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The Loudspeaker 3, built by Ivan

Copyright 2021 © Troels Gravesen

Hello Troels,
 
This is for your builders' page.
 
I finally (almost) finished the TL3 project. The grills are still to be made...eventually I will... (the magnets installed behind the veneer) but right now my priority is to enjoy the speakers, furthermore, I also really like the look without grills. 
 
They took me about 3 months to build, mainly evenings and weekends. Compared to the Discovery 4 these are quite easy to build in my opinion, with the main challenge being weight and size. 
 
I built them with MDF and then painted and veneered them, all in my garage (again, I am always amazed by how clean your workshop remains, my garage ends up becoming an absolute mess :). I followed your design with only minor modifications as I only had 18mm and 25mm MDF available. I made the reflex port flush with the front panel and slightly rounded the edges as I liked it better this way. Not all plain sailing though, between Brexit and Covid I had a few delays purchasing the materials (including MDF) but everyone as usual has been very helpful (you, Jantzen Audio and also Lean UK).
 
Now the important stuff.... sound! mind that this is my perception and view, other people might have a different experience/sonic preference. 
 
I had them running for about 100h and I feel that they are now starting to loosen up, especially the big woofer....I have the feeling that they will improve even further with a few more hours of playing.
 
Going into this build I had two concerns, the sound of the horn and how well such big speakers would image (stereo imaging and soundstage is very important for me). Both worries were unjustified. The horn sounds very nice, more precise than a dome tweeter but tonally correct. The speaker is very coherent and images incredibly well...in fact it has the largest soundstage I have ever heard from a speaker period! I never understood the "wall of sound" expression...well now I do. Localisation of the singer and instruments is also excellent. Layering is the best I have ever heard from the speakers that I have built. The speakers' transparency is admirable, the notes decay makes me experience and appreciate the recording environment (type and size). Micro details are very good, to the point that in well recorded music I can experience the emotions in the voice of the singer, and all of this without brightness nor listening fatigue, very nice! Coming to the bass...I have to admit that it is not as impactful as the Discovery 4, the DISC4 is a visceral speaker, the bass is felt in the stomach rather than just heard. The TL3 bass for me is of a kinder/gentler version, probably due to the big paper cone...and reflex arrangement. This is not to say that the TL3 is bass-less because this is certainly not the case. What the TL3 cannot make in impact it makes in details and resolution. Also fortunately the TL3 does not excite my room as much as the DISC4 (that required bass DSPing in my room to reduce room modes, acoustically not the best room). In my set-up I had to increase the bass of the TL3 of +1dB to be satisfied with the performance (probably spoiled by the DISC4 bass). Thanks for using a plate amplifier with DSP, the bass is tunable to suit the room, I am having a lot of fun with it and REW. 
 
I have done some of my usual testing with both tube and solid state preamplifier. I must admit that tubes make these speakers even more magical and realistic. I am an electrical engineer, a science person! However, even if I understand that the tube sound is caused by harmonics I never underestimated the importance of temporal cues. Because of this I still think that what tubes can do is interpreted by our brain as magic! My tube preamp is however a little rolled off in the bass department so I ended-up ordering a small Chinese KT88 integrated, the Muzishare X7, a Line Magnetic derivative, they seem to make decent amplifiers at reasonable prices, or at least I hope as I could not audition it before purchasing ;) It will eventually receive the re-tubing/re-capping treatment when it arrives.
 
Thanks again for bringing high end audio to the DIY community.
 
Pics attached (apologies, not the best quality)
 
Regards
 
Ivan


19-07-2021
Hello Troels,
It is Ivan here (TL3). I know you are an analogue guy but I wanted to share something that might interest you (I am a digital folk - likely due to the fact that I was born in the 80s). The other day I received the HOLO May DAC (the level 2 - the level 3 was eye watering expensive so I decided for the middle of the road which is already far from cheap mind) this is a R2R DAC and is replacing an RME ADI-2. Ok, it is unfair to compare a delta sigma DAC that costs £800 with the MAY that costs many times that...but wao! Even considering that the MAY only had limited burn-in. What an experience (using the DAC in NOS) in terms of 3 dimensionality of the soundstage, localisation of voices and instruments, naturalness of the sound (I cannot say any other way, it just sounds real!). Just a wonderful sound paired to a good pre, a KT88 tube amp and the TL3!


Note I do not have any interests in HOLO audio, I am just a customer that paid a considerable amount of money for a DAC....I also wondered if this is confirmation bias but switching back and forth between the old and new DAC the difference in spatial clues is remarkable...so hopefully is not just my brain playing tricks on me :)
Demo one of these units if you have the opportunity....or maybe any other well designed R2R DAC...who would have thought that R2R DACs can achieve this level of performance...
Ivan