ClassicGR Mar-Ken10.2 - anyone built? Have mods, what do you think about them? - Page 2 - diyAudio
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Old 19th July 2011, 10:49 AM   #11
jimbro is offline jimbro  United States
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I just noticed the shadow lines from the legs. Very nice touch.
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Old 19th July 2011, 11:15 AM   #12
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Thanks, added the reflection in photoshop...
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Old 3rd August 2011, 07:57 PM   #13
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Break-in done. Was away for a while, but got it done now.
Adjusted the lining a few times. And here are the very first impressions with proper listening volumes.

Bluetooth connection to the tube amp is mainly for my son to use with his mobile. Tested the Belkin module and the sound is mediocre at it's best.
The best sound was achieved with line out from an iPhone dock - and (with a Macbook Pro) an external USB audio device + line out from there. Both using Spotify and 320 kbit/s + the Ogg Vorbis q9 codec (the highest streaming rate for any online service BTW). Spotify seems to be available in the U.S. now as well? Some excellent music there, like this one: Norway Nights (Jazz Club) by Various Artists on Spotify

First impressions

Acoustic instruments sound fantastic. Cello played by Mstislav Rostropovich sounds very pleasing to the ear with these speakers. The guitars at Cowboy Junkies "Supernatural" are a joy to listen. And it does sound like Margo Timmins is singing in the room.
Vocals sound very good. Much, much better than with most other speakers I've listened with. There's a lot of presence, the singer can be pinpointed accurately, and in some recordings seems to be in the room, in front of the speakers, depending on the listening position.
Rebekka Bakken's excellent "Ghost in this House" was a joy to listen.

By ear, tightness remains for some material, area around 1 kHz is too loud. But based on first measurings, that seems to be more of a room problem - remains to be measured thoroughly. (I've not used this room for music before, so there are no curtains etc.).

Detail and accuracy for female vocalists sounds so good that I now seem to prefer whole new kind of music. :-)

Music like Caecilie Norby's: her voice sounds very clear and one can easily hear nuances as the distance to the mic changes or she breathes near it.

Imaging in general is also excellent. I tested briefly against my current favorite small speakers - a pair of tiny, excellent Genelec 8020B active monitors - I'm stupid enough to dare and give an amateurish, very subjective opinion: the Genelecs lose (at imaging, that is).
In the beginning of "Out here, In there" by Sidsel Endresen and Bugge Wesseltoft, the beaming sound travels in room in an almost scary way with these DIY speakers. Need to do some more comparison against the Genelecs side to side, was too busy listening to the new speakers now.

The negatives so far by ear: would like to get just a bit more low end extension for certain songs. Mari Boine's "Gula Gula - Chilluminati Mix" - or Jamie Cullum's "If I ruled the world" both get some authority with tight and natural (non boomy) bass extension.

So, I fetched an old tiny vented Yamaha sub from the TV room (sub for movies) and tested whether it could be used to add extension without ruining the sound. Unplugged the tube amp and hooked the sub and the DIY speakers to a Yamaha receiver with a lot of adjustments. Tuned it by ear first and ended up crossing it quite low (at 60 Hz) plus setting the sub volume quite low (at approx 1/3) and changing the phase for the sub by lying the speaker distances to the amp. Below is a graph of the result, slight extension achieved without boosting the already (in this room) too fat upper bass area too much. Crossing higher seemed to boom the upper bass even worse and it also messed the imaging. I would not like to cross a sub above 80 Hz.
The problem is that this sub is very soft and sounds slow compared to the speakers. I will probably build and test a servo sub in winter for these speakers, just for fun... Could make an interesting pair as both the speakers and sub would then be fast and tight, almost dry in sound?

Room problems

By far, the worst is the room I'm using. It is a complex, open modern room with wall-sized windows without curtains - including kitchen, hall, high staircase and the living room all in one space. There is very little damping and I get standing waves with any speakers erasing bass with serious narrow nulls at approx 60 Hz and 80 Hz. Plus boomy peaks at approx 45-50 Hz, then again above 70 Hz and a very pronounced peak at just above 100 Hz.
Then there's a serious large scale drop at 200 Hz (continuing upto 600 Hz). As stated, the area around 1 kHz is then boosted and there's a lot of comb filtering there - just to give you a quick taste of the magnitude of the problems of this room...
Probably moving soon, so sadly no treating makes sense at this point in time.

Will post more experiences (if anyone is interested to hear more) as I have time to test in a better room and against the Genelecs.

Very, very nice drivers these Alpairs.

Below are some very first rough measuring results. Was not able to run them very loud, it is late already.

Last edited by mikkokam; 3rd August 2011 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 9th August 2011, 09:12 PM   #14
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Thought I'd share some progress through pics: Amp ready now as well. The top plate is 3 mm aluminum.

The amp is based on a Chinese amp with EL34-B tubes. Disassembled it and used most of it for this. Added BT and a charging iPhone/iPad dock. It had USB already. Further actual tuning of the amp remains for winter.

Just after assembly noticed that the right channel was bad (almost muted). After a frustrating disassembly and bug tracing found a bad connection for one of the resistors and now everything works. :-)

The Alpair speakers sound better now than with the basic Yamaha HT receiver.

Next project is to build a matching sub for this setup. Ordered servo components from Rythmikaudio.
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Old 9th August 2011, 09:28 PM   #15
chrisb is offline chrisb  Canada
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Originally Posted by mikkokam View Post
Thought I'd share some progress through pics: Amp ready now as well. The top plate is 3 mm aluminum.

The amp is based on a Chinese amp with EL34-B tubes. Disassembled it and used most of it for this. Added BT and a charging iPhone/iPad dock. It had USB already. Further actual tuning of the amp remains for winter.

