Ultimate studio monitors

Kelby

Member
2007-04-11 7:18 am
Well, ultimate to me, anyway.

Here's my situation, my plan, and my questions.

1. The situation: I need a set of nearfield monitors for my desktop at home.

My uses: This is for my home office, and this is where I listen to music the most. I spend a lot of hours in there every day, some doing real work while listening to music, and some playing guitar along to the music from my monitors. When I'm doing real work, the music is at relatively low volumes, and I have picky ears, but when I play, I play loud, and the monitors need to keep up. The monitors will be on stands that are probably no more than 6" from the wall.

What I've tried: I'm currently using Logitech Z623 2.1 computer speakers, which are awful. Not nearly loud enough, horrible sound quality. (They're OK as far as computer speakers go, but not anywhere near what I'm looking for.) I used to use a pair of Aria 5R speakers placed on the opposite wall from my desk, and they were pretty good (once I treated the room with bass traps and absorption). But those have been adopted by my living room, so I'm stuck with the Logitechs until I build something better.

My resources: I have a very good woodshop (including CNC) and plenty of woodworking experience. My budget is around $3k for the pair of monitors, including amplification. I have a spare sub driver that I'll use for the low end, so my budget is in addition to that. I've built quite a few speakers before, but this is a different level of budget, given that these are going to be the speakers I listen to most of the time.

2. The plan:

Active crossovers using MiniDSP

3-way monitors using Illuminator series drivers -- D3004/604010 tweeters, 12MU/4731T-00 mids, and 18WU woofers

A sub that will double as a printer stand using a 13" Focal subwoofer I have laying around.

3. The questions:

a. Input on drivers and design. I don't really have questions, but I know how much you all want to comment and tell me how you would do it differently, using different drivers, using a 2-way design or full range, or how I should really put all of this on my roof instead of in the home office. So let 'em fly. I welcome your thoughts.

b. Amplification: This is the tricky part for me. Typically, studio monitors use plate amplifiers. But I'm struggling to find plate amplifiers with three channels each, which I think is what I would need for a 3.1 system. (Minidsp makes a PWR-DSP3, but that is a ridiculous amount of power and would blow up my budget, especially by the time I get another plate amp for the sub.) So the only ideas I've come up with so far are:
(i) Put two plate amplifiers in each monitor (with two power cords, uggh), one of which has two channels.
(ii) Use a single 2-channel plate amp in each monitor, but set up a passive filter for the tweeter and mid, to be driven by one channel of the amp, and use the other amp channel for the woofer. Which eliminates a lot of the benefit of the active filter.
(iii) Use external amp(s), with three channels to each monitor, and a separate plate amp for the sub.

None of these options are ideal. I would really like to find a good 3-channel plate amp that won't blow my already generous budget.

c. Anything else you want to say.

Once I get some designs started, I'll post some CAD drawings.
 
(ii) Use a single 2-channel plate amp in each monitor, but set up a passive filter for the tweeter and mid, to be driven by one channel of the amp, and use the other amp channel for the woofer. Which eliminates a lot of the benefit of the active filter.

I don't think this is a bad option. The driver responses look like a mid-high passive crossover wouldn't be hard - it wouldn't need steep slopes or anything special.

There's a Troels design that crosses the 18WU straight to the tweeter. Not saying it's better, just that it exists, and is a possible source of ideas.

Illuminator-Monitor
 

eriksquires

Member
2013-05-10 4:11 pm
Hollowboy's ideas are good.

My one issue with your design is the total size. I don't see those 2 drivers fitting into a desktop sized cabinet. :) Do some box simulations and prove me wrong. If you are good with that then no problem.

I do want to mention that I have the Revelator version of that woofer, the 18W/4531 and it does a magnificent job as a mid-woofer crossed over at 2kHz so I imagine the Illuminator is even better. Being near-field you don't need the extra dynamic range a 3-way might give you, and ported they go down as far as you need for most music.

So, options? If you truly want a desktop system, the 15W/4531 does an excellent job in an 0.38cubic foot cabinet. See another of Gravesen's designs here. Actually the XT25 is a great option for nearfield tweeter as it has a very narrow dispersion pattern, meaning you'll get less bounce off your desktop and more clarity at your ears.

Like I said though, your original choices are pretty good, but sound like a tight fit.

Another, kind of similar idea but with a much cheaper tweeter is the Wilson Sabrina, gracing the cover of Stereophile this month. I think the overall driver choices better balanced in terms of having a good reason for a mid-range.

Best,


Erik
 
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Kelby

Member
2007-04-11 7:18 am
Thank you both for the insights!

