Interesting experience with two very different speaker designs

I wanted to relay my experience with two different sets of speakers in hopes that it might prove interesting and/or help some folks.

My current speakers are Tekton Electron SE with a Pass XA30.5 and a MicroZOTL2 Preamp.  I was absolutely loving the sound but I started getting into the DIY open baffle thing.  I started with a very simple JE labs design with a single driver and after a few prototypes, I ended up with a 2-way using an Emminence Alpha 15 and a Tang Band W8 2145.

After breaking the DIY speakers in a bit, I was really blown away.  The soundstage was huge and very 3D.  The bass was big and warm but still pretty fast and articulate.  Also, the speed of the speakers was very apparent.  I loved them especially on big orchestral works where the soundstage really comes to life.

I lived with them for about 4 months and then I put the Electrons back.  Very interesting.  Timbrally, the Electrons were just better.  The OBs upper midrange sounded kind of flat and beamy in comparison.  The bass on the Electrons, though not as extended, was better controlled.  In some ways I found the OBs to be more transparent in that they really pointed out the flaws in some recordings.  Well recorded stuff sounded amazing but they gave no love to mediocre recordings.  The Electrons just make everything sound good. Much more forgiving.  

Going from the OBs to the Electrons, I lost some of that soundstage magic.  The Electrons, though they have some depth, lack that completely open 3D thing that the OBs were giving me.  However, from top to bottom, they just sound right.  Instruments sound like how they are supposed to sound.  That all-important midrange really shines.

Though I like both these speakers, I'm going to stick with the Tektons.  However, if what you value is speed, transparency and soundstage over timbre, I think open baffle is a good way to go.  I'll say this with the caveat that I'm not a speaker designer and there may be OB speakers out there that really get the timbre thing right too.  I'd love to hear some!
Open baffle puts a lot of energy out the back side of the speaker. This contributes to that spacious 3D sound. Eric just added a new Signature Series model with two drivers on the back for just this reason.   

I don't know how you had your Electrons set up, but if you want 3D imaging with a nice deep stage they should be aimed almost directly at your ears and absolutely perfectly equidistant and symmetrical, with the exact same toe in L and R. Use a tape measure, point the L at your L shoulder, R at R and you will hear some pretty darn good imaging. Then if you put them on Townshend Podiums I think you will forget all about open baffle for once and all.  
Open baffle puts a lot of energy out the back side of the speaker


Not a  fan of OB, 
I listen to the front /center, wasted energy out the back. 
Every speaker is a function of its concept, design and execution.  After listening to probably thousands of speakers it is clear that some organisations do some configurations better than others, KEF with small concentric designs, Tannoy with large concentric. Jamo do a good job with open baffle and PMC with   transmission lines, personally I have never heard a horn speaker I liked but many I definitely didn't. Amphion do some nice passive radiator designs. I don't think any one configuration is necessarily better its far more about the execution.
I am a believer that you start with your room.  If you have a nice big bounded rectangular space with which to work, big planar or open back speakers can really shine.  More confined by room size and asymmetric room openings, etc?  Don’t even think about them.  Scale the speaker to your room and dynamic requirements.  Then supply requisite amplification. 
I demoed some Emerald Physics with a special separate crossover and four separate amps. It was amazing how big it was. Very open, as if I was listening to a big outdoor concert. It is fun to play with and definitely better bass than a set of Maggie’s. If you are in the Chicagoland area and want to take a listen they are at this store.
They will let you take the whole setup home fir the weekend to listen in your home. 
Having the same experience with my new Tannoy Turnberry GRs. I sold my old Salk Songtowers to get them. The Songtowers were pretty amazing top to bottom. Everything sounded wonderful. Great bass... outstanding soundstage.

The Tannoys are pretty amazing at timbre and detail. I'm hearing things that are spooky good...things that were simply not there before...maybe because of the increased efficiency. But man, some stuff is down right rough to listen to. I have only 25 hours on them so from most forums I've read, there are more hours to get them settled in.

