and would be a good choice if it is really half the price...
I just ordered the crossover components,and using mostly Solen caps, and Madisound Sledgehammer inductors, it costs about $160 for the parts!!!!!
I have the new drivers, the crossover components, the bass box finished, I just have to finish the new baffle and veneer it , cut holes and mount the drivers, make the crossover, and give you a report of how it sounds.
I've heard my 208, and it is great, I've heard good ribbon tweeters and they are great, I've heard my bass box with a 15" woofer, So I'm confident that my report will be that the Platinum edition is great.
I think a clone with the 206 plus the Eminence plus the Fountec would probably sound pretty good with the crossover Dick specifies. If you ever decided to get the 208 eZ's they would be a drop in replacement.
|12th June 2004, 12:49 PM||#3|
Join Date: May 2004
Cloning the BassZilla Platinum
Good to hear from you. Thanks for your information. I am glad that you will soon finish your Platinum and can’t wait for your report.
I have previously had made some studies of other DIY projects. I was most interested in the ORION. Yet the biggest issue is that I have a large room and the ORION will probably not produce enough SPL for my room. So I looked at Steve’s Bob. I exchanged 2 emails with him. He is apparently a very nice and friendly bloke. I almost decided to build a clone of his Bob. I wanted to buy 6 x TC2+. I got a good deal from a supplier in the States. However, the shipment prices quoted were between USD$430 – USD$700+. I also contacted the Australian Custom and was told that I need to pay 5% custom duties on top of both of the driver and the shipping costs, plus another 10% GST (Goods and Services Tax) plus others. It worked out to be quite expensive and was certainly not “value for money”. Hence I gave up.
After I failed in my attempt to build the ORION / Bob, I started looking into single driver speakers. I just don’t feel confident enough to build horn speakers given that I am a newbie. I was interested in some of the BR, TQWT and TL speakers. However, after reading some of the feedbacks from various forums, I realized that they may well be very good speakers but not truly full range speakers.
Finally, I found the BassZilla. I am not sure if it is the ultimate speaker. But it may be a very nice sounding speaker that I can live with for many years to come. It has most of the nice features of a single driver – no XO for most of the frequency range. The mid range should sound as good as it can get. Again for this wide range, it is a dipole that gives unboxed sound with less dependency on room modes. It has a true ribbon tweeter extending to supersonic frequencies – what can be better than a true ribbon tweeter? It has a 15” bass that can surely give very clean low bass. Yet it is easy to build.
I then sent an email to Black Dahlia that sells the BassZilla plan. I asked similar questions like those in my original post. However, I am yet to receive a reply. That was why I started this thread. Initially I thought I was going to pay for the plan and derive my clone from it, but now I have just changed my mind – it can be more fun to derive the clone without looking at the original plan. I can learn more from it. Regardless of building a BassZilla or a clone, I will owe many debts to Mr. Olsher and if it is going to end up to be a nice sounding speaker, Mr. Olsher deserves many credits. In any case, I have been sounding like someone working for his marketing department in my posts therefore I presume that I shouldn’t feel bad about not paying for his plan. Well, I don’t even know what are the XO points of the BassZilla so what should I worry about?
Again, the reason for the clone is to reduce the costs by half by choosing other similar drivers available locally here in OZ that are substantially cheaper WITHOUT degrading the sound quality.
Well, an idea has just come into my mind – unlike a true dipole where one component change will require massive amount of work in redesigning the XO / EQ network, the idea of the BassZilla using a full range in a dipole for a wide range, a super tweeter and a box woofer should allow its plan to be fairly versatile. i.e. it should be quite OK to substitute drivers with only minor changes to the baffle width, box dimensions and the component values in the XO. I am thinking that if Mr. Olsher can make a generic plan with data for different driver parameters, more people can use it and he can probably sell a lot more. The high quality drivers he uses in his current plans may not suit first time DIYers or DIYers with limited a budget. You have convinced Mr. Olsher to introduce a super tweeter. Perhaps we can convince him to produce a generic plan one day.
I will post some technical questions next time that will really get down to building the speaker.
Before I go, can you please answer me:
1. Do you (or anybody please) know who is selling Eminence in OZ? I did a search with Google and couldn’t find it.
2. You described that the Fountek and the AC are different. What are the differences?
|13th June 2004, 04:55 AM||#4|
Join Date: Nov 2002
id just like to state
1) the peerless xls is certainly a quality unit from everyones talk of it !
