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CSS Criton 1TD-X Kit Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 5 1.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 104 38.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 141 51.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 23 8.4%

  • Total voters
    273

mtmpenn

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Beautiful job on the finish on these! Glad you are enjoying them.
Thanks so much Kerry! I am happy with them, particularly as a first attempt with raw veneer.

As I said in my earlier post, I really like the sound a lot. My prior daily drivers were a pair of Zaph ZA5.2 (that design was also measured on this site). To my ear these are better top to bottom. The impact of the lower extension is really significant - but even beyond that I enjoy the midrange and top end better on these too.
 

beagleman

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In my listening room, I saw a big bump from 150 Hz to 400 Hz, so I pulled that down. interestingly, I also got a slight dip from 2K to 6K, so I pulled that up, although in another room this dip was 1K to 4K. I also had a cancellation mode at 110 Hz which I’ve pulled up a bit (Though I’m not a fan of boosting these types of modes with high Q filters ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). I’ve since modified the room further so I’m due for a final round of measurements but have been too busy enjoying the system :)

I have found using the same exact pair of speakers from years ago, in 4 different rooms of size and build quality, the bass response is GREATLY affected and dominates the sound in a way that made my speakers sound great or just okay in regards to boomy bass and bass extension.
 

chang

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I own the 1-TD (non-X) version and it is my favorite speaker I've owned over the past 4 years, which includes the ELAC DBR-62, Polk R200, KEF LS50, JBL Studio 530, Quad S2, Wharfedale Diamond 12.2, among others).

Subjectively, it is one of the least bright sounding speakers I've owned. It does have a different tweeter and crossover parts than this 1-TDX so perhaps that is the reason my experience is different (?). Also it seems a bit harder to drive than the other speakers I've had. I picked it up second hand, but it was built and finished by CSS so I am fairly certain there are no issues with the build/assembly.
How would you compare these to the DBR's and R200's? Do they play well between 65-80 db?
 

tomtoo

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Subjective, yes, but I also believe this guy has some affiliation with Danny Ritchie. Not sure how or what but have to factor that aspect in also.

He voted for the CSS. Or lets say he liked it more, what ever this tells us ? I enjoy the objective way of view. If i can see the measurements than this gives me much more inside into a speaker than the impressions of some guy.
 

Rick Sykora

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Pure subjective review.


What is it worth?

Depends whether you trust the reviewers opinions. For me, it is pretty much just internet banter. :)
 

tomtoo

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Depends whether you trust the reviewers opinions. For me, it is pretty much just internet banter. :)

Thats why i asked, what is it realy good for? A little bit of provocation regarding subjective reviews. Couse this video is from my point of view useless. I look at the measurements and i see the CSS is a well done speaker. Not the best you could imagine, but ok.

The only bigger problem with this and Amirs review is, how long they can stand 400W before thermal disintegration. Hehe
 
Last edited:

maty

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I have found using the same exact pair of speakers from years ago, in 4 different rooms of size and build quality, the bass response is GREATLY affected and dominates the sound in a way that made my speakers sound great or just okay in regards to boomy bass and bass extension.
Have you tried closing the bass reflex? Compensating with a little equalization for the loss of bass.
 

Mudjock

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Thats why i asked, what is it realy good for? A little bit of provocation regarding subjective reviews. Couse this video is from my point of view useless. I look at the measurements and i see the CSS is a well done speaker. Not the best you could imagine, but ok.

The only bigger problem with this and Amirs review is, how long they can stand 400W before thermal disintegration. Hehe
But then, there's always the question about what use case the continuous 400W test corresponds to, other than intentional destruction...
 

Nuyes

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I voted 'Not terrible' because I think that for someone who is interested and passionate about loudspeakers enough to try to DIY, it would be hard to see the upside.

It doesn't seem like a bad speaker for casual enjoyment.
 

Mudjock

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Have you tried closing the bass reflex? Compensating with a little equalization for the loss of bass.
In my experience, a sealed design with eq can have an advantage, but the speaker should be designed for high excursion and power handling to allow for that correction. Otherwise, the increased output around the tuning frequency may be preferred and can also be equalized as needed.
 

