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Linkwitz LX521.4 - new build and impressions

tktran303

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Mar 27, 2019
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I’m one of the misfortunate few who move houses every few years (6 moves in 10 years).

I have had monopoles and dipoles and big and small speakers (7L to 100L+ litres).

The upside is that I can tell you that rooms make ALL the difference.

Anyone working in live sound will also tell you that: It’s nice to get a speaker that has flattish frequency response, but EQ is a definite necessity.m

Any speaker designer also knows this- after they’ve completed their tour de force; they hold their breath when it’s exhibited for the first time in a new and unknown environment.

Build listen enjoy adjust.
 
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Just an additional review. I’ve owned both the Orions and LX521’s. The LX521’s were way better to my ears. I started with the passive mid-tweeter crossover ASP.3, then tried miniDSP, then built the ASP.4 with through hole components finally returning to the ASP.3. I know some will think it’s crazy but MiniDSP definitely wasn’t for me and the ASP.4 just didn’t image as well in my setup(I’m definitely in minority here I know)??? I got into building class A amps and made the mistake of selling the LX521’s and building some high efficiency speakers. I quickly realized I should have stayed married to the LX521’s and am now making investments to reinstate our relationship. I’ve purchased a Zapco HDSP with much better DAC capabilities so will revisit DSP. If not I always have the trusty ASP.3 that did not go with the sale:). Long story short but nothing I’ve heard at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest or Axpona holds a candle in my opinion. The imaging is insane.

So to talk about bass and need for subs for a second. I mix live sound and generally run subs up to about 110dB at FOH with plenty of feeling in the chest. You will NOT get that out of LX521’s. However, they do have a good amount of bass for audiophile listening in the 80-90dB (say at 8 feet away) range without subs. If you high pass at 40-50hz they will play a bit louder before compressing bass. Dipole bass is very special but definitely not what you will impress your friends with as it just does not pressurize the room in the same way. I selectively ran with boxed subs depending on listening goals and genera. For example electronic music sounds fantastic but adding subs does help the experience. The Seas subs in the LX521 are very special, they have 30mm Xmax and do not bottom out as suspension catches before it hits the back plate. The Vd is something like 1000cc which is more than many 15’s and even some 18’s. In a dipole configuration with cancellation you do lose a bit of bass which this smallish sub makes up for with its extended displacement. The sub is probably the highest quality sub I’ve ever used.

Last point I’ll make is my current high efficiency speakers measure well and sound good and host a great party:). LX521’s didn’t excite many friends and family like my current monsters do simply because they can do much greater than 100dB without straining…. But when everyone goes home I no longer sit up by myself and enjoy the music as I used to:). Maybe I can talk my wife into multiple rooms of audiophile equipment….
What are your current high efficiency speakers?
 

Joel Foust

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Jun 23, 2021
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What are your current high efficiency speakers?
Troels Gravesen’s “The Loudspeaker” TL-1. It’s not like huge horn or single driver kind of high efficiency but with a Hypex amp on the woofer it gets plenty loud on the top half with just a handful of watts. I go back and forth between a 300b amp (TU-8600R) and a Pass designed Aleph-j typically. I do have some much more powerful AB and class D amps that will drive it to ear bleeding levels too. I can now say I have a handle on what class A brings to the table but the feeling that I’m in an intimate jazz club or sitting in a live orchestra just isn’t there like it is with LX521’s…

The rest of the system was and ADI-2 DAC with a Nutube B1 buffer when using the Aleph-J or AB amps. I’ve swapped the ADI-2 with the Zapco HDSP without much regret as my plans are to rebuild LX521 and also try to redesign the upper baffle with lower distortion drivers to compare against LX521. I know it sounds audacious but I’ve been designing my own speakers with great success for a long time and have spent years understanding open baffle loudspeaker design. Its going to be hard to improve upon but I think with improved driver technology and enough effort there is an opportunity to make something better. I’ve always used the Linkwitz open baffles as a reference and will continue to do so again:)
 

Joel Foust

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Jun 23, 2021
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I’m one of the misfortunate few who move houses every few years (6 moves in 10 years).

I have had monopoles and dipoles and big and small speakers (7L to 100L+ litres).

The upside is that I can tell you that rooms make ALL the difference.

Anyone working in live sound will also tell you that: It’s nice to get a speaker that has flattish frequency response, but EQ is a definite necessity.m

Any speaker designer also knows this- after they’ve completed their tour de force; they hold their breath when it’s exhibited for the first time in a new and unknown environment.

Build listen enjoy adjust.
So I totally agree that EQ is necessary. Until I purchased my first RME ADI-2 I felt like any component offering EQ degraded sound quality and imaging. The ADI-2 changed that view and have been using its EQ ever sense, even on the LX521’s depending on type of music. Not a plug yet as its pretty new to me but Zapco is a car audio company that has a 8 analog in + Optical + SPDIF in with 16 analog outputs. The outputs use AKM4458, AKM4490 or ESS9038 Pro depending on your selection. I'd love to see test results on this as it seems like the best thing I can find for a fully active system (wish it were balanced though...). I went AKM 4490 and so far love the sound but haven't tried it with anything open baffle yet.... LX521’s definitely need to be out in the room and the room must extend beyond the listening position to get the full effect. I feel like if you can meet those criteria then dipoles are less sensitive to what is on the floors, walls and furniture than a typical box speaker.
 