Just after assembly noticed that the right channel was bad (almost muted). After a frustrating disassembly and bug tracing found a bad connection for one of the resistors and now everything works. :-)

The Alpair speakers sound better now than with the basic Yamaha HT receiver.

Next project is to build a matching sub for this setup. Ordered servo components from Rythmikaudio.

cute little rig indeed.
on hiatus
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Old 15th August 2011, 07:43 PM   #16
andb is offline andb  Czech Republic
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Im not sure if placing a tube amp directly on a speaker is the best way you can go... given that tubes are microphonic, sensitive to vibration, maybe you should try placing the amp on its own stand and finding out if it has an effect. I have a set of CGR7 slim cabinets, ported to the rear, much like yours. They vibrate enough to make me think it could have an influence on tubes.

The CGR enclosure makes pretty substantial bass given its size, but I find it a bit flabby for my taste. I have them sitting on a pair of H frame eminence 15a OBs at the moment, taking care of that problem. The sub you planned might also alleviate this.

Next I plan to try the dMar-Ken7, to see how they stack up...

Kudos, you've made a very attractive system!
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Old 16th August 2011, 12:41 AM   #17
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Hi Mikko,
Thought it might be interesting to imagine your project with MAOP coned Alp10 drivers. Your off-white boxes have a similar colour tone to the new MAOP cones. I've done a little Photoshop work to simulate the look (see pics). Since most Alp 10's are supplied with loose front covers, they could be painted - colour matched with you cabinets. Apologies, my PhotoShop skills aren't the best, at least it gives an idea of what can be done to keep adding a "pro" look to a Diy project. Your project is looks ver pro "high end".

Hope this is OK with you - thanks.



Last edited by markaudio; 16th August 2011 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 16th August 2011, 06:36 PM   #18
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chrisb: thanks! I love the sound, seems to be getting still better (a bit over 200 h done now)...

andb: thanks - I was worried about microphonic issues with tubes, too. The casing is on soft rubber feet on top of the speaker. But you are right, I should test the difference and lift the amp off the speaker - then listen to the difference.

Regarding bass: I am quite happy with Alpair 10.2 in a CGR box - I've modified the vents: 1 instead of two - so more friction as it is very high ratio (approx. 1:10) - maybe even closer to a sealed box as a result -> thus bass might have less extension but more tightness. I also do not like a floppy (bass reflex) bass at all...
Drivers: Probably Alpair 10.2 also has a different bass than the 7?

I get 40(ish) Hz in room as shown on the measurement above. I ordered servo sub parts for a sealed sub to add (tight) extension - takes some time as they come from the U.S.
Mind you, the bass is not light or inadequate now, either. Nicely present in a musical way, no "commercial" boom at all, very natural. But for some music, I'd like to have that 15-40 Hz covered as well. Let's see as I build the sub... Already retired 2 bass reflex subs after testing as their sound was too soft and did not fit.

Mark, thanks - looks excellent! I like the MAOP cone colour a lot. Wish that was available when I got the silver ones. The white cone + black bezel is especially very nice - some contrast remains as the bezel ties the driver visually to the black aluminum knobs and black transformers on top.
Shall read more about the MAOP thread - seems like an interesting development.

Your kind words make me proud - I appreciate your work a lot. Your presence in the discussions here makes all the difference compared to the other (mass) makers of drivers. A very modern way of developing products - being in touch with the users personally and presenting + developing ideas together.

I have some other drivers for different projects, and I must admit that Markaudio drivers are in many way superior to the other ones. The build quality is much better - which I always appreciate a lot. But best of all is the sound. I am constantly amazed by the tone of the sound (especially the mids + the way 10.2 renders female vocals) and the detail of the soundstage - both seem to be as made for my personal preferences. After listening to Alpairs for a while I just can not like the other drivers...

Should test the other Alpairs soon, too.


Last edited by mikkokam; 16th August 2011 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 1st September 2011, 09:56 PM   #19
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Update, added that servo subwoofer to the setup today.
Put the sealed enclosure (42 l) together today after work and tested quickly to see if everything is OK so I can sand and paint the box during the weekend.

So far seems very good. Extension down to near 10 Hz, with a very precise and rapid bass, complements the Markaudio drivers well.
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Old 19th January 2013, 07:10 AM   #20
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An update after listening to the setup for 1.5 years now.

I 've enjoyed the setup quite a lot! In the beginning, there was improvement, as the drivers relaxed a bit in usage.
I should probably change the tubes of the amp now as they are getting old (daily heavy usage) and the sound is mudding up a bit.

Sound source: have not used Bluetooth. The quality is horrible and it is most obvious in live recordings at the applauds. They sound like a digital waterfall from some bad Matrix nightmare.
But I have really enjoyed Spotify high bit rate of streming 320 kbps music, and plugging the iPad via the dock cable. This seems to give the best results.

I think for most music the setup sounded awesome already like this, the imaging and the mids are the best (especially for music like jazz, Sting (live in Berlin), Norah Jones, etc.
But I had some extra time and interest - which is why I built that active servo subwoofer.

Now the setup is just what I intended it to be. The sub is very musical / tight / transparent. There is no boom or floppiness. Often I have to go check if the sub is on, as there is no typical boom to be heard. But the cone is moving when very low frequences are playing. The sub is great for adding ambience (good quality live recordings / movies etc.) and boosting some bass-heavy music, but I could live without it.

Room, huge impact

The biggest problem remains the room - I moved... acoustically to an even worse place, a loft apartment with huge windows and concrete walls and ceiling, room height is 6 meters. This should be the thing to be fixed.
People (like me) spend a lot of money and/or time to get nice equipment while the room spoils the sound regardless of the speakers, amps and music sources.

Last edited by mikkokam; 19th January 2013 at 07:16 AM.
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