Sunday, 14 July 2013

Beyma Modelled Design

After doing some very quick reading, I have assumed a room mode (in Basta) as per default. See the below plot which includes;

  • 1100 high, 500 wide and 400 deep box with vented box tuned to 33.3 Hz at 150mm diameter. 
  • Target of 175 litre volume with 40% Viso. 
  • Active filter at 2nd LP at 700 Hz and 2nd HP at 20 Hz.
  • Baffle Diffraction Effects on, but no BSC modelled.
  • Room Gain on

The result appears to be flat to 40 Hz at around 95 dB, -1 dB at 36.7 Hz and -6 dB at 28 Hz. Pretty close to the target I was aiming for. I am keep to the 4mm max, the power limit would be at 50 W, which would have an output of around 112 dB, or 110 dB at 35 Hz! I'd say that it is a pretty good simulation result.

With various options modelled, at 1 Wrms.

Modelled at max X-max.
Same as the first plot but with room gain turned off.
With the above, the 'mic' distance was far field. When it is changed to 4m near field (i.e., listening position), 50 W power would result in an average level of 100 dB, which is at the top end of my requirements. 16 W would get me to about 95 dB. What this means is that to adequately power this speaker will require an amp of between 16 W to 50 W.

Beyma 15XA38Nd Box - Further design

Following on from previous blog entries: here and here, I have recently dug out the Martin King's MLTL spreadsheets and applied a ported MLTL design to the Beyma 15XA38Nd. From all the various modelling studies and trials in MathCAD and in Basta, the bass section of the Beyma really does need a larger box to get the most out of the bass response. In the previous scenario, by using a 300 litre box, the modelled response in Basta was almost flat down to 30 Hz with no bass lift. What that really means, is that the design will be an exercise in compromise - bass verses box size. 

But the question in the choice between bass response and box size must include room gain. As I read in a few sites and books, modelling flat down to 20 Hz does not guarantee a good clean bass. The room modes will inevitable add to the bass lift, and if it is flat, it may need to be equalised to reduce the bass response, so that the overall bass response in the room is better. The below shows the difference between a 140 and 250 litre cabinet in Basta. The differences according to the MJK's MathCAD models is less apparent. The difference is basically a cabinet depth of 400 mm verse 650 mm - quite a change. Obviously if I played with the width as well, the depth increase would be marginal. As modelled, the width is 438 mm and the height is 1,100 mm, quite big already. 

Basta with 140 l cabinet.

Basta with 250 l cabinet

Based on the Basta model, here is the various points at which the predicted response hits 90 dB (-6 dB) and 95 dB (-1 dB). Generally the other frequencies sit between 96 and 96 dB.

140 litres = 34.5 Hz and 52.6 Hz (∆ 18.1 Hz)
160 litres = 32.8 Hz and 48.8 Hz (∆ 16.0 Hz)
180 litres = 31.7 Hz and 45.2 Hz (∆ 13.5 Hz)
200 litres = 30.9 Hz and 41.8 Hz (∆ 10.9 Hz)
220 litres = 30.4 Hz and 39.1 Hz (∆ 8.7 Hz)
250 litres = 29.8  Hz and 36.3 Hz (∆ 6.5 Hz)
300 litres = 29.1 Hz and 34.0 Hz (∆ 4.9 Hz)

I have also added the difference in Hz between the -6 and -1 dB points. It interesting to note that there is quite a difference going from 180 to 200 litres, as compared with the other steps in volume. What the delta represents is the sharpest of the corner, obviously as the volume gets larger, the corner point - per se - becomes more and more sharp, and eventually becomes a hump. At 1000 litres the hump is about 101 dB, but the 90 dB point is at 28 Hz.

Looking at the various graphs, I would have to say that as a pure modelled frequency response 240 litres does look to be very appealing. But as mentioned before, I must consider room gain, and then determine the volume based on that parameter. So now, the next step is to estimate the room gain in my two potential listening rooms....

Re-direction Part 2 - Speakers

Described by many as the heart of the system. Finding and/or designing the right speaker is probably the most important, as the approach I am taking is from the ears back. There is so much discussion and research on speaker design, and most of which is well beyond my capability to completed comprehend. However, from my research, there are number of key issues in obtaining the best quality speaker seems to be.

