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Question on the Type of Wood Used in Speaker Construction ..

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Anonymous
May 26, 2004 12:45:45 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

A brief discussion on resolving systems with a gentleman who makes
single driver speakers in what appears to be a folded Voigt Pipe
design turned briefly to resonances. My general contention was that
since he was using alder as opposed to MDF, that it would result in
additional resonances which would color the sound. Some mild umbrage
was taken. The conversation went like this. Am I somehow missing
something here or is this a combination of spin coupled with some
factual errors regarding wood?

Him: Sure, it will resonate. So will wood, steel, micarta, MDF, and
ANYTHING ELSE that has any mechanical stiffness. How it resonates and
whether it's important depends upon its stiffness, it's internal
mechanical losses, how it's mounted and secured and how it's
mechanically loaded and acoustically excited.

Me: This should not be interpreted as the intentional use of materials
to impart resonances as opposed to MDF which has a more predictable
nature? In ways, it reminds me of the various woods that can be used
in the construction of guitars where I think MDF, apart from being
heavy, might not make for the most pleasing of sounds.

Him: No, you have interpreted incorrectly. A common misconception
though. But yes woods do flavor sound, for guitars and speakers. Part
of woods amazing quality is that it can be made to resonate more, as
in the case of a guitar or piano, but that same piano usues wood to
isolate the vibration (the case) so the most energy can be released to
the room (more music)
What solid wood does in the case of my speaker is resonate LESS. I use
solid wood for it's weight vs ridgidity, it is far more ridgid than
mdf. And contributes actually less in the form of self -resonance. In
addition we have have made this speaker from teak, oak, mdf, plywood,
pine, alder, maple and cherry. All have distinct sonic "flavors". The
solid wood particularly the maple extends bass and allows the very
absolute maximum energy transfer from driver cone to port to room
without imparting audible resonance of it's own. The mdf example
sounded muffled and lifeless. My designs pursue maximum energy
transfer from electrical to the room both from the front of the driver
and the rear.. I once made a xylephone from different species of wood,
the keys all the same size as an experiment. 5 octaves were covered
just from locally growing trees.
One really has to integrate decisions about grain orientation,
thicknesses of wood as well as joint strength to carry this discussion
comparing materials to any logical extent as it relates to
speakerbuilding.

Me: If it's your position that cabinet augmentation is desireable,
then we stand on opposite sides. If you feel that it gives your
speaker a characteristic sound that is pleasing, I can live with that.

Him: The concept that you propose I subscribe to is incorrect, you
mis-nterpret my intention of reducing resonance through the use of
solid wood. MDf does not eliminate resonance. It reduces it
drastically, such that it also reduces musical content via energy
absorption.

If you look at speakerbuilding from another angle, the anthropological
veiw, we see that as forests shrank and skilled labor was replaced
with machinery. The square box (usually sealed or ported0 became the
de-facto method of augmenting the bass drivers own free-air resonance
(fs) or limiting it in the case of sealed enclosures. I submit this
has every thing to do with the advent of high powered solid state
amplifiers as equally as declining skills in our labor pool. MDF was
not created for eliminating resonance in speaker boxes but rather to
utilize vast stretches of inadequate lumber stocks. From an acoustical
standpoint MDF is dampening. It absorbs sound due to it's mass and
weight.

I am trying to allow the energy that would be absorbed by MDF to be
better utilized re-creating acoustical energy in the room. Of course
you do not want your speakerbox to vibrate, but using a "dead" panel
is the easy way out and not neccesarily the best method. ANd I think
Franco Serbelin agrees.
Anonymous
May 26, 2004 4:24:12 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Chu Gai wrote:

>I am trying to allow the energy that would be absorbed by MDF to be
>better utilized re-creating acoustical energy in the room.

It seems like you are missing the fact that relatively efficient home
speakers are about 1% efficient. IOW, if you want to worry about the
inefficiency of your speakers, you would do well to look elsewhere than the
sound absorbed by the damping of the wood in the boxes.
Anonymous
May 26, 2004 8:20:49 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Chu Gai wrote:

><snip> From an acoustical
> standpoint MDF is dampening. It absorbs sound due to it's mass and
> weight.
>
> I am trying to allow the energy that would be absorbed by MDF to be
> better utilized re-creating acoustical energy in the room. Of course
> you do not want your speakerbox to vibrate, but using a "dead" panel
> is the easy way out and not neccesarily the best method. ANd I think
> Franco Serbelin agrees.

