Cdub's Usher Two Ways

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  • JonMarsh
    Mad Max Moderator
    • Aug 2000
    • 15272

    Cdub's Usher Two Ways

    Well, Usher's seem to be all the rage in the DIY scene these days, so maybe it's time we had a thread on an Usher two way system here at HT Guide also!

    Last weekend Cdub and his brother, who hail from the same Tri Valley area as I live in, came over to make some MDF dust for their Projects. Nick is putting together a sub based on an AV12 and two PR's, with a nice plateamp- we did some cutouts and hole drilling for his amplifier. But the real reason for getting together was Chris's Usher two ways, based on the design by Dennis Murphy.

    If you're not into the DIY speaker scene, probably right now you're wondering what the heck an Usher two way is- no, it doesn't have anything to do with the house of Usher, unless you think that's a speaker manufacturer in Taiwan. There drivers have something of an interesting reputation, because of their more than subtle resemblence to some ScanSpeak models.

    The woofer is an User 8945, which has more than a few similarities to the ScanSpeak 8545, excepting the price.

    Click image for larger version

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    Like it's Scanspeak progenitor, it has a rather massive magnet in order to get low Qts (for tight bass in relatively small boxes) and decent efficiency. It uses a carbon fiber pulped cone which some say is sourced from the save vendor as ScanSpeak's- it's a free world, afterall. I don't really know how the motor system compares with the SS SD1, but most users are quite pleased with the performance, especially considering the savings.

    The tweeter is the User T-9950, which again, has a rather close resemblence to the ScanSpeak SS9500.

    Click image for larger version

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    Dennis Murphy developed a two way system using 4th order L-R crossovers, (net acoustical, not electrical), and implemented an LCR trap to help deal with the bump in the response around 900 Hz, which both the Usher and ScanSpeak have. (you know, you can take cloning a little too far...)

    Chris elected to build his system using the prebuilt PE cabinets- from my own experience, they're an excellent value, I'll never build small boxes again, in all likelihood.

    We used the same front panel layout in Dennis's design, since the crossover was optimized for this layout.

    Click image for larger version

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    Because of the large magnet system, the rear window area for the midwoofer was an item of concern, especially with the thick front panel of the PE cabinets. So, we elected to use a bevel bit with the router to relieve the backside- this made a huge improvement in the rear clearance. I had to take similar measures with the system built with the HiVi D6 for my daughter earlier this summer.

    Click image for larger version

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    After some consultation with Chris prior to getting together, we settled on the new 2" Precision port (flared) as probably being the best approach available for this size box- if they made a 2.5" I would have preferred that, but this one is pretty nicel, considering the size.

    Here's a veiw of the back of the enclosures with the port mounted, the Whispermat installed and cutway for the cup, but the rear cup not installed.

    Click image for larger version

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    The convenient thing about the PE cabinets is that they're delivered with the baffles removable (held in just by screws), so doing interior work on the cabinets is quite easy. Here's a view of the inside of the cabinet, crossovers not installed, but everything else ready.

    Click image for larger version

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    I'm in the process of building the crossovers, and wiring the boxes right now. Chris sprung for upgraded crossover components with foil inductors, film and foil bypass caps, and Mills resistors. I'll update before assembling the boxes and running tests. I also plan on doing some driver measurements before final assembly.

    Best regards,

    Jon




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  • Brian Bunge
    Super Senior Member
    • Nov 2001
    • 1389

    #2
    Jon,

    Those look pretty cool! That Chris must have some cash! I built him 3 GR Research A/V-1+'s and a sub using the same driver/pr/amp combo that his brother is building less than a year ago. The difference was, I shipped all his stuff to him in New York. 8O

    I can't wait to hear your impressions on these vs. the M8a based monitors you designed.

