The amplifier is actually loading into the speaker better than it was before. The better it loads up, the more power transfer and control that you'll have. After all, the amp can't control the speaker if it can't load power into it in both a timely and efficient manner. The fact that the sound is cleaner even though you are passing more power tells you that the speaker mods were quite worth-while.
As a side note, you're probably experiencing much of what i've been talking about now for several years. That is, the liquid and effortless reproduction at high volumes that one experiences with a true "high power / high dynamic headroom" system. With such a system, the sound doesn't appear to be near as loud as it really is, so you can listen longer with far less fatigue. That's because distortion adds a LOT of "apparent volume" and is very fatiguing. You've taken steps to reduce those distortions via improving power transfer and now you're reaping the benefits. Sean
It's great to hear the mods have made such a positive impact in the sound, Mitch!
These mods should definitely make your speakers more efficient. Especially, the inductors and resistors. But, I think the DynamiCaps do this as well, which is why they sound so much bigger and more explosive than just about any other cap out there. TRT goes into some discussion about this on their website, and Peter also will talk about it on the phone a bit.
In my opinion, it just so happens that because your system has improved so much, you are listening at louder, more realistic volumes. This is strictly my own point of view, but I rarely encounter an audiophile who listens anwhere near the volume that I begin to "feel the music". The other day, I was walking during lunch, and a band was playing in the courtyard of a high rise across the street. Even from where I was, the sound was a good deal louder than what most people listen to, and this definitely got me thinking about the high end in general.
I think the increased smoothness, refinement, and dynamics of the modifications have drawn you into the music more, and you are now listening at a higher volume. I think that a good sounding system is much easier to listen to loud, and was one of my major reasons for getting into the high end in the first place.
Incidentally, do you have an SPL meter? If so, set the volume to what you used to listen to, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if your amp reads lower than it used to.
If the speakers are drawing more current (=using more power) to produce the same volume, then by definition they are less efficient. This could be because your mods changed the impedance of the crossover network and more current is bypassing the drivers. The impedance will change unless the new components are exactly the same value as the ones they replaced, and since caps and coils are notorious for having actual values that are quite a bit different from the stated value, this is highly likely. Plus or minus 20% is not unusual. If this is the case, you most certainly changed the crossover frequencies and the resulting increase or decrease in volume at certain frequencies around the crossover points may be what you perceive as being an improvement in the sound.
All crossovers waste a certain amount of power, and your new crossovers may waste more than the originals due to the change in impedance. This is not neccesarily bad if they sound better and the amp has enough oomph to provide the extra current.
The other explanation is as above, you are listening at louder levels without realizing it. This would explain why the sound is "bigger." It's louder so it sounds bigger.
Unless you took measurements before and after the mods you'll never know for sure which it is.
Thanks for your responses. This morning at 6 am I decided to listen to music but had to keep the volume down as my wife and daughter were still sleeping and I realised that in fact I am listening at louder volumes than I used to when it doesn't disturb anyone in the house. There is a lot less distortion and the sound in general is bigger. I have been playing my revised Hales now for 90 hours 24/7 and I'm blown away on just how good the system sounds. It truly was like investing in a brand new pair of speakers without taking the loss on my Hales if I sold them. I never thought my system could sound the way it does regardless of tweeks and mods. I am happy and would reccommend this type of mod to anyone but would beware that it could be a gamble and not everyone is happy with crossover mod results. I got lucky!
Who performed these mods and how much was it? It sounds like a very worthwhile investment and since my Alon's use outboard crossovers it would probably not be difficult to access them, but I'm completely non-handy so I would need someone to do it for me. Of course if you did it yourself I guess I'm out of luck.
Jond, I did not do it myself. I have trouble installing light bulbs.I had a tech do it for me but I ended up waiting for 4 months till he finally did the work and that was only after I bought the parts privately and took them to the tech and said "here are the parts, I'll pay for the labour, please install them". 4 months later I have my speakers back. The moral of this story is find a tech who will do what you want when you want it done. If you buy the parts privately it can have it's advantages. I was fortunate to be introduced by phone to Jeff at Sonicraft, Andre at e-speakers and finally I bought the parts from Michael Percy who was extremely helpful and uncomplicated. I told him what I wanted and he had the parts. Everyone I mentioned above was extremely helpful and patient in helping me. I would reccommend any of the people I mentioned. FIND A TECH WHO HAS THE TIME TO HELP YOU. The advice of people on Audiogon was/is invaluable and I would ask questions on line. If it wasn't for the kind responses on Audiogon to my posts I would have exchanged Axon parts for Solen parts which is like "6 of 1 or half dozen of the other" Good luck!
