Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:44 am

The tweeter is far more likely to be damaged by excessive low frequency energy than the woofer is to be damaged by excessive high frequency energy. So leaving out the low pass on the woofer was an easy way for the manufacturer to cut costs.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:02 am

I ordered some new caps, so I'll install those when they come in and see if it cleans up the sound much. Also, PA had a sale on Fender full range 8" speakers. Since the stock woofers don't have a low pass filter, aren't they pretty much being treated as full range? How about putting a real full range replacement in there? I'm guessing I'd lose some bass response, but the speaker is no bass monster anyway. How would a full range change the sound? My thoughts are that it can't hurt, but you guys are the gurus. What say you?
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:39 pm

An update...

The parts came in and I took the speakers apart. I found something really weird that I was not expecting. Both of the speakers were wired out of phase, but not in the same way. On one, the tweeter had the + and - reversed. I thought that was really odd. On the other speaker, the mid-range was reversed. The woofer on both speakers were wired correctly. All of the caps were tiny, especially compared with the Dayton ones that replaced them. I installed the new caps, wired everything up correctly (in phase), and installed the new woofer-full range 8" drivers.

The difference was pretty dramatic, much more than I was expecting. They sound... really good. Gone is the muddy, flat sound. The tweeters and mids really shine now, and it's got a nice bass bump. I'm really surprised. I didn't know they had that kind of potential. I have no idea if the difference is in the high quality caps, or if it was correcting the phase, or what, exactly. Or all of the above. I went from 4.7uf to a 5.1uf cap for the mids, although I don't know if that's enough to have made a difference.

Thanks for the ideas, guys. I'd have never thought of the caps. I want to use them as music monitors now!
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:51 pm

Having the left and right drivers out of phase with each other will definitely mess with the sound. The most notable effect would be a complete trashing of the stereo imaging.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:11 pm

Sweet. Even the crossovers on my grand a piece B&W Matrix Ones were not great. I always tell people the biggest bang per audio buck I ever got was $140 a side for nice bits for the Matrix Ones.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:15 pm

The speakers have never really sounded very good, which is why I've never used them all that much. They've mostly just collected dust, and it was not until I posted on here that I was curious if there was any way to salvage them. I never imagined they might be wired wrong from the factory. Is there any reason they might have been wired out of phase like that? I can't think of a reason, but I admit I don't know for sure. The difference now is night and day. They sound so much better. I'm just really shocked how they have transformed with the new caps and, well, being wired correctly. They sound like different speakers. I also filled them with the padding too, so there's that.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:00 am

The individual drivers in a single speaker can sometimes be wired out of phase relative to each other on purpose, to compensate for different cone depth and/or phase shifts introduced by the crossover. The idea is to have the wavefronts radiated by the different drivers line up at the crossover frequencies so that they do not cancel each other out; cross-cancellation between the drivers can cause a dip in the response at the crossover point and/or cause frequencies close to the crossover point to be effectively focused in a beam that is tilted off-axis relative to the speaker cabinet.

I can't think of any good reason to wire left/right reversed relative to each other though; everything I've read, and everything I've heard from mis-phased speakers leads me to believe that this is a bad idea. Woofers which are out of phase with each other can be especially bad for bass response, since the wavelength is long enough at bass frequencies for the out of phase signals to cancel each other out in the room; this will make the speakers sound very thin, with an apparent lack of bass response (at least you did not have this issue, but the mis-phased mid-range drivers was definitely a problem regardless).
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:40 pm

The woofer is receiving a full-range signal but it will not reproduce it. For a unit that size, it is probably rolling off naturally somewhere around 4000 Hz. The midrange crossover is then calculated to pick up in the same range. If there was only a single capacitor on the mid and tweeter, and no coils of any sort, then each of them is acting as a simple first-order crossover by blocking frequencies below a certain roll-off point. In that case, changing the cap on the midrange to a slightly higher value would allow the midrange to pick up just slightly lower. So, some of what your're now hearing could be a slightly greater midrange presence than before.