    Brian

    Comment

    • JonMarsh
      Mad Max Moderator
      • Aug 2000
      • 15272

      #3
      Well, it probably wouldn't really be "fair" to compare them to the M8's, but I'll probably try to talk my daughter into letting me have the D6 based two ways (also XT25 tweeter) back for a weekend after I get these finished, to do some comparisons. (The M8's weigh about twice as much, maybe more- probably have about a 6-8 dB difference in dynamic range). And of course, about double the box volume. OTOH, it wouldn't be quite fair to compare the M8 against the M8ta, either- but that latter is hugely more time consuming to build! It's not likely there will be a second set of those!

      ~Jon




      Earth First!
      _______________________________
      We'll screw up the other planets later....
      the AudioWorx
      Natalie P
      M8ta
      Modula Neo DCC
      Modula MT XE
      Modula Xtreme
      Isiris
      Wavecor Ardent

      SMJ
      Minerva Monitor
      Calliope
      Ardent D

      In Development...
      Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
      Obi-Wan
      Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
      Modula PWB
      Calliope CC Supreme
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      Natalie P Supreme
      Janus BP1 Sub


      Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
      Just ask Mr. Ohm....

      Comment

      • Cdub
        Member
        • Aug 2003
        • 56

        #4
        Brian,

        I love my AV2s dearly, but after hearing the M8a I afraid its no comparison. M8a hands down. They are the real deal. Danny's AV2s are great, but the M8a are on another level in my opinion. :5:

        Keep in mind the circumstances under which I have heard the two different speakers. The AV2s are run off my Sherwood Newcastle pre/pro and amp and a budget Pioneer dvd player. The M8a were being run off top of the line equipment. You'll have to ask Jon for the details on his setup.

        Also I don't claim to have golden ears by any means, but the difference was readily apparent to my brother and me. I wouldn't considermyself an audiophile, I just like good music.

        I agree with Jon's assessment that it probably wouldn't be a fair comparison. But in any event it would be interesting to hear his comments between his daughter's 2 ways, the Ushers, and the M8a. Maybe sometime in the future we can get all the speakers together for a more "scientific" comparison.

        If you ever get a chance I highly reccommend you to audition Jon's design.

        BTW Jon,

        I saw your other post about the "souped up" Police recording you used. Aha! The recording probably was the only reason the M8a sounded good. It probably had nothing to do with your ability to design speakers :W I'm going over to Goodguys to pick up the biggest, baddest, most expensive Bose speakers I can find!!! haha

        One quick question. I have seen a few picks of your daughter's speakers on the web. I think one version I saw had the felt padding around the tweeter ala the M8a. Was this the final version or one of the tweaks you just played around with?

        I still say, let your boss hear your speakers and he might give you a few more weekends off with pay... I know I would...well if you would build me some.

        Chris

        Comment

        • Hank
          Super Senior Member
          • Jul 2002
          • 1345

          #5
          Jon, Chris may have a good idea there. Build your boss a pair of M8a's - "loan" them to him/her and after a week or so, offer to sell them for a rediculously low price. Might work, and if not, you've gotten the injoyment of building another pair of speakers, and the satisfaction of bringing quality sound to another household.
          I hope your work situation improves. No miracles on the horizon. High tech is picking up a bit, but with the 7% productivity improvement in the U.S. (squeezing more out of us remaining folks), jobs are not opening up like with previous economic comebacks.

          Comment

          • JonMarsh
            Mad Max Moderator
            • Aug 2000
            • 15272

            #6
            Jon, Chris may have a good idea there. Build your boss a pair of M8a's - "loan" them to him/her and after a week or so, offer to sell them for a rediculously low price.
            The irony to that suggestion is that I built the first set of M8 Mk1's for my former boss after he was canned from that position, and had to take a marketing position in Automotive in Detroit- gave them to him as an expression of my condolences for the raw deal he was getting (there were a lot of screwy politics involved, going all the way to upper levels in Munich) so he'd have some music there, since he wasn't moving from Pleasonton in the Bay area (about 8 miles from where I live). He got another position with Infineon back in the Bay area about six months later, so things eventually worked out OK.

            My current boss (who is an assignee over here from Munich) isn't into audio much, though his boss in Munich is quite aware of my connections to Avalon, and fell in love with them when he first heard a set in Singapore. Strange how some things are connected.


