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My $50 Cornwall Project


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Materials Needed:

 - (2) Klipsch model K-33 15" Woofers / eBay $259.27 (total for both, including shipping)

 - 10 linear feet of Monster #14 gauge speaker wire @ $0.17 / ft / Best Buy $1.70

 - #10/12 size spade terminal ends, Box of 20 / Home Depot $2.49

 - #10/12 size slide terminal ends, Box of 12 / Home Depot $2.88

 - #10 size 1.25" wood screws, Box of 50 / Home Depot $3.99

 - (2) Midrange horn gaskets @ $1 ea. / Bob Crites $2.00


Total Cost:  = $272.33


Time Needed:

Approx. 1 hr. per speaker (2 hrs. total) to install drivers / crossover / complete wiring installation



Now we are coming to the fun part - finishing up and testing these out...


I have to say, as I was going through the installation of the drivers, etc. last night, I stopped to think about how (overall) relatively easy and problem - free this entire project has been so far. Yes, it has taken some money - although I think less than I initially thought - and yes, taken some time... but really it has gone pretty smoothly so far. And I am pleasantly surprised by how "un - DIY" things are looking up to now. I mean, I know I could have paid a seasoned pro on things like the cabinet refinish - but the end product isn't going to scream "DIY garage project" to anyone who sees it. Feeling somewhat proud of the effort at this point. And honestly, for me, I think the biggest change in MY attitude while working on this was to allow for time and patience... I tend to be one of those guys who sometimes rushed through a project; and sometimes with sloppier than expected results. Not this time.


Anyway, I proceeded to install the drivers and crossovers back into the cabinets. A few tips:


1) Place the cabinet on the floor face down. If you have a hardwood floor put a towel or something soft between the speaker face and the flooring (I have carpeting, so no worries there).        MUCH easier to install the drivers without having to hold them up (and perpendicular) against the motorboard while getting those first few screws tightened;

2) Install ALL the screws per driver loosely, then go back and tighten them all. This avoids misaligning the driver mount openings with some of the screw holes in the motorboard;

3) Install the midrange driver after you have already attached the horn to the motorboard (don't forget the gasket!);

4) Go with a screw size 1 size larger than what was previously installed. This will ensure the new screws attach firmly, even if some of the original screw holes are a little stripped out;

5) Check the length of your screws against the combined depth of the driver mount and the motorboard to avoid screwing all the way through to the face of the speaker. I originally                  thought 1.5" screws would work, but when I measured the screw would have protruded out the front face by about 1/8 of an inch. So I went with 1.25" screws instead;

6) Pay attention to the location of the "+" and "-" terminals on your drivers. Once installed, it may not be so easy to tell which one is which.


All drivers installed




Don't forget the midrange gasket!





Measure out the cabling from the crossover to each driver. include an extra inch or 2, so that the cables are not tight or pulling at the terminal ends. You could solder the ends to each driver if you wanted; I went with slide terminals to allow for easy removal should it ever be needed. For the crossover ends, I used spade terminals because that was what the original wiring used





One speaker all finished and ready to close back up





Last night I finished 1 speaker. Tonight (hopefully) I will finish the other... and then it's time for the Big Test (!!!)





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On 12/24/2020 at 5:04 PM, DizRotus said:

That’s a great story.  You were wise to go immediately.  What did you send the seller for Christmas?  


In Michigan, if the sun is out and the temp exceeds 50, you can be ticketed for driving a convertible with the top up.

Great story indeed. PROVING, once again, the old adage that: "You can't steal in slow motion" is still true.

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Materials Needed:

 - Velcro Strip 4-pak / $3.88 Home Depot

 - 1.5" #8 Stainless Wood Screws, Box of 50 / $4.39 Home Depot


Total Cost: = $8.27 (plus tax)


Time Needed: Approx. 1 hr. to install rear panels and Velcro strips; place speakers and connect speaker cables



Finally, the big day is here...


Went home yesterday and installed the drivers and crossover, etc. in the second speaker cabinet.

