Info for tripath owners

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  • 02-12-2013, 06:15 AM
    StevenSurprenant
    Info for tripath owners
    I've been busy with new interests, butI thought I'd drop line about what I believe some here might find interesting and useful.

    One of my new interests is a new Meade telescope that I picked up. It is an auto-tracker and needed a power supply for those times when I am away from a power source, so I bought a car jump starter for that purpose. (Stay with me...)

    My stereo amp is a Trends TA10.1 digital amp which puts outs out about 6 watts. That is more than enough for my speakers and the room they're in. Many times I had read an article at 6moons (web site link below) about using battery power with this amp. I now had the battery power to do this so here are my results...

    6moons audio reviews: Trends Audio TA-10

    There was a significant drop in the noise floor which resulted in a major increase in audio quality. While I thought it sounded very good before, it transcends that by a very decent amount. There is now more detail and more air around instruments. In addition, the stage is more defined and the background instruments/singers are as clear as the foreground instruments/singers. Keep in mind that this is all relative to the before and after. To make a long story short, from this point on, battery power is here to stay and I doubt I will ever use the power supply that came with the amp again. In my system, this amp is magic and put several class A (expensive) amps to shame in terms of clarity and soundstaging.

    To give you an idea of the change, for years I had a favorite recording that I played hundreds of time, so I knew it very well. There was one cut that starts off with whistling,but on battery power, I could hear the whistling begin before the song actually started. It was extremely clear, but at a very low level. In all the times I've played this song, I had never heard this before. In the past I would have considered spending a serious chunk of change for an improvement of this degree and all this cost me was the wire to connect it to my battery. So there you have it...

    There are a few people that use tripath amps (digital), so hopefully these people will find this posting of use.

    While I'm here I want to mention two other things...

    First, I made the transition back to vinyl. I picked up a 30 year old Denon turntable (like new), fitted it with a Audio Technica AT120E cartridge and bought an ART phono preamp. The results have been astounding. The total cost was about$550. Rather than spell out the differences between vinyl and CD's, I'll just say that I haven't touched a CD since.

    The last thing is that I built my own speakers from used (never actually used) parts that I bought for a very decent price. I built my own boxes and the total cost for the completed set was about $800. I always had an affinity for the very best audio and one of my systems cost me around $15,000. Most systems I liked cost a great deal more than this. This system($1,600 total) does not leave me wanting in any way. While there is always better (in one way or another), I lost all interest in upgrading. In the past I couldn't drive past an audio store without pulling in, but now I don't give them a second look.

    The point of the last two paragraphs is that good audio doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. This just points out how I achieved that goal.

    Well, I'm back to my new interests and I'll see you folks on the net sometime.
  • 02-12-2013, 10:33 AM
    JohnMichael
    Glad you have achieved some real performance gains. I have yet to try a battery supply but have read the reasons for the benefits. I do filter and surge protect my lower voltage components but it is not able to handle the Krell S-300i. I have purchases power supply upgrades for my phono preamp and turntable. Those changes have proven to me the benefit of cleaner more stable power. I would think battery power would remove even more noise. Good job.

    Welcome back to vinyl. I prefer vinyl and use cd's for convenience. One thing I discovered for myself and later read in Absolute Sound was to turn off cd players when listening to vinyl. AS states that digital noise can bleed into the preamp and low level signal. I have enjoyed the hands on experience tweaking and setting up my turntable.

    If you would tell us more about your speakers. I am considering several options for a pair of speakers. I have three pair of speakers that I listen to routinely and a pair I rarely have in the mix. I would be interested in learning what aspects of performance were at the top of your list when you built them.
  • 02-12-2013, 01:04 PM
    StevenSurprenant
    John,

    Since you asked,

    I used a pair of NewForm R45 tweeters. I had heard NewForm speakers and really liked the tweeters. The model of NewForm I had heard sounded good, but there seemed to be a disconnect between the tweets and the woofers so I opted for different woofers.
    NewForm

    I used SEAS W18EX001 woofers (one per box). They were the ones that the fellow had for sale.SEAS EXCEL WOOFERS

    I built the box out of Baltic Birch and used sound deadening material inside.

    I also used Mundorf Silver-Oil capacitors for the crossover, which helped the sound a lot. I had tried several different capacitor brands, but these really shined. The coils I used were nothing special.

    Like I said, I got the parts used for a very low price.

    I crossed these over at about 1,000Hz which is where NewForm recommends the ribbons be crossed over.

    I should note that the SEAS magnesium woofers have a resonance at about 5kHz so crossing them over at such a low crossover point pretty much took care of that. If I used these woofers at a higher crossover point, I would have to include a notch filter to drop that peak. I tried a number of different crossover point and even a notch filter, but in the end, I just went with a 6db slope for both the woofer and the tweeter. It sounds good enough.