JAJDACT

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I voted 'Not terrible' because I think that for someone who is interested and passionate about loudspeakers enough to try to DIY, it would be hard to see the upside.

It doesn't seem like a bad speaker for casual enjoyment.
Casual enjoyment instead of what?
 

Ninjastar

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Subjective, yes, but I also believe this guy has some affiliation with Danny Ritchie. Not sure how or what but have to factor that aspect in also.
He is not affiliated with Danny Richie. That would be another YouTube reviewer New Record Day, who is on record as having trashed this forum before (like Danny).

Actually Jay had previously made a video bashing Danny Richie in response to Danny's video "calling out" YouTube reviewers. In short, Danny said most YouTubers are not qualified to review his speakers because they are inexperienced, listening room is not treated properly, etc. And he put an open invitation for them to fly out to GR Research in Texas (presumably out of their own pocket) so he could teach them lessons. It came across as condescending so Jay and others like him did not take kindly to it. But the two seem to be on good terms now.
 

Ninjastar

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How would you compare these to the DBR's and R200's? Do they play well between 65-80 db?
They play fine at those volumes.

As far as comparisons to those speakers, like I said, I like the CSS Criton 1-TD better. But it's not really comparing apples to apples. This is a DIY Kit that costs more than those speakers for just the unassembled kit.
 

fineMen

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In my experience, a sealed design with eq can have an advantage, but the speaker should be designed for high excursion and power handling to allow for that correction. Otherwise, the increased output around the tuning frequency may be preferred and can also be equalized as needed.
In general the reduction of excursion should make one hope for lower distortion. But actually this seems to materialze only for a quite small frequency band around the tuning frequency. For some other reason the tuning frequency sets the mark for the lowest notes a ported design can deliver, hence its position at 40Hz +/-. But the most demanding frequency range, for popular (dance) music, which again is the most demanding genre, lies at 60Hz, where the excursion reduction drops significantly when tuned to 40Hz.

Also, but only anecdotally so far I measured an increase in intermodulation distortion with a ported design versus a sealed enclosure after equalizing to the same output.

And not the least with small speakers, e/g 20 liters volume per 200cm^2 cone area ( relative, I mean it ;-) the well known chuffing from the port's airstream becomes virtually unavoidable. That chuffing bothers me, personally, more than a bit more of distortion. The latter is nearly completely masked by the overtones, especially with bass instruments (even electronic), but the chuffing stands out.
 

chang

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They play fine at those volumes.

As far as comparisons to those speakers, like I said, I like the CSS Criton 1-TD better. But it's not really comparing apples to apples. This is a DIY Kit that costs more than those speakers for just the unassembled kit.
Thanks, though I'm pretty sure they're similar in price, that's why I was curious.
 

Ninjastar

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Thanks, though I'm pretty sure they're similar in price, that's why I was curious.
Not really. They're only similar in price if you already have all the tools (and skills) to assemble the kit.

Otherwise, you have to factor in cost of tools and materials, time, labor, skills to confidently solder and assemble, and finishing options (unless you are OK leaving it as an unfinished flat pack cabinet) for a veneer or a painted finish.

Or you could pay someone to do all that for you, but this would push the costs well ahead of the ELAC DBR-62 and Polk R200.
 

MabeHall

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the CSS Criton 1TD-X Kit speaker. I requested a sample from the company and shipped a pair to me already built in nice veneer:
View attachment 263965
I believe the kit costs US $770 including an MDF flatpack. Typical of DIY kits, you get the value add of very heavy construction likely due to (3/4?) thick MDF panels. I would say it is nearly twice as dense/heavy as any speaker costing near its its KIT price. Not much to see on the back side:
View attachment 263966

Company was a delight to work with, being highly responsive and quite patient as I got to test these speakers.

Measurements you are about to see are performed by Klippel Near-field scanner. Frequency response measurements are "anechoic." Reference axis is the tweeter center.

