A few years ago, a defining moment convinced me of the advantages of having good loudspeakers. I was at a friend’s apartment late at night, after a long evening of hearing Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were here” through some free-standing speakers – a brand I wasn’t familiar with. Since I, as a student, had spent the last few years listening to music through either Aldi-brand computer speakers or headphones, it was quite a (positive) shock to hear what music sounds like with a good system. From that moment on, it was clear: someday I need to get really good loudspeakers too!
Over the next few years, I was able to steadily improve the quality of my components until I finally ended up with used boxes from a well-known German manufacturer. It was clear even when I got them that they wouldn’t be my last, but I have to say they made me pretty happy, and they fit my budget at that time.
For about a year now, I’ve been visiting various hi-fi stores. I listened to a lot of speakers, and I came to a conclusion: the things I really like are rare, and shall we say financially very ambitious. On the internet, though, you do eventually run across the concept of building your own, and then of course you end up looking at the Duettas on Loudspeakerbuilding.com. Eventually, the large number of reviews, all of them very positive, got my attention. I decided there must be something to the “Duetta mythology.”
Since I live near Munich, which makes a visit to the next listening room a little tricky, I started looking in forums and on a website for ways to hear a demo of the Duettas. Preferably the Tops, since a large Duetta would have been hard to fit into my listening room. After about a month, I contacted someone through the loudspeaker building site and set a date for the listening test. I packed up my CDs and headed over.
After about 5 seconds, it was clear – holy moley, these things could do much more than I had even dreamed of! They were dynamic, with fine detailing and a stagelike presentation of the sound that I had never heard before. The listening session went on a little longer than expected, and when it came to an end I didn’t really want to leave, since that meant living without that great sound until my own boxes were finished. In other words, my decision was made!
Over the next few days, I started thinking about the design for the cabinet. Since I don’t have a large workshop or any woodworking experience, I quickly decided to have the cabinets cut to size with CNC. A few small adjustments and requests were taken into account, and the result was a cabinet made of black 19-mm MDF with a 2-mm groove on the front side. The front itself is made of normal 22-mm MDF with all of the sides rounded off.
At the same time, I contacted Udo and it ended in a very informative discussion. I agreed with Intertechnik that they would send me a pre-assembled crossover. Everything went very fast, and a few days later I got a nice little package in the mail.
Here are a couple of pictures:
Now I just had to wait for my cabinet pieces in order to finally put together my little dream loudspeaker. I passed the time by asking endless questions, all of which he answered with saintly patience. Thanks again!
In the meantime, I also built a small base for the speakers, gluing together two 25-mm black MDF boards. I had a local cabinetmaker round off the edges for me, and I had a groove cut into the top side.
Finally it was time: the cabinets arrived. Since they were centered using flat dowels, I was able to stick them together right away and see if everything fit. Here are a few more pictures:
They fit !! I started gluing the pieces together that evening. Even though Udo said it wasn’t necessary with the glue he had recommended, I clamped the whole thing with screw clamps and let it dry overnight just to be sure.
Then I applied three coats of hardwax oil to the black MDF cabinet. I had the front and the top of the base painted a light cream color, since once again I didn’t have the facilities for it and the risk of screwing something up was too great. I actually wanted to do it myself with some supervision, but a busy work week and my impatience ended up convincing me to outsource the job.
Since I don’t have a welding station or much of an understanding of circuit boards, I also contacted a car hi-fi workshop in my area and set a date to finish the boxes. They were very understanding, and they gave me first-class instructions. Now I understand the circuitry, and I can say that I personally welded, glued and screwed together everything in the box. It was an exciting moment for me when I tightened the last screw on the TMT. Then it was time to go home for the first listening test.
The first CD naturally had to be “Dark Side of the Moon.” So I connected the power cord, put the CD in and listened … I heard the first heartbeat and then the next one. They worked right away. It was hard for me to tear myself away from the album, even though I had vowed to try out a couple of different musical styles after “Time.” I did it, though, and I have to say that the Duettas are fun in every genre. With singer-songwriter pieces, for instance, you can hear exactly how the song was sung into the microphone, and you can hear every emotion that the singer crammed into the respective piece. Perfect! You can hear just what the sound engineer was thinking in each recording (or unfortunately not thinking, as the case may be), which makes the music more sophisticated – and you get more out of it !
In the meantime, I discovered that the speakers can sound even better than what I heard on the first evening, namely once the chassis elements have been broken in. Several times I’ve had the feeling that a previously unnoticed veil had been drawn in front of the sound, and then it was lifted. Now my Duetta Tops have about 30-40 hours under their belts, and from what I’ve read, there’s still a little ways to go.
I got an unintentional compliment from a friend who isn’t normally that interested in loudspeakers. Since he often listens to Michael Jackson, when he asked me to play something for him, I put on “Thriller.” After the amazingly realistic sound of the creaking door came the wind blowing through the room. He looked incredulously at the speakers and asked, “How does that work? You don’t have surround sound, do you?“
All in all, I’m very satisfied. I just want to thank all supportes again for the kind help and thank you for this great development, and I recommend that anyone with a suitable listening room try building the Duetta Tops.