Can compression drivers sound "high end" home fi ? Vortex 15 ?

Vortex 15

Well ... I'm thinking about buying a Vortex coaxial speaker kit. But I have ZERO experience with compression tweeters. Can they sound as good as a Hiquifon, or an AirCirc, etc ?
Or what exactly should a person expect from a Vortex speaker system. I have cash in hand, but need info.

Flaxxer ask the designer Matt over on the DIYSG website. I've been thinking of buying a set of these, but not for chest pounding anything. Just because I think they might work well in a unique space I have.

Also, per your original, but very tough goal....look at Acoustic Elegance TD series woofers. Especially the M.
 

Brinkman

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2007-08-17 5:48 pm
Oakland, CA
I’ve been eyeballing these same kits and considered suggesting them on your other thread. I’m already using a pair of 2-ways with waveguide & compression drivers for HF; I think the treble sounds crisp and clear with a wide sweet spot. Listening to dome tweeters takes some re-adjusting for me. While the vortex is not a waveguide (strictly speaking), the LF cone is definitely being used as one in these speakers. Constant directivity may or may not be a priority for you; it is for me and in that regard the polar response on these coaxials is pretty damn good.

Another reason I find these kits tempting is because a number of 60s/70s albums were mixed on 15” coaxials (Abbey Road) so this is a great way to recapture that in-the-studio fidelity some of us are after.

Not sure if these are going to have the high-SPL bass grunt and punch you sound like you are after but I’ve built a lot of DIYSG kits to know the specs are trustworthy (when used as directed). The performance you seem to be after is asking quite a bit out of two drivers that are each expected to cover 5-6 octaves. Running a pair of these atop a pair of midbass modules could be beneficial in that regard, assuming woodworking is a possibility for you, though technically it would be considered a 3-way setup.
 

mlee

Member
2011-01-30 5:56 pm
I have a pair. Subjectively tested them in sealed and OB (Original Spatial M3 rip off) format. They don't have the same dispersion pattern as a tweeter on a flat baffle, more of a semi controlled directivity speaker. Do you have experience with horned speakers?
 
I have a pair. Subjectively tested them in sealed and OB (Original Spatial M3 rip off) format. They don't have the same dispersion pattern as a tweeter on a flat baffle, more of a semi controlled directivity speaker. Do you have experience with horned speakers?

Mlee: What is your opinion of how they sound? And, did you prefer them sealed, or OB? Thanks for the info.

Brinkman: in my case, some directivity would be helpful. Do you think you will buy a set?
 

Brinkman

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2007-08-17 5:48 pm
Oakland, CA
I’m almost certainly going to buy a pair but I’m also waiting for the TBA flat packs to get listed as well. My plan is to use them with a passive radiator, then when we move out of our current residence (w/ it’s severe electrical wiring problems), build them into aperiodic enclosures crossed over circa 200Hz to an active midbass module.

I am currently using a pair of Fusion 8s w/ an 88 Special for a center channel (coaxial surrounds). I have built and auditioned L & R Fusion 12 and 88 Specials for friends and definitely prefer either to the Fusion 8. Auditioned in the same room, same placement, same amplifier. Technically the Fusion 8 is “size appropriate” for my room but to my ears the Special 88 was the best of the three. Seeing as they were all designed and voiced by the same designer, I can only really chalk it up to the wider waveguide with it’s lower pattern control as the winning attribute.
 

mlee

Member
2011-01-30 5:56 pm
Mlee: What is your opinion of how they sound?

I think they sound as good as any speaker I've had in my room. Some caveats as to where I'm coming from:

I like the sound of directional speaker from around 450hz to 20khz. I do stress that I'm hyper picky of the +8khz range in a speaker. If it doesn't have enough zing or too much I don't like it. That said the +9khz or so does get a little directional for my tastes. I added a super tweeter to spray some more HF around my room, kindof like the Wesminster royal from Tannoy. My room is deader than it should be. I have a multichannel and stereo system in the same space so I have compromises for stereo reproduction that others might not. In a different room I can easily see no super tweeter being used.

Using the stock crossovers shows very good polars and there are jumpers to add some tilt. Also lots of work went into custom mods of the drivers from the standard Eminence KL3015CX-8. I believe some curve linear cone and some different soft parts as well as smaller foam are just some of the differences. To me the differences were more than enough to push me to purchase a pair from DIYSG.