CSS Criton 1TD-X Measurements
Here is our usual "spinorama" CEA-2034 frequency response graphs:
View attachment 263967

The on-axis as noted is generally flat and good, sans a few dB here or there. What stands out is the directivity error around crossover point where the woofer has gotten directional but the tweeter is not. This is due to lack of large waveguide around the tweeter to match the directivities of the two drivers.

Sensitivity is less than specifications and I had to push the speaker by 4 to 5 dB to get my usual reference measurement level. Be sure to have good bit of amplification power to drive these speakers.

Near-field response shows a resonance from the port/cabinet and and another from the woofer outside of its range:
View attachment 263969

Early window reflections have a bit of deviation due to the directivity error:
View attachment 263971

But interestingly enough sum up well with on-axis to produce a good predicted in-room frequency response:
View attachment 263972

As predicted from the spin, there is directivity error:
View attachment 263973
View attachment 263974

The wider response can be a benefit or not, depending on your room situation. Vertical response is typical for a 2-way speaker so stay at tweeter axis relative to your ear height:
View attachment 263975

Distortion performance was very good at 86 dBSPL and 96 dBSPL with latter above low bass:
View attachment 263976

View attachment 263977

Impedance is above average which makes it an easier load for an amplifier (requires less current):
View attachment 263981

Finally here are CSD/Waterfall and step responses:

View attachment 263978

View attachment 263979

CSS Criton 1TD-X Kit Listening Tests and Equalization
Note: my allergies are acting up and my ears are rather plugged up!

First impression was fairly positive with my female vocal tracks. After a bit though, I found the sound a bit bright so applied different EQ filters and landed on these:
View attachment 263982

Fully correcting to on-axis response in upper bass/mid-range was challenging as it improved things on some tracks, but made others boomy. So I had to back off as you see. Bass response was very good but if you cranked it up too much, it would gradually get distorted. I played with a high pass filter but at the end, I didn't like it. Proper correction in bass region requires room measurement to make sure one knows the interaction with the room modes. Other that, the sound was excellent especially on vocals, instrumental and techno music.

I was impressed by the dynamics of the speaker. That woofer has fair amount of excursion compared to what we typically see in speakers in this size. Yes, as noted, it tries to play too low of a frequency and can get distorted. Other than that though, this speaker can play loud, really loud! Despite only using one speaker, I was able to fill a very large space with very enjoyable sound.

Note that I was driving the speaker with 400+ watts of power so as noted, you need to give it fair amount of juice (if you want to listen loud).

Conclusions
The CSS Criton 1TD-X design has benefited from some good design choices such as a woofer with impressive power delivery with good on-axis and predicted-in-room frequency response. There are minor imperfections here and there but at higher level, it achieves very good fidelity. Subjective experience with a bit of filtering was very good. As a kit, it will give you the satisfaction of building something you can take pride in.

Let me also repeat the willingness of the company to have its speaker subjected to our rigorous testing where others run away fast. Or don't even respond. These things score big points in my book.

I am going to put the CSS Criton 1TD-X Kit speaker to my recommended list.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
This is a review and detailed measurements of the CSS Criton 1TD-X Kit speaker. I requested a sample from the company and shipped a pair to me already built in nice veneer:
View attachment 263965
I believe the kit costs US $770 including an MDF flatpack. Typical of DIY kits, you get the value add of very heavy construction likely due to (3/4?) thick MDF panels. I would say it is nearly twice as dense/heavy as any speaker costing near its its KIT price. Not much to see on the back side:
View attachment 263966

Company was a delight to work with, being highly responsive and quite patient as I got to test these speakers.

Measurements you are about to see are performed by Klippel Near-field scanner. Frequency response measurements are "anechoic." Reference axis is the tweeter center.

CSS Criton 1TD-X Measurements
Here is our usual "spinorama" CEA-2034 frequency response graphs:
View attachment 263967

The on-axis as noted is generally flat and good, sans a few dB here or there. What stands out is the directivity error around crossover point where the woofer has gotten directional but the tweeter is not. This is due to lack of large waveguide around the tweeter to match the directivities of the two drivers.

Sensitivity is less than specifications and I had to push the speaker by 4 to 5 dB to get my usual reference measurement level. Be sure to have good bit of amplification power to drive these speakers.

