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Old 28th March 2018, 02:20 AM   #1
Spirit84 is offline Spirit84  Canada
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Join Date: May 2009
Default Would like some guidance

I live in Toronto and buying Canadian my preference. It is good to know that Planet 10 is based in Canada!
I am really new to the DIY part of the audio hobby.
Here is my situation:
I own a very small pair of bookshelf speakers (12"H x 7"W x 8.5"D) that were built by Cabot Acoustics in Nova Scotia. The drivers are a Mark Audio Alpair 7.3 Gold. I use the speakers in my pretty small home office. Amplification is ss with a vintage Yamaha CA-1000 amp.
The sound that these drivers emit is quite beguiling especially with vocals and acoustic guitar.
So now you know my reference point.
I am thinking of building (or having a friend build) a pair of speakers for me that I can use in an upstairs bedroom, which I will empty of its current contents and make it into my personal music room. Dimensions are about 12' x 12' x 7.5High. I would like to have a floor stander that is compact - nothing that is going to overpower the room in both size and sound volume.
I will stick to solid state amplification - I am too old to start with tubes!
I would appreciate any advice as to a design that I can explore.
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Old 29th March 2018, 05:57 PM   #2
chrisb is offline chrisb
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: victoria BC
Not a huge room, so I think a smaller floorstander with 7.3 or even 6.2 would be more than sufficient. My first suggestion when constrained to floor space would be something like an MLTL / Pensil. Just make sure that the builder has the correct drawings for the current versions of the drivers, and pays attention to notes regarding accommodating for ease of adjusting damping fill to suit the variables of personal taste and room/system .
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Old 29th March 2018, 06:35 PM   #3
Spirit84 is offline Spirit84  Canada
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Join Date: May 2009
Thanks Chris for the reply!! I was beginning to think that nobody loves me.
I hope you don't mind me asking you for a few more pointers since I am so new to this.
One thing that I can't understand is this: how does a DIYer know what to choose if they haven't heard the design? In your example - how can I learn what the differences are between the 2 design suggestions?
Does Planet10 offer designs for both of these suggestions?
I tried to email Planet10 but when I click on the "email" button on their website it doesn't work so I have no way of contacting them.
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Old 30th March 2018, 01:24 AM   #4
chrisb is offline chrisb
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: victoria BC
Your first question certainly highlights one of the dilemmas facing anyone dipping their toe in the DIY pool -or would a more appropriate analogy be stumbling into a rabbit hole?

Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and try something that has either garnered positive accolades, or just appeals to you for any number of reasons.

But since you already own a pair of Paul Burchell’s absolutely gorgeously crafted speakers, using one of my favorite drivers readily available to the DIY and bespoke building crowd, I can save some time and say that unless in a very poorly designed or built enclosure I think it’d be hard to make any of the Alpair drivers sound bad. The trick of course is filtering through the plethora of choices to narrow down to a short list of options for drivers and cabinet designs suitable to your specific application - there is no best, or “one size fits all”

If not familiar with my name, I happen to have been closely associated with Dave at Planet10 for over 15years, and have likely built and listened to more of the designs with either his or Scott Lindgren’s name on the drawings than most folks here. I’ve also had some experience with systems in very small rooms, and would opine that that is definitely a case where less is more.

For specific example, the FrugelHorn 3, and larger FHXL are designs that deliver excellent performance with A7.3 and A10 paper or metal. But their topology is that of a rear mouth, tapped hypex horn that need space behind and to the sides to “breathe” and allow their spacious soundstage to fully blossom - think of them as a dipole of sorts? To my mind a small footprint, direct radiating monopole has lots of advantages in a small room. While I’ve owned and built many a small stand-mount / bookshelf type of speaker over the past 45yrs, I tend to eschew a design that needs stands - I’ll forego the putative avdantages that may be ascribed to mini-monitor types, for the practicality, generally lower cost of construction of a floor standing pair - a “good” pair of stands can easily cost over a hundred $ - an the fact that a floorstander can deliver much better LF extension than a 3 litre desk-top using the same driver.