I wanted no taller than 32" speaker but wanted the large drivers. I like large drivers as I listen at low volumes and there seems to be an ease of reproduction with the 15" drivers that the smaller monitors do not have. The Vortex has as good a bass driver as I've had in my space period. If I had to nit pick the HF reproduction was not quite as good as some of my other speakers, but not far off. The point source and reduction of speaker space was enough to make that compromise worth it for me. We never get the perfect speaker so we have to pick our poison.

And, did you prefer them sealed, or OB? Thanks for the info.

My preference for reproduction is OB for 30hz to around 400hz and directional speaker for the rest of the response. I don't know if its my room or personal preference but at low level listening, the OB sounds better in those frequencies. Going full OB didn't sound quite right on vocals and going all sealed created a room pressurization that I didn't like. I found OB in those frequencies a good compromise. Also going OB in the lower frequency one might get lower pattern control without the need of a super large horn, but OB rear radiation would be the compromise. I like it though. So if I had to pick 1 I'd go with OB but the ultimate for me would be sealed Vortex to around 400hz and OB below that. That said I dropped the XOVER frequency of the compression driver to 900hz so the OB wasn't far off from my ideal.

With the pickyness I have don't get me wrong. It looks like it has some of the best polars of any speaker bar non. Combined with the efficiency they could easily be the base of a very nice sounding System. I listen to them on a daily basis so they are here to stay. They are not perfect but some of the best Coaxials if you are wanting Coax.

Separate note the first production run seems to be sold at a discount. I don't have any affiliation with any speaker company, I'm just a customer.

Happy Listening!
 
Vortex 15

Thanks for the write-up mlee. I’m looking at these as a last stop before I go the Unity horn route, assuming my 3D printer is ever completed.

Brinkman: That was a pretty good endorsement of the Vortex by mlee. Have you also considered the 12"? For the small additional price, I ruled that out in favor of the slightly more efficient 15".

Mlee: Thanks for those detailed comments. Your situation is a bit different than mine, but the points you make seem to be on target. I have separate listening spaces, but am really interested in routing a hole in my wall of cabinets, and mounting the 15" in that wall. The cabinets I would mount them in could be used in IB mode initially. It is a very lively room, so I doubt it would need to have a super-tweeter. (Although my JBL 2404H would probably do just fine)

Brinkman, like me is waiting on the flat packs to arrive at DIYSG. Coincidentally, yesterday I scoped out a pair of super heavy older oak file cabinets at a local Goodwill, made out of thick plywood. I'm going back to pick up the pair for $40, pull the drawers out, and glue in some corner blocks and dowels for bracing. 18-19"w by 26"d by 33"h exterior dimensions. Should make a good pair of test cabinets for some project. They are in really good shape.

Thanks again.
 

mlee

Member
2011-01-30 5:56 pm
Don't get me wrong. I do have better speakers, but I've not had better coaxials. If you are used to perfect treble and perfect midrange you will be dissipointed as these are not the last word or holy grail in speakers and I don't want to oversell them. They have their coaxial compromises but if space demands it they are great option.

If u try hard you could get better results with a very well designed horned 2-way speaker. But everything will have to be very good and taken care of correctly. Crossover diffraction and driver choice. Also the package will be 2 times as large so depends on your goals.
 
Vortex 15" coax

Don't get me wrong. I do have better speakers, but I've not had better coaxials. If you are used to perfect treble and perfect midrange you will be dissipointed as these are not the last word or holy grail in speakers and I don't want to oversell them. They have their coaxial compromises but if space demands it they are great option.

If u try hard you could get better results with a very well designed horned 2-way speaker. But everything will have to be very good and taken care of correctly. Crossover diffraction and driver choice. Also the package will be 2 times as large so depends on your goals.

mlee: We currently have excellent, high end monitors in this room, along with multiple separate subs. The monitors happen to have coaxial mid/tweeter. I want to move them out of that room because they don't fit with the aesthetics of the room. This isn't a WAF issue, they just look out of place, and I have a better place to go with them in the house.