Crossover points - avoid if possible 250 Hz to 4 kHz, about 4 octave range. This is the most critical range of musical information and many describes it as the most critical point to avoid any crossover.
Use of neodymium or Alnico magnets seem to lead to higher quality of sound.
Use of cone materials that prevent breakup well outside (i.e., 2 octaves or more) the frequency range being played on the speaker.
Different speakers were designed to different enclosures, make sure the enclosure fits the speaker. General rules of thumb like using high Qts on open baffles, etc.
Important to have a smooth frequency response with good dispersion.

If we take the above first two items in our next design assumptions, we would be left with three speaker system. One for the LF work under 250 Hz, and one for the mid-range work from 250 Hz, and a HF unit crossing between 5kHz to 10 kHz that would take it to 40 kHz. The choices for the various drivers would be limited in the MR and HF areas. But once we take into consideration all the criteria, the range of speakers that can service in our requirements become somewhat limited.

However, in recent review of components and equipment, I have realised that I have amassed a range of speakers. FE207e, Lowther DX3, Saba green cones, Beyma Coax, Joran JX92s, FE127e, FT17H, and Alpha 15A. To be honest, to get good speakers cost money. And living in Australia, the cost of shipping of most speakers are quite sizeable. So the vein of being economically responsible, I will have to design a speaker system that uses one or more of the existing speakers in my collection. It appears from what I have, that it is mainly full range speakers, with the exception of the Beyma Coax. All the other speakers will mate well with a sub crossed at below 300 Hz or so, and can all probably do with a super tweeter (Fostex FT17H).

Therefore, it leads me to designing two speaker systems. One, the full range with sub and super compliment, and the other around the Beyma Coax. My next post will deal with the design of the Beyma Coax as a possible contender.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Revised Assumption

Having read and reviewed more about my desired listening levels, I have come to the conclusion that 100 dB with 6 dB of overhead is probably a little too much. I believe that a value of 90 dB at the listening position is more sensible. Therefore, my assumption would change from a required combined speaker and amp able to deliver around 96 dB at 1 W at 1 m. Given a small buffer, the target range should be 95 to 98 dB. Of course it would be nice to have additional headroom of say 6 to 9 dB, but given my basic premise, I believe that the revised SPL levels are more realistic.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Verification of thought process

Since I will have a short trip home in the coming weeks, it is my plan to verify my second assumption, that is the 104 dB levels. My goal is to take out my pair of closed FE127e towers (yes, those with the front dust cap crumpled) and play them using my Decware Zen and then LM3886 Chipamp in the 100 cubic meter room. To hopefully negate the effects of the crumpled dust caps (yes, they are both now crumpled…) I will rotate them around and use the 'back speakers'. Wonderful thing about dipole and bipoles! The towers are made from 19mm thick Tasmanian Oak and have light filling. But the top and bottom are loose, leaving plenty of opportunity for tweaking.

The drivers are all terminated separately so that I can experiment with dipole, dipole and the parallel and series. I will listen to my favourite music, and see what levels are acceptable. If, and I stress if, they are suitable with the Zen, then I would see so many options opening up in both speaker and amp combos. If they are no loud enough with the LM3886, then I really need bigger amps and/or higher sensitivity speakers.

Through this, I will also experiment (hopefully) with the monopole, dipole and bipole arrangement. Which should give some further guidance as to my preferred arrangement. The source will be my QLS350 straight into the amps. I might try bringing in my HT sub, to see the effects of low end reinforcement. I will consider this my most important experiment. Speaker configuration, low-end reinforcement and power level combinations.

Note - to be honest, I am keen to see if I can get these to work well with the Zen, and then I can upgrade them to the F120A or even the new Jordan full rangers!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Re-direction Part 1

After much pondering about my audio system, especially on my imminent return home, I have been through many of the same processes as I have done in the years prior to my departure from home. At the end of the day, it always came back to the same things as I have covered in my previous blog entries. Namely, back and forth between an all tube amp system or a tube plus SS system (for more power) and that of the speaker system. Which has oscillate between a high efficient system using horns, or a lesser (but still quite) efficient system using a traditional full range speaker driver.