These statements by "Him" seem silly. Ideally, the speaker cabinet
should add nothing to the sound coming from the speaker cones. "Him"
seems to be claiming that MD fiberboard absorbs so much of the speaker
output that the efficiency of the speaker system is compromised. That
sounds like BS to me.
Related resources
Anonymous
May 27, 2004 12:12:29 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

mushupork1@yahoo.com (Chu Gai) wrote in message news:<b9af9cf4.0405251945.4cd8ea4c@posting.google.com>...

> and the rear.. I once made a xylephone from different species of wood,
> the keys all the same size as an experiment. 5 octaves were covered
> just from locally growing trees.

I looked up the properties of different woods in the CRC Handbook of
Chemistry and Physics. There is a fair amount of variation in density
and Young's modulus, but not enough to account for 5 octaves. And if
the keys are made out of wood, it's called a marimba.

> If you look at speakerbuilding from another angle, the anthropological
> veiw, we see that as forests shrank and skilled labor was replaced

Ah, the anthropological view. Of course.
Anonymous
May 27, 2004 3:55:50 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

>Subject: Re: Question on the Type of Wood Used in Speaker Construction and
>Effect on Sound
>From: Detector195@yahoo.com (Detector195)
>Date: 5/26/04 9:12 PM Mountain Daylight Time
>Message-id: <6213f73a.0405261912.2ab7a690@posting.google.com>
>
>mushupork1@yahoo.com (Chu Gai) wrote in message
>news:<b9af9cf4.0405251945.4cd8ea4c@posting.google.com>...
>
>> and the rear.. I once made a xylephone from different species of wood,
>> the keys all the same size as an experiment. 5 octaves were covered
>> just from locally growing trees.
>
>I looked up the properties of different woods in the CRC Handbook of
>Chemistry and Physics. There is a fair amount of variation in density
>and Young's modulus, but not enough to account for 5 octaves. And if
>the keys are made out of wood, it's called a marimba.




Nope, a Xylophone is by built with wood bars.

It is in a different pitch range than a Marimba.

Back to speakers, You do not want the box to resonate and 1-1/2 " particle
board will work very well for a speaker box.

If you want it to look nice, just apply wood veneer.
Richard H. Kuschel
"I canna change the law of physics."-----Scotty
Anonymous
May 27, 2004 9:37:29 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

rickpv8945@aol.com (Richard Kuschel) wrote in message news:<20040527075550.14426.00000007@mb-m29.aol.com>...
> >Subject: Re: Question on the Type of Wood Used in Speaker Construction and
> >Effect on Sound
> >From: Detector195@yahoo.com (Detector195)
> >Date: 5/26/04 9:12 PM Mountain Daylight Time
> >Message-id: <6213f73a.0405261912.2ab7a690@posting.google.com>
> >
> >mushupork1@yahoo.com (Chu Gai) wrote in message
> >news:<b9af9cf4.0405251945.4cd8ea4c@posting.google.com>...
> >
> >> and the rear.. I once made a xylephone from different species of wood,
> >> the keys all the same size as an experiment. 5 octaves were covered
> >> just from locally growing trees.
> >
> >I looked up the properties of different woods in the CRC Handbook of
> >Chemistry and Physics. There is a fair amount of variation in density
> >and Young's modulus, but not enough to account for 5 octaves. And if
> >the keys are made out of wood, it's called a marimba.
>
>
>
>
> Nope, a Xylophone is by built with wood bars.
>
> It is in a different pitch range than a Marimba.
>
> Back to speakers, You do not want the box to resonate and 1-1/2 " particle
> board will work very well for a speaker box.
>
> If you want it to look nice, just apply wood veneer.
> Richard H. Kuschel
> "I canna change the law of physics."-----Scotty

Dang, you got me. I was thinking of a vibraphone.

Amusingly enough, my bass amplifier is in a cabinet made from 1/8 inch
steel panels. You can hear the resonance when you knock on it, but it
still sounds just fine.
Anonymous
May 30, 2004 10:26:25 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

For whatever reason, MDF is actually not a good sounding speaker
material and cabs from multi-ply laminated wood, such as piano pin
block stock, offer many of the theoretical benefits of MDF while
providing better mechanical ruggedness, repairability, appearance and
they "seem to sound better"-no A/B/X proof, just seems to. Maybe it's
my imagination.

