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Dave MacKay

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Everything posted by Dave MacKay

  1. I was quite surprised at the difference closing the drapes made in the sound in the room. The change was substantial and positive. The music seemed both closer and warmer. Thanks for asking about it. I wouldn't have thought to try that without being prompted by your question.
  2. From posts on this forum, I've picked up that the La Scala's low-end performance starts dropping off just above 100 Hz (104 Hz, IIRC) and is pretty much gone by about 50 Hz. Because of that, pairing a subwoofer with La Scalas is seen as a good thing. The subwoofer I'm using now is just temporary. It's a 10" Klipsch Synergy (https://www.klipsch.ca/products/sub-10-subwoofer). It really can't keep up with the La Scalas; when I set the gain too high all I get is "boom boom boom". I'm planning to get a better sub --- hopefully a Bill Fitzmaurice designed THTLP. The accepted wisdom seems to be to set crossover to the subs at 80 Hz. I've been playing with the settings on mine trying between 80 Hz and 110 Hz. I think I get fuller sound with the sub set at 100 Hz (but any differences are slight). I'll know have a better sense of what works best in my setting when I replace the existing sub with a more suitable one.
  3. You know ... I've never closed the drapes in that room 🙂 The hot water radiator is in the way so that the drapes would have to be pulled way out to clear it. The drapes are really just decorative. I'll close them tonight (my wife is on Zoom calls for work all day) and see if I can hear any difference in the sound. I'll report back if I notice any difference.
  4. Fascinating. I've read about different chips have come along in the past couple of years. From what I've read they're pretty impressive. I'm looking forward to seeing more products that incorporate them. What make are the amps you bought? \specs?
  5. In July I purchased up a pair of vintage La Scalas even though I’d never heard a La Scala before. I thought that a post explaining why, and what I’ve done with them could serve to introduce me to the forum. I had wanted La Scalas for more than 40 years, ever since a friend and I went shopping for a sound system for our high school for dances. We went to a dealer who supplied the top clubs in town with their sound systems. He was a huge Klipsch fan and convinced me that Klipsch horns --- and particularly the La Scalas --- were the “Cadillac” of speakers. I've aspired to have a pair ever since. But life got in the way … Until lately. Spending more time at home on account of the pandemic led to a rekindled interest in audio. Perhaps I haven’t been looking in the right places, but my experience has been that La Scalas don’t come up for sale very often up here (near Toronto, Canada). I found a pair listed on Facebook Marketplace that were about a 3 hour drive away. The speakers were were 1986 La Scalas in Raw Birch that the owner had coated with polyurethane. They had AL networks. The cabinets had some damage: scratches, chips, stains, gouges, missing veneer, broken corners, etc. I purchased them for CAD $2800 (~ US$2250). Since the speakers would feature prominently in my living room, I knew I'd have to repair and refinish the cabinets. I wasn’t keen on the look of paint and figured that I’d likely re-veneer them. Although I originally intended to keep the speakers close to stock, as I learned more about the La Scalas (mostly from this forum) I knew that I’d want to make some changes. I started with the networks. I knew that the 35-year-old capacitors in the networks were likely past their “best before” date and should be replaced. I also knew that the AL networks in my speakers weren’t well regarded. The cost of replacement capacitors from JEM Performance was high enough that I opted to spend a bit more and get new AA networks from Crites. I took all the components out of both speakers and gave the cabinets a thorough cleaning. Because a mouse had built a nest in one of the doghouses, at the recommendation of some forum members, I used Dettol to clean and disinfect the cabinets. I thoroughly cleaned the woofers, squawkers, and tweeters, filed down rough spots in the K400 horns, replaced the gaskets in the squawkers, and treated all of the connectors to a liberal dose of DeoxIT. I sanded the squawker and tweeter horns and then sprayed them with Rustoleum Satin Black paint. Then I turned my attention to repairing the cabinets. Following suggestions from some forum members, I decided to laminate new panels to the cabinets. I chose to do that for two reasons: 1) to provide a smooth surface for veneering, and 2) to stiffen the cabinets to eliminate a reported resonance in the bass bin I started by stripping the old finish. I used paint stripper, scrapers, and sandpaper. I did a pretty fair job on the exterior of the cabinet but didn’t do nearly as well stripping the doghouse. I used wood fillers and wood epoxy to repair the damage to the cabinets. In the end, the damage was easier to fix than I'd anticipated. If I were to do it again, I'd