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  • ION 5.1 Home Theater System

    My father and I enjoy working on projects. Recently we have been working on building stereo music-listening setups, but now are turning our attention to a full 5.1 setup for my future home (we are actively home shopping). This thread is to discuss the design of the system and to share its progress.

    Since I currently live in a small apartment, we plan to build in this order:
    -Surrounds (full range, to be used as temporary fronts while space is limited)
    -Subwoofer (12" or smaller)
    -Center Channel (2-way)
    -Fronts (2-way, replacing the surrounds in the front)

    Our goal is to use a consistent visual style, stay in low-budget territory, and get great audio for home theater and ambient music while entertaining or cooking. Each speaker will incorporate maple and walnut finished in semi-gloss lacquer, and Vivvid+ metallic blue vinyl.

    The whole setup will be driven by the Denon AVR 1909 that we picked up used. This gives 7.1 support, manual EQ, and options for biamping or setting up a second "zone."

    We have already completed the ION Surrounds and have been very happy with the results. The full build log can be seen here: http://techtalk.parts-express.com/fo...s-dayton-audio
    But here are the design and glamour shots.










    Our next step is the sub. We are not looking to shake the house, but would like sufficient bass for a mid-sized living room. We would like to integrate the PE 70w or 100w plate amp and either an 8",10", or 12" woofer. Most threads seem to push people towards larger and larger drivers but I want to keep this small for WAF. We are also planning on only having a single sub due to cost. We were going to make the small 123Toid Dual PR sub but then found that PE was out of stock on the PRs. We plan to investigate more tomorrow and decide on a design. Leaning towards the PE classic subwoofer drivers. Not sure whether I would rather go ported or sealed. I would happily take suggestions if someone can link to a tested design. Once we have the driver and amp and overall design, I will modify the design to fit in with the visual style we are working with.

    Additionally, though we aren't designing for it yet, I am interested to hear suggestions for drivers for the fronts and center. I plan to use the same tweeter and woofer in both to keep crossover design easy. I was considering modifying Paul Carmody's Classix II design for this purpose, making an MTM for the center channel (basically a modified Classix 2.5).

  • #2
    I believe you'll need to alter the XO from the TMM to make a MTM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Millstonemike View Post
      I believe you'll need to alter the XO from the TMM to make a MTM.
      I am mostly scared away from the Classix due to the 6.5" woofers. While they are fine for the fronts, it makes the center channel a little large for our furniture. I was initially drawn to the OS since there is a good MTM design as well and the dimensions are friendlier but I am not a fan of the looks of the woofers. Unlike our stereo listening setups where we were mostly focused on sound, this is about 50/50 sound and looks. I may end up designing my own from scratch, but have been interested in Paul's designs due to the near universal acclaim they receive.

      Comment


      • #4
        Alright so I have moved forward a fair amount on the sub. We were able to get a Seas D1004-04 L26RO4Y (the sub driver from the LX521s) for free. Though the driver, intended for open baffle, is a little strange, it is the best when it comes to value ($0). We decided it would do a good enough job at 250W to fill out the sound of the system. The bonus is that we have a second driver and can add a second sub if we decide its needed down the line. I've heard these are power hungry drivers, so it may be better off with a 500W amp but we selected the DA SPA250DSP to allow us to fix some of the peaks we will end up with in the box as designed. We are planning to use a single 3" port 12-14" in length in a 1.27cuft box. Based on tinkering in WinISD I believe this will give a tuning frequency of about 32hz with a simulated f3 of about 30hz (before dsp). The sub will be in an irregularly shaped room of about 20'x20' with vaulted ceilings.

        One thing I am unclear on when running simulations. Do you subtract the volume of the port and driver from the overall volume of the box? When simulating should I be accounting for any stuffing/lining?

        Here is the WinISD simulation:


        Here is the 3d model showing internal layout:


        I plan to finalize the design and buy parts this weekend, to cut the parts the following weekend. If anyone sees any glaring errors or areas for improvement, please let me know. I am not looking for wall-rumbling spl, but want something that will perform adequately. The box will be built from 3/4" birch ply, with the front and left sides veneered in maple with 1/2" walnut overlays for decoration. The remaining sides will be finished in blue vinyl to match the rest of the ION speakers we are building.

        Comment


        • #5
          So its been a while since I last posted about this project. In that time we have been moving and working on some home projects, but we haven't forgotten about the 5.1 setup. Now that we have more space it is actually going to be much better.

          I used the design shown above to create gcode for the CNC, we got the 3/4" birch ply cut to size, and let the machine do the work.


          Here the parts are just fit together to test, we did have to do one recut due to an error in my design.




          Gluing it up:



          Now that it is all glued, its time to take some epoxy wood filler, gorilla glue, and sandpaper to it to make sure the sides are all very smooth and all seams are completely sealed. Hoping to have parts in to test it out in the next few days.