I do like the bigger sonic picture but completely frustrating and fascinating at the same time.
I have been playing with an O.B. design with The Alpha 15 and TB W-8 for awhile. I agree it is fast, quick impact, great drums, acoustic guitar and warm vocals. Fun to listen to, with good recordings sounding great and so-so and some old recordings, are not enjoyable.

Yes, can be dry and lack that twinkle and sheen. Tried to stay full range without x-over but that was not going to work even with EQ. I tried severaldifferent tweeters in multiple positions and various x-over points but nothing was working. I finally worked in a B.G. Neo 3 open baffle  planer tweeter and it worked pretty dang good. Fast, more open on top end but lost a little warmth.  All in all blended quiet well and quiet livable.

Still in search for that little extra, I worked in the Dayton Audio ES104AMT  tweeter and it added some magic on the top end, happy for now, most enjoyable. More open, larger stage and great image. These will last for a little while.

O.B design does not waste rear energy, it helps cancel at 90 degrees to reduce sidewall  reflections that can smear the signal reducing  image. Wasted energy is inside closed box speakers, companies spend a lot of money to nullify that energy, and some can still leak back out through the cone material.

18' x 13'  room, varied height ceiling, speakers set at 29% off front wall and 29% off L&R wall, ear height, tilted in aimed at L&R shoulders. Seating centered and about 7' from speakers.
Use high quality x-over components, and dampening material on larger inside surfaces.
Finished  off 4 dual V.C. 10" isobaric subs, 2 in front and 2 in back of room out of phase for very bottom end.

Yes, that was my general assessment of the W8 Eminence 15 combo!  Great for drums guitar and vocals.  Bass energy could get a bit boomy even after I put them on spikes.  I agree about the dryness.  Its not the meatiest of midranges though it is incredibly fast and detailed.  Piano and saxophones are not as rich sounding as they are on my Tektons 

I was toying with the idea or adding a super tweeter aimed up at the ceiling.  Maybe I'll try that down the road.  These DIY speakers are keepers even if they might live most of their lives in the shed!

One of the reasons I was interested in OB designs is exactly what you pointed out pfiche.  The cancelation of the frequencies at 90 degrees lessens room interaction.  That being said, I have diffusors on the back wall and bass traps in the corners to deal with that energy.  I think the dipole design adds to that sense of a wide open and 3D soundstage in a room

millercarbon11,408 posts10-18-2021 2:54pmOpen baffle puts a lot of energy out the back side of the speaker. This contributes to that spacious 3D sound. Eric just added a new Signature Series model with two drivers on the back for just this reason.

I don’t know how you had your Electrons set up, but if you want 3D imaging with a nice deep stage they should be aimed almost directly at your ears and absolutely perfectly equidistant and symmetrical, with the exact same toe in L and R. Use a tape measure, point the L at your L shoulder, R at R and you will hear some pretty darn good imaging. Then if you put them on Townshend Podiums I think you will forget all about open baffle for once and all.
Sorry, great info that applies to your system or setup but I don’t agree with this at all. My DI’s like to have almost no toe in at all and the Electrons are more in line with the DI’s in design. I tried setting mine up like you are saying and I had a very narrow soundstage, all sound was coming straight from the speakers and sounded horrible.

Also, I had the Spatial Audio M3 Triode Masters before the Tektons and I did not like the sound at all.  They ended A LOT of space behind them, like at least 3' but more in the 4'+ range to sound good.  There was almost no midrange in mine either, wasn't a fan at all.

