1 pointI've been making my own custom speakers on and off for over 20 years and recently got inspired to start all over again with an open baffle design and all the latest scanspeak drivers, and upgrade pretty much all of my components. I'm extremely happy with the final result. I set out to create something that should be very natural sounding and be scalable to recreate large scale symphonic works and organs. Here is the executive summary of how it looks, before I introduce the family members: As you can see, MSB Reference DAC, Supratek Preamp, then into Audio Research Power amps and an SVS subwoofer. The power amps feed via XLO cables into my custom open baffle speakers. Everything is sitting (standing?) on solidsteel racks. Things aren't spaced evenly to make up for inadequate interconnect lengths Before you ask, the round thing at the back left is a fan... it gets awfully hot in here in summer with all those valves even with the ducted aircon running so I need extra airflow. That particular Dyson fan has a very low speed setting which isn't too noisy which is why I chose it. Data from my PC is first fed to the MSB Pro ISL interface which converts USB into MSB's custom optical fibre communication which gives it complete electrical isolation from the PC and supports up to 768/32 PCM, 8xDSD, and MQA. This feeds into an MSB Reference DAC. Again, this is connected via generic coaxial cable. This DAC had the extraordinary ability to make things just sound so much more realistic bringing instruments and people into the room. This DAC then feeds into a very unique Dual Cabernet preamplifier made by Mick at Supratek for my custom use which is basically a 4 channel preamp with separate inputs and outputs for mains and subwoofer. It has an amazing ability to simply flesh everything out and give the dynamics far more realistic contrast. Additionally with the DSP room correction I needed more gain. The reason this is a custom version is the default preamp is a 2 stage preamp which is normally considered advantageous but it added too much noise to my quite high gain amps so he redesigned it with bigger transformers and to be single stage only. The subwoofer channels are using new EH 6SN7s while the main channel has some military NOS 6SN7s on the driver and output stage. Those are herb's audio dampers on the valves. The preamp has a completely separate power unit: Since this photo, I've replaced the rectifier with a new Sovtek 5AR4. It didn't change the sound at all but runs cooler and outputs more current than the original NOS military valve it came with. Additionally I've replaced the two regulator tubes from the generic NOS military 6L6GC with modern Sovtek 6L6WXGTs which are a drop in replacement but rated to higher power. Again this didn't change the sound at all. The subwoofer is an SVS SB16 ultra, it only handles below 30Hz with a 4th order crossover, but measurements show room response flat down to 10Hz: Power amplification is via my beloved Audio Research Reference 250SE monoblocks: They are no doubt the heart of this system and responsible for the most musical, scalable and controlled sound I've ever heard. The tonality and richness of instruments is remarkably realistic. All instruments seem to have so much richer overtones and real presence in the room. For small acoustic works, it sounds like the ensemble is in my study even when I walk outside the room and around the house. I took the covers off even though they have fans in them since they're relatively protected in those stands and a bit more cooling won't hurt. I recently upgraded from a Reference 150SE which I already loved more than enough but snatched the opportunity for these babies because I've always wanted monoblocks just because. They have way too much power for my system which is reasonably efficient already. My speakers are a combination of drivers from Scanspeak: a 2x 32cm cone woofer, 2 x 12cm cone midranges and 1 beryllium dome tweeter: The reason for 2 midranges was they were (8 ohm) less efficient than the other (4 ohm) drivers and did not handle as much power and I really want all the drivers operating only ever in their linear range, and initially I had only the one woofer but due to massive dipole loss I moved to two. I had experimented with multilevel crossovers for each midrange but felt both doing exactly the same range was better. DSP is essential for these designs given their open baffle design and my small room, and I use custom convolution filters on Roon to expedite this. Speaking of crossovers, they're 12dB Linkwitz-Riley made from Miflex copper film and foil caps where possible, otherwise metallised poly films for the larger values but still bypassed. The smaller values are copper foil in paper caps. When caps were not in the signal path, I used miflex metallised poly caps. The inductors are 10 gauge solen inductors, solid core for the lower frequencies and litz for the higher frequency applications when the skin effect resistance was significant below their crossover point. Resistors (only go to midranges) are duelund silver graphite. Wiring is neotech OCC flat to tweeter and midrange and cardas crosslink to woofer. Terminals are cardas copper tellurium - I originally used the silver rhodium connectors but I wanted to solder directly to the terminals and this material is not suitable for such use. Soldering is with wonder solder. The soldering is dodgy as but it works. My lack of final production skills is the reason I never got into professional speaker building. Maybe if I can employ someone to do the building after I design them it might work... Power cables as you can see are shielded thick cables, but not big name brands. I can't hear any differences between power cables so I don't bother. USB cables are cheap generics; again I can't hear differences between different USB cables, nor network cables. Interconnects are Neotech silver coax between DACs, custom made Neotech flat balanced from DAC to pre and pre to power for the main channels, and cheap generic NB speaker cable interconnects to subwoofer. Speaker cables are XLO reference 3 gunshot: The observant amongst you will have noticed the left power amp is on the right and vice versa. These speaker cables are so thick and unwieldy it was the only way I could make it work. The yellow cable is the fibreoptic cable going to the DAC. Power has since been upgraded to have two dedicated 20A lines, one for each power amp, and another regular line for the rest of the components. Did not change the sound at all. Power is regenerated, cleaned, and regulated by a PS Audio P20. Surprisingly this breathes more life, dynamics, and realism into the music, unlike power filtration devices. This is the PC that drives it all. I do a lot of software and translation work in my study where the hi-fi is and use the PC for both work and music duties. This is a completely passively cooled i9900k with 128GB ram and is dead silent. Perfect for even the quietest listening playback. The acoustic partition you see at the back are my makeshift room treatment that tackled the issue of surfaces I couldn't really mount things to. I have one on the front and rear wall, and one on the side. The room itself is quite "lively" without them, because it has lots of diffraction but very little absorption. These work surprisingly well considering their minimal cost and effort. That's a heater at the bottom in case you're curious. Music is predominantly classical; a massive collection of Bach, a lot of romantic era and plenty of early 20th century music. Most is sourced from prestomusic. I do listen to other types of music, especially some ambient electronic music, but as the system has improved I've found myself listening to more and more classical. I can finally listen to organ music and be satisfied. My rock collection hasn't been played in many years, but I've recently rediscovered gem recordings there and occasionally play them.
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