duPont Corian is a cool and underutilized material as well. The
Japanese use it in some of their nifty, but too heavy to
cost-effectively import, cabs for classic coax drivers such as the
Altec 604, which I consider to be the "Marilyn Monroe of speakers".
Anonymous
June 1, 2004 9:53:03 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

samdotbyrams@hotmail.com (Sam Byrams) wrote in message news:<d792394d.0405301726.7aeb311b@posting.google.com>...
> For whatever reason, MDF is actually not a good sounding speaker
> material and cabs from multi-ply laminated wood, such as piano pin
> block stock, offer many of the theoretical benefits of MDF while
> providing better mechanical ruggedness, repairability, appearance and
> they "seem to sound better"-no A/B/X proof, just seems to. Maybe it's
> my imagination.
>
> duPont Corian is a cool and underutilized material as well. The
> Japanese use it in some of their nifty, but too heavy to
> cost-effectively import, cabs for classic coax drivers such as the
> Altec 604, which I consider to be the "Marilyn Monroe of speakers".

Well, I can say one thing. MDF is a disaster waiting to happen with
portable speakers -- it swells up when it gets rained on. I always got
satisfactory results with homemade cabs when I used the regular 3/4
birch plywood from Home Depot, though I felt compelled to steer around
the voids.
Anonymous
June 2, 2004 5:08:23 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

In article <6213f73a.0406011653.5c2c2067@posting.google.com>,
Detector195 <Detector195@yahoo.com> wrote:

> duPont Corian is a cool and underutilized material as well. The
> Japanese use it in some of their nifty, but too heavy to
> cost-effectively import, cabs for classic coax drivers such as the
> Altec 604, which I consider to be the "Marilyn Monroe of speakers".

Considering how much Corian costs, I'm not surprised it's "underused".
I've been told that you pretty much pay for it by the cubic inch,
and that it's very difficult to get ahold of it except as part of
a formal installation by a licensed dealer/installer.

Allegedly, duPont doesn't like the idea of it being installed by
anyone not trained to their standard, on the grounds that it's fairly
easy to mess up an installation (and thus, I presume, they're afraid
of having Corian's good name as a "premium" product damaged by having
people see botched jobs).

I've heard that there are somewhat-similar products from other
manufacturers (essentially finely powdered rock dust in a resin
of some sort) and these might be easier to source.

MDF is heavy enough - I built a set of floordstanding semitower
systems 4' tall, with single-thickness 3/4" MDF for most of the
walls and double-thickness for the front plate. With this much
MDF, plus some internal walls and braces, they're so heavy that
they're at the limit of my ability to move them safely without
assistance. I shudder to think what Corian-based cabs of the
same size would weigh!

--
Dave Platt <dplatt@radagast.org> AE6EO
Hosting the Jade Warrior home page: http://www.radagast.org/jade-warrior
I do _not_ wish to receive unsolicited commercial email, and I will
boycott any company which has the gall to send me such ads!
Anonymous
June 2, 2004 10:33:24 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

On 1 Jun 2004 17:53:03 -0700, Detector195@yahoo.com (Detector195)
wrote:

>samdotbyrams@hotmail.com (Sam Byrams) wrote in message news:<d792394d.0405301726.7aeb311b@posting.google.com>...
>> For whatever reason, MDF is actually not a good sounding speaker
>> material and cabs from multi-ply laminated wood, such as piano pin
>> block stock, offer many of the theoretical benefits of MDF while
>> providing better mechanical ruggedness, repairability, appearance and
>> they "seem to sound better"-no A/B/X proof, just seems to. Maybe it's
>> my imagination.
>>
>> duPont Corian is a cool and underutilized material as well. The
>> Japanese use it in some of their nifty, but too heavy to
>> cost-effectively import, cabs for classic coax drivers such as the
>> Altec 604, which I consider to be the "Marilyn Monroe of speakers".

What, you mean fat, slow and liable to die suddenly? :-)

>Well, I can say one thing. MDF is a disaster waiting to happen with
>portable speakers -- it swells up when it gets rained on. I always got
>satisfactory results with homemade cabs when I used the regular 3/4
>birch plywood from Home Depot, though I felt compelled to steer around
>the voids.

