The FT12 came as if called, although I myself almost missed its call. I prefer small, narrow boxes that exceed your expectations. If they’re free-standing boxes, all the better. That was the first problem. I had enjoyed my Needles for two years, both tonally and visually, and I had so much fun building them that I wanted some reinforcements. My goal was to build a box in the same style as the Needle, but with a deeper bass range. Anything in the 30-centimeter range in terms of width and depth was out of the question for me. During my search, I eventually had the idea of turning the FT12 into a free-standing box. Why not? I also wanted an oval body with a perfectly integrated bass. The building challenge was an additional incentive.
I started by drawing the basic form on my computer as a template; I printed it out and glued it to the MDF with a thin layer of wood glue (incidentally, expired credit cards make the perfect palette knives). I used a jigsaw to make a rough pre-cut, and a belt sander mounted at a 90° angle for the detail work. A circular saw cut 1.5-cm MDF slats, and I glued them on one at a time with wood glue.
I decided my first prototype was too clunky for our living room. Compared to the Needle, it was just too wide. To get a couple more centimeters out of it, I had the idea of installing the bass at an angle. At the same time, an angle of more than 30° wouldn’t have made sense either, since the magnet would have stuck out. I think it bought me about 3-4 cm of “overall width savings.” That should be workable without any loss in sound – plus, as I said, the building challenge...
So one more time from the top, and this time I was convinced by the visual results of the prototype. Installing the bass at an angle takes a little patience. The support element also needs to be sanded. Still, despite my clever approach, the two boxes only vaguely approximated the reality. But it’s not easy with rounded sides and angles. In the building process, in addition to wood glue, I relied on a glue that works with wood and also fills in joints. PU foam was out of the question for me because of the hazardous substances, but assembly adhesive is just as good. I also needed to limit the volume for the high and middle range – fortunately without any angles here.
I attached all the boards with plenty of wood glue and moved them into position.Once the glue was dry and the boards were bonded, I filled all of the joints and holes with assembly glue. It’s nice that you can work a little sloppily when you have the right glue to fill in the gaps. Gluing on the slats and filling in all the gaps with assembly glue meant that the whole box was pretty solid, despite the thin MDF. Then I installed the bass, which involved a lot of dexterity, and screwed it in. I gave the interior of the band-pass cabinet a cross brace to reinforce it. To adjust the volume, I simply measured out some sand and poured it into the box. It’s an idea that works well with small free-standing boxes, and it’s easier than estimating the square centimeters on graphing paper. Especially when there’s an angle involved, the sand method is my first choice.
The crossover network was a bit sportier here than in the Needle, but doable. It’s really fun to operate the chassis elements outside the cabinets at first, switching back and forth and then gradually blending them in to hear the differences. Finally, I sanded and painted them several times. Next time, though, I would glue flexible plywood to the sides. I had a hard time taming the 3-mm MDF to fit the small radius. Still, I’m very happy with the results, and the boxes look awesome!
The FT12 now does what the Needle couldn’t. I have a nice bass and a warm tone. Still, the FT12 and the Needle play so differently that I can’t call one of them better or worse. I think the Needle’s sound is cleaner, but it’s not as comprehensive as the FT12. Maybe the two need each other?! Paul Simon sounds great on the Needles. The new Milow album, on the other hand, seems like it was made for the FT12.