    The woofer only goes down to about 55Hz so a sub is needed if I want to go lower. If I were buying the parts new for full price, I would probably get a SEAS W18E001 (No X) as they can go lower, but I'm not complaining.

    This was my first speaker build and I had no plans for the box or the crossover, so it took a little bit of reading and testing to make it happen. I got lucky! Also, these are not for everyone because they are over 6 feet tall and tipsy. They do produce a very nice sound field.

    Quote:

    From linkwitzlab: A most remarkable driver is the SEAS W18EX001 because of its excellent linearity

    Midrange distortion test
    Here's a version that uses the SEAS W18E001: SEAS TJL-2W
    Here's even more: DIY Loudspeakers constructions

    Here's more directly from SEAS: SEAS DIY KITS

    There are other great drivers if you're serious about building your own. I hope this helps.

    As for what's important to me in sound, it's all about images hanging in 3D space, the space between them, and with only the recording limiting the apparent depth of the stage. I like enough clarity to hear a singers lip smack when they open their mouth to sing or hear background sound just as clear as the foreground. Micro details are very important because they can make a voice or instrument go from good to more real. Actually, that's what I got when I went to battery. Sounds that were masked before on AC power were now audible and added to the clarity and vibrancy of the sound.

    What's not as important to me is bass extension. If the bass is not right, it's better to be without. At some point I'll add a sub to my system and I'm thinking Rythmik Audio (servo sealed sub). I have a HSU which is great for surround, but for music, I prefer something better. In the future, I might rebuild my speakers and build a sub to match, to make them a little nicer looking. It would be an act of joy to do so.

    I have one final thought...

    The gentleman who sold me these speaker drivers will never know how grateful I am to him. They have brought so much entertainment and joy to my life, at a cost I could afford.
  • 02-13-2013, 05:26 AM
    Feanor
    I'm glad to hear about the NewForm drivers. I've been intrigued by them for a long time but wondered about the issue of integration with the mid-bass; crossing over between very different drives exactly in the middle of the audio spectrum, 1000 Hz, seems a tricky proposition.

    Seas Excel woofers (and tweeters) have superb reputation but of course they are very expensive. The Thor design doubtless gives a great result but, again, at very high cost for DIY.
  • 02-13-2013, 08:27 AM
    StevenSurprenant
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    I'm glad to hear about the NewForm drivers. I've been intrigued by them for a long time but wondered about the issue of integration with the mid-bass; crossing over between very different drives exactly in the middle of the audio spectrum, 1000 Hz, seems a tricky proposition.

    Seas Excel woofers (and tweeters) have superb reputation but of course they are very expensive. The Thor design doubtless gives a great result but, again, at very high cost for DIY.

    My opinion about the NewForm's I heard was that you had to be a good distance from them for the woofer and tweeter to integrate. Many people were modding them and claimed that the mods took care of that problem. I was about 8 feet from them when I heard them. They still sounded very good, though. I don't know about the newer models that Newform makes today.

    Using the SEAS driver, there was absolutely no integration problem. It didn't seem to matter what I did with different crossover configurations, both drivers integrated perfectly. I had also read that crossing over at 1,000Hz is problematic, but I can't hear problems.

    When it was done and over with, I paid about $25 for each SEAS driver which is about one tenth of their cost new.

    As for the cost of building your own Thor, it's very cheap for the quality you get. Speaker parts will cost about $1,500, crossover parts about $200 (guessing), and the boxes (DIY) about $200. In round numbers, about $2,000 total (for a basic box). To buy equal sonic quality from a retail store would cost about $10,000 to much more. That price is completely subjective because price doesn't always equate to quality and personal preferences don't always align themselves across the board.

    Madisound has the Thor kit for $1,771.06. The Madisound Speaker Store

    Thor reviews:
    Seas Thor review Jane and Didier in BRUNEI Darussalam
    TRIBUTE TO SEAS THOR TL KIT - YouTube

    Still, $2,000 is a lot of money and a leap of faith to buy without hearing them first..
  • 02-13-2013, 08:55 AM
    StevenSurprenant
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by JohnMichael View Post
    I do filter and surge protect my lower voltage components but it is not able to handle the Krell S-300i. I have purchases power supply upgrades for my phono preamp and turntable. Those changes have proven to me the benefit of cleaner more stable power. I would think battery power would remove even more noise. Good job.

    AS states that digital noise can bleed into the preamp and low level signal.

    I tried a PS Audio Power Plant which converts the AC to DC reclocks and converts the DC back to AC, but I couldn't detect any audible difference. It show about 7% AC distortion coming into my house and reduces that to .7%, so it is doing something. I have read reviews from people who have heard real improvements using this device.