As for the phasing issue, like JBI noted, sometimes polarity is deliberately reversed to correct for phase shifts, but this would not normally be done on a simple first-order crossover of this type, and if done intentionally, it would be consistent on both units. Chalk it up to either shoddy construction or careless re-assembly by a previous tinkering hand. Fixing the polarity, especially with both units being messed up like that, probably made most of the difference here.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:10 pm

ludi wrote: Fixing the polarity, especially with both units being messed up like that, probably made most of the difference here.


All that will do is change the phase. Which will destroy sound stage but little else.

I've done a few and just nice caps will make a large difference.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:17 pm

PenGun wrote:All that will do is change the phase. Which will destroy sound stage but little else.

Reverse polarity between L/R will screw up stereo imaging. Reverse polarity between drivers on the same side can mess with overall frequency response and/or directionality if the affected drivers have overlapping frequency response, due to cancellation or reinforcement between the drivers.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sat Mar 29, 2014 3:12 pm

Here is a rough visual approximation of what JBI is describing. In a normal speaker with a first-order crossover, the three individual drivers should overlap pretty cleanly at their roll-off points. The output from the adjacent drivers will sum at that overlap, producing a ripply but generally even output like this:

Image

WIth the midrange polarity being reversed in one unit, the result would be more like this:

Image

With the tweeter polarity being reversed in the other unit, the result would be more like this:

Image

Add to that the distorting effects on the stereo imaging and things get downright strange-sounding.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 5:58 am

My two cents,

Woofers wired directly can produce a good deal of mid-range sound. That simple first order design can work fine for a two way system where the crossover frequency is at a point where the woofers frequency rolls off naturally. With a three way system a "real" crossover is required to avoid the three speakers drivers interfering with each other in the mid-range.

That being said, your 4.7uf capacitor in a 8 ohm system calculates to 4K Hertz. That is higher than some tweeters in two ways systems. With a crossover frequency that high your system is more like a two way than a three way. The "woofer" in this system is doing the lions share of the work. If you wanted to experiment more you could try building a 2nd order three way crossover. With a 2nd order crossover you can move the cross over frequency down lower without burning up the mid-range. Of course that would make your crossover the most expensive part of the system and I am sure that is the reason the manufacture did what they did.

http://www.diyaudioandvideo.com/Tutorial/Crossover
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:32 am

The graphs certainly make the point, but those crossover curves sure ain't 1st order (6db/octave). They look a whole lot more like 3rd or 4th order (18db to 24db per octave).

Just sayin' :wink:
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:49 am

Captain Ned wrote:The graphs certainly make the point, but those crossover curves sure ain't 1st order (6db/octave). They look a whole lot more like 3rd or 4th order (18db to 24db per octave).

Just sayin' :wink:

1st order will make the notch wider, so in reality the problem will be even worse.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 9:05 am

just brew it! wrote:1st order will make the notch wider, so in reality the problem will be even worse.

Speaker design using only 1st order crossovers is a long and lonely path, and one that is not often successful. It's done to preserve the phase response, but the tradeoffs mean hella-expensive custom-spec drivers, usually designed to be driven by flea-watt amps (preferably single-ended tube amps), and listened to in close-field.

If you want to lose any remaining respect you might have had for the audio industry, go Google Audio Note (Shun Mook & Peter Belt are beyond parody at this point).
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:26 am

Captain Ned wrote:If you want to lose any remaining respect you might have had for the audio industry, go Google Audio Note (Shun Mook & Peter Belt are beyond parody at this point).

I see that the price list has been removed from their web site. I guess they fall into the "if you have to ask how much it costs you can't afford it" category. :wink:
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 11:20 am

just brew it! wrote:
Captain Ned wrote:If you want to lose any remaining respect you might have had for the audio industry, go Google Audio Note (Shun Mook & Peter Belt are beyond parody at this point).

I see that the price list has been removed from their web site. I guess they fall into the "if you have to ask how much it costs you can't afford it" category. :wink:

The prices start in the high 5-figures and rapidly reach the mid 6-figures.

Every 6 months when Stereophile publishes its "Recommended Components" issues (April & October) I scan through to build the single most-expensive system I can based on their listings. Just to bulk up the cost (and cater to audiophilia nervosa), here's my list of component types. All entrants come from Stereophile Class AA (only for turntables) or Class A. Speakers come from Class A full range (there's a subset of Class A speakers titled "Restricted Extreme LF").