Thus, I have come to a different process of deciding. A little background about my gear generally. In all my interests and hobbies, I plan and want to just have one - what is perceived by me as the ultimate, and then that is it. Not that it has to be the most expensive or best, but something in my mind that is no compromise. That is case for my cameras, computers, watches, cars, bass guitar, etc.. I have found that going around from low end to high end, ends up costing more money and time. But in the audio field, as I started with very little knowledge, and wanted the DIY route, it was natural that I take a longer journey.

In terms of headphones, I have I have almost reached that point. With my (soon to be built) C3g amp with HD650. Even with my existing range of built amps (about 6 in total) and headphones (over 4 high-quality pairs), I am more than a happy camper.

With speakers however, it has been a (very) long journey. Mainly due to moving houses, moving country and having children. But right now, I am in a better spot to move towards that end goal. So, instead of choosing an amp and speaker, I am going backwards, and choosing what I want in terms of sound, and then working back the audio chain. That is, desired sound, sound levels, speaker, amp and then source.

What I want is a system that is able to reproduce audio between 20 Hz to 40 kHz with high fidelity and ability to engage me beyond what can be 'objectively measured' - that is, it gives me enjoyment. What would I mean by high fidelity, I would assume low distortion and the frequency response to be generally smooth to within 3 to 6 dB in the frequency range, with a drop of say -6dB at 20Hz being acceptable.

Being honest, my listening room will never ever be larger than 7.0m by 5.3m by 2.7m high, so about 100 cubic meters. But at the moment, the listening room is 4.7m by 4.0m by 2.7m, about half the volume at 50 cubic meters. The system should be built for those two rooms.

The next question for me was how loud? I have been looking around the Internet, and measuring the values that I typically listen to. It seems that a value (for peak levels) of around 103 to 109 dB was about right, with most program levels being around 80 dB to 90 dB at the loudest normal levels.

In the larger room scenario, the listening position would be about 4m from the speaker, and the smaller room, it'd be 3m from the speaker. Which is not all that different. From this information, I would then determine the appropriate levels of speaker and amp performance to meet those dB levels. A listening position of 4m is about a 6 dB loss and at 3m, it'd be about 5 dB. In either case, the differences are marginal, so let's assume 6 dB loss due to speaker distance.

At this point, I will ignore room gain and other incidental losses, as they compound the complexity. For peak levels, let's assume for simplicity sake 104 dB. Therefore, the entire system of amp and speaker should be able to hit 110 dB. Therefore the first assumptions that are quantifiable are:

  1. Frequency Response range of 20 Hz to 40 kHz. -6dB at 20 Hz and within 3 to 6 dB over the range (that is plus or minus 1.5 to 3.0 dB).
  2. Combined maximum SPL levels of system should be 110 dB at 1 W at 1 m.

With the above in mind, we can now start to tinker with combinations of speakers and amps that meet the above requirements. The first for me is the philosophical combination of the two devices. So, if the speakers were to be 101 dB efficient, the amp would need to be at least 8 W in power. If the speakers were 92 dB, the amp would need to be at least 64 W in power. So, as the speaker efficient increases, the amp options open up for low powered tube amps. And as the speakers become less efficient, the ability to use tube amps rapidly decrease. The table below summarises the combinations.

Speaker Sensitivity // Amp Sensitivity
110 dB // 1 W
107 dB // 2 W (45 Amp)
104 dB // 4 W (2A3, AD1 Amp)
101 dB // 8 W (300B, KT88 SE, F2a Amp)
98 dB // 16 W (6C33, 211, 845, GM70)
95 dB // 32 W (211, 845, GM70)
92 dB // 64 W
89 dB // 128 W

Given my general interest in using Class A Tube amps, where generally SE tube amps limited to below 16 W or so, and PP tube amps around 32 W for Class A, it would appear that unless the speakers were to be at least 95 dB efficient, the use of tube amps would be not possible. Even with the rough limits mentioned above, the voltage and/or current requirements are quite large, limiting the ease of DIY. However, the choice in the number of amplifiers used has not yet been addressed.

Therefore, if I want to use tube amps (and I do) then I would have to find highly efficient speakers. This would generally rule out most of the speakers available. Focusing only on the mid-range (or pseudo full range) would limit the choice to high efficiency speakers such as 'traditional' full range family (e.g., Lowthers, Fostex, Supravox, etc.), horn loaded compression drivers, and other very efficient mid-range (generally) PA speakers.

Well, a longish entry, Part 2 of this will cover the issues dealing with speaker selection.