            I saw your other post about the "souped up" Police recording you used. Aha! The recording probably was the only reason the M8a sounded good.
            Hey Chris, cut me some slack - I did just use the CD layer, not the SACD layer! And it was just my modified Philips transport and a Crystal Semi 4397 eval board, because I'd just shipped off the last completed DAC to a Denverite. :B

            As to the rest of the gear, well, you saw the Aragon 8008 X3 amp (my Ayre being packed up for shipping back for updates); cables and interconnects we discussed, but I shouldn't mention due to the forums sponsorship rules. Besides, the generally accepted "consensus" is that the speakers are #1, followed by the source components, in their affect on system performance.

            One quick question. I have seen a few picks of your daughter's speakers on the web. I think one version I saw had the felt padding around the tweeter ala the M8a. Was this the final version or one of the tweaks you just played around with?
            The picture of the version with felt is the final construction. In the M8 article (proabably in part 3) I show the affect on measured frequency response that this addtional diffraction control has- smooths things out a bit in the 2-8 kHz region. Recommended. If you want, I'll do something similar for yours. Just le me know.

            As far as the recovery goes, it's definitely "jobless" out in the Bay area; when something new like an IKEA store in E. Palo Alto opens, they're swamped with all kinds of job applicants. Tech firms locally are still laying off; HP, Applied Materials, and now PeopleSoft in Pleasanton has announced their intention to layoff 1,000 out of an 8000 workforce to show they're "gaining efficiencies" since their purchase of JD Edwards. All this consolidation reduces competition, and employment.


            Best regards,

            Jon




            Earth First!
            _______________________________
            We'll screw up the other planets later....
            the AudioWorx
            Natalie P
            M8ta
            Modula Neo DCC
            Modula MT XE
            Modula Xtreme
            Isiris
            Wavecor Ardent

            SMJ
            Minerva Monitor
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            In Development...
            Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
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            Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
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            Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
            Just ask Mr. Ohm....

            Comment

            • JonMarsh
              Mad Max Moderator
              • Aug 2000
              • 15272

              #7
              Mostly built the crossover boards this weekend- first I've had any free time in quite a while! Working with the foil inductors requires a little care, I can see- the foil connections are no where near as strong as solid copper wire.

              I've split the crossover into three boards, to avoid proximity of the LF inductors and notch inductor- that old devil mutual coupling.

              These relatively low component county crossovers are a breeze to assemble!

              Was going to post pictures, but my hosting site has a new front end, and doesn't even recognize the site username. However, the server with pics is still up. Gotta get that straightened out...

              ~Jon




              Earth First!
              _______________________________
              We'll screw up the other planets later....
              the AudioWorx
              Natalie P
              M8ta
              Modula Neo DCC
              Modula MT XE
              Modula Xtreme
              Isiris
              Wavecor Ardent

              SMJ
              Minerva Monitor
              Calliope
              Ardent D

              In Development...
              Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
              Obi-Wan
              Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
              Modula PWB
              Calliope CC Supreme
              Natalie P Ultra
              Natalie P Supreme
              Janus BP1 Sub


              Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
              Just ask Mr. Ohm....

              Comment

              • Cdub
                Member
                • Aug 2003
                • 56

                #8
                Hey Jon,

                Glad your work schedule gave you a break to work on some projects. Some wize speaker guru I know once said, "slow work takes time, lots of time..." I'm interested to see how the Ushers stack up to other designs your familiar with.

                Picked up the latest copy of AudioXpress, and I am trying to digest your article.

                I dropped you an email regarding the padding around the tweeters. If you could do it, it would be great! Is there anyway to make the felt removeable, maybe with some small areas of velcro? I would like to see if I can hear the difference, then I'll attach it permanently.

                How are the M8ta coming?

                Chris

                Comment

                • JonMarsh
                  Mad Max Moderator
                  • Aug 2000
                  • 15272

                  #9
                  Tell you what I'll do, I'll cut pieces of felt for the diffraction control, then you can use Scotch double sticky tape to try them out, or hot glue or double sticky foam tape for mounting.

