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Tarheel TJ

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About Tarheel TJ

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  1. I am also using a MiniDSP with tubes upstream and down. I am running a Musical Paradise P-307 (Tube preamp & phono stage for R2R and TT) into a MiniDSP 4x10HD. With the MiniDSP acting as the crossover, the signal then goes to a Bob Latino ST-70 (~35wpc PP EL34) for the HF, a Dayton Audio APA150 (150wpc class A/B SS) for the LF, and a Yamaha P2200 (340W class A/B SS) for the sub. I love the tube sound and don't think that using a digital crossover takes away from it at all. In the future, I will probably move that ST-70 from the HF section down the the LF section and use a low-powered tube amp (either SET or OTL) for the HF section for even more tubey goodness.
  2. The Umik-1 from MiniDSP works well ($75). It requires a laptop, but I honestly can't imagine how you would measure and analyze a speaker's output without one. Basically, you hook the Umik-1 up to a laptop, then using Room EQ Wizard (free download), you can then run frequency sweeps. I would recommend running multiple sweeps around the room and then averaging the response to get a better picture of what the speaker is doing. I find that using only one sweep at one location is not enough information to be useful. I'll usually do a couple sweeps 3ft out from each speaker, a couple at the listening position, then one seat to the right of the LP, one to the left, one slightly above, one slightly below, etc. The software can combine the responses to a single curve that paints a pretty good picture of what your speakers are doing in-room. This may sound complex, but its pretty easy once you get the hang of it. The REW software will allow you to plot frequency response, phase, group delay, and probably a whole bunch of other stuff that I have not learned about yet. You can then use it to decide how to adjust your crossovers for the best response. It can also tell you things like whether your different drivers are time aligned, and exactly what kind of EQ you need to correct your speaker's response, if you so desire. It is a very powerful tool for what it costs.
  3. Those are it. Like I said, just make sure if you get a MiniDSP that you get the HD version. It is $100 more, but worth it.
  4. The only unit I have any experience with is the MiniDSP 4x10. It works very well for what I need. Some have complained about the sound quality of MiniDSP units, and I can only imagine they are using the non HD version that runs at 16/44z. The HD units run 24/96 and sounds fantastic to me. Certainly far better than using stock passive crossovers. You do have to be careful to manage your gain structure properly to keep the noise floor down. All of my amps have volume pots, so this is easy to do. Chris A has had great experience with the Xillica units and recommends them. Someday I may give one a try to see if the sound quality is improved, but they are a step up in price as well. For now, I am very happy with what I have. Whatever you get, just make sure it is a digital unit. They are so much more capable than the old analog types. Combined with your Cornscala project, a digital crossover/EQ should make you very happy indeed.
  5. I can't be of any assistance with regard to using the Dirac software, but I would love to hear your impressions of its performance once you get it sorted. I have the MiniDSP4x10HD (no Dirac). I have heard rave reviews of the Dirac upgrade. It is expensive though. Would love to hear some first hand experience. Good luck!
  6. Yes, they do sound different. At times, shockingly so. In fact, when you take a setup you have been listening to for a while and EQ it, it often sounds "wrong" at first. I think this is because your ears and your brain get very used to a particular FR and learn to compensate for it. After listening to the EQ'ed setup for a while, you can switch back to the previous setup and now IT will sound wrong. Over time, your system and your ears begin to zero in on a flatter frequency response. In my experience, once you get there, it does indeed sound much better. The main benefit, I would say, is that it sounds consistent across all different recordings and types of music. Before, I feel like some recordings sounded good, and others not so good. While this is still true with a flatter setup (after all, there will always be good recordings and bad ones), I find that more recordings sound good than before. It's hard to put into words, but I guess you aren't dependent on the frequency humps of your speakers landing in the right ranges for the instruments on the recording. I hope that makes sense. Instead of having good jazz speakers (even midrange response) or good rock and roll speakers (strong bass and highs), you can have it all! With well-designed speakers, it may not take much to get there. My setup is 2-way with a sub (LS bass bins, DE-750TN drivers on ZXPC horns and a THT sub). I am currently using 3 PEQs on the HF section, one on the LF section, and surprisingly, none on the sub. So we are only talking 4 PEQs for the entire frequency range. This gets me from ~22hz - 20khz at +/- 3dB. That is about as good as you can hope for FR wise. In reality, it is not quite that flat, as I choose to boost the bass frequencies a bit. It just sounds better to me that way.