Agreed, and marine plywood is even more impervious to abuse,
especially if heavily varnished.
--

Stewart Pinkerton | Music is Art - Audio is Engineering
Anonymous
June 2, 2004 12:27:54 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Stewart Pinkerton <patent3@dircon.co.uk> wrote in message news:<sbrqb0hjkrs7o85iuanh5eu90g1570mh8l@4ax.com>...
> On 1 Jun 2004 17:53:03 -0700, Detector195@yahoo.com (Detector195)
> wrote:
>
> >samdotbyrams@hotmail.com (Sam Byrams) wrote in message news:<d792394d.0405301726.7aeb311b@posting.google.com>...
> >> For whatever reason, MDF is actually not a good sounding speaker
> >> material and cabs from multi-ply laminated wood, such as piano pin
> >> block stock, offer many of the theoretical benefits of MDF while
> >> providing better mechanical ruggedness, repairability, appearance and
> >> they "seem to sound better"-no A/B/X proof, just seems to. Maybe it's
> >> my imagination.
> >>
> >> duPont Corian is a cool and underutilized material as well. The
> >> Japanese use it in some of their nifty, but too heavy to
> >> cost-effectively import, cabs for classic coax drivers such as the
> >> Altec 604, which I consider to be the "Marilyn Monroe of speakers".
>
> What, you mean fat, slow and liable to die suddenly? :-)

No, glitzy, flashy but completely lacking in depth and substance.

> >Well, I can say one thing. MDF is a disaster waiting to happen with
> >portable speakers -- it swells up when it gets rained on. I always got
> >satisfactory results with homemade cabs when I used the regular 3/4
> >birch plywood from Home Depot, though I felt compelled to steer around
> >the voids.
>
> Agreed, and marine plywood is even more impervious to abuse,
> especially if heavily varnished.

Actually, there is a specific product called "void-free" thin-layer
birch plywood, part of the generic "baltic birch" family of products.
It has no internal voids and uses a better glue. It's used a lot in
making windchests in pipe organs, where you don't want air finding
it's way into places it shouldn't be going.
Anonymous
June 2, 2004 3:46:13 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Stewart Pinkerton <patent3@dircon.co.uk> wrote in message news:<sbrqb0hjkrs7o85iuanh5eu90g1570mh8l@4ax.com>...
> On 1 Jun 2004 17:53:03 -0700, Detector195@yahoo.com (Detector195)
> wrote:
>
> >samdotbyrams@hotmail.com (Sam Byrams) wrote in message news:<d792394d.0405301726.7aeb311b@posting.google.com>...
> >> For whatever reason, MDF is actually not a good sounding speaker
> >> material and cabs from multi-ply laminated wood, such as piano pin
> >> block stock, offer many of the theoretical benefits of MDF while
> >> providing better mechanical ruggedness, repairability, appearance and
> >> they "seem to sound better"-no A/B/X proof, just seems to. Maybe it's
> >> my imagination.
> >>
> >> duPont Corian is a cool and underutilized material as well. The
> >> Japanese use it in some of their nifty, but too heavy to
> >> cost-effectively import, cabs for classic coax drivers such as the
> >> Altec 604, which I consider to be the "Marilyn Monroe of speakers".
>
> What, you mean fat, slow and liable to die suddenly? :-)

You'd be liable to die suddenly too if someone shot half a pint of
pure Nembutal up your rear end. As far as fat and slow-see the
swimming pool scene from her last film, which AMC paid (a bundle) to
build out as far as they could from what footage there is. At 36, she
was the ultimate naked, wet, and slightly cold (obviously!) female.
Back then, guys who wanted 'hardbodies' would be referred to the NFL.


> >Well, I can say one thing. MDF is a disaster waiting to happen with
> >portable speakers -- it swells up when it gets rained on. I always got
> >satisfactory results with homemade cabs when I used the regular 3/4
> >birch plywood from Home Depot, though I felt compelled to steer around
> >the voids.
>
> Agreed, and marine plywood is even more impervious to abuse,
> especially if heavily varnished.

Marine ply is the way to go, unless you fill the voids with
something, which is more time than it's worth. Corian is available in
sizes needed by amateur speaker builders as off-fall, and to
professional companies under license: I've never had a problem
sourcing it with cash in hand.
Anonymous
June 3, 2004 11:46:40 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

> > >> duPont Corian is a cool and underutilized material as well. The
> > >> Japanese use it in some of their nifty, but too heavy to
> > >> cost-effectively import, cabs for classic coax drivers such as the
> > >> Altec 604, which I consider to be the "Marilyn Monroe of speakers".
> >
> > What, you mean fat, slow and liable to die suddenly? :-)
>
> No, glitzy, flashy but completely lacking in depth and substance.



The Altec is a real speaker with a 15" cone and some real build cost,
not like the stuff they sell at Madisound. We have this fantasy today
you can build a really first-rate speaker out of small drivers and
inexpensive crossovers, and while some of the "Speaker
Builder(magazine)mentality projects" sound pretty good for the cost,
and the high end stores sell very expensive versions of these same
products with little improvement, that doesn't make them the equal of
classic Altec and Lansing and a few other designs that cost a lot of
money to build.