                  As the third part in my article will illustrate, the irregulaities caused in the frequency response between 2-10 kHz will clean up with this work, but they aren't huge. Many other effects, such as undamped side wall reflections causing comb filtering due to delayed arrival combination with the direct sound can produce larger effects. So I expect audibility will be higly dependent on system setup and listening distance; if you listen to them in more of a "near field" condition, then it's more likely the diffraction control will be audible.

                  Haven't had any opportunity to work on the M8ta's this weekend- did finish getting the garage cleared out- spent about 10 hours on that this weekend. Next step on the ta's is to rebuild/mod a pair of tweeters (Dr. Schol's wool shoe liners can be be adapted to tweaking the chamber and pole piece damping of tweeters with good results) and start constructing crossovers. They will be external, so break in and tweaking should be easy to manage.

                  I'm traveling much of this week, but will be home by Friday. I expect to have yours done this coming weekend and put them on breakin (pink noise).

                  Hope your semester is going well.

                  Best regards,

                  Jon




                  Earth First!
                  _______________________________
                  We'll screw up the other planets later....
                  the AudioWorx
                  Natalie P
                  M8ta
                  Modula Neo DCC
                  Modula MT XE
                  Modula Xtreme
                  Isiris
                  Wavecor Ardent

                  SMJ
                  Minerva Monitor
                  Calliope
                  Ardent D

                  In Development...
                  Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
                  Obi-Wan
                  Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
                  Modula PWB
                  Calliope CC Supreme
                  Natalie P Ultra
                  Natalie P Supreme
                  Janus BP1 Sub


                  Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
                  Just ask Mr. Ohm....

                  Comment

                  • Cdub
                    Member
                    • Aug 2003
                    • 56

                    #10
                    Jon,

                    I hope you are having a happy holidays as well as all other HTGuide members. I have replied to your email, but am not sure if you got it. Are we still on for tommorow? Email me if you have any questions.

                    Chris

                    Comment

                    • Cdub
                      Member
                      • Aug 2003
                      • 56

                      #11
                      To update anyone who is interested in this project, over the holidays I was fortunate to get together with our resident speaker guru, Jon, to finish my Usher project.

                      Being a novice when it comes to speaker building countless thanks go out to Jon for graciously donating his time and expertise to this project. arty:

                      First I must say that the cabinets by Partsexpress are very nice and of top quality. I am very pleased with how everything turned out aesthetically.

                      On to the sound quality. Overall I find them very pleasing speakers. We used Jon's DIY test disc which has a variety of tracks as test material. As a reference speaker we used Jon's M8a MKIV.

                      I would characterize these speakers as having very good imaging and soundstage, and having a generally well balanced sound. What Jon and I did agree upon was that they tend to be a bit foward in the top end, which MAY be a bit fatiguing in long listening sessions. However this may be due to few reasons:

                      1. The speakers had only about 30 hrs of time on them, so the were not fully broken in. Its possible after break in this may change somewhat.

                      2. Dennis Murphy notes the possibility that these speakers may sound a bit foward in the upper region, and suggests a slight modification to the crossover in order to tip down the upper region just a bit.

                      3. Also Jon suggested I experiment with felt around the tweeter, ala M8a, to possibly tame the fowardness.

                      As far as bass I found the Ushers to be good, but overall lacking just a bit down low. This I found somewhat surprising, because of the numerous posts around the web stating what great bass these speakers have. This could be due to my unrealistic expectations, or using the M8a as a reference, which definitely have more low end presence. However Jon noted that the bookshelfs that he constucted for his daughter, which use the same enclosures as the Ushers, had significantly more low end presence, and he recieved several comments about that during the Nor Cal DIY 2003 when he played his daughters bookshelfs.

                      Overall this was a very satisfing first speaker building experience, that was made possible by Jon. It is great to have someone to ask questions, and point out thigs that I may have overlooked or considered. Oh yeah, its hard to beat just listening to some good tunes with friends.