Near-field response shows a resonance from the port/cabinet and and another from the woofer outside of its range:
View attachment 263969

Early window reflections have a bit of deviation due to the directivity error:
View attachment 263971

But interestingly enough sum up well with on-axis to produce a good predicted in-room frequency response:
View attachment 263972

As predicted from the spin, there is directivity error:
View attachment 263973
View attachment 263974

The wider response can be a benefit or not, depending on your room situation. Vertical response is typical for a 2-way speaker so stay at tweeter axis relative to your ear height:
View attachment 263975

Distortion performance was very good at 86 dBSPL and 96 dBSPL with latter above low bass:
View attachment 263976

View attachment 263977

Impedance is above average which makes it an easier load for an amplifier (requires less current):
View attachment 263981

Finally here are CSD/Waterfall and step responses:

View attachment 263978

View attachment 263979

CSS Criton 1TD-X Kit Listening Tests and Equalization
Note: my allergies are acting up and my ears are rather plugged up!

First impression was fairly positive with my female vocal tracks. After a bit though, I found the sound a bit bright so applied different EQ filters and landed on these:
View attachment 263982

Fully correcting to on-axis response in upper bass/mid-range was challenging as it improved things on some tracks, but made others boomy. So I had to back off as you see. Bass response was very good but if you cranked it up too much, it would gradually get distorted. I played with a high pass filter but at the end, I didn't like it. Proper correction in bass region requires room measurement to make sure one knows the interaction with the room modes. Other that, the sound was excellent especially on vocals, instrumental and techno music.

I was impressed by the dynamics of the speaker. That woofer has fair amount of excursion compared to what we typically see in speakers in this size. Yes, as noted, it tries to play too low of a frequency and can get distorted. Other than that though, this speaker can play loud, really loud! Despite only using one speaker, I was able to fill a very large space with very enjoyable sound.

Note that I was driving the speaker with 400+ watts of power so as noted, you need to give it fair amount of juice (if you want to listen loud).

Conclusions
The CSS Criton 1TD-X design has benefited from some good design choices such as a woofer with impressive power delivery with good on-axis and predicted-in-room frequency response. There are minor imperfections here and there but at higher level, it achieves very good fidelity. Subjective experience with a bit of filtering was very good. As a kit, it will give you the satisfaction of building something you can take pride in.

Let me also repeat the willingness of the company to have its speaker subjected to our rigorous testing where others run away fast. Or don't even respond. These things score big points in my book.

I am going to put the CSS Criton 1TD-X Kit speaker to my recommended list.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
I’m reminded of reading about a friend of a tester who didn’t want to subject his speakers to an analysis like this one because he was happy with them. Nothing but downside potential. I have the 2TD-X and am over the moon with the sound. Should I now question my euphoria? They are replacing my 40+ year old Yamaha NS-1000Ms and do everything I loved about the Yamahas and far more. I listen to more music than ever and search out any music with great detail, stereo separation, dynamic range, and wide sound stage. The 2TD-X has 2 woofers with the tweter between them. I went with the $400 crossover upgrade to ensure the accuracy of the crossover not because I felt $60 caps sound better than $5 caps. I covered every available interior surface with no-rez sold by Danny Richie. This project is as rewarding a $2000 and 100 or so hours I could have spent. And then I read this review. I’m an electrical engineer by education with old ears. I read and watched many reviews and based my selection of CSS speakers on several comparison reviews and listening reviews and yes I know many of these are subjective but I try to tune out the BS. But, when one 2TD-X reviewer was listening to a particular piece he was familiar with—shook his head and, said “that was perfect”, I was sold. I haven’t been disappointed. Now for my next DIY speakers—-in search of audio nirvana.
 

mtmpenn

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I’m biased since I also own these speakers, but I see it like this:

There are always trade offs.

I think I can hear, and I enjoy, the in-room frequency response, the bass extension, the wide dispersion and the low distortion of these speakers. The drivers contribute to both those positive attributes and the directivity error. I don’t think I can hear the directivity error, so overall, seems like a good set of trade-offs to me!
 
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