In terms of box size, I agree that my choices would be too big to fit on the desktop itself. What I have in mind is putting the monitors on stands just to the side of the desk. Something like the outer pair of monitors here. http://medias.audiofanzine.com/images/normal/580772.jpg I still need to be cognizant of size, but I don't need to fit them on the desktop.

As for dynamic range, what I'm looking at is definitely overkill for listening, but when I play guitar, I play loud. When I had the Aria 5Rs in my office and I played with them, the volume on my Arias was as high as I run them nowadays when I'm using them for home theater (which I also like loud). So my needs are unusual.

With that said, the idea of crossing the 18WU directly to the tweeter is something I'll revisit. I think Gravesen has crossed over monitors with similar drivers at 1.8k. I am a bit worried that I'd be pushing the limits of those drivers when I start driving them at guitar-playing volume, which is why I had included the mid, but it would solve the amplification problem. Definitely worth another look.

Thanks!
 

eriksquires

Member
2013-05-10 4:11 pm
The 18cm drivers do fine loud at high frequencies. :) It's the bass that will distort first.

If you are going to use a subwoofer anyway, go with a sealed enclosure. It will be smaller, but give you the most dynamic range and cross over nicely using a 2nd order active filter.
 

eriksquires

Member
2013-05-10 4:11 pm
I havent measured that tweeter. i know the Mundorf AMT are amazing beasts when it comes to high power handling with very low distortion and incredible linearity. The dpouble magnet XT25 is another low distortion and loud tweeter. The 2 way i sent you crosses at 3kHz or so.
 

Lojzek

Member
2012-02-10 12:12 pm
Croatia
c. Anything else you want to say.

Yeah, why not build one set PA for the abuse mode (guitar)
and the other for the audiophile experience with very fine
frequency resolution. Since you don't want any comments
on drivers choice or how many ways, blah blah, I'm stopping here.

A good quality PA full ranger would suffice frequency wise, I suppose.

edit: Something like a fine BMW convertible for the freeway
and a Mercedes Unimog for the jungle.
 
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Kelby

Member
2007-04-11 7:18 am
Yeah, why not build one set PA for the abuse mode (guitar)
and the other for the audiophile experience with very fine
frequency resolution. Since you don't want any comments
on drivers choice or how many ways, blah blah, I'm stopping here..

That's an interesting idea. I'll give that some thought.

As for not wanting comments on drivers choice, I was actually welcoming those kinds of comments. So, feel free.
 

infinia

Member
2005-05-15 9:51 am
SoCal
garage full of machinery and the needed tools
now I have acquired lots n lots of mechanics tools, I have less desire to climb under there. 'Knipex Cobras' awesomeness If I had to pick two or 3 tools in a travel bag they'd be there.
stock BMWs (even the 2door 6 series) never impressed me, on or off the race.... but I digress
 
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infinia

Member
2005-05-15 9:51 am
SoCal
I really like the Audi's for looks, but yes, they are heavy and noisy interiors don't lend themselves well to nice stereos.

or when youre #3 for years you have to try harder to succeed.
Beemer series 3 is what, same same for 40 years now? IMO a EuroToyota sedan
hush don't tell, even the Germans themselves have realized that last 10years
nothing like the sound of V8 stereo exhaust notes hehe
 
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Lojzek

Member
2012-02-10 12:12 pm
Croatia
If you have ever been to Germany, then you know that police
in general drives cars that are produced in this certain Bundes
Republik.They drive Porsche as well. At least that was when I
used to go there. They would certainly be silly not to do that.

What do you think they drive in Italy? :)

End of OT transmission.
 
Several popular studio monitors use a waveguide tweeter for directivity control, plus supporting the lower crossover frequency to a wider bandwidth midbass.

MY PITCH FOR YOUR MONEY.
Acoustic Elegance TD10M + Beyma TPL-150H, LR4 Xover at 1,500Hz.
The Vapor Arcus Speaker is one example...with CNC cabinet construction.

VAPOR AUDIO :: Exquisite Sound Arcus

Beyma now also produces a smaller AMT with 92db/watt: TPL-75
http://www.beyma.com/getpdf.php?pid=TPL-75
 

eriksquires

Member
2013-05-10 4:11 pm
I don't have a problem with Chrysler making the blocks. They make good engines. The Masserati still has the highest power to weight ratio of any motor I know of. :) Besides, when it comes to reliability do you really want an italian making your engine block? Hahaha. :)

Besides, I can throw an array of $30 woofers into an MDF enclosure, call it a Tritonium enclosure and take out full page ads and I can sell dozens at $180,000 each and the reviewers will call it a bargain capable of throwing them into a state of sublime and involuntary ecstasy. I could even make them all recite the phrase "spot-on tonality" like a mantra.

OK, end of off-topic thread.

Best,


Erik
 
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