The white giant, the active Eton 11-incher
The first time I considered a DIY project, I was planning to replace my existing Teufel (devil) home theater with a homemade set of speakers. But a visit to the Loudspeakerbuilding.com team threw all of my plans out the window, because I walked into the studio just as the Little Princess happened to be playing. It was that famous “love at first need” thing.
Once the ladies had moved in with me, though, I still couldn’t shake the home theater idea. Once my piggybank had been replenished, I picked out the right centers and rears and started building the cabinets. No, I didn’t choose three more Little Princesses – my piggybank was too small for that. But I did follow the thread in the forum about the subwoofer debate..
Naturally, a real home theater needs a sub, too. But the LPs really do take care of everything in that area when it comes to music, as many people (correctly) pointed out… Yes, but… a home theater might as well be done right… ergo, a sub needed to come on board… I mean, into the living room. Since I was already so excited about the Eton speakers, I wanted to stick with them, and I hoped that my choice of the active 11-incher with Wyntek WAM 300 was the right decision. Unfortunately not many people had experience with it, the user reviews weren’t especially good either, and only a few DIY projects had been carried out behind closed doors.
Until then, I had just had a readymade product in my living room – how did someone put it in the forum? – a “mud-slinger.” I hoped the Eton would deliver a clearer, more precise bass without any humming echoes. So I ordered the chassis and the WAM 300, and at the same time I started thinking about the cabinet. I didn’t just want to build a wooden box and toss the Eton into it – I thought I would try something “different” for a change. So I chose 15-mm MDF boards as the base material. Following some expert advice, I designed the interior volume with juuuust under 90 liters, to be enclosed by a triple layer of 15-mm MDF, with quartz sand filling up the middle. First, a frame made of 15-mm-thick, 5-cm-wide MDF was glued onto a side board for all 6 sides. This frame was then filled with quartz sand, glued together and closed using another board. The process was repeated until gradually, one side at a time, a box was created that was filled with quartz sand on each side – the front and back sides only had a little bit, since the chassis, the reflex channel and the WAM still needed to be installed there.
Now came the usual sequence of sanding, painting, sanding, painting… at the end, I had created a white sub, with respectable results for a paint roller. The Wyntek WAM 300 in the rear wall had its own chamber, so it could be set into the wall. The small wires on the side are for a playful idea to make the bass reflex channel shimmer with a little light.
Here you can see the test rocket in its planned location. It is behind a wall with a stone façade, which is !!! NOT !!! ideal. But that was the only request from my beloved wife, who endured all of the other home-theater renovations in the living room without complaint (for which I would like to extend a huge thank-you at this point). For cabinets measuring 46 cm wide, 50 tall and 60 cm deep, with 4.5-cm-thick exterior walls (weighing about 35 kg), even I can see her point.
And now for the sound.
I mentioned at the beginning that the sub was intended for home theater use and that I was tired of my commercial “mud-slingers.” It didn’t need to be a kick bass, but I wanted it to be deep, clear and precise – and much more importantly, I wanted it to gently guide the Princesses down the scale. It has been set up in my living room for just a few days now; I haven’t tried out all of the WAM software yet, but I did try out a couple of movies and some music as a test.
In the Blu-Ray version of “King Kong,” in Chapter 37, the titular great ape and his fair maiden are attacked by three Tyrannosaurus Rex. At zero dB, the Yamaha 2067 measured the speaker and the sub via YAPO, and then it got right down to it without any other adjustments… The living room shakes noticeably (I have an ancient house with hardwood floors). When the ape’s fist smashes into a dinosaur, you can almost feel it. But despite the primal violence from the sub, you can still hear the screams of the oh-so-helpless maiden, clearly defined above it all (thanks to the LPs!!!) …it’s fantastic! Then the ape and the last dinosaur are standing face to face, and the ape is snorting… did I just feel a breeze across my face? After watching this scene several times (a reference point for me), I decide that the bass is almost too powerful, and I decide to turn it down a little bit. That takes care of the film issue – for the approx. €600 I spent, there’s nothing else like it in stores (my personal impression).
Sometimes you just feel like sh** – your soul needs a good musical outlet, and it might as well be nice and loud. At those times, I don’t make the Princesses work alone – at 60 Hz, when it’s really bad, sometimes even 80 Hz, I rein the ladies in and let the sub play along. And the way it plays, you probably will need to tie it a little bit to the WAM using fine adjustments. But it would also make sense to close the reflex channel when you’re listening to music. That might reduce the force a little bit and make it even more precise. I’ll probably try that out soon. For interested do-it-yourselfers, you might keep that in mind ahead of time; unfortunately I just thought of it now. But then I wanted to know for sure, so I tried out a couple of “softer” things with the sub. Kid Rock, the Rock n Roll Jesus album. It was just great; despite the slightly slower and calmer pieces, for instance “Roll On,” “All Summer Long,” every bass beat was a pleasure. It felt very present (see: fine-tuning), but it integrates really well into the music. Scouting for Girls, the album “Everybody Wants To Be On TV,” the track Silly Song… It was wonderful, with the bass on, bass off, bass on, bass off..... you can tell that there are still a few notes here and there, even way at the bottom, and the white box does underline it very nicely. That’s why I tried it with the bass on and off, so that even a deaf person like me could compare the differences.
It’s important to clarify that the Little Princess can do this really well by itself, and it feels balanced, warm and good all-around. When the sub is added, you can tell that it gets a little “dirty.” But sometimes that fits with the mood, and you get a smile on your face when the additional push is added around the bottom. It really does add something – you need to go back and adjust the WAM 300 because this white giant builds up a good head of steam. Matthias (Da) described it very nicely in comparison to the “mud-slinger.” You won’t get a bass that makes the cups rattle and the door shake. The door doesn’t even have a chance to see a bass beat coming before it’s already gone...
So... I’ve tried to put the whole thing in words, while toning down my admittedly a little exuberant emotions from the first few days, but the thing is amazing!!! It’s anything but a mud-slinger. It’s definitely not really necessary for music (if you own a Duetta or an LP), and it could seem like a little too much for some people in that area, a bit too dirty. It’s more about feeling the deeper notes (i.e. listening with your gut) than about hearing them.