I love the idea of a simple, hidden system, and the Vortex looks like a great idea. If I cut big holes in our wall, and flush mount them, there is no going back, and they will stay with the house. When I was young, my Dad built an entire system into the wall separating our living room room from a hallway, with access to the rear of the gear from the hallway. It was admired by all who saw it. It had large speakers, and tube gear. (brand unknown)

I used to sit for hours and hours and do nothing but listen to my equipment. Now, I turn it on, and walk all over the place while listening. I sit down when some of my favorites start playing, and then get right back up again.

The coax ticks off a lot of boxes for me, but only if flush mounted in a wall. If a speaker were to be out in the room, possibly an open baffle with a very simple design. No monkey coffins. If the room would allow it, I'd build in corner-horns, but I don't have a single corner that isn't either a glass wall, window in corner, bookshelves, fireplace, outside door, etc. Worse, often more than one of the above in each location.
 

Brinkman

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2007-08-17 5:48 pm
Oakland, CA
Brinkman: That was a pretty good endorsement of the Vortex by mlee. Have you also considered the 12"? For the small additional price, I ruled that out in favor of the slightly more efficient 15".
.
I prefer the measured frequency response, polars, pattern control and efficiency of the 15” as well as what I mentioned earlier, the proximity to Tannoy Monitor Golds used at Abbey Road.

I asked Erich about the flat packs and he posted that the cabinet company that makes them for him has been busy with other clients, thus the delay. I’ve corresponded enough with Erich to know there’s always a good reason behind his offerings being unavailable.

I expect the waveguides will also be back in stock sometime in 2020 but that’s just a guess.
 

Brinkman

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2007-08-17 5:48 pm
Oakland, CA
Brinkman, like me is waiting on the flat packs to arrive at DIYSG. Coincidentally, yesterday I scoped out a pair of super heavy older oak file cabinets at a local Goodwill, made out of thick plywood. I'm going back to pick up the pair for $40, pull the drawers out, and glue in some corner blocks and dowels for bracing. 18-19"w by 26"d by 33"h exterior dimensions. Should make a good pair of test cabinets for some project. They are in really good shape.

From the Vortex thread (the cabinet for the 15” is on the left);
d2h_3288-sm1-jpg.933

That enclosure for the Vortex-15 is 17" wide x 44" tall x 18.5" deep. I used two 4" ports 4" long (flared ones parts express sells) on the rear of the enclosure which tunes it to ~32hz. Driver center is 10.75" down from the top.

I wouldn’t mind using a passive radiator vs ports but it’s not a big issue for me
 
Vortex 15.

Cool! Maybe we'll get some cool pics when its complete?

Mlee: Certainly! However, if it is a truly stealthy installation, there would be very little to look at! I'm mulling over ideas about how to mount the drivers, and what to use to cover them. If it is a woven grille-cloth, I'd like to find something that looks vintage.

Some of the house cold air returns used a perforated aluminum sheet with a unique design, which would be interesting, but would probably negatively affect sound. I'll have to study that issue.

Brinkman:; I've been wondering when Erich would get some more of those waveguides in. What is the issue that they cannot get them? I'd love to hear the waveguide for the Titan.

Have you seen the 15" buyout woofers in person? They are beasts! I'm thinking of buying another pair.
 

Brinkman

Member
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2007-08-17 5:48 pm
Oakland, CA
Brinkman:; I've been wondering when Erich would get some more of those waveguides in. What is the issue that they cannot get them? I'd love to hear the waveguide for the Titan.

The best answer to that question is in a December 1 post by Erich at the AVS forum:
More of all sizes were ordered and should be here in December. This took a while and the explanation is below. Some people in this thread have known about most of this stuff and I've done my best to keep things going without allowing the design to get stolen. I've also done my best to continue offering cheaper kits using them.

Keep in mind that the SEOS project for just the waveguides alone has cost around $150k. After this huge 10 year project there are about 8 reviews on all the waveguides combined. :confused: Because the waveguides rarely got ordered or reviewed by themselves, when quantities got low, I put the remainder aside to be used with the kits. It made the most sense to me because that's how they pretty much always got ordered. There have been people contact me needing just the waveguides and I have shipped some out. I have no personal gain by hoarding them. ;)


There are multiple issues that have come up that I haven't talked about in regards to this whole project. Some have been ongoing.