                      One other note, when comparing the Ushers to the M8a I still favor the M8a. The Ushers are not bad, and there is still some tweaking to be done and breakin to be finished, but the M8a are pretty mind blowing for the price. I find them to sound how I like my speakers to listen to: A full well balanced sound that is very easy to listen to. Plenty of bottom end with detailed highs that are never fatiguing. You could listen to them all day, and its easy forget how loud you are playing them.

                      I would like to thank Jon(one more time) for his time and expertise as well as Dennis Murphy for making his excellent design available to everyone. I look foward to spending much more time with my Ushers and tweaking them for the best sound possible. It can said without a doubt in my mind that a commercial offering approaching the Usher's sound quality would cost significantly more thatn I invested in this project.

                      BTW, Hopefully Jon might post his impressions and a few pics, and I wish him more free time and no computer troubles in the new year!!

                      Comment

                      • JonMarsh
                        Mad Max Moderator
                        • Aug 2000
                        • 15272

                        #12
                        Working on Cdub's Usher's was interesting and fun, even if it did have an element of deja vu, do to the basic similarity of configuration and specific enclosure to the speakers I built for my daughter in spring of last year. The crossovers were finished up just recently, and for his we split them up into three boards, with the LF sections on two, and the tweeter crossover on the third.

                        Click image for larger version

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                        The layouts had to be considered with some care, in order to be able to fit them into the enclosure, due to the location of the central brace in the PE enclosures. Input and driver connections were made using Silver Sonic T14 cable. Here, you can also see the new 2" flared Precision ports used for his implementation.


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                        The finished speakers are quite attractive, due to the high quality of the finished PE enclosures. We followed the cross over plans from his kit, with a design developed by Dennis Murphy. Dennis acknowledges that some may prefer to pad down the tweeter using an additional 1-2 ohms in the single resistor used to control the level in the tweeter circuit. Surprisingly, there isn't any impedance compensation or an LPAD used in the tweeter crossover network.

                        Click image for larger version

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                        With placement out from the wall as is the "norm" in my home, the sound was clear and detailed, but a bit light in balance, and not extending quite as low in the bass as I expected, based on my experience with Scanspeak 7's in similar size boxes, as well as my recent project for my daughter with HiVi D8's. But for a smaller system, they have a nice balance of bass response, efficiency, and good power handling. Their balance suggests placement closer to the boundaries, while maintaining a golden mean ratio on the distances. And I'd probably recommend anyone building these to break them in, experiment with room positioning, then consider tweaking the tweeter balance if the high end still seems a little forward.

                        Happy listening!

                        ~Jon




                        Earth First!
                        _______________________________
                        We'll screw up the other planets later....
                        Last edited by theSven; 28 August 2023, 12:43 Monday. Reason: Update image location
                        the AudioWorx
                        Natalie P
                        M8ta
                        Modula Neo DCC
                        Modula MT XE
                        Modula Xtreme
                        Isiris
                        Wavecor Ardent

                        SMJ
                        Minerva Monitor
                        Calliope
                        Ardent D

                        In Development...
                        Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
                        Obi-Wan
                        Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
                        Modula PWB
                        Calliope CC Supreme
                        Natalie P Ultra
                        Natalie P Supreme
                        Janus BP1 Sub


                        Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
                        Just ask Mr. Ohm....

                        Comment

                        • Cdub
                          Member
                          • Aug 2003
                          • 56

                          #13
                          Jon,

                          Thanks for taking the time to post the pics and your impressions of the
                          Ushers. I have them set up in NY right now, and i have done the felt mod also. One thing that I noticed when they got here is that they were even more bass shy than I remember, even when placed in close proximity to the rear wall.

                          I took a closer look and noticed there wasn't much movement of one of the speakers woofers. It is moving though, but not like the other speaker. And there is little low end coming from the speaker when playing by itself compared to the other. I'm wondering if this might by the result of damage in transit or maybe something came loose? The speakers were double boxed for shipping and no damage to the boxes was evident.

                          What steps do you reccomend to solve my problem?

                          Thanks,
                          Chris

                          Comment

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