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Solstice speakers in Duratex

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  • Solstice speakers in Duratex

    A few months ago, I asked about putting Jeff Bagby's Solstice MTM in a smallish office. No red flags came up, so I went through with it! These were from the Parts Express flat pack kit.

    I've built a few different speakers now, all from flat pack kits. Every single one I've finished in Duratex. It's easy to use, makes for a rugged finish, somewhat hides imperfections in the wood, doesn't stink (I apply it in the dining room!), and is fairly cheap. And I actually like the resulting "utilitarian" look. With the Solstices, I thought about trying to do a veneer or other fancier finish... but impatience got the best of me: I wanted to listen to these, not wait while I learned a new skill. Also, the practical reason of not wanting my learning to take place on a fairly expensive kit.

    I know folks appreciate reviews on sound quality... I don't think my ears are "qualified" enough to give an in-depth review. But I'll just say that, if these speakers are doing anything wrong, I certainly can't hear it. If anything, the only "problem" might be that it's easier to notice sub-optimal recordings. But that's exactly what I wanted: detailed but neutral, revealing speakers. To my ears, the Solstices do exactly that. I also have to add that, for strictly music, I can't imagine anyone needing a sub with these speakers (unless you love total overkill bass). The Solstices replaced a pair of Paul Carmody's Speedsters. The Speedsters have an impressive amount of bass for their size, but it's no contest compared to the Solstices! I've been listening to a lot of classical music lately - Classical Era, early Romantic symphonies and chamber ensembles, which doesn't seem to have a lot of bass. But if I switch over to modern rock or any kind of electronic music, the bass practically knocks me out of my chair.

    I have a set of Salk Songtowers in the living room. Some day I hope to be motivated enough to compare them to the Solstices. But even without having them side-by-side, I can say for sure the Solstice dominates in the bass department.

    At this point, I'm quite sure the limiting factor is the room itself. It's all hard surfaces: hardwood floor, glass double-doors, wood wainscoting. The windows only have the thinnest sheer curtains. And a giant desk with a big monitor right in the middle of the room. Someday I'll put a big area rug on the floor, and see if I can't find some semi-discrete acoustic treatments (but that will be a struggle with the wife).



    Right speaker, front-view, with Speedster behind. Right speaker, angle view. Right speaker, birds-eye view.  Despite spackle and sanding, the seam between baffle and cabinet still shows a bit through the Duratex.

  • #2
    They look nice, well done. And they sound as if they make great music.

    For room treatment, if you have space and the $, maybe try a framed canvas painting or just plain painted canvas to hang on the wall? We had a 6x4 foot oil painting which seemed to make a difference in terms of the 'brightness' of the sound. It was hung on the wall behind the listening area; a rug or tapestry would have been better, but would have looked daggy.

    If you're a fan of classical music and good sound, I suggest checking out Trevor Pinnock's version of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos: great recording and a really nice interpretation. Or Janos Starker's version of the Dvorak Cello Concerto on the Mercury "Living Presence" label: on old 60s recording but the sound will blow you away; you will get plenty of bass through your Solstice speakers!


    Geoff
    Last edited by Geoff Millar; 01-03-2018, 08:40 PM.

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    • #3
      Those look nice! Just plain basic black works well. However, I would advise you to toe them in to have the baffles face your position. These were designed to be listened to on-axis with the tweeter.

      Later,
      Wolf
      "Wolf, you shall now be known as "King of the Zip ties." -Pete00t
      "Wolf and speakers equivalent to Picasso and 'Blue'" -dantheman
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Geoff Millar View Post
        If you're a fan of classical music and good sound, I suggest checking out Trevor Pinnock's version of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos: great recording and a really nice interpretation. Or Janos Starker's version of the Dvorak Cello Concerto on the Mercury "Living Presence" label: on old 60s recording but the sound will blow you away; you will get plenty of bass through your Solstice speakers!
        I have a good start on a classical music collection, but it's definitely just that: a start. I read your suggestions, and thought to myself, I'll give the Starker Cello Concerto a try, because I already own a Brandenburg Concerto recording. I got the Cello Concerto, started listening, and thought, I've heard this before... yeah, I already have a different recording of this piece! No complaints though! I don't know if this take is that much better than the other one I have, or if I've just evolved more in my tastes, but I really enjoy this CD, thank you for the recommendation.

        The bass is definitely there, but still doesn't compare to something like Daft Punk's Random Access Memories, or "Duende" by Bozzio Leven Stevens. ;)


        Originally posted by Wolf View Post
        However, I would advise you to toe them in to have the baffles face your position. These were designed to be listened to on-axis with the tweeter.
        Does that mean the tweeters should also be at approximately ear level? In my chair, my ear level is definitely a good six or more inches above the tweeter level. I keep thinking maybe I should figure out a way to raise these speakers up a bit higher. (And I occasionally flirt with the idea of learning woodworking and making new, taller cabinets (but with a "false floor" to keep the same interior dimensions). But that's a pipe dream at this point. Maybe cinder blocks wrapped in wood and painted in matching Duratex would make for easy stands?)

        Also, I have a big (60x30x30) desk in the middle of this room, complete with big 34" monitor on it. If I toed-in the speakers, the computer desk would exactly block the "line of sight" implied by the speaker direction. So I've always wondered if it's better to toe-in, and have the "interruption" of the desk+monitor; or no interruption, but also no toe-in.

        I suspect trial-and-error is the real answer here. But at this point, I don't find anything lacking---I know the arrangement is sub-optimal, but I'm so happy with the speakers, it's OK.

        Thank you Geoff and Wolf for the compliments and helpful feedback!




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