Next, I installed the rear panels back on both cabinets using new stainless wood screws. I should note that ALL the screws used on the project were stainless (most of the originals were either brass / plate steel and had either rusted or corroded badly in some cases) so these fasteners should stay new looking and corrosion-free for the life of the speakers.


Once the cabinets were complete, I uprighted the speakers and placed them in the approximate location I wanted them to go. 

Next, I installed the speaker wire cables from my system onto the rear panel terminals.

Then, I cut the Velcro strips in half (to make 8 of them) and adhered 4 to each speaker motorboard. I adhered the second half of each Velcro section to the appropriate location on the inside of each speaker grille.


After everything was finished, it was time to turn the system on and hear the results:



My Front Room Audio System




I've got 3 vintage receivers to choose from:

 - Pioneer SX-780 / 45 wpc

 - Sansui G-5700 / 75 wpc

 - Marantz 2230 / 30 wpc




The system is wired through both an amplifier selector switchbox and a speaker selector switchbox so that I can choose any combination of receiver, media player, and speakers that I have. For media choices, I have (2) different Technics turntables (one belt driven and one direct drive); a Panasonic Pro Logic 5 - CD / DVD changer; an Akai GX-265D Reel to Reel deck; a Pioneer HR-101 8-track deck; and a Teac A-400 Dolby B /C Cassette deck. Regardless of the media / receiver combination, sound flows through a Rockville 21 - Band Equalizer and a Pioneer SW-202a Reverb Amp and then out to the speakers. 

For speakers, I have pared myself down to these Cornwalls and a pair of 1959 University Dean Cobreflex 12s. At one time I had 14 pairs of speakers in my Front Room (boy was that a nightmare, LOL) but I chose to keep only these 2 pairs as they were the best sounding (or had the potential to be) IMO. 


Anyway, enough background... here are some more Cornwall photos so you can see the finished project:














With the grilles removed:

















Once I fired up the music, the sonic improvements vs. the original condition speakers were quite obvious.

First and foremost, the entire mid-level sound profile was entirely different. The midranges now provide not only an enhanced sound throughout their range; but they also bring a more well-defined sense of 'presence' and soundstage detail that I had not heard before. The tweeters seemed to extend higher, but at the same time were a little more subtle and delicate sounding than before. I had to go back and recalibrate my EQ as the previous settings were resulting in a sonic profile that was much too bright and flashy now.

The next thing I noticed was a change in the bass response and characteristics. Overall, the low frequency tones were now more sharp, less muddy and tighter. The amount of 'punch' was not only increased, but the frequency where you experience that punch seems to have dropped down by maybe 40 - 50Hz. Again, I had to adjust the lower frequencies on the EQ as this new combination of correct woofers / rebuilt crossovers / added 2.5" risers didn't seem to need as much manual assistance from the EQ settings as before.

Overall, the sonic tone, soundstage, clarity, and spatial layout were noticeably improved and just a richer, more well-defined sound overall. I tested these out using a couple of Steely Dan recordings; a CD of "Can't Buy A Thrill" and an LP of "Aja". I asked my son - who has no interest or great knowledge about anything audiophile - I asked him what he thought of the new sound. His response was that when the music had a horn section, it felt like the players were standing right in the room... and he could hear different instruments coming from different parts of the room as if the band was somewhere in front of him...


Cosmetically, I am quite pleased with the decisions to go with a contrasting darker walnut oil finish and the ivory grille fabric. I really like that look; also glad I painted the risers the same black as the motorboards. Grilles off, the matching risers look more 'factory' to me; grilles on, they kind of let the speaker cabinets stand out more vs. if I had finished them to match the cabinets. I think I got the level of sheen just where I wanted it to be - a nice, reflective surface that is not so glossy that it makes the wood veneer look like vinyl instead. I do think I should have went with the smaller (OEM) logo size; to me, these larger logos look a little too overstated and 'gaudy'. I may visit eBay again and buy the smaller set after all...





