Vota 2 – yes, it knows rock! ;)
I came to loudspeaker building through a good friend whose father had already built dozens of loudspeakers. I had many opportunities to try them out at home, and I was impressed by how good the assembly kits were, some of them very affordable. I probably would have stuck with one of the pre-tested kits if one thing hadn’t always bothered me: the strong directionality of the wide-range speakers that were used.
So sometime in July I started the search for a kit that would meet my needs. The requirements were: no wide-range speakers, a full-sized free-standing box, and rock-capable. Fortunately I didn’t have to worry about the WAF that people are always mentioning in the hi-fi forums – my wife is very tolerant, as long as we’re both happy with the final results.
I didn’t have to look for very long before I ended up at Loudspeakerbuilding.com. I made up for it, though, with all the time I spent poring over countless assembly reports. I quickly lost sight of my original goal of narrowing down the choices to a few assembly kits, and the list of potential candidates grew and grew.
I had almost forgotten about the Vota when the article was published about it in the summer, and I was “more or less” sure that those were exactly the right loudspeakers. I spent the next few weeks planning “our” Vota. In contrast to the original suggestion, I wanted to build a one-piece free-standing box. Some of my initial problems were solved by the forum (thanks!) and finally it was time for the assembly. The tweeter and mid-range speakers had their own chamber, the area behind it was also used for the bass range, and the reflex channel for the tweeter and mid-range exits out through the back of the cabinet. Since the baffle board for the top part is now much wider than the original, the top reflex outlet had to be made a little smaller; I solved that with two wooden slats.
I had the cutouts for both boxes done at the hardware store. The measurements might not have been precise down to the hundredth of a millimeter, but overall it wasn’t a huge problem. I tried putting the boards together first before I glued them into their final position with Ponal joint glue (a very good tip). Then came Mistake No. 1: You should mark the position of the board on the side piece BEFORE gluing them on. Otherwise the space for the protractor or ruler ends up being very tight. ;)
And then Mistake No. 2: Once the lid and the floor are fairly solid, it’s pretty hard to put in the back wall! Fortunately I did everything in one step, so I was able to take off the floor with a little force and then put in the back wall, then the floor. The rest of the gluing (almost) went pretty well. My measurements must have been a little off on the chamber for the tweeter and mid-range speaker because of Mistake No. 1, so there was an unattractive edge at the back end where the floor and back wall collide. Fortunately, a quick consultation with the Loudspeakerbuilding pros told me that it wouldn’t be a problem.
After that I just put the lid on, and Body No. 1 was finished. Then it was time for the sanding, which took almost 3 days.
At this point I need to thank my father-in-law once again. My workbench in the basement quickly ran out of room, so he offered to rebuild a room in his shed, which had once been a stable, as a workshop. He had been planning it for a while, and now he had a good excuse to do it. After two days of constant work and probably some irritated neighbors (circular saw, Sunday from 8 am to 9 pm :) ), we had a very impressive workshop with all kinds of tools and a big DIY workbench made of old oak beams.
Now the box-building could continue!
For the finish, thanks to Florian’s report on his SB36, I had decided on maple. I ordered American maple from Metz Furniere, and it was promptly delivered and cut to size. That wasn’t a big problem as long as we had plenty of blades for the box cutter.
Applying the veneer: to iron or to glue? That is the question
I was actually sure I was going to use the ironing method for the veneering – well, until I tried it for the first time. Maybe it was due to my impatience or my lack of craftsmanship, but I just couldn’t manage to get even one strip of the veneer onto the whole length of the box using the ironing method without creating numerous cracks. Naturally I used my own board for the tests, not the real boxes.