          In the meantime, we have been using the ION surrounds as left and right channels. Though they aren't designed for it, they perform very adequately in that role. Since we are re-doing the baseboard in the living room, I will have an opportunity to drill into the floor and create a path through the basement ceiling for the surround speaker wire to run so that it won't be visible in the room, which helps with WAF. The plan is to create a port in the baseboard, leading to a hole in the floor. This will allow an easy repair if we ever decide we don't want 5.1 since we aren't drilling into the hardwood.

          I have also been doing more research about the center channel which will be the next one we tackle. I have decided to go with a tested design and make my modifications some in the cabinet and visual design. To help with WAF, I am letting her pick the furniture for the tv and center channel. She wanted to get an antique dresser and convert it into an entertainment center. Its not really an audio project per se, but it will dictate the space I have available for the center channel. We have that project in the works, and it looks like I will have at most 7" in height available. That is pretty tight but still makes some good designs available. I decided on the Aviatrix MTM from Curt since it is designed with center channel use in mind and has a matching set of plans for an MLTL floorstanding speaker for the left and right. The design will fit in my space constraints and seems well reviewed.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ohaple View Post
            Alright so I have moved forward a fair amount on the sub. We were able to get a Seas D1004-04 L26RO4Y (the sub driver from the LX521s) for free. Though the driver, intended for open baffle, is a little strange, it is the best when it comes to value ($0). We decided it would do a good enough job at 250W to fill out the sound of the system. The bonus is that we have a second driver and can add a second sub if we decide its needed down the line. I've heard these are power hungry drivers, so it may be better off with a 500W amp but we selected the DA SPA250DSP to allow us to fix some of the peaks we will end up with in the box as designed. We are planning to use a single 3" port 12-14" in length in a 1.27cuft box. Based on tinkering in WinISD I believe this will give a tuning frequency of about 32hz with a simulated f3 of about 30hz (before dsp). The sub will be in an irregularly shaped room of about 20'x20' with vaulted ceilings.

            One thing I am unclear on when running simulations. Do you subtract the volume of the port and driver from the overall volume of the box? When simulating should I be accounting for any stuffing/lining?

            Here is the WinISD simulation:


            Here is the 3d model showing internal layout:


            I plan to finalize the design and buy parts this weekend, to cut the parts the following weekend. If anyone sees any glaring errors or areas for improvement, please let me know. I am not looking for wall-rumbling spl, but want something that will perform adequately. The box will be built from 3/4" birch ply, with the front and left sides veneered in maple with 1/2" walnut overlays for decoration. The remaining sides will be finished in blue vinyl to match the rest of the ION speakers we are building.
            I might increase the port length (lower tuning) to remove the hump between 30 Hz and 40 Hz.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Millstonemike View Post

              I might increase the port length (lower tuning) to remove the hump between 30 Hz and 40 Hz.
              Due to the space constraints of the box, there isn't much room to make the port longer. Our intent was to level out the humps and dips in DSP if needed (since we are using a DSP plate amp), after we have been able to place the sub in the room and figure out how it measures real-world.

              Your suggestion is good overall though, and we did tinker with that as an option in WinISD. The hump also looks worse than it is due to the scale. I think the hump is only about 1-2db. My guess is that the primary limitation will be giving the driver enough power with the amp we chose, but I won't know for sure until I am able to hear it and measure it. Thanks for the suggestion.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ohaple View Post

                Due to the space constraints of the box, there isn't much room to make the port longer. Our intent was to level out the humps and dips in DSP if needed (since we are using a DSP plate amp), after we have been able to place the sub in the room and figure out how it measures real-world.

                Your suggestion is good overall though, and we did tinker with that as an option in WinISD. The hump also looks worse than it is due to the scale. I think the hump is only about 1-2db. My guess is that the primary limitation will be giving the driver enough power with the amp we chose, but I won't know for sure until I am able to hear it and measure it. Thanks for the suggestion.
                You can always use elbows on the port in the box - not a sound compromise at all. Others with more sub experiencing can elaborate on room gain. And if budget is a concern, a plate amp with DSP has to run up the bill over a standard version of similar wattage.

                Lastly, since you're in WinISD, take a look and the "Cone Excursion" graph for your sub model (drop down arrow to the right of "Transfer Function Magnitude" on the graph window . Exceeding driver watts is rarely the limiting factor for woofers. Exceeding driver xmax is the limit nine times out of ten. Enter a watts in the "signal" tab on the box model window. Then the excursion graph will tell you how much power the sub can take before issues arise. Lots of graphs there as well; port velocity (under 30 m/s max), SPL, etc. In a medium to larger living room, 110 dB means loss of hearing over time.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Millstonemike View Post

                  You can always use elbows on the port in the box - not a sound compromise at all. Others with more sub experiencing can elaborate on room gain. And if budget is a concern, a plate amp with DSP has to run up the bill over a standard version of similar wattage.