My mods cost about $1200 but you surely can get alot done for less money. I went wild.
Trelja: Once again, right on the money. As usual, you summed my thoughts up quite well : )
Herman: Mitch stated that the amp is delivering more power, but also sounds much louder and "bigger". As such, it is hard to imagine heavier gauge inductors and lower loss components being "less efficient" or a greater "wattage waster". I do agree that crossover points may have shifted slightly. However, i sincerely doubt that Hales was using THAT sloppy of parts tolerance in their speakers. They would have had to be horribly out of spec to achieve the shift in values that would cause the changes in required drive levels that Mitch is talking about.
I have to agree with Trelja's assessment above. That is, the better that your system gets, the more likely you are to listen to it louder. The lack of grain, glare and distortion are no longer an irritant, so you end up compensating for those factors with increased volume. Not only do you end up "rocking out" more, you end up enjoying it more too.
One problem with this type of situation though. Now that you've increased power transfer into the speakers, reduced passive losses and are also listening louder, the drivers have a LOT more thermal stress to deal with. Be careful. Your either well onto the road of "sonic bliss" or "thermal melt-down". Hopefully, the drivers and crossover freq's / slopes were well chosen by Hales and you won't run into problems. Sean
Sean, he never said he used "heavier gauge inductors and lower loss components," that is an assumption on your part. He used different components. There is no telling whether they were more or less anything with the limited information given. Perhaps Hales used higher quality components than the modder. If Hales did their job then they listened to a wide variety of components and settled on the one that delivered the best performance (sounded best to them) at their price point. Replacing that component with one that is more expensive may or may not result in better performance. Perhaps a certain value of coil is replaced with "higher quality" heavier guage coil that has the exact same inductance but lower resistance. The new coil will sound different, but will not neccesarily sound better because the speaker was voiced with the higher resistance coil.
In any case, the wasted energy I'm refering to is not in the components, but what is directed around the speakers. A coil in parallel with a tweeter will create a high pass filter and the lower frequency currents will flow through the coil. If am inductor with a different impedance is used then the amount of current will be different, altering the cut off frequency and the amount of current that amp has to deliver.
I also don't accuse Hales of being sloppy with tolerances. Tolerances are what they are. Maybe the coils they used were a little higher than labeled (lets say 10%) but well within spec. Hales doesn't care as long as they got the sound they wanted. If the mod then chooses coils that are a little off the other way (say 10% low) then you have a 20% difference between the new and original, plus the differences in the resistance of the wire.
I guess my point is this. There are too many variables and crossover design is too complicated to answer the original question in a brief post. In general I agree that more money will give better performance, but it never ceases to amaze me that one would assume that just because they spent a lot of money on new cap or coil, that it will perform better than the component the manufacturer chose.
Herman, The speakers do sound better. I am listening quite a bit louder as it sounds good. It's as simple as that. My speakers sound good.
I in fact used higher guage coils(12guage woofer, 14guage midrange and 16 guage for the tweeters). I have my old crossovers in tact and they look quite alot different than my new crossovers. Hales appeared to use a small guage in their hand wound coils(not impressive looking) and they used Axon caps for the tweeter/midrange and electolytics in the bass area. Hales made an excellent speaker and I've enjoyed them stock for years but decided to take a chance. I gambled. I'm happy as the speakers sound like they are in a diifferent league than they used to be. I researched the crossover mods with several proffesionals and as well with the help of fellow Audiogoners. When Hales made the T5's ,they made it at a price point. They were not going to put $800 worth of parts in the crossovers. Not alot of speaker manufacturers do at that price point. That being said I could have been unlucky and gotten a sound I very much disliked as some people do with unsuccessful crossover mods. I was warned it could be great or it could be horrible.I just got lucky as I like the new sound. I am using Dynamicaps for tweeter and midrange with an auricap and audiocap in the midrange as well and I am using Solen for the Bass. I went with Solo and Alpha Core inductors of different guages and am using Mills resistors where the resistors are suopposed to be by Hales design.
