28-2-2018

Audio Dandy LS3/5a
DIY open hardware loudspeaker



This article is about the building of my DIY Audio Dandy LS3/5a inspired loudspeaker


Part 3 - Listening & Conclusion


Disclaimer

My project is personal, I build these speakers only for myself.
So they are NOT commercial available.
If you want them also, then you have to buy the parts and build them yourself.
Later I will share all my building plans, info about XO, etc. on my website.

These speakers are not difficult to make, but it's a lot, lot of work.
It will cost you also a lot of time to make them, and a lot of money...
Because building these speakers is not cheap!
I didn't made a final calculation yet, but I know that these speakers are more expensive than the real thing. (on materials alone)

So if you want the easy and safe way, buy the original in the shop!
because they are cheaper than these DIY speakers.
If you want to go the hard way, and you want to become the expert of your own creation, then this project is for you.
You will be in control, and you will be able to modify, repair your own speakers.
And of course you also can help others with building these speakers.

I give no guarantee on this design, you are responsible for your own creations.
I only share my knowledge & building experiences, so that others who are interested can make these speakers themselves.



Designed by ears & experience

These speakers are designed by ears & experience, not by measurement.
They are designed to sound good not to measure good.
I only measured if the connections ( + and - ) were correct, and that the resistance is around 7 Ohm.
So these speakers are very well suited for tube amplifiers.
The parts of the speakers are chosen because of the good experience we had with them, and their excellent quality.
All parts to make these speakers are manfactured in Europe (Germany, France, Danemark, Netherlands)



How to build your own DIY Audio Dandy LS3/5a speakers

I have started to make “Howto Build Manual” (PDF) were I shall explain in detail how I build these speakers, which materials I used, were I bought the parts, etc.
With this manual your could make the exact speakers I have.

When a part is not available anymore, I shall look for a replacement part (with same or better specs) and update the manual.
This way the speaker will have extended lifespan.
and that is exactly the intention of this project, to create a speaker that is available for everybody, and that can me modified, improved by the community.
This speaker will be available forever, for the rest of our lives and beyond.

When this manual is finished I shall place it on my website, so check my website regularly :-)



Listening test 1 - with Quad amplifer

After many months of hard work, finally I could listen to my loudspeakers!
First of all I would like to thank my friends (Bert & Leon) and my family for support and help with building these loudspeakers.
Without their support these speakers couldn't never have been made.

The first listening test was in the house of my friend Bert, who owns a pair of Roger LS3/5a clones that has the original KEF B110 woofers and KEF T27 tweeters.
Before we started listening we first measured both external XO’s if the resistance were identical and had the right values.


We measured a minimal resistance of 7 Ohm on both XO’s (when they were connected to the speakers) which means that the load on the amplifier would be very low.
So these speakers are also very well suited for tube amplifiers.

The speakers were connected to the Quad 303 power amplifier, Quad 66 pre-amplifier and a Quad CD player

you almost don't see the Quad power amplifier next to the CD's :-)


We used this CD: Steve Strauss - Just like Love (Stockfish SACD Hybrid CD)



When we played the first song, it became very quiet in the room.
A big relief felt off my shoulders because I knew then already that it was good
The sound was marvellous, it sounded very good.
Also Bert was very quiet and I could see on his face that he was impressed also.

I was a little afraid that the combination of a AMT tweeter with Carbon woofer would maybe sound too harsh, too bright.
luckily this was totally not the case, the sound was very open, with lots of details in the higher frequencies but also in the lower!
But the higher frequencies were transparent and pleasantly soft.
I also noticed little background instrument sounds that I had never noticed before on this CD.
The amount of these details is impressive, my goal to design a loudspeaker that is optimized for the reproduction of high-resolution music is any case successful.

When we compaired the two speakers (Audio Dandy LS3/5a vs Roger LS3/5a clone)
we noticed quickly that the amount of resolution and resolving power of details between these speakers is huge.
Some little instruments at the back ground were totally gone on the Rogers clones
Also the music sounded a bit dull, and more muted on the Rogers clones.
I personally think that 30 years or technical developments in the loudspeaker units design are responsible for this big difference

While listening to the Audio Dandy LS3/5a's we noticed that the music was also sounding very natural, Bert told me “listen to that piano, it really sounds like a piano”
Also the strings by classical CD’s were sounding very lifelike and realistic.


Then we played a CD of Andrea Bocelli.
His voice was sounding very good, although the speakers were slightly indicating that it could sound even better…meaning that this CD was not optimal recorded, it sounded a bit flat. But still the sound was very impressive.

The biggest compliment came after the listening session, were Bert told me “I’m going to make also a pair of these speakers!”


Listening test 2 - Audio-gd Master 10 amplifier

When I was home I connected the Audio Dandy LS3/5a’s on my Audio-Gd Master 10 amplifier, and played the same CD of Steve Strauss.


