First timer questions

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oranges

Banned
2016-01-30 3:10 am
Hey there diy peoples. I've been going around gathering information for my first speaker project and I have a few questions.

My max budget is about $2000 per speaker.
I'm currently looking at building a 3 way dynamic speaker using active crossovers and the best drivers I can get a hold of.
I only just found out that DIY ESL was a thing.

I've never heard ESLs before but people rave about them and I've wanted to try one for a while now.
Would a first timer be able to build an ESL superior to a dynamic speaker at the same price point?
I'm looking for natural, neutral, and realistic sound.

I have some experience building amps at relatively high voltages but I am just starting out in speaker territory and I know next to nothing about ESLs, where would I find reference material on how to build an ESL?
 

oranges

Banned
2016-01-30 3:10 am
Maybe it's a good starting point to try to find a place where you can listen to some ESLs
Unfortunately I'm far away from a demo source, I don't think it is realistic for me to be able to try them.
They seem to be cheap to build though right?, I can't seem to find a coherent guide on the 1 2 3s of their design however.

What is the average cost?
What determines the required voltages?
What materials can be used and why?
How does height and width affect sound quality?
How can I build this? :D
neolith-1-c7.jpg
 
I'd say it's ambitious to try make one as your first speaker but certainly not impossible.

Kaputt gives good advice, you should try listen to a pair. I've only heard one and they weren't very good but that could easily have been because of the room they were in?

Do you have the space for a set? They generally require more space than traditional speakers. This is something to take into account.

This is an Australian company that make kits, apparently they have a US distributor. Might give you some ideas?

Electrostatic Loudspeakers By ER Audio

I don't believe one type of speaker is always superior to another, I think it's more important to find what suits your tastes and surroundings.
 

oranges

Banned
2016-01-30 3:10 am
I'd say it's ambitious to try make one as your first speaker but certainly not impossible.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) I'm cursed with ambition in all that I do. It's worked out pretty well so far.

I've only heard one and they weren't very good but that could easily have been because of the room they were in?
I've read a few reviews where people demoed some Martin Logans at a store and though they sounded bad and then later heard them in a proper room and changed their mind.

Do you have the space for a set? They generally require more space than traditional speakers. This is something to take into account.
Yeah I have plenty of space for whatever.

I don't believe one type of speaker is always superior to another, I think it's more important to find what suits your tastes and surroundings.
True, I am currently researching my options though. Dynamic drivers seem to be a fairly straightforward project but my but if ESL is cheaper then maybe I can go that route and still come on top.
 

jeronimo83

Member
2012-12-07 5:38 pm
Hi,
I built my first esls a few years ago and am now in the process of building their successors. I think the quality of the esl you want to build not so much lies in a budget but more in the time you're willing to spend on designing and building them. 2000 bucks will get you a very decent 2nd hand commercial esl and a great dynamic speaker, a lot of weekends building will get you a reference speaker competitor of an esl ( not that i got this far ) .:D
 
If you have some engineering and design background and you are handy with building things then I recommend making some ESL's. My current set has impressed me so much (they are the best sounding speakers that I have heard, although I have never demo'd something like the ML Neoliths...).

There was a lot of time and study involved but it was worth it, and very rewarding. Building traditional dynamic speakers is much less involved, and certainly not as rewarding.

BTW, I built mine for something close to your budget.
 
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apples

Banned
2016-02-04 7:33 pm
I'm quite curious to know what would happen if you made a "wall" sized esl. The main cost of an ESL is the transformer right? I'd imagine the required voltages would be huge and the labor would be long and hard but the soundstage and "sweet spot" would probably be ginormous (not to mention the awesomness factor).
Is such a thing possible?
 
Hello Oranges,

ESL's are addictive.

Over the past 40 years I've built quite a few dynamic speakers; some of which I thought sounded pretty good. But none of them came close to matching the jaw dropping clarity and imaging of my first DIY ESL. And actually building the driver itself (ESL panel) was uniquely rewarding.

Flat perf metal panels are the easiest to build and they sound fabulous if you can live with their ultra-narrow sweet spot. Curved perf metal panels are more difficult but give a wider sweet spot.

There are also some interesting wide dispersion wire stator and machined PCB stator type ESL's shown on this forum.

Some may disagree with me on this point but I now think it's easier to build a really good sounding ESL than a really good sounding dynamic speaker-- not less work (for sure) but in the sense that the results are more sure to meet [probably exceed] expectations.

Regarding cost:
For a hybrid ESL (excluding woofers, woodwork, crossovers), a pair of perf metal panels can be built for around $350-$400 and the electrical interfaces (step-up transformers and bias supplies) can be built for as little as $175 (both speakers).

I'm thinking you're already hooked so I urge you to do your homework first and then go for it!
 
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ESLs like most other types of speakers can be built for just about any budget. I built a pair of desktop sized ESLs for a little over $100 - most of which was in the transformers. They perform well for what they are, but they do not compare to the full range ESLs which I built for around $1200 for the pair. I'm sure others have similar stories as well.
 
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