The history of technology is that the new one almost always costs
less to build than the old one. If there is a total improvement, well
and fine, but more often it's a tradeoff-this for that. A 2004 car has
better engine management systems than a 1964 car, but the foundry work
on the block and heads was invariably better on the 1964 model. Most
of today's engines are not intended to be rebuilt and have very thin
castings.

Unlike ham radio, a dying hobby of cheapskates, audio people are all
too willing to spend money. You can buy $10,000 vacuum tube amps built
with the techniques used on $799 guitar amps, and not very much more
build cost. If you are going to spend all that money, there should be
some build cost-an Audio Research or c-j tube amp ought to be built as
well as a Vollum-era Tek scope. Are they? Are the output transformers
as good as UTC or Peerless? Look at the Thiel speakers, most of which
look inside as though they might have been built out of a Speaker
Builder article by a former pro home cabinetmaker or guitar
builder.(Because they could have been.) Then there's the Linn Sondek
turntable, almost as good as the last Merrill-upgraded AR's.

You are, however, entitled to your own opinion on MM. There's no
accounting for taste, but to me, her Rose Loomis in Niagara-you're
glad to see her strangled dead-Ava Gardner couldn't have done better.
Anonymous
June 4, 2004 8:14:57 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

samdotbyrams@hotmail.com (Sam Byrams) wrote in message news:<d792394d.0406031846.6598b262@posting.google.com>...
> > > >> duPont Corian is a cool and underutilized material as well. The
> > > >> Japanese use it in some of their nifty, but too heavy to
> > > >> cost-effectively import, cabs for classic coax drivers such as the
> > > >> Altec 604, which I consider to be the "Marilyn Monroe of speakers".
> > >
> > > What, you mean fat, slow and liable to die suddenly? :-)
> >
> > No, glitzy, flashy but completely lacking in depth and substance.
>
> The Altec is a real speaker with a 15" cone and some real build cost,
> not like the stuff they sell at Madisound. We have this fantasy today
> you can build a really first-rate speaker out of small drivers and
> inexpensive crossovers, and while some of the "Speaker
> Builder(magazine)mentality projects" sound pretty good for the cost,
> and the high end stores sell very expensive versions of these same
> products with little improvement, that doesn't make them the equal of
> classic Altec and Lansing and a few other designs that cost a lot of
> money to build.

For all the money it costs to build an Altec 604, let's see what you get:

1. A system built before and, subsequently, in effective ignorance
of the comprehensive Thiele-Small model. Thus, as a result, a
misdesigned, mistuned conglomeration of poorly integrated parts
and, well, "concepts" to be generous, that misses the theoretical
capabilities of a cabinet that large and a woofer that big by a
VERY wide margin.

2. A "real" large driver with very poor linearity that has no better
linear volume displacement than your alledged "cheap" smaller
drivers, with a stiff and VERY non-linear suspension.

3. A "real" expensive crossover that was designed without any
consideration of conjugate load matching.

If you like the Altecs, fine. But holding them up as a paragon of
design acumen, as shining examples of how to design a well-performing
speaker in any reasonable objective sense is, well, amusing.
Anonymous
June 4, 2004 7:43:31 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

> 1. A system built before and, subsequently, in effective ignorance
> of the comprehensive Thiele-Small model. Thus, as a result, a
> misdesigned, mistuned conglomeration of poorly integrated parts
> and, well, "concepts" to be generous, that misses the theoretical
> capabilities of a cabinet that large and a woofer that big by a
> VERY wide margin.
>

Many enclosures were available for the 604, which is the driver
proper, and the old ones are crude by modern standards. The Japanese
have built several commercially, they tend to be really big and heavy.
Big and heavy is good until you have to ship it from Japan.




> 2. A "real" large driver with very poor linearity that has no better
> linear volume displacement than your alledged "cheap" smaller
> drivers, with a stiff and VERY non-linear suspension.
>
> 3. A "real" expensive crossover that was designed without any
> consideration of conjugate load matching>

Doug Sax of Mastering Labs designed a much better x/o but although
it's still available to order I think even he would admit biamping is
better.






> If you like the Altecs, fine. But holding them up as a paragon of
> design acumen, as shining examples of how to design a well-performing
> speaker in any reasonable objective sense is, well, amusing.