I quite like Scott Lindgren’s Pensil family of designs, and am currently living with a pair fitted with A10.3, in a room that is more than double the area you describe.
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Old 30th March 2018, 04:27 PM   #5
Spirit84 is offline Spirit84  Canada
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Join Date: May 2009
Chris: Thank you so much for sharing all this valuable information with me. You are correct - because I am so new to this end of the audio hobby, I did not know that you were associated with Planet10 for so many years. I feel very blessed that I am corresponding with you!
I agree with you about the Frugelhorns - I will not have the size of room necessary to accommodate them - so that is that.
I like the idea of the Pensil design - small footprint for a small room - makes sense.
I am using Paul Burchell's bookshelves with the 7.3 in my small home office and they are perfect! So instead of wasting a lot time I think a Pensil design with these drivers makes a lot of sense to me.
Would you be so kind and reply back with a link to the proper construction design for this?
As for construction: you are right; Paul's craftsmanship is wonderful. It was a real pleasure working with him and his son Robert - great folks. The only issue for me moving forward with a bigger speaker is shipping from Nova Scotia to Ontario. I will have to work that out in my mind.
I found a website by total "google" chance:
Custom-made speakers and audio gear | Custom-made speakers and audio gear
Absolutely gorgeous work and they are only 1.5 hours drive from my door.
I would like to ask you a couple fo questions:
1: I see that Markaudio offers drivers in either paper or metal for some models. I tried to find out what the difference is but to no avail. Can you explain how one would choose either material? It is confusing.
2: I don't mean to open a can of sardines - but are you a tube or solid state kind of guy? I have never heard a single ended triode amp but have read so many rave comments that it is in the back of my mind. As mentioned I am using a vintage Yamaha CA-1000. I bought it new it 1973!! Still have the original manual and bill! It really is a wonderful amp and every time I look at it it make me smile.
3: choice of material: Let's say that I am willing spend some extra money - other then aesthetics - is using a solid wood like oak, burch, cherry, etc of any sonic value? If so - what do you think would be a great choice?
Again, very much appreciated and can't wait for your reply!
Happy Easter to you!!!
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Old 30th March 2018, 05:14 PM   #6
Spirit84 is offline Spirit84  Canada
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Join Date: May 2009
Well Chris, to show you how new I am to this I just spent 20 minutes typing a reply to you and then lost it somehow. So here we go again.
I did not know that you were associated with Planet10 for so many years so I feel very fortunate to being having this correspondence with you.
Your comments on your reply make total sense to me - I am going to take your advice and stick to what I know. I am very pleased with the Alpair 7.3 Gold that Paul Burchell built. So using the same driver in a small floor-stander is totally logical. I also agree that the Pensil design would be best - a small footprint for a smallish room. And also when we sell our home and move into a condo I am sure the rooms will also be small so these speakers would be suitable for many years ahead (assuming good health!).
Would you be able to reply with the proper and up-to-date construction plans for this design? That would be very comforting to know that I have the correct plan. Please let me know if there is a cost involved for obtaining the plans.
As for construction: It was a pleasure working with Paul and his son Robert. My only issue is that they are in Nova Scotia and I am in Ontario so shipping safely scares me a bit.
I was googling a few days ago and found this website by chance:
Custom-made speakers and audio gear | Custom-made speakers and audio gear
I think you will agree that the workmanship is excellent, and they are only 1.5 hours drive from my front door!
I have a few questions for you:
1: Markaudio sells drivers with a choice of paper or metal. What is the difference? I can't seem to find an explanation on their site.
2: If I am willing to spend extra money: aside from aesthetics, it there a sonic advantage in choosing a solid wood (cherry, oak, burch, etc) over plywood or mdf? If solid wood is better which wood would you recommend?
3: I noticed that Goodwin are big fans of Lowther drivers driven by a single ended triode tube amp. As mentioned on my original post I am using a Yamaha CA-1000 solid state amp (I bought it new in 1973 - still have the bill and the manual!).
What is your personal take on Lowther vs MarkAudio? I know you are a fan of MarkAudio. Just curious as to what do you find so good about them compared to others?
SET vs SS: I have never heard a SET amp. Just curious about how you feel about this hotly debated question.
Thanks again for taking the time to write to me!
Happy Easter!
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Old 30th March 2018, 05:17 PM   #7
Spirit84 is offline Spirit84  Canada
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Join Date: May 2009
OK. I see what happened. I wrote my first reply and I thought I lost it and then wrote a second reply.
I didn't realize that my replies have to be approved by the moderator before they can be posted.
I will let the moderator choose which of my 2 replies to post.
Sorry about that. I am a newbie!
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Old 30th March 2018, 06:24 PM   #8
chrisb is offline chrisb
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: victoria BC
I hadn't encountered the Goodwin name before - if you're not up to the challenge of building your own enclosures, if someone is that close to you who can offer affordable pricing , all you'd need to settle on is a design. The plans for the Pensils are available here http://frugal-phile.com/boxlib/pensi...sil7s3-map.pdf

