The Little Princess – what else?!
I’m actually something of a novice when it comes to do-it-yourself loudspeakers. But like many of the people here, I soon caught the bug, and after my first horn loudspeaker I needed a new project – the horn I had built was very big, and not especially suitable for the living room. So I browsed loudspeakerbuilding.com, read the articles and made some comparisons. I was looking for a pedestal box for my living room – and “while I was at it,” it might as well be a Blues Class. Since it was only my second project, though, I didn’t want to spend too much money right away, so I ended up with the SB Acoustics assembly kits. The big question was just: which assembly kit is the right one for me? I was wavering between the SB 36 and the SB 240. Making a decision remotely was extremely hard, so there was only one thing to be done – have a listening session. In early January I went to the listening studio with my friend Julian to look at and listen to the whole thing.
After about a 3-hour drive, we finally arrived. Since the SB 36 was unfortunately not available, we started with the SB 417, which according to the description sounds very similar but has more pressure than the SB 36. After the first few songs, we thought, “Well, that does sound very good.” Having shown particular interest in the tube amplifier and the record player, Julian then discovered a narrow box that strongly appealed to him in terms of both the size and the appearance. “This one’s nice and small – I could make that work at home,” he started saying. “Can we listen to it?”
The small box was quickly hooked up, and after the first few notes, our chins dropped. The WOW effect was in full force. It was just phenomenal how balanced and relaxed the little box sounded. Both of us – still novices in the area of hi-fi – were very impressed by the often-described “stage” that was being presented to us. “Ask the band to come out from behind that wall!”
As Justus accurately said above, I first noticed these loudspeakers because of their pleasing dimensions. I had never looked at the loudspeakerbuilding website before, so I didn’t really have anything in mind when I heard the name “Little Princess.” That’s why I was surprised when my comment, “…oh, I kind of like those too…” caused some amusement among the others. Justus has already described the sound experience very clearly. Now, I hadn’t gone along with him to the store to listen to loudspeakers that I was planning to build myself. In fact, I didn’t want to build any speakers at all – I just wanted to hear what the DIY world had to offer. But now I’m going to start saving my money so that I can set up a version of the Little Princess in my own living room sometime soon.
In particular, I liked the highs even better compared to the SB 417. The sound was clearer and more precise, which I very much appreciated. At that point I was starting to realize that the whole project could end up being much more expensive than I had originally thought. At my request, the SB 240s were then hooked up. We immediately noticed the clearly presented bass, in comparison to the SB 417 – slightly too much for my taste and my living room, though. For the next hour, we only listened to the Little Princess, and it was clear to me that it was this one or nothing, and that quality has its price. Once I was back at home, two Little Princess assembly kits made their way into my shopping basket the same evening.
I didn’t want to experiment with the high-quality assembly kit, so once I had constructed the cabinet on the computer, I ordered the pre-cut wood from my cabinetmaker.
The design corresponds almost 1:1 to the original design. The 19-mm side walls made of MDF are simply attached with a butt joint, and all of the pieces in between are mitered and made of 22-mm MDF. With the help of some flat dowels, the cabinet was quickly and easily glued together.
Since I am not a huge fan of the MDF look, the Little Princesses were to be given shiny black-and-white gowns. Because of my lack of space and experience, I sent them to an auto painting shop.
Since I had no soldering experience, I had a healthy fear of building the crossover myself. In the end, though, the real problem was not the soldering. Instead, the problem was getting all of the crossover pieces onto the back reinforcement (after asking, I was told not to use the front reinforcement because it is too close to the bass chassis and its magnet). Originally I wanted to position all of the components, nicely organized, on a hole matrix board. But because space was tight, it turned into a little 3-D puzzle. The final result doesn’t look especially nice, but it works – and that’s the main thing, after all. I was very relieved once I had both of the crossovers connected and they both worked.
After 2 1/2 weeks, the paint job was done. It was easy to glue on the two side walls, screw in the crossovers and position the Sonofil. All that was missing were the chassis, the reflex tube and the pole terminals, and those were quickly finished too.
Both of the speakers were finished on a Saturday afternoon. On Saturday evening, my buddy Julian was already at my door for quality control and/or a sound check. What can I say or write that I didn’t already say at the start of the assembly report… The speakers sounded almost the way I remembered them from the studio. Almost? Yes, unfortunately just almost. At this point I don’t know if it has to do with my entry-level amplifier, which is a little short on pressure in the lower range, or whether the problem is with my room acoustics. It is probably a combination of everything, which makes the bass sound a little hesitant. However, additional tests will determine that. In any case, it’s a very, very, very high-level complaint. If it’s the amplifier, I already know of a tube that harmonizes perfectly with the Little Princess. But I suspect that my roof pitch is the main problem… in which case the only solution is to move. Still, I’m always impressed by what great sound comes out of such a small pedestal loudspeaker. Here is a size chart for comparison.
Thank you very much for this great loudspeakerbuilding website and the community, which always answered my questions helpfully and patiently. The Little Princess is a great assembly kit that I will enjoy for a long time. Thank you very much for developing it. Thank you also to Julian, who gamely spent 6 hours in the car with me and also helped me write this report. Special thanks, though, go to my girlfriend, who gave me one of the two loudspeaker assembly kits for my birthday after she noticed how excited I was about them after my visit.
So what comes next? “There’s always another do-it-yourself project,” I would say. Speaker building has taken hold of me. Since I am now also a slave to good sound, I would love to build a couple of speakers for my PC. Maybe they’ll even come up with something small and appropriate this year so that a couple of new gems can show up under the Christmas tree.