So I needed an alternative. After a quick search, I came across the Pattex method. Since there are several very good sets of instructions for this, I’ll skip a detailed description. The following approach worked very well for us:
Paint the box side and the corresponding veneer with Pattex. With a plastic roller, this was child’s play
- Lay a big piece of cardboard on the box
- Now you can place the veneer on the cardboard and adjust it
- While one person pulls the cardboard up and off, the other person uses a solid roller to press the veneer onto the box
- Finally, roll over the whole box in case there are a few little bubbles; cut off the edges fairly flush with a box cutter and sand off the rest
I would like to say a word of warning about the Pattex method here, though. The results were very good, it was easy to handle, and we didn’t have any bubbles or rips. But the Pattex glue is so powerful that I couldn’t work with it for more than an hour at a time. After just an hour, I was no longer able to cut the edges with the box cutter with any degree of concentration. On the third evening, after working with the Pattex a little too long, I actually put the trash I was meaning to take out into the bathroom, and left my phone next to the trash can. ;) Maybe not everyone will have such a strong reaction to this glue, but you should be a little careful when working with it. Incidentally, the room where we were working was very well ventilated, with 4 windows and a skylight!
Still – the results were very impressive!
After a few small initial difficulties, building the crossover was no problem. I skipped the photo of the finished crossover, though – I assume no one wants to see that. ;)
Now it was time to cut out the chassis openings. I have to admit, I was a little afraid of this step. The loudspeakers were already veneered, and I was afraid of messing up the good results so far with the router. To make things worse, I had borrowed a cheap Aldi-brand router from a friend..
Mistake No. 3: Using cheap tools! I had made two smaller cutouts as a test when I decided to change the cutter. While I was trying to screw on the cutter head, there was a short creaking noise, and the whole cutter head broke. The whole thing had actually looked like sturdy cast material – but now there was a pile of shards on my table. I was just glad it didn’t happen while I was using the router.
The process continued with a new Bosch router that I bought at short notice. I also bought a routing template on eBay, and after that the cutouts were no real problem. A couple of days later, I cut the wires and insulation to size, so the almost-finished loudspeakers were now ready in my work room. Unfortunately I had to go on a business trip for a week right then, and I can say that it was a hard week. All that work behind me, just a few small things to finish, and I couldn’t do them.
The cutouts for the Fountek were a little bit off, and I had finished them roughly with a jigsaw. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.
The next weekend it was finally time to finish them. I connected the chassis elements and screwed them in, attached the speaker cables and was ready for my test listen. With my heart racing at about 300 bpm, I started the first song. The only thing I was hoping for at that point was that at least some sound would come out of the speakers and that I hadn’t done everything wrong. And the sound came out…
Can the Vota rock, can it do electronic music? Yes it can – and how! My first tests with a Ramones sampler were an absolute failure. The recording was already very bad, and the Vota didn’t make it any better. So I moved on to the next: Eddie Vedder – better known as Pearl Jam – with his soundtrack for the film “Into the Wild”: incredible. The voice reproduction, guitar – everything sounded perfect! I took a detour toward Paul Kalkbrenner and his album “Berlin Calling.” Here the volume went up to definitely neighbor-hostile territory, and yes: the Vota can handle electronic music too – very well! The song “Altes Kamuffel” comes with an incredibly sharp, clearly palpable bass.
But does the bass also work for electronic music, with extremely fast tempo and rhythm changes? I needed something a little more extreme to test that theory, which was quickly found in a Skrillex EP. The speaker I had tested earlier failed spectacularly here – it just sounds boring. The results with the Vota were the same as in the previous test – very precise, just the way it should be, and deep in the pit of your belly. I continued on through the whole length and breadth of the music genres – from Die Ärzte to Metallica, then some classical music, back to pop, then a little jazz. There was nothing to criticize here, even a little bit, other than some very bad recording quality here and there that I hadn’t noticed before.
What else can I say as a summary? In my opinion, the Vota is perfect as a speaker for rock, pop and electro, and it manages volume levels that are significantly higher than a raised indoor volume.
We are currently using the Vota with a small Onkyo AV receiver in Pure Direct mode. I’m interested to see whether the soon-to-be-restored Yamaha 1070 can add something more to it.
One thing is clear in any case, though – in the near future, another pair of Vota 1s (or 2s) and the Vota 3 will be following. ;)
If you want to build the Vota yourself the complete assembling kit can be ordered at Intertechnik