The Audio-Gd amplifiers have a name to be clinical neutral, so I was a little excited
how it would sound.

But wow, I was impressed! The bass was even deeper then by Bert, the music sounded very well controlled, also with many micro details and it sounded very natural.
With some recording the instruments were notiable many cm away from the side of the cabinet (sometimes even meters) so the 3D projection is also very good. (=wide)




From three IKEA table legs I made a reverse loudspeaker stand
for less than 15 euro's, they are also very solid.

Luckily the sound was not over-analytical at all.
Then I played some SACD.ISO files and DSF high resolution music...
I was enjoying my little creations, every music was sounding spectaculair

Relaxed but crystal clear

But what about the laid back, comfortable never intrusive sound of the original LS3/5a’s?
Does the Audio Dandy LS3/5a also has this character?

This speaker has it too, but in a little different way.
Were the original LS3/5a has a more darker, warmer sound, my speakers sound more
open, crystal clear but with also with a relaxed and very soft pleasant character.
The external Audiophile grade XO is blending the mid bass and higher frequencies in such a way that there is not one fixed XO point, therefore you cannot hear when the tweeter is playing or when the mid woofer is playing
This gives a very natural sound transition.
because of this the speaker has a very comfortable sound character.

When you listen to this speaker you hear that the speaker is also well balanced, it has no difficulties in reproducing any kind of music in your room.
This speaker has no weak points, the sound is solid as a rock, and it sounds
like a High-End speaker costing much more in your local High-End shop.
The only little “problem” is what you feed it, you will get back.
Meaning; when playing good recorded music the speaker really shines,
But if you play music of a lower quality, the music will still sounds comfortable but the speaker will let you know (on a polite foregiven way) that the music could be of a better quality :-)




But don’t worry this speaker is not over analytic at all, the next day I managed to listen all day to internet radio (128 kb s) and the sound never became exhausting or tiresome.
It even sounded cosy and comfortable!
So this speaker has a foregiven well balanced character, and this is good, because this was also a quality that the original LS3/5a had, it always sounded comfortable whatever music you played.



Listening test 3 - with tube amplifier (Yarland FV-34A-IV)



I was very interested how the speakers would sound in combination with a good tube amplifier.
So I asked Jan (my father) if he you would like to visit me with his Yarland FV-34A-IV amplifier.
This tube amplifier has two EL34 tubes in Single Ended Class A,
and has 2x 12 watt, and can handle speakers with a load impedance of 4/8 Ohm

I was really excited how my speakers would sound in combination with a tube-amplifier.
We listened that day to several high-resolution music, and I can say it sounded wonderfull.
The micro details, fast dynamics and clear high frequencies were still there, but the music sounded just more comfortable than with the Audio-Gd Master 10 amplifier.

So my next upgrade plan will be to save money for a good tube amplifier



Fine-tuning

This speaker has a modular design, so you can experiment with other XO's or front baffle damping materials to adjust the speaker entirely to your own taste.
The original LS3/5a had a thick 12.5mm x 130mm x 110mm square piece of felt around the softdome tweeter.
This was done to control the diffraction effects caused by the raised edges of the front baffle.
This felt edge became also a characteristic recognition point of the LS3/5a.
I decided to keep this design element also in my interpretation.
I have done many test with all kinds of different materials (foam, rubber, felt)
and the best experience I had was by placing a 6mm thick felt square around the Mundorf AMT tweeter so that the felt covered all surrounding paved areas.
This way the front baffle around the tweeter would get the same height like the tweeter.
After placing the felt, the diffraction effects caused by the raised edges were gone.
and the stereo imaging improved, the sound became more balanced and also more comfortable, because of the absorbing effect of the felt.


The final look of my Audio Dandy LS3/5a


Conclusion

Building these speakers was a lot of work, and I’m glad that I can listen now to two beautiful sounding loudspeakers were I’m now very proud of.
Not because I made them together with my friends, but also how they sound.
Because this project was not without risks, I had no XO experience,
I didn’t knew how this speakers would sound in the beginning...

But I was very lucky and the result is even better than I hoped for!
This speaker really has High-End qualities, and I think a speaker of this level would cost in the High-End shop much, much more.
Still this speaker is not cheap to make, it’s costs also a lot of work and time.
But when this speaker gets it OSHW certification, then I will be very happy!
Then I have reached my goal, a High-End speaker for everybody, that will be available forever.
A speaker of the DIY community that hopefully will evolve and also will be improve over time

This speaker will be available forever, so that everybody can enjoy of High-End quality music!

Happy building & listening!


Audio Dandy (Maarten van Druten)



Note:
When my building document will ready, I shall place it on my website
so everybody can downloaded it.

 

Part 1 - The Beginning & Building the cabinets

Part 2 - Building the front baffle & External XO

Part 3 - Listening & Conclusion (this page)




               
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