Chario's Academy Series does. Sonus Faber also.
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The density of the cabinet walls is key to minimizing vibrations of the speaker cabinet. Cabinet vibrations causes distortion. Crank it up and let your fingertips lightly touch the speaker cabinet. Feel any vibration? If the front walls are completely dead, that is really good. Back walls are maybe not so critical.
The density of the cabinet walls is key to minimizing vibrations of the speaker cabinet.
Denser cabinet walls won't do much; they need to be stiffer. With only a 3:1 difference in stiffness between MDF and hardwood you're going to do a lot better there through bracing.
Bracing is the key to minimizing vibrations.
Beam stiffness is proportional to the cube of thickness. A single 1 3/4" deep x 3/4" wide hardwood brace is stiffer than a 3/4" thick panel that's a foot wide.
You're better off gluing a single 1x4 piece of Douglas fir on than making a panel out of hardwood.
Stiffness is also inversely proportional to the cube of the span.
Layered wood construction on Sonus Faber. Like a ply but with thin layers of maple built up. Solid wood for me only in nacelles and baffles and even then best to use small parts glued together or over ply since solid woods not dimensionally stable with time. It splits, cracks, warps, twists, shrinks and swells.
Well I guess I have to speak up....
Drew mentions the 300% improved stiffness of hardwood over MDF. to me that's a big deal and coupled with proper bracing makes for a very stiff cabinet. (using solid hardwood is not an excuse to skimp on bracing, we use as much or more bracing than MDF cabinets) unfortunately some who have tried using solid hardwood in the past had some illusion that they didn't also need to brace them and those systems have their own set of issues.
one of several advantages of solid hardwood is that with proper bracing and design a 100 lb. cabinet can outperform a 250 lb. MDF behemoth. makes it a lot easier to move around, eh?
as for the question on stability, I've been doing this for almost twenty years. building solid hardwood cabinets many of which have toured the world with professional musicians, and have very rarely encountered a problem with stability. when done done right and with properly chosen woods these cabinets will last longer than you or I. just look at well made antique furniture and compare it to ten year old MDF/ veneer furniture...
as a few have noted the real reason solid hardwood is not used more often is the cost. as to the sonic benefits, for me this is THE choice, but there are also many great speakers made from a variety of materials. I'm very please to see in the last few years a return to the belief that a stiff cabinet is key to good sound, several companies, like Magico, YG, TAD and others have embraced this philosophy while using different materials to achieve their goals.
There are several reasons why almost no companies in the world make a solid wood speaker.
1. It's incredibly difficult. Wood moves. All fine hardwood furniture is made with joints or joinery construction, to allow the wood to move, to expand and contract. If you want to get around this, you can glue up small strips of hardwoods, which minimizes the problem of expansion/contraction (Sonus Faber) or you make a small speaker out of small staves of hardwood like the very well made Diapson speakers mentioned in this thread.
2. There is no market for hardwood speakers, as audiophiles have been fooled into accepting cheap MDF or now, the new fad for aluminum and other enclosure shells which can be inexpensively CNC built. There is no skill in that type of construction in comparison to the skill of a master furniture maker or luthier, by the way.
3. Audiophiles have no experience with hardwood speakers, so they don't know what they are missing. Not a great place to start a marketing campaign.
My company (disclaimer) is probably the only company in the world making solid hardwood joinery structure loudspeakers. If there are any which I don't know about in current production, I would certainly like to learn about them.
Daedalus speakers are almost entirely made of renewable hardwoods except for the birch ply front and rear baffles, the front baffle being covered with solid walnut. I believe that the internal bracing is also solid hardwoods.
I personally believe that Daedalus speakers and the Ulysses in particular, are also the most realistic speakers I've ever heard, can be driven by just about any type and power rating of amp and to my eyes, are beautiful. Of course, everything after the "internal bracing is also solid harwoods", is just my humble opinion.
Whether this has anything to do with Lou's choice of solid hardwoods as the primary cabinet material is unknown to me, but I expect it does. I feel like the cabinets are also timeless in their beauty.
By the way, Lou is a great guy and I know of 3 high end audio manufacturers that use his speakers. One is a well known high power, solid state, power amp manufacturer, one is primarily a SET amplifier company and the third uses OTL's and makes really good turntables.