I had the same experience with ADS L12390ii and Dahlquist DQ12s.  The Dahquist are hybrids with a open top and a sealed woofer creating a tighter bass.  The NOLA speaker still use this configuration.  Teckton does make an open baffle also using a ported bass box.
@ adam8179Tried the face up to ceiling tweeter technique. It added a little improvement but not enough to get around the TB W8 upper end issues. Although adding on the x-over and tweeter gives that little something extra, you do loose some signature of the W8.
I  have non typical diffusors made from random collected junk, limits my walkway.
Every genre of speaker brings its own unique set of characteristics. It should be understood that if you switch genres of speakers, you will hear a mix of attributes quite different from the previous. It should also be expected that you will likely enjoy some and find others a challenge. Not only that, but there are hundreds of models to thin slice once you get past the genre and get to the brands and models. 

Welcome to HiFi speakers! 
Home made speaker vs a professionally manufactured name brand speaker based on years of research and experience. And the name brand speaker wins. Color me surprised :)
Today's DIY speaker builder has so much more knowledge available  in designing his/her  DIY speaker system than your granddaddy or your grandmother did. So many calculators, and other software available that with a little desire to enjoy the road to speaker building success,  "Home Made" has improved so much, with money going into better components that many of the name brands will take short cuts in manufacturing for profitability. " Years of research and experience" in marketing is a major component for brand names.
There are both gooder and better in both brand and DYI speakers. Many brands are like bourbon marketing, give them a great story to sell your product and  you  will get different opinions about the  results, but you got the sale.  Taste buds are like ears, both connected to the brain to decipher your personal experience.
Want to learn more  insight about brand speakers? Danny at GR Research (hybrid commercial/DIY speakers) explains a lot in his testing and making suggestions on improving brand speakers. Master knowledge guru has many You Tube education videos.

Coloring with a broad brush can sometimes smear paint!

My Tekton Moabs are MUCH better than the Spatial Audio M1, Emerald Physics CS2, and Pure Audio Project Trio 15 speakers that I have owned.  Of course a lot depends on the room and set up but as intriguing as the open baffle designs are I think there is a good reason why they only exist as niche products.  And I agree with MIllercarbon, point them at your ears or shoulders for the best sound stage at the listening position.
@pfiche -- 
Years of research and experience" in marketing is a major component for brand names.

Sorry but I beg to differ. Most successful manufacturers have the luxury to iterate and evolve their designs year after year, version after version. There is a lot more R&D that goes into speaker design, testing, quality assurance, etc. I'm have no doubt that DIYers can produce a decent set of speakers, but let's not kid ourselves here. A company that dedicates time, money, resources over the long haul is going to produce better designs that withstand the test of time. Most great products are a result of incremental improvements, not a one-time effort no matter how brilliant.

And I'm quite familiar with GR Research, but I'm sorry it's silly to compare him to a typical DIYer. He works on this full time and therefore has the same advantages of iterating and improving his designs incrementally as other manufacturers. 

I do not disagree with the evolving better performance with R&D  by   manufacturers, thats dedication and good business. But yes I'm silly!   I did not say GR Research was a typical DIY er. (hybrid commercial/DIY speakers) in that he offers complete kits and speaker parts to the DIYers and a whole lot of knowledge about  speaker and x-over design. And yes, that is what Danny does, is offers sonic improvements to commercial company's that have dedicated R&D year after year yet cut corners for extra profits. As you probably know, the little things can make a sonic improvements.  Non typical business plan. Thanks Danny!

Commercial speakers are sorta like Ping Putters, they are so great that they have made over 250 different models of
putters to prove that they are the GOAT putter maker.  R&D has paid off (in marketing). And some speaker company's have so many variations, you might wonder what their basic sonic goal is , other than hitting all price points, not to say they are bad, but?

And finally, I'm sorry that you consider all  DIYers speaker projects inferior  to the commercial marketing speakers. Obviously you have heard most  DIY speakers to make your conclusions Can you say JBL 100's with cheap exotic 2 capacitor x-over or the last of the  once great company Thiel. Don't forget how mixed reviews B&W  with all there R&D over many years, many like and many don't so they better than DIY.