I have a pair of late (Mantaray) 604s with Mastering Labs x/o in some
cement cabs. I like them but they are not perfect. Improved cab design
and biamping will lead to substantial improvement, I think.

As a general rule, I like well-designed coaxes. I don't think they
are the only good technology, but they make life simpler. The Tannoys
are apparently no longer available commercially, no is the 12" used in
Urei studio monitors.
Anonymous
June 5, 2004 1:36:29 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

samdotbyrams@hotmail.com (Sam Byrams) wrote in message news:<d792394d.0406041443.39039ebe@posting.google.com>...
> > 1. A system built before and, subsequently, in effective ignorance
> > of the comprehensive Thiele-Small model. Thus, as a result, a
> > misdesigned, mistuned conglomeration of poorly integrated parts
> > and, well, "concepts" to be generous, that misses the theoretical
> > capabilities of a cabinet that large and a woofer that big by a
> > VERY wide margin.
> >
>
> Many enclosures were available for the 604, which is the driver
> proper, and the old ones are crude by modern standards. The Japanese
> have built several commercially, they tend to be really big and heavy.
> Big and heavy is good until you have to ship it from Japan.

Maybe you missed the point of my remarks. The 604 design comes from
an era when no one new how to design a box suited to a driver, and
no one new how to design a driver to fit in a box. People couldn't
do reasonable driver/enclosure and thus system designs because no one
knew, back in the middle 1940's what any of this stuff meant.

A number of variations of the 604 exist, but typical T/S figures
on them run something like:

Fs 27 Hz
Vas 450 L
Qms 2.32
Qes 0.22
Qts 0.20
Xmax 3 mm

Yes, it's got phenomenal efficiency at about 98 dB 1W @ 1m, but
at a pretty significant cost: look at the Qts figure of 0.2.

Aiming for a maximally flat response requires the speaker to be mounted
in a TINY box, on the order of 80 liters, tuned to about 50 Hz. The result
is impressively flat, less than 1 dB response variation (ignoring driver
response anomolies), but is hardly impressive bass-wise for a 15" driver,
struggling, as it does, to reach down to 53 Hz.

In the more typical cabinet used for these drivers, which is an excessively
large cabinet tuned with large ports at a very high frequency, the response
of the system is, well, abyssmal. How about an 11 dB peak at 80 Hz, with
a response that plummets like a rock below that.

And the horn is such that crossover frequencies like 900 Hz are a
bare minimum. That's asking an awful lot of an untreated paper cone.

> > 2. A "real" large driver with very poor linearity that has no better
> > linear volume displacement than your alledged "cheap" smaller
> > drivers, with a stiff and VERY non-linear suspension.

With an excursion of all of about 3 mm, despite its enormous magnet
and underhung voice coil, this 15" driver has no more output capability
than one of those "cheap" 10" drivers you go about.

> > 3. A "real" expensive crossover that was designed without any
> > consideration of conjugate load matching>
>
> Doug Sax of Mastering Labs designed a much better x/o but although
> it's still available to order I think even he would admit biamping is
> better.

But the basic item is SO handicapped by its fundamental limitations. It
was an amazing driver in its time. But it's time was 1945. That's almost
SIXTY years ago, my friend. Event ignoring your rather biased and poorly
constructed remark about "cheap" drivers, pretty much EVERYTHING that's
understood about the interaction of cabinets and drivers, system
integration, crossover design, driver design, EVERYTHING occured
significantly AFTER the 604.

You take ALL of that knowledge, lump it into a single pile, call it
"the stuff they sell at Madisound" and "Speaker Builder mentality
projects" as if that represented the Parnassus of loudspeaker knowledge
and proceed to tilt against it like some evil windmill. Well, there's a
much larger world of knowledge about loudspeakers than that, I would
hesitate to suggest. And the Altec 604 is NOT part of it, because it
was born 25 years too early.

> > If you like the Altecs, fine. But holding them up as a paragon of
> > design acumen, as shining examples of how to design a well-performing
> > speaker in any reasonable objective sense is, well, amusing.
>
> I have a pair of late (Mantaray) 604s with Mastering Labs x/o in some
> cement cabs. I like them but they are not perfect. Improved cab design
> and biamping will lead to substantial improvement, I think.

No, you have already run up against the unresolvabel fundamental
design limitations of the the beast. Theya re intrinsically what
they are, and NO amount of fiddling will get them beyond that point.

Appreciate them for what they are: probably one of the best examples
of the black art of speaker from 6 decades ago, a period where more
witchcraft and alchemy and kitchen-sink fiddling then science and
understanding and real engineering ruled.