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Madjalapeno

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I think what I like most is they are non-fatiguing. I can listen for hours, at a good volume without my ears feeling tired at the end of it. They also work well for home theater. You might not get the gut punch of a sealed sub, but you certainly get the rumble.

I don't think I have the positioning right yet though, as the LXMini's are still my favorite.
 

jeffbook

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May 21, 2019
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So I totally agree that EQ is necessary. Until I purchased my first RME ADI-2 I felt like any component offering EQ degraded sound quality and imaging. The ADI-2 changed that view and have been using its EQ ever sense, even on the LX521’s depending on type of music. Not a plug yet as its pretty new to me but Zapco is a car audio company that has a 8 analog in + Optical + SPDIF in with 16 analog outputs. The outputs use AKM4458, AKM4490 or ESS9038 Pro depending on your selection. I'd love to see test results on this as it seems like the best thing I can find for a fully active system (wish it were balanced though...). I went AKM 4490 and so far love the sound but haven't tried it with anything open baffle yet.... LX521’s definitely need to be out in the room and the room must extend beyond the listening position to get the full effect. I feel like if you can meet those criteria then dipoles are less sensitive to what is on the floors, walls and furniture than a typical box speaker.
Doers the Zapco unit do crossovers as well as EQ? How it is programmed?
 

tktran303

Senior Member
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Mar 27, 2019
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So I totally agree that EQ is necessary. Until I purchased my first RME ADI-2 I felt like any component offering EQ degraded sound quality and imaging. The ADI-2 changed that view and have been using its EQ ever sense, even on the LX521’s depending on type of music. Not a plug yet as its pretty new to me but Zapco is a car audio company that has a 8 analog in + Optical + SPDIF in with 16 analog outputs. The outputs use AKM4458, AKM4490 or ESS9038 Pro depending on your selection. I'd love to see test results on this as it seems like the best thing I can find for a fully active system (wish it were balanced though...). I went AKM 4490 and so far love the sound but haven't tried it with anything open baffle yet.... LX521’s definitely need to be out in the room and the room must extend beyond the listening position to get the full effect. I feel like if you can meet those criteria then dipoles are less sensitive to what is on the floors, walls and furniture than a typical box speaker.

Hi Joel,

I think it’s a trade off. The reduced side wall reflections but increased front wall reflections definitely give a different presentation.

Even over 2 metre from the front wall; my musician friends feels it sounds different. I can’t recall exactly what they said, but to me has a softer focus, pleasant special characteristics. What’s really curious is that when I’m in another room it sounds more life-like than box speakers.

But box speakers (yes, I have them as well, not a 18” woofer like the Loudspeaker I; but dual active 12” woofers and 95dB/2.83V 6.5” pure midrange) the focus is tighter.

The Sealed woofers go down to 44 Hz (F3) , the in room response is lower of course but anechoic it can output 32Hz @[email protected] without EQ with just 400W(4ohm)

(I don’t aim for 20 or 16Hz) and it already reminds me of the body shaking bass punch of superclubs’ sound-system of pre-Covid.

Is it less or more real?

It’s hard to say but with simple acoustical music like strings and piano and guitar the dipole is better. For hard rock and metal and synth; I think it’s the box.

My subjective opinions; but I’ve had too many speakers and too many residences, so count that as anecdotal evidence from piano playing music loving audio tragic.

Oh and we have pianos and guitars and drums in the household too…
 
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Joel Foust

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Doers the Zapco unit do crossovers as well as EQ? How it is programmed?
So I’ve only had it about a week so no expert in it yet. It is very car oriented but yes it has crossover capability with selectable filter type and slopes. It has 30 bands of PEQ per channel except last few channels have less, phase adjustment and some sort of dynamic EQ to compensate for car manufacturers built in compression. It is a little odd in a home audiophile setting but so far I find it pretty versatile. Only complaint is I don’t see shelf filters yet. It does some other interesting things for car audio that may be fun to play with at home like assigning a percentage of a given input to any output and adjust delay; this is used to create surround effects in cars. I could see it being very versatile for an Atmos setup etc. If you get seriously interested the software is free to download and you can setup an entire profile before ever having the DSP (this is what I did..). In about 20 minutes I had the Troel’s speakers +/- 1db from 30Hz-10kHz. So far I’m pretty impressed and will get good use out of it prototyping speakers and enjoying it in my main rig.
 

changster

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So I’ve only had it about a week so no expert in it yet. It is very car oriented but yes it has crossover capability with selectable filter type and slopes. It has 30 bands of PEQ per channel except last few channels have less, phase adjustment and some sort of dynamic EQ to compensate for car manufacturers built in compression. It is a little odd in a home audiophile setting but so far I find it pretty versatile. Only complaint is I don’t see shelf filters yet. It does some other interesting things for car audio that may be fun to play with at home like assigning a percentage of a given input to any output and adjust delay; this is used to create surround effects in cars. I could see it being very versatile for an Atmos setup etc. If you get seriously interested the software is free to download and you can setup an entire profile before ever having the DSP (this is what I did..). In about 20 minutes I had the Troel’s speakers +/- 1db from 30Hz-10kHz. So far I’m pretty impressed and will get good use out of it prototyping speakers and enjoying it in my main rig.

Hi Joel, any updates?

I run the HDSP-V in my car with its ESS DACs. It's a fantastic piece of equipment. I'm curious how you've implemented in the home.
 
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