In Summary - 


First, for those keeping tabs on the project metrics, here are the totals in cost and time:


Total Cost for All Materials:  $487.06 + $50.00 initial purchase price = $537.06


Total Labor Time for All Work Performed:  Approx. 24 Labor Hours


So, basically, I now have this pair of fully functional, fully restored (and pretty nice looking, IMO) 1971 Klipsch Cornwalls for a total cash outlay of a little less than $550 and 3 full workdays of sweat equity. In my case, the labor was spaced out over a period of about 4 weeks.

Now, in the interest of accuracy, if someone was attempting to complete this entire project non-stop, that actual clock time would be significantly longer when you factor in the dry times for the paint and oil finishes, etc. More like maybe 72 - 80 hours of clock time when you include non-labor items like drying times.


So how do I feel about this whole project? Well, again I want to emphasize that I am NOT a 'professional' cabinetmaker / carpenter, painter, furniture finisher, or electronics guy. I honestly feel that if I could do this successfully - most anyone else could. I would say that there is a bit of patience needed on things like the cabinet refinish; you definitely don't want to rush that. But, overall, the skill level I would say that was needed for this project was "moderate"... if you know your way around basic hand and electric tools, if you have ever painted anything like a room in your home, if you understand simple electrical concepts like polarity and if you have ever used a soldering iron... YOU can do this.









Edited by RobC63
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23 hours ago, Shakeydeal said:

They look nice. It's a shame they had to end up placed like that. So much potential wasted........



Although the room they are in is quite large (28 feet long X 15 feet wide) I can't get them much further than about 6 feet apart without a major reshuffling of the rooms furniture.

What would you suggest given that limitation?

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59 minutes ago, RobC63 said:

Although the room they are in is quite large (28 feet long X 15 feet wide) I can't get them much further than about 6 feet apart without a major reshuffling of the rooms furniture.

What would you suggest given that limitation?

If it were me I’d arrange things until I could get them at least 8 ft apart.


But If that’s impossible just enjoy as they are. I know everyone isn’t as anal about speaker setup as I am.



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What an awesome write-up!!  I love the documented costs of everything. 

I should have done that with the Heresys I just bought but I'm already half done with them.


I wonder what they would sound like laid on their sides, slightly tilted back?

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On 1/9/2021 at 1:02 PM, wuzzzer said:

What an awesome write-up!!  I love the documented costs of everything. 

I should have done that with the Heresys I just bought but I'm already half done with them.


I wonder what they would sound like laid on their sides, slightly tilted back?

Tried that when I first got them... for me, they didn't sound incredibly different from normal vertical placement. The highs were a bit more subdued; probably because the listeners ear (while standing, anyway) was now further above the actual driver. I didn't see any discernable difference in dispersion pattern, despite the horns being longways with the speakers on their sides...

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8 minutes ago, RobC63 said:

Tried that when I first got them... for me, they didn't sound incredibly different from normal vertical placement. The highs were a bit more subdued; probably because the listeners ear (while standing, anyway) was now further above the actual driver. I didn't see any discernable difference in dispersion pattern, despite the horns being longways with the speakers on their sides...

I would  repair the insulation material on the inside of the cabinet , just in the area where it 's needed -otherwise perfect

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On 1/9/2021 at 7:34 AM, zobsky said:

I'm curious about how the cornwall's compare to your Dean's and which / why do you prefer ..?




I guess it would be OK to do a short bit on the Deans, even here on a Klipsch Forum (hopefully I don't get a mod PM admonishing me, LOL)


The backstory on the Deans is very similar to the Cornwalls in some ways... local ad that had a great price and was only up a few minutes when I saw it and jumped on it. Nice, mid autumn day - so again I was driving the convertible to work. Got there fast; payed and loaded them ASAP, others were calling on the ad while I was loading and trying to buy them out from under me. These were only about a 15 minute ride from the office, so not nearly as bad getting them home. Again, priced so low because the seller thought no one would want such big speakers anymore...


001.thumb.jpg.233f7a5b971a544b9ea292375692d72d.jpg           002.jpg.d13580bd87b65a1433c002017717b095.jpg


Here is how I have them set up today. They are located on the opposite wall from the Cornwalls, about 18 feet away. I built a second set of cheapo risers when I was doing the ones for the Cornwalls. Haven't got around to painting them yet.