2)using it isobaric is not optimal value for moneywise,but since you have size limitations perhaps it must be done
with 2 in isobaric,and 8litre box, LT with -3db response near 19hz,
44watts causes xmax limit at 20hz
Id really like to try the XLS myself!
|13th June 2004, 05:39 AM||#5|
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: San Francisco, USA
Dick Olsher agreed that I was free to discuss the Basszilla as long as specific crossover info and values weren't disclosed.
So, if you want to clone the speaker using similar drivers to what he specified, without crossover information, then I agree that he would probably have no objections.
Of course, suggesting, or choosing drivers is usually the easy part of speaker design, the crossover is what makes a great speaker out of great components.
So, good luck making a good speaker, It's quite possible that you will be happy with what you come up with. I paid for the exact drivers to get the exact benefit of his design. So, the cost of making the Basszilla is $20 to Dick, and the cost of some quite expensive drivers. BUT you get a guaranteed decent speaker.
I played with the bass box, 208 mid, and Fostex tweeter, and the drivers showed great potential, but the speaker as a whole as I made it was obviously not as good as the individual drivers..
I doubt that he ever will design a speaker with the drivers you are interested in because:
-As you pointed out, the cost savings of your driver selection makes the most sense only in Australia.
-He uses a pro 15" driver to get low distortion, as well as compress a lot of air. The bass from this type of speaker is very impressive, but doesn't particularly go low. It only goes flat to about 40 Hz I think.
-All the drivers are quite efficient, including the woofer- he wants an efficient speaker to use with low power amps. BUT, by the time the huge resonant hump in response is dealt with, the
system efficientcy is 92-92 dB - not as high as theprevious Basszillas.
-I doubt that his first priority is making money- I think it is making good speaker projects , and selling instructions only helps finance his desire to design speakers.
If I were in your situation, I'd first try to track down the Eminence
drivers. They seem to be available in many countries. Adire Audio is sold in Oz I think and they distribute Eminence.
Then I would get the 206 or 207 and use the Fountek
I would then use the crossovers in Dick's plans and I'll bet that with minor tweaking they would sound great!
The founteks could be made in the same factory as the AC for all I know, but even the same factory can make tweeters of varying quality. The Fountec has a heat sink on the back, and a plastic faceplate I believe.I'll bet it sounds very good though!
The AC doesn't have the heatsink and has a metal faceplate.
Anyway I'll keep everyone informed on how I like the Basszilla Platinums.
|16th June 2004, 03:19 AM||#6|
Join Date: May 2004
Cloning the BassZilla Platninum
Thanks for your information. What you said make sense.
As said earlier, using alternative drivers is to reduce the costs to half, and it only makes sense for the Aussies. I said in my last email that I would not purchase the plan for the time being because I felt that once I purchased the plan I would not be able to discuss further about this project, which will hinder my pursue of using alternative drivers to cut costs. We all need to be socially responsible and it is certainly not appropriate to disclose any information about a commercially available plan. Only in the case that my speaker plan is significantly different - with all different drivers, active bi-amping, etc, that I would feel comfortable to discuss it under this forum. I think you are right that "I doubt that his first priority is making money - I think it is making good speaker projects, and selling instructions only helps finance his desire to design speakers". $20 is not expensive and is only a price for a CD in OZ. It is all worth it. Mr. Olsher has given away a lot of valuable information about the BassZilla. I had a second read of the information on his website. He has given information about all 3 drivers and the XO points, as well as what types of XO used.
I think my first step is to determine if driver substitutes are possible.
For the FE206E, in the www.oldhifi.com/fostex.html site the owner describes how the FE206E actually sounds better. The following is an extract:
The four other Fostex 8 inch full-range drivers do not use a whizzer cone. Instead, three of them use an aluminum dustcap in the center of the main cone. The other uses a paper dust cap. These extend the mid and high frequencies somewhat but not nearly as well as a whizzer cone
Two of these drivers have huge magnets and cast frames. They are very expensive. These are the FX200 and F200A. They are not normally available in the US, but we went to considerable lengths to get a pair of each so we could test them. They do not go high enough in the treble to be truly satisfying. And the midrange is somewhat veiled, soft, and lacking in detail compared to the FE206E or FE207E.
The FF225K is much cheaper and also uses an aluminum dust cap. It has a rather nasal sounding midrange and lacks high frequency response.