As the owner of a brand new pair of Daedalus Ulysses, just received two days ago, I second the comments offered above by Fig and Dodgealum.
Although the break-in process has barely begun, I feel that I can already say that imho their overall combination of sound quality, dynamic range, bass extension, amplifier friendliness and versatility, efficiency, imaging, elegant appearance and craftsmanship, practicable size and weight, and price, borders on the miraculous. Thanks Lou!
Congrats on the new speakers, Al! Mind giving us a rough idea on room dimensions, placement, and associated gear?Thanks, John! I anticipate putting up a thorough system description in the next few weeks, w/pics, and I don't want to divert the thread. But I suppose a summary would not be inappropriate:
Room: 22L x 13.5W x 8H. Speakers fire along the long dimension, of course. Central part of rear wall is an opening to another room, so acoustically the length dimension is quite long. Speakers are about 8 feet apart measured driver to driver; front of speakers are about 4 feet from front wall. Listening distance 11 feet (to mid-point between speakers). Speakers are toed in a bit more than half-way between being pointed straight ahead and being pointed directly at the listener. Room is wood-panelled, with wood blinds on the windows that comprise most of the front wall.
Daedalus Ulysses Speakers (with all-poly crossover option).
Bryston BCD-1 CDP.
Classe CP-60 Preamp.
Paxthon VTA-160 Power Amp, 80W/channel (actually a simple integrated, used as a power amp, Chinese made, retubed with a matched octet of SED "Winged C" EL34's, and vintage Telefunken 12AX7's and RCA 5763's).
SOTA Sapphire turntable (1980's); Magnepan Unitrac arm; Grace F9E Ruby cartridge (being retipped at Soundsmith); Grado Reference Sonata cartridge (high output version).
Phono section of a Mark Levinson ML-1 preamp (1978) used as phono stage (accessed via tape out jacks).
1980's STAX Lambda Pro headphones, with ED-1 Diffuse Field Equalizer.
Radio Engineering Laboratories (REL) "Precedent" FM tuner (1954) + H. H. Scott LM35 Multiplex Adapter (1960)
Tandberg 3004 Cassette Deck (1980).
Come to think of it, my system covers each of the past 7 decades!
Thanks Al! That's very helpful. Engaged in a laborious speaker search, and wondering if the Ulysses might work in my comparatively small room (approx 13.5 x13.5 x 9h, opening onto other rooms on two sides). I'm guessing the smaller Daedalus might be a better fit, depending. Anyway, sorry for the divergence from the OP. J
Good luck, John! You may want to give Lou a call -- I'm sure he'll be extremely helpful.
My own instinct, fwiw, would be that the DA-RMa probably would be a much better fit. If you were to provide a reasonable distance between the speakers and the wall behind them, as is obviously desirable, I suspect that with the Ulysses you would then have a problem sitting far enough away for the drivers to blend properly.
Lou has said in past threads, btw, that the DA-RMa and the Ulysses are very similar sonically, apart from the additional deep bass extension that the Ulysses provides.
I'll be moving my DA-1.1's into a smaller space having moved recently--they are on their way back from Lou who performed the "All Poly" crossover upgrade while we were packing and moving. Previously I had the speakers in a 23L X 14W X 9H space that opened into the rest of the house and was thus apparently much larger. The new listening room is 13 X 17 X 8 with two openings on the long wall where the speakers will be placed. If it would help Jdoris, I'll report back on how they sound in the smaller space as well as a few comments on the crossover upgrade. With regard to the topic of this thread, I have found very few exceptional sounding speakers that were made of MDF. To me better alternatives can be found in more exotic materials or in good old quality hardwoods. Not sure if others would agree but those speakers I've heard made of carbon fiber, aluminum or other composites (like the Wilson line) tend to sound cooler and more analytical whereas those made of hardwoods tend to sound warmer and more musically involving. A generalization to be sure but this has been largely my impression based upon hearing a fairly large number of designs.
The Positive Feedback review of the Ulysses, I think it was, said the reviewer was suprised how well such a large speaker operated in a small room. To me the problem is more, how such a large speaker as the Ulysses, would dominate a small room, physically. The Da-R Ma monitors fit really well into my 20 by 20ft room. That sounds big, but it is full of wardrobes, chairs etc. The Monitors are really quite unobtrusive, partly because they are quite low.