Turntable
Tone Arm (if not included in most expensive 'table)
Cartridge
'Table to Pre-Amp Transformer
CD rig (usually the 4-piece $100+K jobbie from dCS)
Pre Amp
2 Monoblock Power Amps
Speakers

This is just the components themselves. I've not added the unicorn blood cables, the ceramic props to keep the speaker cables off the carpet, the suspension stands to keep everything from rocking to the beat, and all of the other over-priced detritus that the rich NYC crowd who writes all of these articles can buy on belief. Just on the components I can usually "spend" $2 million.

Here at home the only post-college components in my rack are the Parasound pre-amp ($300 or so from Audio Advisor) and a $400 NAD cd deck (also from Audio Advisor). I'm still rocking my college turntable, amp, and speakers. The college tape deck is safely stored should it ever be needed (though at this point I should plan on replacing all the rubber bits in the tape path).

EDIT: I read Stereophile to know what is possible. To their credit they also review consumer-priced goods with the same "rigor" they apply to the mega-buck stuff and to their surprise they've found a ton of quality gear in the under-$1K (electronics) and under-$2K (speakers) range that I could build a "lifetime" system around at a pittance compared to the stuff they usually review.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 11:48 am

Captain Ned wrote:Here at home the only post-college components in my rack are the Parasound pre-amp ($300 or so from Audio Advisor) and a $400 NAD cd deck (also from Audio Advisor). I'm still rocking my college turntable, amp, and speakers. The college tape deck is safely stored should it ever be needed (though at this point I should plan on replacing all the rubber bits in the tape path).

Not too different from what I've got going on here. The family room has a new-ish (as in, purchased in the past decade or so) low-mid range component system, and my current tape deck (a Denon, which has sat unused for the past decade or so) is a post-college purchase. But I've still got my speakers, receiver, and turntable from college.

I did upgrade the phono cartridge about 10 years back (to an Audio-Technica 440ML), prior to embarking on my vinyl ripping project; I figured I only wanted to do it once, and might as well splurge a bit to make sure I got the best possible transfers on the first try. The 440ML uses AT's "MicroLine" stylus profile, which reduces inner-groove distortion and is better at tracking worn LPs compared to standard elliptical styli. In spite of getting it prior to AT roughly doubling the price, it was still more than I'd ever spent on a phono cartridge (a bit north of $100). By audiophile standards that's chump change; but I've been quite impressed with the price/performance of Audio Technica cartridges since my high school days. Best bang for the buck of the affordable cartridges, IMO. Their one drawback is that they are somewhat delicate due to the very thin stylus cantilever, and therefore need to be handled gently.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:05 pm

Whereas I was always in the Signet line, a/k/a Audio-Technica's premium line. Current stylus has at least 2 decades on it. The one last purchase I want to make for the rig is a new 'table and cart. The Rega RP6 and the associated MM cart (I've never liked MC carts) runs close to $2K but for something that I will likely never replace I can justify it.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:15 pm

I don't just "sit and listen" to music enough any more to be able to justify $2K for anything audio related... especially not when all of the vehicles we own are 10+ years old with 100K+ miles (150K+ for 2 out of the 3) on them!

Edit: So did Signet go away as a brand? I see that Audio Technica branded cartridges range up to just shy of $1K these days; did they just merge the two product lines?
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:18 pm

Speakers have the largest effect on the quality of sound that your system will provide. I haven't needed to upgrade my speakers or subwoofer in 17 years. The Infinity Crescendo CS3008 main speakers still sound great. The newest piece in my system is the Oppo disc player.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:22 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:Speakers have the largest effect on the quality of sound that your system will provide.

If you're staying away from junk speakers and not playing vinyl I agree. Phono cart has a pretty big effect for vinyl playback though... kind of makes sense that the two analog electro-mechanical parts of the signal chain have the biggest effect.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:23 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:Speakers have the largest effect on the quality of sound that your system will provide. I haven't needed to upgrade my speakers or subwoofer in 17 years. The Infinity Crescendo CS3008 main speakers still sound great. The newest piece in my system is the Oppo disc player.