One is that there have been multiple companies try to copy the SEOS waveguide design or speakers that use the waveguide. A couple are not in the US, two are that I know of. One of the companies is a bigger fairly well known company on the west coast. I won't go into details about the other company because I believe that one is no longer an issue. The first company basically told me they were going to copy the design and use it in commercial speaker. I talked to the actual owner on the phone to explain the SEOS group project and told them I would be sure to let everyone know that they stole this from the DIY community and we couldn't wait to explain it on their Facebook page and as many forums as we could. That was about a year or so ago. I took the waveguides out of stock then and figured if they wanted to copy them, it will at least cost them two full kits to do so. At that point the quantity of SEOS-12's from the original group buy was already getting low, so it made sense to take them out of stock anyway so the kits could continue to be ordered. As mentioned, very few SEOS waveguides ever got ordered by themselves, so I didn't think it was a big deal either way.


So here's the issue with their replacements: And this is pretty much the case with every item on the site, including kits. Example - if you buy an item for $50 and sell it for $55 you don't get enough money back to reorder......until that item is nearly depleted. That's why some kits go out of stock for months. If a run of SEOS-12's cost $23k and they're sold at $28 each, then they can't be reordered with that same initial money until 820 are sold.

Another problem has to deal with shipping costs. When the SEOS-12 was first done they were shipped on a container with other parts that Bill Waslo and I had tested samples of, so a shipping container made it worthwhile and shipping averaged out okay. But shipping pallets of SEOS-12's would be very expensive due to the smaller number that can fit on a pallet versus the cost to ship a pallet. So because the SEOS-12 from the original group buy wasn't getting ordered very much anyway, I made a decision to hold off reordering until the SEOS-10 and SEOS-15 got low enough to justify reordering all sizes to ship in a container.

That's why the SEOS-10,12, and 15 have been out of stock for a while.
 
Can they sound as good as a Hiquifon, or an AirCirc, etc ?

Tried a SEOS15 + B&C DE250 + AE TD15M (design courtesy of bwaslo, thanks!) when I had several high end home audio speakers that had Scanspeak 9900 revelator tweeters and SB Satori ring radiator.

The DE250 sounded effortless but it was by NO MEANS high fidelity in the highs.

After chatting with pos, I jumped the gun onto a beryllium compression driver with another waveguide. The JBL 2435HPL matched to the JBL M2.

There was no going back, this was a whole 'nother level of fidelity transparent where the driver imparts nothing to the sound and reveals everything about the recording.

Silk dome tweeters now sounded like it has a flapping like distortion. I could only tolerate ring radiators, SS 9900 and the original Esotar. These arent as good as the JBL 2435, just merely tolerable.

I also sold my GPA 604 as whilst they shine with specific albums that were clearly mastered on them as it made no sense to keep 2 when the M2/2435/TD15M (and later SBP15) combo was far superior.

The cloest to this in the form of a coaxial are the Radian ones where you can upgrade to a beryllium diaphragm. Havent heard these though.
 
Brinkman: I had not seen that post by Erich. What a shame, but that is the nature of dealing with unscrupulous businesses. (worldwide) I hope he can work through those issues and continue to offer excellent and innovative products and services.

Yeah, the man has undertaken a ridiculous amount of work on behalf of this community. Many people like him get fed up and jack prices through the roof to start profiting from their work more, but he has kept prices very reasonable.

Not sure why anyone would need to knock off the WG. It's not that hard to come up with a design that performs. While some like to think of horns as unique designs they're really just a continuum and visually similar (to a trained eye that knows how to interpret profiles/diffraction sources, etc) horns/waveguides are generally very similar in performance.

Edit: That sounds like I underappreciate good designs. Not at all the case. It takes a lot of work to refine the last 0.5% into the design but in practice many of those last few % that we chase are pretty hard to notice, particularly for untrained listeners (most of the audio community).
 
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Vortex 12 or 15

The best answer to that question is in a December 1 post by Erich at the AVS forum:

Brinkman: I picked up my thrift store cabinets. Better than I thought at first....but just a bit smaller than my "guess". Inside dimensions 14" wide, 22" deep, 27" high. One inch plywood on all sides, rabbeted! There is a 3" plinth on the bottom, so overall height is 32". The front is 2 drawers, so will have to make a baffle, of course. The drawers are 1/2" and 3/8" plywood, so even that can be recycled. I've rarely seen 1" plywood. This stuff appears to be from the 70's, looks like birch ply.

I'm going to take another look at the Vortex 12, just for fun. That wasn't part of the plan, but I didn't expect to run in to this bargain.