use bondo (not wood epoxy). Also, some wood fillers were too grainy; I found Timbermate and Wurth wood fillers to be very good. I laminated oversize 3/8" baltic birch panels (my supplier was out of 1/4") to the sides, top and bottom of my cabinets. I used about 3 quarts of Titebond III and a few hundred 5/8" brads (since I had no suitable clamps) to attach the new panels. After the glue had dried, I used a flush cutting bit in a router to trim the panels to size. I then used wood filler to fill any gaps and the indentations made by the brads. Then I sanded the cabinets smooth with 240 grit sandpaper. The new 3/8” panels have increased the thickness of the cabinet sides (and top and bottom) to 1 1/8” without changing any of the interior dimensions. By my figuring, the cabinets now weigh about 80% as much as the MDF-made La Scala IIs. The cabinets are certainly stiffer so that the bass resonance problem should be dealt with. It turned out that my repairs to the cabinet were good enough that I probably could have veneered them without adding the new panels. If I were to do it over, I might just add braces to the bass bin and not bother with the additional plywood panels. I’ve reassembled the speakers and have been enjoying them. I’m mainly using Spotify as a music source via my Yamaha R-N803 (100W/channel, solid state) receiver. Generally speaking, I’m really pleased with how they sound. I have noticed that they seem to really shine with some songs but not so much with others. A neighbour nicknamed the speakers “the blondes” on account of their colour and the amount of attention I was giving them. I haven't yet started to veneer the cabinets. I'm leaning towards something that will be light (blonde?) in colour: maybe quarter-sawn anigre or quarter-sawn birch. Because of the lead time to get the veneer that job will have to wait until spring when the temperatures in my garage are warm enough to work with contact cement. Some forum members have suggested applying veneer with PVA (letting it dry and then applying it using an iron). My experience with PVA and veneers hasn’t been good --- the glue has tended to bubble beneath the veneer. But maybe I’ll experiment with that over the winter. I haven’t decided on what finish to put on the veneered cabinets. I’m thinking of a natural-coloured Danish Oil or a clear polyurethane. Suggestions about what finish (and what veneer) to use would be welcome. What’s next? I have purchased plans from Bill Fitzmaurice (https://billfitzmaurice.info/) to build a THTLP subwoofer. The THTLP is a horn design that, I hope, will pair nicely with the La Scalas. I should probably leave the speakers as they are. I doubt that my hearing is acute enough to be able to discern much difference from, say, improved tweeters or a different crossover. But I do like to tinker …
  6. Looks fabulous! Do you have any tips on how to veneer the doghouse?
  7. Congratulations on scoring a pair of La Scalas. I bought a pair of La Scalas a couple of months ago that I have been refurbishing. Perhaps my experience might be beneficial to you. From the photos you posted I can't tell if there was much damage to your speaker cabinets. I didn't notice any, so you may be ahead of the game there. My cabinets had some damage (stains, chips, broken corners, gouges, etc.). I used wood fillers and epoxy to repair the cabinets. In the end, the damage was easier to fix than I'd anticipated. If I were to do it again, I'd use bondo (not wood epoxy) and wood filler. I laminated new panels to the sides, top and bottom of my cabinets. I used 3/8" baltic birch (my supplier was out of 1/4"), about 3 quarts of Titebond III and a few hundred 5/8" brads. I added the panels for two reasons: 1) to provide a smooth surface for veneering, and 2) to stiffen the bass cabinets to eliminate a reported resonance in the bass bin The cabinets are now certainly stiff (and even heavier) so that the bass resonance problem should be dealt with. It turned out that my repairs to the cabinet were good enough that I probably could have veneered them without adding the new panels. If I were to do it over, I might just have added braces to the bass bin and not bothered adding the additional plywood panels. I'm assuming that the tar-like substance you came across was on the woofer access panel (screwed into the bottom of the cabinet). You can remove that substance and replace it with an audio gasket tape. Despite my satisfaction with how my repairs turned out, I'll be veneering the La Scalas. I want them to look good since they are prominent fixtures in my living room. I didn't think painting them would give the sort of look I want. I haven't yet started to veneer the cabinets. I'm leaning towards something that will be light in colour. I'm thinking of (maybe) quarter-sawn anigre or quarter-sawn birch. Because of the lead time to get the veneer that job will have to wait until spring when the temperatures in my garage are warm enough to work with contact cement. Other elements of the refurbishment have involved the electronics (networks) and audio elements (drivers and horns), but that would be grist for another post.