A few sample builds can be seen in the first few pages of the complete planset http://frugal-phile.com/boxlib/pensi...set-100711.pdf

They are a pretty simple build, with a couple of notes ;
1) Bbracing is not shown on all drawings, but can be seen on several of the build photos. It's highly recommended to incorporate a minimal amount, but the full length interlocking holey braces seen on a couple (one by myself) is not mandatory, and is certainly more time consuming than the rest of the build.
2) It's highly recommended to build with the back panel removable -using cleats- to allow for adjusting of damping fibre. The enclosures for the 7.3 are narrow and tall, and it's pretty much the only way to evenly distribute the teased damping material throughout the length of the line.

I'm personally not a fan of Lowthers - among other things they tend to need enclosures at least as imposing as the largest of the FH family.

I have owned a range of tube amps, from 2A3 SET (Bottlehead Paramour) to EL84 (Tublelab SimplePP) to EL34 PP Jolida 302), and literally dozens of Solid State amps from the late 60s to current. One of my favorite commercial SS units was the CA1000, and the CR1000 receiver version. If you're planning on using the 1000 in this system, the 7.3 would sound wonderful in the Class A mode. If considering something newer / lower powered for this system, and up to the challenge of building a kit, the DIY Audio Store ACA kit is an absolute delight - not tons of power, but a few watts of pristine Class A simplicity can be more than enough. I built a pair of the original monoblocks a couple of years ago, and will probably be assembling a pair of the new stereo chassis versions sometime soon.

As for trying to describe the difference between the metal and paper versions in the Alpair line, I've found it to not be consistent with all models in the line. For example, between the two A6 or A10 models, I could easily live with either, but with the A7, there's something about the paper that I couldn't quite get used to - and I think I'm not alone.
As a generalization, I find the metals more "detailed" overall, and the papers more relaxed.
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Old 30th March 2018, 10:18 PM   #9
Spirit84 is offline Spirit84  Canada
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Thanks again Chris. Your direction is so helpful to me.
A few more questions and that will be it for today:
1: regarding choice of material - is using solid wood like oak, cherry, etc better sonically then using plywood or mdf?
2: ACA Amp: I have been told that a 5wpc amp would not be strong enough for the Alpair 7.3 - you obviously are happy with this amp. Am I correct that this amp can work with the Pensils?
3: Does the ACA have the sweetness of a comparably powered SET amp?
that is it for today!
Thanks so much!
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Old 31st March 2018, 01:12 AM   #10
chrisb is offline chrisb
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: victoria BC
1) I avoid MDF for anything other than templates or base plates. I personally use Baltic Birch/ Apple ply, and veneers, as I lack the requisite skills for working with solids. There’s no doubt that in the hands of folks such as Paul, or Dave’s friends Bernie or Scott, tgat true works of art can be achieved.
As to whether the latter can sound better, while I’ve had a couple of opportunities to compare plywood builds to solid wood versions of very similar designs, and honestly can’t say I could pick one over the other with my eyes closed.

2) Dave could pipe in as to the sufficiency of the ACA lower level to drive any if the Alpairs - and his room is much larger than yours at 1080 cu ft.

3) The closest in power level of any SET amp I’ve ever owned to that of the ACA would have to be an EL34 / 6CA7 triode connected. It was custom built for me by someone whose name has long since disappeared from the DIY chat forums- Eddie Vuaghn. It arrived to me damaged beyond simple repair after shipping from Arkansas, and I had to completely rebuild the chassis. By the time that was done, and a couple of tweaks tube sets swapped in, the final cost was well over $1800 - more than 10 times that of the basic ACA board/parts kit.
As luscious a piece as is it is, it’s now collecting dust in my storage room. After almost two decades of flirting with tube amps, somehow the magic’s gone, and while each was nice at the time, I can’t say any lacked its own sonic signature. The ACA, or the two of Neurochrome ( Tom Christiansen)’s LM3886 chip amps are as close to transparent as I can recall hearing in my system since my first DIY speaker project almost 20 yrs ago. Of course implicit in that statement is that neither would hide any shortcomings in either program material, or upstream active components/ signal processing.

That and their build simplicity appeal to me.
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Last edited by chrisb; 31st March 2018 at 01:15 AM.
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