I do have the second tone control badge for the speaker on the left. It is off because I am attempting to 3D print duplicates for the speaker on the right. Same thing with the missing knob on the right speaker.




The Deans have an interesting history. I bought them from the original owner who was 86 years old. He was moving in with his son and daughter in-law, and so was selling off a lot of his older possessions. He bought these, one at a time, when he was in his mid twenties. He lived in Los Angeles at the time, and when he bought the first one he had a mono system (that's why he only bought one). The electronics store he bought it at had an order sheet that he filled out with choices for drivers, cabinet finish, grille cloth color, etc. On this first one  - the speaker on the left above - he had them place the 2 tone controls on the front face of the speaker. About 9 months later he decided to change over to a stereo system, and so placed a second order. Unfortunately, he forgot to request the tone controls up front, so they were built on the rear panel as was the norm. Once delivered to his home, he decided it wasn't worth the trouble to send it back. All the other options were exactly the same on both. The other odd thing is he requested that the Cobreflex midrange horn system be placed on the bottom of the cabinets, instead of up top. So the midrange is down at the bottom and the woofer is up top, parallel with the tweeter.





These University Deans are a 3 way system with a C12-HC dual voice coil woofer; the Cobreflex midrange horn with a T-30 driver;  and a tweeter whose model number escapes me at present, LOL. The crossover is a model N-3 with the adjustable tone controls for mid and high frequencies.







The refurbishment on these has so far been limited to a recap of those N-3 crossovers, a good Deoxit cleaning of the tone control pots, and as you can see I relocated the tone control pots on the second speaker onto the front panel to match the first speaker. The original finish is in much better condition that the original finish on the Cornwalls was; however, these will get at least a scratch cover-up treatment and a good waxing in the near future. All the drivers are still the originals, and in near mint cosmetic and physical condition. The internal wiring was also still supple and was a thicker gauge than the Cornwall wiring, so I did not feel the need to replace it.




As far as how they sound compared to the Cornwalls...


A little hard to describe. There is a definite difference; in some ways subtle, and other ways more pronounced. The Cobreflex setup on the Deans (especially being at the bottom of the cabinet) has the mid profile at a more 'warm' (meaning lower midrange is a little more emphasized here) than the Cornwalls, which are a bit more 'bright' (meaning more emphasis on the higher end of the midrange)... The spatial / soundstage qualities of both brands are notably different - but neither one is 'worse' compared to the other, just different... The bass response on the Deans isn't quite as prominent (12" vs. 15" woofer plays a part, I'm sure) but is still quite strong. A non-ported cabinet gives the Deans a slightly less 'boomy' bass (not that the Cornwalls are very boomy at all). The tweeters I would give the edge to the Cornwalls. The Deans aren't bad, but I believe those Atlas horns in the Cornwalls do go a bit higher. The tone controls on the Deans of course give an adjustability factor that is not available on the Cornwalls. And although there are no dB marking on those adjustments, I am thinking the range is quite high; normally I have seen most speakers with adjustable tones usually ranging +/- 3 dB; here I think these are as high as +/- 6dB.


In the end, I have to say that overall, the Cornwalls come out on top - but only slightly. Prior to getting these Deans I had no experience with University speakers; quite frankly I had never even seen any in person, much less heard them. The Deans have been a very pleasant surprise; and I am not the only one who thinks so. A few audio enthusiast friends have been over and heard my pair... and were almost universally quite surprised at how good they sound. I mean, with the Cornwalls, yes they sound great - but you EXPECT them to sound great. After all, they are one of the flagship models of a prominent semi- high end speaker manufacturer of some renown. Almost every audio enthusiast has heard of Klipsch - even if they have never owned a pair -  and they have a very solid reputation. The Universities, however, have a reputation among the less-informed as kind of a 'kit' speaker manufacturer; and the expectation is that some of them may sound "okay" but probably nothing special. I must beg to differ. At least with these Deans. Quite a unique and special sound, indeed.

Edited by RobC63
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