  8. This is very interesting to me. It seems that the new La Scala has eliminated the small void above the access panel. I may try something similar with the 1988 La Scalas I'm refurbishing. I can always undo the "plug" if it turns out to be a bad idea. I'm also interested in the risers for the new La Scalas. Are the risers made of 1" MDF? How high are the risers? How far is the riser inset from the sides, front, and back of the cabinet?
  9. That was a fascinating thread to read. Thank-you for posting the link to it.
  10. I'm sorry, but I'm not clear on what you mean. Is it to enlarge the access panel opening by 1/2" on all sides and then fit a 1/2" thick (not 3/4" thick) plug to fill the enlarged opening? If so, why would one need to make the opening larger before filling it?
  11. Hmmm ... There have been arguments in favour of no plug --- because the increase in (spatial, not sonic) volume is immaterial reducing the bass bin's spatial volume --- which would support adding a plug increasing the bass bin's spatial volume --- removing the access door and adding a riser or bass reflex mod I've enjoyed the discussion, even if I don't understand acoustics well enough to draw a conclusion. I figure that --- at some point --- I'll make a plug and then see if I can detect any difference in how the La Scalas sound with and without it.
  12. The photo shows the La Scala with that access panel removed.
  13. Thanks. That makes sense. I won't bother making a "plug" for the access port.
  14. Is there a reason why Klipsch didn't fit a "plug" to fill the cut-out that provides access to the woofer in the La Scala? I wondered if the cut-out was left for manufacturing convenience or if that void might be part of the acoustic path design. I'm wondering if it might be a good idea to fit a plug to fill the void and attach it to the access panel. This would provide a (more or less) smooth surface under the woofer, without impeding access to it. I didn't find anything related to this question when searching the forum. I'm sorry if it has been discussed already
  15. Thank-you to everyone who has contributed to this thread. There have been responses in favour of all 3 choices: 1) do nothing 2) add bracing to the interior of the bass bin 3) laminate 1/4" panels to the exterior of the cabinet However, there wasn't clarity about which choice is best. Because I'm not sure my hearing is acute enough, or refined enough, to discern the resonance problem, doing nothing was appealing. Nevertheless, the resonance problem with the original La Scalas has been well documented. Since I'm in the midst of refurbishing the speakers, why not eliminate a problem if I can? Adding braces to the bass bins was attractive in that it would be (relatively) simple and easily reversible, However, I was concerned that the braces might impair the sound, since they would consume a not insignificant volume in the bass bin. I'm inclined to proceed with laminating 1/4" panels to the sides, bottom, and top for these reasons: - it may eliminate (and certainly won't worsen) the resonance problem - at worst, it shouldn't impair the quality of the sound - In my opinion, it would be visually more appealing than adding braces - the new panels should provide a good surface for veneering I recognize that making a big speaker even larger does nothing for their WAF, and the modification might impair the value of the speakers if I ever want to sell them. I'd be really interested to hear from those who disagree with my inclination, and especially from anyone who has laminated thin panels to their La Scalas and is willing to share what difference they felt it made.
