5" center, soft dome/cone, bookshelf mount


2010-12-01 2:21 am
I am looking to build a center speaker kit that has the following characteristics.

- 5" midwoofers so that overall height is 6.5" or less to fit on a shelf in my entertainment center under the monitor.

- I strongly prefer soft dome tweeters and soft (e.g. paper, pulp, poly) cones over metal or kevlar.

- Crossover tested and designed by someone with experience who designs objectively with measured responses rather than relying on their ears to iron out the frequency response.

- Low distortion drivers

- Ideally designed for "bookshelf" mounting rather than free air, although this is very difficult to find in the DIY market.

My leading contender is to have Meniscus Audio build sealed 6.5" cabinets and crossovers for the Zaph ZD5 kit and just set it on its side in the slot under my monitor:

Zaph|Audio - ZD5 - Scan Speak 15W8530K00 and Vifa XT25

It seems like a shame to put that much money and effort into a crossover that is optimized for free air when I'll be mounting it bookshelf (essentially infinite baffle) style. Nevertheless the Denon 3808ci receiver I'm driving this with has Audyssey MultEQ XT room correction which will tend to smooth away the different baffle steps so that might not be so much of an issue.

I'm generally leaning towards staying away from MTM designs because I'd rather put my money into one great midwoofer than two mediocre ones, but one presumably MTM speaker does attract me, the unreleased Speakerlabs Point2c:

Speakerlab - Speaker Kits: POINT LINE

It meets all my needs (at least on paper) so I'm strongly considering waiting for the release in Sprint 2011. I really like the short height, near-coax design with the small tweeter enabling close driver spacing. The peerless soft cone/domes should sound good to me. It appears that the experienced designers are spending significant time on tweaking. I have heard that it will be designed for bookshelf placement rather than free air placement which is exactly what I want.

The other option would be North Creek Vision or Kat kits which are claimed to be designed for placement near a back wall, but those are pricey at $1000+. There isn't much data or user community around them on the web, and I'm not sure how well tweaked the crossovers are.

I should mention this will integrate with Right/Lefts containing Scan 9900 tweeters and Scan 8531K01 Revelator 5" woofers. I decided not to just build a horizontal clone of those for the center because the 9900 tweeters are an old design that I was never completely excited about and they are quite expensive for something that doesn't excite me.

Another option is just to buy an off the shelf manufactured center, but where's the fun in that :) I auditioned and liked the Vienna Acoustics Theatro for $800 and it meets all my needs expressed above, so I'd prefer to not to spend more than $500 or so on a speaker kit.

By the way, I don't need to hear "If you're not building the ZD5 baffle as spec'd you won't get the designed results" comments unless you really feel compelled; I get that, but don't know of any bookshelf/IB 5" nonmetallic driver kits, so I'm willing to take my chances on Audyssey smoothing out the baffle differences.