Monday, December 31, 2012

Building A Subwoofer & Enclosure

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JL Audio 12W7 Subwoofer
Building a subwoofer starts with the right driver and enclosure selection. Be careful to not buy into the many myths about subwoofers that are propagated by those with limited experience or who have arrived at fixed ideas based on exposure to poor execution, or by someone who is just repeating what they read on the Internet.

One myth is that you can have it all. Hoffman’s Iron Law dictates that between a compact enclosure displacement, low frequency extension and high sensitivity you can have any two of the three. The work of every legitimate speaker engineer clearly supports Hoffman’s Iron Law.

And nothing is more misleading than a woofer manufacturer that claims their S.P.L. (sound pressure level) woofer is also an SQ (sound quality) woofer. A singular design focus results in a trade-off in some other performance parameter.

Another myth is that the largest woofer always wins. Generally, greater surface area rules. However, the enclosure has a large say in the matter. While surface area may dictate peak output, past a certain point the enclosure has more to do with the low frequency extension.

Choosing the right woofer and enclosure combination is much like choosing the prop for your boat or differential for your car. A great hole shot means less top end. And greater cruising efficiency translates to sluggish acceleration. An SPL woofer is an exercise in a singular objective, while a SQ woofer is an exercise in precision and balance. One delivers more energy over a narrower bandwidth and the other delivers less peak output but a more linear output over a wider bandwidth.

It begins with selecting the objectives that best suit you and then knowing how to best achieve those objectives.

Earmark Car Audio

Monday, December 17, 2012

Coaxials & Component Speakers- Part II

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Stevie Ray Vaughan had a unique and distinctive guitar sound that is instantly recognizable as SRV as soon as you hear it. Although he played a variety of guitars, many of them vintage Fender Stratocasters, his guitar sound was unlike the typical Fender Stratocaster sound. His main guitar, appropriately named “Number 1”, was a 1963 Fender Stratocaster body with a 1962 Strat neck and 1959 Strat pickups. No one else could pick up his Strat and make it sound like him. SRV had a MASSIVE signature sound, especially in his later years, that was full bodied and rich with tonal qualities that resembled a hollow body blues/jazz guitar with an extra deep growl. He used huge strings (.013 to .058 heavy gauge) and jumbo-style frets to facilitate intense string bending. He liked an oversize neck radius. His guitars had super high action which means the strings were stretched high above the neck and his aggressive playing style tore the calluses off his fingers, which he would superglue back onto his fingertips. He played with strength and power.  SRV used an Ibanez Tube Screamer overdrive pedal as a line driver of sorts to purposely overdrive the input stage of his tube amplifiers driving well broken-in speakers. In the studio, SRV would mic a mix of mostly Marshall and Fender amplifiers/speakers, sometimes playing through as many as 32 amplifiers at the same time in the studio. That describes some of the reasons for that warm and ballsy sound.
Well, I personally want a coaxial or component speaker that portrays that unique sound honestly as SRV intended it to be heard. In balance. In attack. In its entire bandwidth. In its lack of coloration and lack of bias. In contrast, when you hear a peaky and strident speaker with over-emphasized treble that butchers the SRV sound, you instantly know it. The initial bright appeal and appearance of false detail quickly passes as SRVs artistry is turned into a thin, tinny, transistor-radio-like guitar squeal. That is NOT the way SRV is supposed to sound.
The above example also translates to vocal balance, particularly female vocals, and every musical instrument for which we have a real world reference. I want to hear highs that represent tiny percussion instruments, such as chimes and triangles, as being small and delicate as they are. I don’t want to hear harsh, crashing and smeared highs unless that is how the original mix was intended to sound. Hey, if I want them to sound like tiny trash can lids imitating tympani cymbals being slammed together, then I can accomplish that on my own with a basic treble control. Plus, the listening fatigue associated with highly tilted and erratic sounding speakers can be brutal. As a lover of music I want to enjoy my system endlessly and avoid speaker-induced fatigue.   

I invite you to visit an Earmark store for an audition and to hear for yourself the differences that I am explaining. You’ll find the most knowledgeable people to show you the very best speakers that the mobile electronics industry has to offer.

Earmark Car Audio

Click here to read our earlier article: Coaxials & Components- Part I

Monday, December 3, 2012

Porsche Cayman Install

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2006 Porsche Cayman

This is one tricked out Cayman. Engine, suspension, roll
cage with sway bar, body kit. Also yellow highlight
rally tires, brake calipers and headlight covers.

Custom dash bezel painted Cayman
white with Alpine touch screen radio.
JL Audio 8 inch subwoofers are flushed into each quarter panel.

This panel covers and protects the two amplifiers. The crossflow cooling
fan on the right pulls air in through an opening on the right edge of the
amp cover and exhausts it to a matching opening on the left.
The plexiglass window is framed on the left and right with LED light bars.
The yellow accents on the amp cover and woofers
tie with the rally tires, brake calipers and headlights.
A six channel amp powers the door mid-bass, midrange, dash
tweeters and rear speakers. The mono block amp supplies sub
bass to the rear woofers. Multiple amplifier channels allows
perfect tuning of the speakers to the cars enviroment
through crossover and amplitude adjustments.

Lots of tight rockin bass with almost no loss of storage space.

The curve on the finished out subwoffer cabinet design
is a reverse matching slope of the rear fenders.
Carpeted viewing window cover protects the plexiglass
window while hauling cleaning supplies on trips to shows.