Finally, we have the new FE208E Sigma (mistakenly called the 'EZ'). It's not really a 'full-range' driver at all but would be more properly termed an 'extended range' driver. It lacks high frequencies and lacks detail in the midrange.
All four of these drivers are very good--the best we have heard from this type of design. However, in side by side comparisons with the FE206E or FE207E they lacked the same level of extension, detail, realism, clarity, and accuracy. It's not even close.....
Bottom line? Hey, we'd like to sell you more expensive Fostex drivers and make more money, but we can't sell what we don't believe in. We can't sell you a more expensive driver that doesn't sound nearly as good...
I had a brief look at the specs at Madisound. The FE208EZ has a cast frame, rated power is 40w and has a magnet weighted 1,408.7 g, while the FE206E has a stamped frame, rated 30w and has a magnet weighted 1,067 g but slightly higher Xmax. In theory, the FE208EZ should sound better. The response curves of the FE206E seem to be flatter.
That was how I was interested in the FE206E, which is less than half of the price of the FE208EZ.
However, I am not sure if the FE206E is suitable to be used in a dipole like the FE208EZ.
2. Super Tweeter
The AC G2Si is sold for $99 in e-speaker. The Fountek JP3.0 is sold for $81 at Madisound. So I presume that they should not have too much difference in quality. If you have a look at the data, they seem to be nearly identical. Even the recommended XOs share nearly the description. Therefore I presume that they are interchangable.
Here comes the biggest difference. I believe that the Platinum is designed to be a speaker to be driven by one good tube amplifier. I believe that Mr. Olsher did it right by selecting a high efficiency 15" pro driver. That is certainly ideal although I guess it may require a very good valve amplifier to drive it.
I am not so sure if I could get / build such a good valve amp that can deliver both high and low frequencies well.
A less risky option for me is to use bi-amping and an active XO between the Fostex and the low frequency driver. In that case, I will drive the lower frequencies with a powerful MOSFET amp so that the valve amp will have an easy ride driving the Fostex and the Fountek. I think the advantages of doing this outweights the disadvantages of having a few ICs for the active XO in the signal path. I also think that building an extra power amp and an active XO may still be cheaper than building a more expensive valve amp and purchasing the passive XO components for the lower XO.
If it goes active, the choices for the bass drivers are much widened. I could possibly use a sealed box and retain the speaker sensitivity of 96dB. I could also EQ the woofer to achieve flat FR from 20Hz to 150Hz. I could even use a H-frame dipole bass like the ORION.
What I am not sure is what driver will give the same sound characteristics and intergrate well with the Fostex.
I am still in a planning stage and if I can't work out a plan that I am comfortable with, I might just trash the whole plan and reconsider where I will go from there. So far, it looks promising.
|16th June 2004, 03:20 AM||#7|
Join Date: May 2004
Questions about the BassZilla
I have a large square room. I have a few questions about the BassZilla:
(1) Does the BassZilla have enough SPL / is it loud enough for a large room? Note the 8" Fostex, capable of only small cone movements is used in a dipole.
(2) Is the lower mid range powerful enough?
(3) Does it have a wide enough dispersion?
(4) How does it compare to Quad ESL, Martin Logan, Genesis, MBL or some old Tannoy and BBC monitors?
Any information will be appreciated.
|16th June 2004, 05:21 AM||#8|
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: San Francisco, USA
Well, first the moral issue:
I don't think there is one..as long as the crossover values aren't
specifically stated. I don't think Dick minds that everyone knows what the drivers are. I think he is doing a great service by determining that the Magnum HO 15 is a good speaker. I recomend that you get the instructions only because it might make your life a lot easier.
As I stated, I suspect that you can sub in the tweeter with no problem
I don't really trust the Old Hi Fi guys.
I believe I heard one of their speaks at the Hi FI show here in San Francisco.
It was a bass reflex box with a Lowther.
It had the huge upper mid emphasis you hear about. I was not impressed. I'm not saying that they are not being truthful when they say that their speakers are possibly the best available, They may believe it- I just don't agree at all on my limited exposure.
Please note that almost all their comments are regarding the lack of extension of the 208EZ. Well we are using it with a tweeter, so that really isn't relevent. They are running the speakers full range, the Basszilla uses it as a wide midrange. My opinion is that the whizzer cone can introduce other problems
and since we aren't using it full range than why have it?
But I don't think it will hurt much either...