Over all I am very excited with the results and realise I was over reacting when I saw the meter jump the way it did but had I (and I have)played the speakers before the mod at that volume the music would be loud to tolerate but the needle jumped as well. It's almost as if by playing louder and using more juice I am getting a bigger fuller and generally better sound. The speakers have only been playing for three days and I expect further changes which I could either like or dislike. Who knows, maybe I'll hate the sound when the speakers are burnt in but maybe I'll love them. Only time will tell.
Sean, actually you beat me to the punch in saying the same thing! You deserve the credit. I thought I was posting first, but you must have gotten up pretttttty early in the morning. Anyway, it is clear we are on the same page, and now so it Mitch. Good sound often leads to louder playing of a system.
Herman, it was me who "presumed" Mitch went to larger inductors and lower loss components. While your argument makes sense from a logical perspective - it was never explicitly stated until Mitch confirmed it above, it falls down in practice. Anyone who has ever looked at an audiophile loudspeaker crossover can attest to the fact that someone going with Solo, AlphaCore Goertz, or North Creek Music Coils is moving up to a larger gauge inductor. That is just the reality of things.
I have looked at the crossovers of a lot of expensive audiophile loudspeakers, and will tell you 14 gauge Solen Perfect Lay is about as good as things EVER get. Now, I am certain you can find the needle in the haystack, but what I say is true 99% of times. I was actually impressed just now in reading about the Axon cap, as normally Solen is the top of the line. But, I am not at all suprised to hear of the electrolytics in the bass area. Again, this is the reality of things.
I think one thing that you can definitely distill out of my opinions is that we need to stop kow towing to loudspeaker manufacturers when it comes to crossovers. I can assure you that they do not enter some secret society once they begin a company and gain insight from the creator that none of us plebians do not have. The economics of speaker manufacture is, like most businesses, to maximize profits.
The crossovers being internal causes them to often be the first area corners are cut. Personally, I feel that speakers today are too entranced by book matched veneers and perfect finishes. I would like to put the money into the crossover given the choice. I think there is no shame in taking two steps back from making these finishes and putting the money into the sonic elements of the speaker.
I hope that we always have this kind of dialogue in terms of audio, and that as time passes, what we come to consensus on can be integrated into products that I maybe one day have a say in(right now, unfortunately I do not enjoy that) at my company. I want Fried to return to greatness by being the people's company. Members of the discussion forums can help me achieve that by making sure their voices are heard.
I think we are all on the same page here. I agree with Mitch that what he did was a gamble, and I'm glad he won the bet. I'm sure the manufacturers do have to look long and hard at the components in the crossover. If they used the quality of stuff that Mitch used it would raise the retail price quite a bit.
The bottom line for me is that I don't think just replacing the stock components with more expensive (higher quality?) ones is always going to yield superior results, and since they are so expensive it is a gamble I'm not willing to take. In an ideal situation you would build the crossover and then play the same game the manufacturer does and try different values in different combinations until you hit on the best combo, but with each component costing so much few can afford to pay for all of the uneeded, leftover stuff.
Glad it all worked out for you.
After hearing what a crossover upgrade did for my speakers.I feel the gamble is worth taking and worth while in getting the best out of the speaker.Since I buy mostly used I can spend a little extra taking the crossovers and the speaker to another level. This is a win win situatuion for me . Since I am not losing money by constantly trading speakers out looking for a particular sound. I would rather spend $10.00 on some resistors to pad a tweeter than several thousand on another speaker. Lets put it in prospective. A 20.1 Magnepan retails around $14,000.00.The stock crossover parts on these speakers may cost magnepan $100.00..that maybe stretching it since they buy parts in large quantities.I have maybe $400.00 in crossover parts on my maggies. My crossovers aren't as complicated as Mitch's and the parts count is very low.The stock crossovers weigh a little less than 2 pounds for both speakers combined.Now they weigh over 12 pounds for both speakers.I paid less than $1000.00 for the maggies. I can assure you they don't sound like a speaker that retails for $1000.00.
You bought $14,000 20.1's for less than $1,000??
Do they have anymore for sale at that price? That is an incredible deal.