Computer speakers are a cheap Logitech set (640 something 5.1, I believe). Main rig is Polk Audio Monitor 11Bs, with which I', extremely happy. When I need to go quiet, it's a set of Shure SE500s powered by a HeadRoom Total Bithead (NLA).
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:33 pm

just brew it! wrote:I don't just "sit and listen" to music enough any more to be able to justify $2K for anything audio related... especially not when all of the vehicles we own are 10+ years old with 100K+ miles (150K+ for 2 out of the 3) on them!

Edit: So did Signet go away as a brand? I see that Audio Technica branded cartridges range up to just shy of $1K these days; did they just merge the two product lines?

My car is at 110K and not yet 5YO. If I can make BBQ 2014, I'll probably pop 120K somewhere on the trip.

As for Signet, my guess is that the brand died and was folded back into AT at the end of the original vinyl era, circa late '80s/early '90s.

As for "last-ever 'table" I've been given the go sign for several years now. Problem is is that since the hipsters are bringing back vinyl, 'tables are now in flux and getting better. Once this last boom settles out and the choices become clear (for now it's Rega RP6 vs. Clearaudio Concept vs. VPI Traveler) I'll make my purchase. I'd love to go further upscale, but it makes no sense.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:12 pm

All this talk really brings be back. I've had only two tape decks over the years, an Akai unit with a really cool florescent display, and a JVC dual that I still have today. Although I've not used it it many years. I'm surprised to see LPs making a comeback. I still have a very old 80's vintage turntable at my parent's house. My father still has an Akai reel to reel that works. I actually have a very old (1970s vintage) set of Savard speakers that I'm not using. I may one day refurbish those. They have big horn style tweeters. It would be interesting to open those up and see what's inside. They were pretty expensive back in the day, so they may have things like real crossovers, although I am utterly unfamiliar with 1970s speaker tech. The cabinets are solid wood and are insanely heavy, and that's just the cabinets themselves. You guys know anything about 70s speakers?
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:23 pm

I don't currently own a turntable. My audio collection contains only two vinyl LPs: STYX' Paradise Theater (with the laser-engraved artwork in the grooves) and Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream & Other Delights.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:37 pm

The Swamp wrote:Although I've not used it it many years. I'm surprised to see LPs making a comeback.

Do not under-estimate the power of the hipster crowd. Heck, if they brought Pabst Blue Ribbon beer back from the brink of extinction they can do pretty much anything! :lol:

The Swamp wrote:The cabinets are solid wood and are insanely heavy, and that's just the cabinets themselves. You guys know anything about 70s speakers?

Well, I still own a pair of ancient H.H. Scott speakers (which still sound pretty good, thank you very much). Quite frankly, I don't think speaker tech has changed all that much since then.

JustAnEngineer wrote:STYX' Paradise Theater (with the laser-engraved artwork in the grooves)

Heh. I own that too! (There might even be 2 copies of it somewhere in the crawlspace, as my wife and I were both Styx fans back in the day, before we got married...)
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:26 pm

just brew it! wrote:Heh. I own that too! (There might even be 2 copies of it somewhere in the crawlspace, as my wife and I were both Styx fans back in the day, before we got married...)

Proud owner as well. The Grand Illusion was the very first album I ever bought from a record store. Boston was the second. Then I joined Columbia House.

My Polk Audio Monitor 11Bs are smack in the late '70s.

@ TheSwamp. Don't take them apart unless the surrounds around the woofer are crumbling into dust. And no, crossover tech hasn't changed much since the days of Alan Blumlein.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:11 pm

just brew it! wrote:I don't just "sit and listen" to music enough any more to be able to justify $2K for anything audio related... especially not when all of the vehicles we own are 10+ years old with 100K+ miles (150K+ for 2 out of the 3) on them!


This.

Though I am getting awfully tempted to build the Tuba HT sub.
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Re: Looking for some Speaker Mod Advice

Postposted on Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:30 pm

The Swamp wrote:I've had only two tape decks over the years, an Akai unit with a really cool florescent display, and a JVC dual that I still have today.

I think I had that same Akai back in my college days ('81-'85). The deck in storage is a Denon DR-M44HX.
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