My point is the whether it is a DIY'er or a commercial speaker label dosen't  mean it can be better or worst, most fall in between. And nothing is better than the pride of learning, discovery, educating yourself in building your system. For many it is the "hunt" that matters.
And a blind hog can find a nut now and then.

Everybody has there happy color! Enjoy your color!
@pfiche and @arafiq 

I think you are both right.  arafiq, I am definitely a beginner hobbyist and I was genuinely shocked that the speakers I made sounded as good as they do.  The other OB designs I made, though promising, had serious flaws.  I would never be so conceited as to think I could out-do serious speaker designers and teams of engineers.  My soldering is sloppy, my woodworking is just passable and I always make mistakes.  Plus I don't have the necessary equipment to actually test the frequency response besides my ears!

That being said, I did my research and found designs from reputable sources who are very good at what they do and just copied them.  I will be the first one to say, I don't really know what I'm doing, but I try to find people who do and then copy what they do.  That's how I'm learning.

A more even comparison between speaker designs might be between the Tektons and say Spatial Audio or Pure Audio Project.  I'm sure they are better built and have less mistakes than what I did.

I just find it to be extremely fun to build speakers.  I learn so much.  I think there is a lot of potential there to have some really world-class sounding stuff without emptying your bank account.  The DIY OBs I built cost me around $1300 in parts and I think that's a great deal.  I'm super proud of them and I think they look great!  Are they the equal to something like a Spatial Audio or Pure Audio Project of similar design?  I doubt it.  Are they equal to a very experienced DIYer using the same drivers?  I doubt that too.

I didn't mean for the post to be a brag about how well DIY compares to established speaker manufactures.  I just thought, from my limited sample, it was interesting to judge the strengths and limitations of the box speaker vs the OB.  Obviously not all box speakers sound the same and neither do all OB so this is was not a very scientific post and possibly ill-conceived.  

Anyway, I'll continue to enjoy the music on my Tektons and also, I'll continue to make my own speakers to try to learn more!
@adam8179 -- sorry, it was not my intention to belittle your achievement. You have every right to be proud of and brag about what you built. I wish I had the time, and more importantly, the talent to do what you did. 

I was basically disagreeing with pfiche's assertion that touting 'years of research and experience' is merely a marketing ploy by manufacturers. I'm sure there are a few exceptions, but by and large, most established speaker companies do invest a lot in R&D and have the budget and experience to iterate on their designs year after year. That is the value they provide to the consumers, and it is rightfully a valid marketing strategy to tout this fact.

Are there are any DIYers out there making products that can beat the usual suspects including KEF, B&W, Klipsch, Tekton, Harbeth, etc.? I'm sure there are, but I'm willing to bet that they are the exception not the norm. The whole argument is based on an outlier.
@arafiq....You are so right about R&D in most of the better manufacturers. I didn't mean to come on so strong about "ploy" deal, just my point that there are a lot of highly educated and  skilled DIYers that can design and build a very competitive product. Peace and happiness!
@adam8179, Keep enjoying your Tektons, but don't give up on your "garage speakers", keep the knowledge coming and have fun discovering. Results are a goal but the journey can be the most rewarding. DIY  is a great hobby, enjoy!

Don't worry about the woodwork, make it solid and dead, paint them black and when the lights are out, nobody else will know.
@pfiche...absolutely...*S* ;)

...and this is just my left computer monitor...
13" h. x 7" dia., lower cone has the surface area of a 7" dia. driver
arafiq, you said, "Are there are any DIYers out there making products that can beat the usual suspects including KEF, B&W, Klipsch, Tekton, Harbeth, etc.? I'm sure there are, but I'm willing to bet that they are the exception not the norm. The whole argument is based on an outlier." 