Mine are the 2.5Rs.I was giving you an example of the quality crossovers in a expensive speaker. Not picking on the Maggies since I really like them.But they should be ashamed.
Hey if you see them for that let me know ! I would still have to upgrade the crossovers though.LOL
My experience here is limited but I do not feel it is a gamble to replace x-over components with higher cost/quality (not always related) components. I have done this in three pairs of speakers to varrying degrees and have had consistently impressive results each time. While it is fashionable to believe that crossover design is an act of alchemy and magic (that is a component) it defies reason to assume that a manufacturer would use only the ideal components for a design. Come on, they choose the $.20 sand cast resistor not because they wanted a resistor with inductance, but because they wanted something that was cheap. A $7 caddock never even enters the equation. More so for caps (which can get really expensive) and especially for inductors, which can be made cheap in house with magnet wire...
In many cases, one need not even change components in a crossover to achieve better performance. That is, by laying out the existing parts in a more precise manner, it is very possible to lower noise, distortion, crosstalk between circuits, improve power transfer, improve transient response, reduce the number of connections, etc...
This is what i did to my Father's speakers and the difference is HIGHLY audible. Only changes made were to the wire feeding the drivers. We were able to go from 61 connections per crossover board down to 23 per board. This eliminated 60%+ of the "cluster" that was built into the signal path from the factory. While we also performed other cabinet modifications, my personal thoughts were that the crossover / wiring changes were most responsible for the drastic sonic improvements that we heard.
My Father invited over one of his friends to listen to his system, not telling him what was done. This person was very familiar with my Dad's system. As a point of reference, they both ran the same amp and had the same brand of speakers. The speakers that this gentleman have are actually two models up from what my Dad is running and retail for over $6k per pair.
After hearing the difference in peformance in my Father's system and being quite stunned, he asked what was changed. After my Father explained what was done and showed him the pictures, he asked if we could modify his speakers. Much like what Jonbok pointed out, it must be pretty dis-heartening to find out that your $6K+ investment bought you speakers that were far from optimized. Having proof right in front of you that your speakers sound quite poor compared to what they were capable of is NOT what you want to find out after shelling out that kind of money. Then again, one would hope that the manufacturer was intelligent enough to produce a proper design and impliment the existing parts in a more precise manner, but in most cases, they aren't and don't.
As in the above example, i'm not even talking about using higher grade / lower loss parts in some speakers. Like i said, we were able to achieve MUCH better results just laying out what was already there in a more precise manner. After looking at and playing with dozens of crossover circuits, i know that this specific situation is not unique either.
As a side note, even though the parts in the crossover had thousands of hours already on them, the sound of the speakers changed VERY noticeably. I used the Ayre Acoustics "Irrational But Efficacious"
disc ( track 7 ) for 72 hours non-stop. After that, we ran the entire disc mixed with some other discs on repeat for 10 more days. One would never believe that these were the same speakers that we started off with, although the only components changed in the speakers were the wires. On top of that, the wiring that i used cost pennies per foot. As "cheap" as this cable was, it was still FAR superior to what was in there from the factory. Sean
Funny you mention the separation of parts. This is exactly what I did in my crossovers. My inductors are nearly 12 inches apart in each speaker.Also the capacitors and resistors for the highs/mids and lows are seperated by up to 10 inches. I am still experimenting but it seems to work well on my speakers. I am not as technical as some but I know what sounds good to these ears.
Parts should be as close as possible so that you don't have to use jumper wires between them. You also don't want to keep the factory legs on the caps / resistors real long. That is, point to point from one part to another is ideal, so long as the parts aren't so close as to interfere with each other. Inductors can actually be quite close to each other so long as they don't share common orientations. Sean
Thanks for the info ..I have my inductors, caps and resistors for each section point to point. The sections themselves are whats separated in each speaker. I have noticed in some speakers the inductors are stacked or fairly close though.
What you did works pretty well. This allows one to keep the components for each band-pass in close proximity to each other, keeping the path short, while also reducing crosstalk between band-passes. At the same time, if properly done, one can provide a direct path to the binding posts for each circuit, kind of like a "star circuit" that hovers around one set of connection points. Due to the placement of some binding posts and the size of some crossover networks, direct connection from the parts to the binding posts is not possible, but using an arrangement similar to the one mentioned above with a separate modular board also works quite well. Sean