                  Lastly, since you're in WinISD, take a look and the "Cone Excursion" graph for your sub model (drop down arrow to the right of "Transfer Function Magnitude" on the graph window . Exceeding driver watts is rarely the limiting factor for woofers. Exceeding driver xmax is the limit nine times out of ten. Enter a watts in the "signal" tab on the box model window. Then the excursion graph will tell you how much power the sub can take before issues arise. Lots of graphs there as well; port velocity (under 30 m/s max), SPL, etc. In a medium to larger living room, 110 dB means loss of hearing over time.
                  We have looked at those graphs and after simulating a few dozen different port lengths and box volumes, we decided on this as a happy medium. The 250DSP plate amp is actually quite affordable from PE, only about $180 when we bought it on sale I think. If I remember right it was about $40-50 to add the DSP functionality when they had the sale on. Budget is definitely a factor, I am trying to keep the whole 5.1 system under $1000 As a rough estimate: $100 receiver, $100 for surrounds, $250 for the sub, $150 for the center, and $300 for the fronts = $900. Xmax will not be an issue with this driver, especially once we use the DSPs built in subsonic filter.

                  We finished building out the sub for testing this weekend, meaning it is 100% functional but doesn't have the pretty parts stuck on yet. We finished the box by filling any cracks with wood glue on the inside, and epoxy wood filler on the outside.


                  Then we fit the port and sanded it flush. The port ended up being about 14.25" inches in length; longer than our original WinISD calculation since we were able to squeeze a bit more space. This is advantageous as Millstonemike noted.




                  We drilled holes to mount the amp, and put in threaded inserts to hold the driver.



                  The amp is a nice tight fit, except I got the corner radiusing a bit too square, so I will have to fill to correct that.



                  The driver dropped in easy.







                  Excuse the blurry photo; we set it up temporarily in a different room to make sure that the sub was operating properly and to install and test out the DSP software that PE provides. We had a real struggle troubleshooting the software since it seems that the software uploaded on the site is for different firmware than the amp. We couldn't find a place to update the firmware, but through trial and error learned that the DSP500 plate amp shares the same software and had the proper version uploaded. Once it was working, I was pretty impressed with the ease of use that the DSP software has. You can easily take measurement in REW and then jump back to the DSP software, make a tweak, take a reading, etc. The sub sounded great and was easily able to get at 30hz and below.

                  I will share the measurements when I am able to get back to that computer, but it has a hump at 30hz and about 53hz. The 30z peak is the worst, and I believe its because the port is being amplified too much by the room. I think I will be better served getting it out of the corner. A quick run in REW through the receiver with the little ION surrounds helped me easily set the levels. The ION sub blends well and was able to put out enough bass that my fiance wanted me to turn it down. There is currently a noticeable hole in the response from about 100-250hz, where the ION surrounds aren't comfortably playing low enough. This will be fixed with the proper FL FR and CC. I took readings with the mic at the listening position and then tweaked in the DSP software. It shakes the room plenty; after watching movies without a sub for the last few years I forgot how important those frequencies are to add tension to many action, horror, and thriller movies.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Had some time to set it up in the living room and mess around with measurements and DSP. I am rather happy with how it sounds. This is a 5.1 surround system, but I find the sub to be very musical. We had a nice time listening to Sara K. on the Chesky demo disk. I will continue tinkering, but so far this is a success. It does everything I want, and should pair nicely with the Aviatrix system. Here are the measurements 1/12th smoothed, both before and after applying dsp.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Now for something different. Not strictly DIY audio, but DIY furniture to accommodate my DIY ION project. Prior to selecting a center channel, I had to make sure that I have a suitable place to put it for WAF. The Aviatrix center is pretty small, but still too large to set in front of the TV. My SO has been wanting to refinish furniture based on stuff she sees on Pinterest, so I figured this would be a good way to get an endorsement for the new gear as well as design something that will fit my needs.

                      She picked out an old dresser that she liked the general style of from craigslist. We picked it up.



                      The plan was to remove the top two drawers and the center unit, to be replaced with shelves. The top two would hold the xbox one and N64, while the center section will hold the receiver and center.
                      We sanded the top down to bare wood and roughed up the rest with steel wool. The top then got a dark stain and a good sanding (to bring out the contrast a little). The bottom was sprayed with primer and then painted with matte latex paint. The hardware was removed to be replaced. I measured and cut shelves from half inch ply, which were also painted white. The top was then treated with a few coats of polyurethane. We are almost done with it, then can install it to have room for the center channel. The center will sit on tall feet above the receiver so there is ventilation. We thought about keeping the center unit divided in half, but the Aviatrix center was an inch too tall.


                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Minor update to the Subwoofer and Center.


                        For the sub, we cut the walnut front and side parts. The walnut will be affixed to the maple veneer that will go on the front and left side. It will look a little like this:




                        Here it is being cut:



                        And standing like it will on the sub:



                        Next step is to take the sub back apart, and start working on the finish. It needs a little more wood filler in some spots, and needs sealed. Then we will apply veneer, then the walnut, then finish the wood, then apply the vinyl.


                        For the center channel, we ordered all of the components needed. The full thing came out to $140 not including wood or finishing supplies.

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