  7. Only one way to find out: measure and see for yourself. I know when I started measuring speaker response, it was a real eye opener. Speakers that sounded really good to me measured horribly. My main system at the time, consisting of stock LaScalas and a THT sub, didn't even come close to flat. There were wild swings in SPL response. Now, I still thought it sounded pretty darn good. Certainly much better than the vast majority of systems out there. That's why I put the little disclaimer in there of "if flat frequency response matters to you". The fact is, most highly regarded speakers, Klipsch or otherwise, will not measure flat. They definitely wont measure flat in-room. I have had a multi-amped, DSP crossover'ed and EQ'ed system for about two years now. I am still working on tweaking the DSP settings, and probably will be for some time to come. It is pretty close to flat now, but not perfect. Setting appropriate crossover points and tuning the driver levels by ear is a perfectly valid approach. There are lots of speakers on here that use that approach and sound excellent. Most of the legendary speakers of the past used a similar approach. Sure, they may have been measured in the lab, but a basic passive crossover network doesn't give you many tools to flatten that response, at least compared to DSP. I think you should assemble your speakers as planned and see how they sound. If you get curious, get a measurement mic and see what they look like on an FR plot. Just be warned, doing this is opening a can of worms. Once you see what your FR really looks like, you will probably be compelled to do everything you can to improve it. It is a long and often frustrating journey. The results can be spectacular though. Good luck!
  8. I did the same thing you are considering. I bought some 2" horns and needed to use my K-55s for a while until I could upgrade to a 2" driver. It worked fine and sounded good to my ears. I never measured it, but it certainly didn't destroy the sound.
  9. This is one of the reasons why I like having the volume of my sub easily accessible (i.e. not on the back of a plate amp). Sure, you can measure it and adjust the level and EQ until it is flat, but ultimately, some recordings just need more bass than flat can provide. It is nice to be able to jack up the bass to get a better balanced sound. Some recordings just leave you scratching your head wondering "what was the mastering engineer thinking?" In reality, a lot of music was mastered with the knowledge that it would likely be played on a small transistor radio, or a car system, or an MP3 player with earbuds and not a Hi-Fi system. As stated above, if you read some of Chris A's posts about "de-mastering" his recordings, it is for this same reason. While his approach takes some technical know-how and is pretty labor intensive, I imagine the results are quite satisfying. The rest of us just have to make do with the music as it was recorded.
  10. That veneer is outstanding! Just beautiful. I'd love to wrap my speakers in something like that, but I'm afraid my woodworking skills wouldn't do it justice. I'd hate to mess up such beautiful veneer.
  11. Not to sound repetitive, but I also endorse the THT. I build a ~30" unit a few years ago, using a 15" Dayton driver. Dialed in properly, it extends super-clean bass down into the low 20hz range. Turn it up and you can quite literally shake pictures off the walls. Just limitless bass potential, and it never distorts or gets wooly sounding. Put on some dubstep or other bass heavy music and watch people's jaws drop! The only downside that I can find is that they are BIG and HEAVY. I bet it weighs 200+lbs. I had to move mine a few months ago to re-do some flooring. It was all I could do to get it across the basement. There is no way I'll ever get it out of there. I'll have to sell it with the house, haha. It's the giant wooden cube under the sailboat. It just dwarfs my LS bass bins!
  12. I am using the B&C DE750TN, which is a very similar driver, with ZXPC horns in a two way configuration over LS bass bins. They sound excellent, but they require EQ to be flat. Even in a 3-way configuration, I think you would need to EQ them, depending on how much a flat frequency response matters to you. I am using a MiniDSP to achieve this. I'd be happy to answer any questions I can about the setup.
  13. Love seeing the BFM sub builds. I put together a THT a few years ago. I would describe it much like M_Klipsch did. It just sounds like my La Scala bass bins now dig down to 25hz or so. Totally seamless horn loaded bass. The only downside as far as I can see is that they are rather large. I built mine in my basement, and it can't ever leave! Will have to sell it with the house.
  14. The only mid-horns I have experience with are the stock K-400 from a La Scala, and the ZXPC 17.5x11 that you mention. To me, the more open-throat horn was a big upgrade over a K400. I do not have enough expertise in horn design to be able to tell you what role the openness of the throat plays, but the improvement in sound is not subtle. I have no experience with the other horns you mention, though I have always read that diffraction horns (like the JBL2380) do not have the most pleasant sound. They sacrifice sound quality for coverage. Certainly the ZXPC horns are cheap enough to experiment with. Of course, I ended up buying 2" drivers and a digital crossover and going fully active in the end. I guess you could say the cheap $40 horns ended up being a gateway drug for me. Buyer beware!
  15. Much thanks to Thebes. He very generously lent me an Ortofon OM30 stylus to try out. I have been listening to it for a couple weeks now, and I have to say it has been enlightening. It definitely has a crisper top-end. The highs are cleaner and more refined than with the cheaper stylus. It also seems to have more detail and texture down into the midrange, while still retaining that laid-back, relaxed sound that you only seem to get from analog formats. It has definitely helped me to understand what types of benefits are accessible via the sharp end of the signal chain. Now I have some thinking to do. Stop here and stick with the Ortofon MM cartridge family, or continue to explore other options?
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