  16. I wondered what affect the volume and mass of the braces would have on the sound, but figured that, since it seems to be a frequent modification, it mustn't be too significant. Also, after I finish refurbishing the La Scalas, I plan to build a THTLP subwoofer (see https://billfitzmaurice.info/THT.html) which should provide plenty of low-end bass.
  17. How much foam padding would be appropriate? Does the foam need to be placed anyplace specific, or fastened somehow? Or can it just be left loose? I've heard of people wrapping their squawkers in Dynamat, but hadn't heard of using it on the bass bin. I'd be interested in any experiences people have had.
  18. I'm in the process of refurbishing my new-to-me 1986 La Scalas. I've removed, cleaned and refreshed the tweeters, squawkers, and woofers and have replaced the old AL networks with new Crites AA networks. The cabinets had some damage which I have now (mostly) repaired. My next steps are to strip the existing polyurethane finish and then veneer and finish the cabinets. It has been suggested to me (by @Islander and others, and from searching the forum) that I should consider reinforcing the bass bins on the La Scalas because the cabinet side walls can flex (or vibrate). I'm not sure how big an issue that is, but I figure that, if I'm going to reinforce the cabinets, now is the time to do it. I'm trying to choose between 3 options: Laminate 1/4" Baltic Birch panels to the top, bottom, and sides (but not the front or back) of the cabinet exterior. I'd apply the Baltic Birch panels with TiteBond glue and brads or pins. This has the attraction of providing a clean, new surface for the veneer. However, I'm concerned that such a major alteration might destroy the value of the speakers. Install braces (see photos) between the the doghouse and the sides of the cabinets. For the sake of appearance, I'd likely mount them symmetrically at the mid-point of the bass bin. I would make the braces out of 3/4" Baltic Birch and fasten them with glue and maybe brads (if I can get my air nailer in the tight spaces). This would provide reinforcement without changing the dimensions of the cabinets. Leave things alone. Don't add any reinforcement and leave the cabinets as they are (apart from veneering and refinishing them) I haven't found a shop to re-veneer the cabinets so that I'll likely have to do that myself. I plan to work from large sheets of paper-backed veneer that I'll apply to the cabinets with contact cement. I'd appreciate getting advice, cautions, and opinions from forum members. Hearing from those who've been there/seen that would be particularly helpful. Thank-you.
  19. Just to close off this topic for the benefit of anyone searching this topic in the future ... The tweeter drivers and horns/lenses came back together without issue and seem to be fine. Read the posts referenced in the first reply, don't be fearful of applying a little force, and they'll turn out fine.
  20. I'll reply to my own posting in the hope that what I've learned might help someone searching the forum. The lenses (horns) do come off the driver. After removing the 4 screws, it can be removed. It just takes an uncomfortable amount of force. Take care not to disconnect or break the wiring. With the lens (horn) removed, you'll find a small black gasket and a tiny grill. I removed the little grill but left the gasket in place (but protected it with tape so that it could be re-used) when spray painting the lens/horn. I found these These two articles to be helpful: https://critesspeakers.com/installation-of-the-k-77-t.html https://community.klipsch.com/index.php?/topic/187809-wrong-tweeter-or-wrong-speaker/ I haven't re-assembled the tweeters yet.
  21. How did you get the tags off without desroying them? What did you use to stick them back on?
  22. Thanks to both of you for highlighting the need to take precautions when cleaning up the mouse nest.
  23. I'm in the process of refurbishing my new-to-me 1986 Lascalas. I'd like to paint the horns (or are they called lenses?) on the K-77 tweeters to cover up some minor scratches but I can't get just the horn off. When I separate the tweeter, the horn stays attached to a round section that has a diaphragm and is where the wires from the network connect (see photo). I haven't been able to remove the round section from the horn. I haven't applied a lot of force for fear of breaking it. Does the horn come off? If so, how? If the horn doesn't some off, can I just block off the little screen (at the back of the horn when viewed from the front) and paint it, or should I leave the tweeter alone? Thanks for the advice.
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