604's, like T. Rex, is a magnificent specimen of a time long past.
We can admire them, study them, marvel at their anachronistic
magnificence.

But, like T. Rex, they're STILL extinct. Their time has come, and
their time has gone. R. I. P.
Anonymous
June 6, 2004 8:26:58 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

samdotbyrams@hotmail.com (Sam Byrams) wrote in message news:<d792394d.0406051617.8a8de33@posting.google.com>...
> >
> > Maybe you missed the point of my remarks. The 604 design comes from
> > an era when no one new how to design a box suited to a driver, and
> > no one new how to design a driver to fit in a box. People couldn't
> > do reasonable driver/enclosure and thus system designs because no one
> > knew, back in the middle 1940's what any of this stuff meant.
>
> Well, to a substantial extent, I did. I have a reasonable electronic
> background, but I don't claim to be a speaker designer. That said, and
> not as a dig, a lot of those who do apparently don't know very much
> either.
>
> I rail against the attitude of many hobbyists and High End Swinging

<A LOT of utter irrelvancies deleted>

> That a
> hobbyist can build an amp as good as a c-j, Audio Research, or VTL, or
> a speaker as good as a Thiel or Vandersteen for a fraction even
> counting his own time at market technician/assembler rates, is
> ludicrous. (But very true.)

But very FALSE. I would be interested in seeing but a single example
of your assertion demonstrated as such with a reasonable acceptable
auite of measurements.

> >
> > But, like T. Rex, they're STILL extinct. Their time has come, and
> > their time has gone. R. I. P.
>
> And yet: they sound better than many, many later efforts (although
> I'd never say all.)

You mean to say, you LIKE that driver. To YOU, it sound better.

That's a great argument for YOU, one for which I will nor can provide
no technical rejoinder. But you have taken your preference for the
driver and elevated it almost to the level of physical fact. In the
process, you failed to address every single technical point I raised.

> Can we do better today? You'd think so. But I think it would mean
> spending money, and the audio industry seems allergic to this.

We HAVE done better today. As I said, you chose to ignore the very gross
technical failings of the 604 in the points I rasied, just from the fact
that on the basis of it's electromechanical parameters alaone, it is
a product desgined in an era when, quite literally, the people at Altec
and elseqhere were essentially clueless as to how drivers and cabinets
integrated into systems. The cabinets recommended and manufactured at
the time resulted in, as I said, abysmally poor low-frequency response.
"Redesigning" these cabinets using concrete changes an abysmally poor
system into a heacy, hard-to-manage abysmally poor system.

You brought up the example of how, in your mind, 40 and 50 year old
engine technologgy was, fro some reasons, superior to that which prevails
now. I suggest your example, as applied to the 604, is a highly flawed
example. I would suggest a more apt example would be the comparison
between the internal combustion engine and rickshaws.

Had Altec known 10% of what is known about the intergration of drivers
and cabinets and the resulting determination of driver electromechanical
parameters, the 604 would have had to have been a VERY different driver.
The fundamental physics dictates so. That physics has not changed one
wit in the intervening 60 years. Our knowledge of it has.

In counter to this, you bring up utter irrelevancies about Madisound
and "singing dick high enders" and stuff which has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING
to do with the fact that th 604 is a BAD DESIGN, and its BAD DESIGN
stands on its own, and need not be compared to anything else, other
than the fundamental operation of physics, electronics and acoustics,
to be judged as bad.

You seem to continue to miss the point that it's not that SPEAKERS
have changed, it's that our UNDERSTANDING of speakers have changed,
and because of THAT, we now know how to change the speakers. Altec
knew NONE of this, NOTHING.

Yoe are certainly correct in that the 604 is unlike anything available
today. I know of now manufacturer of any repute who would knowlingly
design and market a system with such miserable low-frequency performance
as exhibited by the 604 with its typically awful low-frequency alignment.

How wel do you think a system with a whopping 15" driver would sell
if its designers were to admit that it can't go below 50 Hz? And what
sort of reception do you think an 11.3 dB peak at 80 Hz will receive?

That's your 604 in all it's glory, in all it's naive, ignorant of
modern low-frequency design principles, 60-year-old-booming-mid-
bass, absolutely-no-low-bass magnificence.

As I said near the outset of this thread, you may like the 604 and what
it does. But do NOT hold it up as a paragon of loudspeaker design. Having
now investigated it in more detail, I no longer think doing so is
laughable, it's embarrisngly ridiculous. It's a joke. A 60 year old
quaint, if not somewhat unfortunate, joke.

