Illumina-66, built by Arve, Norway
Copyright 2016 © Troels Gravesen

Dear Troels
I want to write a few words on my experience with building and improving the Illumina-66. I ordered and build the pair during the summer 2013. I used 18mm solid oak for building them, and made a simplified design to suit my building capabilities and equipment. To make my sound system as compact as possible i mounted a Tymphany (Peerless) NE225W-08 as a subwoofer in the bottom part of one of the cabinets, driven by a Hypex DS2.0 sub amplifier. This has a good WAF effect, but for my next project, I would use external subs.
The Illuminas immediately sounded so great, so transparent, crisp and rich. They were simply not to compare with my Ektas, build a few year earlier. So much more precise and willing!
Since hifi is a hobby, I spent the next year or so trying to improve the Illuminas further. I did this very slowly, and sometimes it was months between the changes I made. So, I really had time to enjoy and contemplate each step in my journey of improving them. Now, about a year after completing my improvements, I am deeply satisfied with these great speakers and use them almost every day. Being so content with the improved Illuminas, I have decided to write to you, Troels to share my experiences.
I wanted to see how much I could get out of these speakers within a reasonable budget, and ended up spending about USD 2500 on crossover parts and internal cabling. I will not even attempt to describe every change in terms of sound experience. Well aware of the lures of psychoacoustics, and how easy it is to be charmed by ones audio investments, I will not go into particulars of sound quality. Nevertheless, I had a goal, which I believe to have reached.
My main musical interest is classical orchestral works. This kind of music is extremely difficult to render in a non-harsh and non-collapsing manner. When the full orchestra is playing, I still want to enjoy the different instruments, their various timbres, and not only a messy mixture of sound. I want to enjoy the warmth and beauty of a multitude of musical sounds. Violins must be clear and singing; there must be air around them and not a hoarse sharpness or flattened sound. Wind instruments seem to be easier to get to sound pleasant. With good recordings, I can now enjoy orchestral music in a panoramic presentation, lively rendering the subtlety and softness of one violin and also the explosive power of the whole orchestra. This was my goal, and I believe the investment made my speakers significantly better in this regard.
Well, what did I do?
I changed the internal cabling using a combination of Neotech solid copper and silver wire. In several steps, I changed all resistors to Pathaudio. I loved the improvements from the Pathaudios. I changed all inductors to foil. This gave warmth and greater precision. The change was greater than anticipated. All capacitors were replaced. For C1021 I invested in a Duelund RS; simply wonderful. C2011 became a Mundorf MCap Supreme Silver Gold Oil. C1071 was replaced with two 33uF Obbligato Gold Premium. For the other capacitors, I used V-Cap OIMP from US.
Troels, thank you for providing these great speaker designs. My wish for a future project would be the Illumina-66 expanded to a 3-way system!
 
All the best, Arve