Correct, in order to compete they would have to be exceptional. Here is an outlier for you, Scott Kindt of Aspen Acoustics. See my review of the Lagrange L5 MkII at I currently own the preproduction model of the Lagrange L1, which is sonically quite competitive with big boy speakers like the Wilson Alexia or maybe even Alexx V. In conversation with Scott, I know that were the speaker to have a cabinet made professionally it would jack up the MSRP of the speaker a minimum of $5-6K. As it is, the speaker is right at $15K, a dream bargain for someone wanting upper end performance without the nose bleed price. That is what I call an outlier!  :) 

I heard the Tekton Moab finally at a local audiophile's home (good gear; ARC reference pre and Pass Labs XA60.8 amps, etc.) , and imo the L1 is a more prodigious and refined speaker. Of course, in order to make a definitive assessment I would need both transducers in my home. I will be reviewing the production model of the L1 for when it is finalized. Like so many other companies, production is slowed because of driver maker Eton not getting the 11" woofer out the door, or at least not in sufficient quantity.  :) 

When I was talking about DIYers, I was thinking more of that guy who has a full time job not related to audio and pursues building speakers as a part time hobby. But if we're going to bend the rules when defining 'outliers' then I'd be remiss if I don't mention John 'Fritz' Heiler of Fritz Speakers. I'm auditioning his Carrera BE speakers and I'm just in awe of the great sound these speakers are producing. They're giving my Harbeth 30.1s, which are quite a bit more expensive, a run for their money. I'll write my impressions about the speakers in more detail when I get some more free time. But I can tell you this speaker punches considerably above its $3500 asking price.
Outliers , stay strong, bombs away,  didn't sink your ship, Sad that alternate thoughts with no relavince  want to influence your review. Shallow people?Arafiq, thanks for being open minded about what is possible.. 
Anyone suggesting OB’s aren’t very good never heard OB’s. I’ve owned several made of Sapale Rosewood and solid Maple. And each duplicated the best bass I’ve ever heard that was realistic as the actual instrument. 
Commercial speakers are made to do one thing and one thing only, to make a profit. It is entirely possible for a well read and shop savvy DIYer with the drivers, test equipment and components available today to make a superior speaker. A DIYer is not limited by financial or size considerations and can easily use superior materials and construction techniques without the profit motive getting in the way. There is no magic here. The science has been well determined for decades. 
DIY great for younger folks who need to maximize their $ spent.
Who enjoy the process and learn a lot while doing so.
Excellent products from Madisound, GR Research and many otherss
for sure.
When I lugged my 400 lbs of speakers to Danny R. in Texas for an XO rebuild last May I expected a nice improvement in SQ and got it.
Tannoy is one of the oldest names in speakers yet the XO they
used back in the day was a joke. 

Bottom line, different strokes for different Ears.
Commercial speakers are made to do one thing and one thing only, to make a profit.

That’s a rather black and white view. Profit making and creativity/passion are not always mutually exclusive. There are a number of very talented designers and speaker makers like John Devore, Jim Salk, Jim Thiel, Alan Shaw, Jeff Joseph, the list goes on ... Yes, these folks run companies that pay their bills, but to boil it down to just one thing (profits) is unfair and overly pessimistic. These are creative people who are passionate about their craft. They have been continuously evolving their designs over many years. Each successive release is better than the previous one.

But I understand we live in the age of google scholars. Anyone can download ’instructions’ from google and perform open heart surgery. Who needs surgeons, doctors, PhDs anymore. Experts who devote their lives learning and perfecting their craft and knowledge are overrated and driven purely by greed. Perhaps this forum is full of people who can make better speakers than Jim Thiel on their first try. I’m truly humbled to be in the presence of such genius. Carry on :)

Post removed 
@arafiq, give me a break. You think these guys are nuclear physicists?
Geniuses are busy doing important or creative work, not designing loudspeakers. Any creativity happened decades ago. Today it is only in the marketing. Even if they started out altruistically, with employees, regulations, insurance etc, it quickly becomes just another business. If they do not see it that way they go under Like Apogee Acoustics.
Are you sure you are being honest here???
Unbiased and fair.
IMHO there is no possible way a Tekton or any other xover speaker is going to beat out the Tang Band 2145. This is a impossibility and I am afraid to say I do not believe for even 1 second you are being credulous with us here.
Tekton over the Tang Band 2145?
Total impossibility.

