Where to start for first ESL?


2014-07-17 9:24 am
Hi! I stumbled across Charlie Mimbs youtube videos a few days ago. Wow!! Until then, I've just assumed that ESLs were out of the reach of DIYers. And, in fact, this is my first visit to "Planars & Exotics". There was something about the word "exotics" that made me think they weren't for me. But maybe they are? And having spent the last few days learning about ESLs, I think I'm starting to understand the basic concepts.

My query is:
Is there a thread here, or a site, with a simple guide for making an ESL that you would recommend? Ideally. one that gives a good description of how to complete the electronics side for both the power requirements and dispersion?

Hello Dan,
I'm glad you found my website (Jazzman's ESL Page). I now prefer the segmented wire type ESLs shown on the main page, and if you're up for the challenge; go for it. But a first time builder might be wiser to start with simpler and easier perf-metal ESLs. On the main page of my website there's a link to a back page containing detailed instructions for building flat panel perf-metal ESLs, with sources for the materials.

Flat panel, perf-metal ESLs sound wonderful too. In fact; many prefer their narrow dispersion, which gives truly magical imaging in the focal sweet spot. Some builders curve the metal stators (like Martin Logan does) for wider dispersion. I have no experience with curved panels so I can't advise you on those. Calvin builds fantastic curved ESLs!

In any case; welcome to the world of DIY electrostatic speakers!
Be advised; it can become an obsession -- a psychosis, actually :)
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2014-07-17 9:24 am
Thanks Charlie. Really enjoyed your videos and your site.

I actually have some perforated metals sheets already at home. Though they're probably not perfect (they're decorative 1mm thick aluminium panels with a lot of sharp points and only about 36% open area), I'm thinking that I could use them to build my first set. And if I want to tackle a second set, I might only need to replace the stators.

I appreciate you listing your parts list. There seems to be a lot of choice for items like the transformers, but I'll likely go with your list for the first build. Give me a few months and I'll post some pictures.


2009-10-19 7:47 pm
I built many small prototypes over the years with the same kind of perforated aluminum. It's quick, easy, and lets you figure out other details before you invest a bunch of time and money on a panel.

The downsides are mostly related to the lack of insulation. Bias may need to be set a little lower, and the audio signal will need to be backed down some, but overall you're only talking a few dB sacrifice, so it's still worth doing.

If your panels have large open spans, thin perforated metal can also cause some problems because it's hard to keep flat. But large open spans tend to have issues anyway, so typically not a huge issue. If you add extra spacers to the panel (to subdivide the Mylar) or a flattening element to the metal, those issues are likely to resolve.

Small test panels are what I typically suggest when people are just getting started. A 1 foot by 1 foot panel is a lot easier to work with than a 2 foot by 4 foot, and a small panel can show most of the weak spots your build method/technique/understanding may have.