I suspect that you might be be happy with the 206 or 207 I'll bet they sound really good, and if I were you, I'd choose the 206 or 207 based on which is most similar to the 208 in specs, IF you order Dick's plans.
So, I think it isn't a bad idea to try the 206 or 207 - I agree with you.
BAss: There is a whole thread about the appeal of 15" pro bass drivers. I am really impressed with mine. I suggest that you try to track down the Eminence drivers. They are available in lots of countries, so I would think the would be availabl there. They would be cheaper than 4 Peerless drivers, and the bass really is special. So, that's my main disagreement with your plan-I like my bass drivers!! Even though I will have a lot of power to drive them
I also am planning to use biamping to do the bass drivers- will use my mosfet HAfler 220
or maybe try a gainclone. The MOx crossover thread:
MOX-like crossover and discrete opamp group buy
Is a way to get a crossover and you don't even need to use chips- they have a discrete op amp option!
You can't equalize the pro driver too much because it doesn't have huge x-max, but it does have a lot more that many
15" pro drivers, so you should be able to get it to go lower than
in a vented box- just depends on how loud.
The reason I recommend that you get the plans is that I agree with you- I think that your drivers might drop right in fine.
Then you can tweak the crossover a bit, if you feel it isn't quite right.
See, I tried doing my driver crossovers by myself, and even though the speaker sounded OK,I was quite sure that it could sound a LOT better, considering how good the drivers were.
Without a computer meASURING setup, you are pretty much in the dark...Are you going to buy many different caps and coils to try?
On the other hand, I think you will be shocked how different the Platinum edition is that the previous ones.
It has Lots of crossovers!!
As I haven't heard the thing in this form,I can only say that the new setup should help power handling a lot, widens the sweet spot, and according to Dick has a very "electrostatic sound"
Even in my old format, it was pretty loud and sounded effortless.
Of course the bass can handle 600 watts or so without damage (except for overexcursion from equalizing it maybe
I ended up with too small a baffle on my design in the photos, so the upper bass was really lacking!! But that was my mistake. Remember that the bass driver shares the upper bass with the mid.
Yes, the mid is a dipole, but it is in a baffle that is big enough to function in the range that the mid covers,
so the mid is quite efficient.
I really like electrostatics, so something that sounds like them sounds perfect to me.
|16th June 2004, 06:02 AM||#9|
Join Date: Jun 2003
Hi HiFi Nut and Variac,
I am a fellow Aussie (SA) and have just completed my Basszillas, using the original Fostex 208. I bought the Audax and x-overs from Madisound, after wanting to stick to the tried and tested design and experience of Dick Olsher. I wanted to find a cheaper (local) woofer but it was too risky in the end for me...
I am very happy with the result of the speakers, and have also added on a ribbon supertweeter bought from Sonic Art in Australia ($300 pair). These are a custom build made in the Fountek factory, and appear almost identical to the Fountek/AC ones, although they are supposedly better spec/build quality.
I previously owned Apogee Duetta Signature speakers, but wanted to switch to something more easily driven (read: SET amps!). I am not a real DIY'er so wont be able to help much with your clone questions, but all I can say is Dick's design is a mighty good one. I also had some rear loaded horn speakers (Muratori, they use the original Fostex 208 also, and are on Aussie EBay now for a grand!) and while these weren't bad the Basszilla's are far more transparent and have much better bass. My Basszilla's completely disappear, the open baffle works well in achieving this. I used extra bracing internally, and used 1" marine ply for my cabinets.
Thanks again to Variac for advice and encouragement along the way too! Dick Olsher was also very helpful, and I would urge you to support him by buying the plans from him.
Cheers, from one happy Basszilla owner!
|16th June 2004, 06:09 AM||#10|
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: San Francisco, USA
Great to hear you not only finished them, but like 'em.
Perhaps you should show us a photo.
Since all upgrades to the Basszilla plans are free, I suggest that you ask Dick for the platinum edition update. It is quite different, but you have the drivers to experiment similar to Hi FI Nut.
You could try the new crossovers using the old 208, woofer, and the tweeters. Maybe just on one speaker and compare the old and new.
Do you know if Eminence is available there?
(from what I understand, he switched to the Eminence because the Audax became very difficult to find, not because he was dissatisfied with the Audax)
Companies claiming to have Eminence in Australia:
Even if they mostly sell boxes with drivers in them, they might sell you a pair of the Magnums separately. Might even order them specially for you so that they can also hear them
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