AS I walked away from the computer,, did you say, OB as in open baffle?
I hate OB's. 
However putting the driver ina  closed cabinet will only give a  tighter low bass, maybe increase over all perfmonace, Not sure. 
With OB's some of the speakers energy  is wasted out the rear.
In my tests the Tang band has good tight bass, clean mids all the way through and excellent highs.
However I prefered the  midrange ever so slightly more from the DavidLouis VX8.
It is impossible the Tektons are going to beat out the mids of the TB2145. 

As  Dan Aykroyd eloquently said:

However putting the driver ina closed cabinet will only give a tighter low bass, maybe increase over all perfmonace, Not sure.
With OB's some of the speakers energy is wasted out the rear.

Putting a driver in a closed cabinet is what wastes energy.  As the speaker moves back it pressurizes the box requiring more energy to complete the stroke and that is what  wastes energy and then controlling the pressurized driver moving forward from overshooting which also causing distortion. The vibrations generated by driver mounted to the front causes box resonance which colors /  distorts the sound.  Not adequately attaching the driver or not properly bracing the enclosure increases the vibration hence magnifying the resonance.   

You can port the box relieving the back pressure and reinforce lower  frequency which will give you more bass bit not necessarily  tighter bass.

A driver with the proper Q / stiffness mounted as an open baffle doesn't waste energy out the back.  It uses that sound energy to create a more natural experience.  All natural sound radiates, reflects and uses our natural hearing ability for audio location. Boxes reduce the radiated sound pattern and only generate out the front which is very unnatural.

 Actually  open baffle subs are touted as some of the most natural sounding of the low frequency generators.  BOOM BOOM is when the end user is unable to properly integrate with the proper frequency and loudness which is probably why you are unable to use one.

"An acoustic event has dimensions of Time, Tone, Loudness and Space"
Siegfried Linkwitz ( of the cocreator of the Linkwitz Riley crossover)

This is what you should be reading before you post such flawed untrue statements that you falsely believe are actual facts.

Now there are some who agree with you regarding the Tang Band W8-1772 but even they recommend to 
Add on AMT tweeter for single driver speaker for the ultimate in clarity.
They also use speaker grills to assist in dispersing the energy to enhance the sound.

Maybe you should post on their forum 

I had a pair of Alons (partial OB?) with the tweeter and midrange on top of the cabinet that held the woofer in the box and I really liked their openness and non-directionality as I normally sit off to the side and in other seats in an open area that includes the kitchen seating area. Pretty big (about 15x35) with 8 ft ceilings.

After 25 years, it was time for a change and I went with a pair of KEF 500s. Same non-directionality unless I am standing even, in between them changing a record where the Alons still sounded good! Otherwise the KEFs are a better sounding speaker in terms of detail and bass especially, as they are much more current technology. The thinness of the cabinet makes them have that openness and non-directionality so there is not as much reverb within the cabinet, and I put them on top of Symposium Segue platforms (changed out the KEF spikes/discs) which kept the speaker at the exact same height, and they sound even better - more detail and clearer with less internal vibration and isolation from the floor. You can add even more bass putting styrofoam inserts KEF provides into ports on the back of the speakers, but I don't need any more bass. I think for the price of these speakers or their replacement, the R5, you can't come close to the value. Now, part of that is because they are made in China (designed in the UK) which lowers their manufacturing cost significantly. I have to say though that the cabinetry is flawless and looks as high a quality as anything I've seen.

It is not a listening room, and the speakers are very well matched to a Plinius 200 watt AB amp with tons of headroom to spare. If I turn it up past 10:30 or 11:00 it is uncomfortably loud.