If you want do deal with the technical issues raised in this thread,
I'd be happy to continue. However, you seem to want to raise any number
of totally irrelevant proxy issues that, to me, merely underscore the
gross technical failings of the 604. Such a pursuit is unproductive,
though certainly more so for you than I. I don't know what other readers
can get from this thread, hopefully some of my technical points could
be of some value. But irrelavancies like kit airplanes and demonstrably
misrepresentative views of kit magazines and retail vendors and quite
unsupportable claims of what the current state of the art is have, in
this person's view, no value other than to diminish whatever is left
of any veracity of the foundational basis for your position.
Anonymous
June 8, 2004 12:26:17 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Sam Byrams wrote:

> What are the more popular mastering systems now? Who ( just a few
> names) is using what?

Just about anything you can imagine. There are a number of market segments
for studio speakers. General monitoring, which can also be broken down into
narrower segments like tracking, mixing and mastering.

Each application. can be conceived of as needing a different type of
speaker. In some cases, there is a controversy over whether any of these
applications must be implemented using speakers, or whether headphones or
IEMs might be appropriate.

Non-loudspeaker monitoring approaches are particularly popular for tracking
and mixing. Mastering now arguably may include non-loudspeaker approaches,
since we now have ten of millions of listeners using portable players. Thay
are using headphones and increasingly, IEMs. Computer speakers are another
popular listening environment that may need to be considered.

A major trend over the past 30 years has been the ascendancy of small
monitor speakers, sometimes called "Near field" or "meter bridge" speakers.
Small studio monitors have been a trend going back as least as far back as
the BBC's LS3/5A. Over the years the bass extension and dynamic range of
small monitors has evolved and improved greatly.

Mastering itself can arguably be something that isn't best done with just
one set of speakers or a single listening environment. Instead, some (myself
included) tote recordings they produce around to different listening
environments, take some notes, and go back and make adjustments as it seems
appropriate.

During mastering, the major issues are dynamic range, balance between direct
and reverberant sound, imaging, and tonal balance. Hopefully these aspects
of the recording have been at least roughed-in during mixing. Tracking is
more about the quality of individual playing. There seems to be no end to
the possibilities for fine tuning at any step in production.

Very few recordings are targeted towards just a single narrow playback
environment so they should at least to be QCd in a number of different
sonic contexts.

I strongly agree with other poster's comments relating to the sonic
impoverishment of many once-widely respected legacy speaker systems. OTOH, a
few other legacy systems don't do badly when compared to modern systems,
particularly with a little adjustment, some careful eq, an added subwoofer,
etc.
Anonymous
June 10, 2004 9:56:02 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

"Dick Pierce" <dpierce@cartchunk.org> wrote in message
news:D c02c02f.0406080309.3af75a31@posting.google.com...

> Hnoestly, I think you have gone from a nostalgic but unrealistic
> technical standpoint to an equally nostalgic but unrealistic
> economic one. The 604, by ANY objective technical measure, is a dog.
> In addition, it become nearly impossible to manufacture because of
> it's very age. And because of that, it was no cash cow, it was a dead
> mule and was given the ignominious burial it so richly deserved.

Whilst I agree with your general point Dick, I can't help but think you are
being a trifle unfair. The fact that some are still going after 50 years
proves the quality of construction at least. They were "magnetically
shielded" long before it became a design feature. They were dynamically "CD
ready", long before CD was invented, and from your earlier post :

>Yes, it's got phenomenal efficiency at about 98 dB 1W @ 1m, but
>at a pretty significant cost: look at the Qts figure of 0.2.
>Aiming for a maximally flat response requires the speaker to be mounted
>in a TINY box, on the order of 80 liters, tuned to about 50 Hz. The result
>is impressively flat, less than 1 dB response variation (ignoring driver
>response anomolies), but is hardly impressive bass-wise for a 15" driver,
>struggling, as it does, to reach down to 53 Hz.

A 50Hz cut off is considered quite normal these days for many speakers, but
how many of them can do 98dB/W/M? None that I know of.
So yes they were designed before the science had arrived, and yes it's easy
to produce a better design these days (but still many don't).
The biggest problem was the box design, which can and was fixed by many
people who liked the idea of high efficiency/high SPL at 50Hz up.

IMO the main reason they are obsolete is the cost of construction Vs the
existence of cheap megawatt amplifiers these days.
I totally agree a viable market no longer exists.

TonyP.
!