    My ART phono preamp manual states that it can use 7-12V DC or 9-12V AC. Also either polarity of DC will work. That sounded odd so I wrote the company to ask them if I can use a car battery (12.6 V) with it. If it can, I'll try it out and let you know if it makes a difference.

    I took my digital completely out of the system. I can still use my surround system for that if I need it. The ART has digital circuitry, but there is nothing I can do about that.

    People with higher end turntables say it's worth the cost. I'll probably never find out, but it I will always wonder. I've read about moving coil cartridges and that's intriguing, but the cost is too high to find out. If I could find a loaner (cartridge & preamp) I wouldn't mind trying it someday.
  • 02-13-2013, 10:44 AM
    Feanor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by StevenSurprenant View Post
    ...
    As for the cost of building your own Thor, it's very cheap for the quality you get. Speaker parts will cost about $1,500, crossover parts about $200 (guessing), and the boxes (DIY) about $200. In round numbers, about $2,000 total (for a basic box). To buy equal sonic quality from a retail store would cost about $10,000 to much more. That price is completely subjective because price doesn't always equate to quality and personal preferences don't always align themselves across the board.

    Madisound has the Thor kit for $1,771.06. The Madisound Speaker Store
    ...

    Still, $2,000 is a lot of money and a leap of faith to buy without hearing them first..

    It's certainly true that you would pay multiples of the DIY cost for a built equivalent of the THOR. The Madisound price is for the drivers and crossover only, not the cabinet or cabinet hardware.

    The point about personal preference is well taken of course. I would rather have a Magnepan MG 1.7 for two grand than the DIY Thor, much less a Thor-based factory build for, let's say, $5000.
  • 02-14-2013, 03:25 AM
    StevenSurprenant
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    The point about personal preference is well taken of course. I would rather have a Magnepan MG 1.7 for two grand than the DIY Thor, much less a Thor-based factory build for, let's say, $5000.

    Building your own is not for everyone. People only do it because it's more value for their dollar or because they enjoy doing these type of things. I did it for both reasons.

    Imagine my excitement the first time I put an audio signal to the newly made speakers and it actually sounded good. I had not ever made anything with wood before and to make something useful that is still strong after years of use is an accomplishment for me. It makes me want to do it again. I still have more of the same woofer drivers and I thought I'd make a center channel at some point.

    I was using Magnepan wall speakers for my surround system, but these sound better. I have relegated my Magnepan to the back channels, center, and to the ambiance channels. I use my home made speakers for the stereo and for surround. Don't compare my Magnepan wall speakers with their floor models. The floor models are much better. You might find it surprising that I use the same 5 watt amp for both stereo and surround duties. I tried my Yamaha receiver, but the sound quality just isn't there. The same applies to the phono input of the Yamaha. It's not very good. The one thing I like about the Yamaha is that I can lift the dialog so that it comes from the middle of the screen, but that's a subject all to itself.

    Anyway, I fully understand people not wanting to make their own speakers. The DIY crowd is another aspect of this hobby that is almost completely separate. It's interesting to read what they talk about. One side talks about Brands and models and the other side talks about drivers and chips.

    As an example, I build my own computers and would never consider buying one already made, except perhaps a notebook. For many people it seems like a daunting task, but with very little learning, it is easier than putting together one of those desks or cabinets that you buy in kit form.

    Also, some of the store bought speakers and those made by people with better wood working skills than me are sometimes things of beauty. I cannot discount that for even a moment.

    Check out the images on this page: (Rubik's Cube subwoofer) Project 'Cube 2007
  • 02-14-2013, 03:45 AM
    Feanor
    DIY is a personal challenge. I actually did build the center speaker I use in my HT setup, (pic below). Unfortunately I don't have competent power tools so its a tricky proposition building cabinets from scratch.

    However if I were to need a pair of superior quality box speakers I would definitely look at a kit that includes cabinets -- I feel that there are still significant savings this way. E.g. The Seas Idunn from Madisound, HERE, or Parts Express' Dayton MTM using Usher drivers, HERE.

    I've built computers too for many years, (though I've bought several as well). Today it's really relatively easy; twenty years ago it was hard because you had numerous DIP switches and bios settings to set.

    http://gallery.audioreview.com/data/...er_channel.jpg
  • 02-14-2013, 04:55 AM
    StevenSurprenant
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    DIY is a personal challenge. I actually did build the center speaker I use in my HT setup...

    I've built computers too for many years, (though I've bought several as well). Today it's really relatively easy; twenty years ago it was hard because you had numerous DIP switches and bios settings to set.

    Nice job on your center. Very well done.

    It seems that we have some things in common.

    I really like the curved cabinets on the Dayton's.