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Looking for a reasonable second build after C-Notes

scihoi

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Hello everyone,

About a year ago I built a set of C-Notes last year from a flat pack kit & painted/veneered them. I enjoyed the project quite a bit and the speakers have treated me quite well as the primary speakers in my apartment living room.

I'm itching for a winter project and would like to take on something a little more complicated. I have access to woodworking tools, so I am able to build my own cabinet. I would like to make a second pair of speakers for my room/office to listen to music while working from home. I'm a bit torn between going for some tower speakers for the living room & moving the C-Notes to my office or building another set of bookshelves and keeping the C-Notes where they are.

The more I research the more I realize that beyond entry level DIY kits like the C-Notes there's no clear "best" DIY kits in my price range of $300-600. I see a lot of comments that in 2024 it is harder for DIY to compete both on price with commercial offerings and technologically e.g. in terms of dispersion. I'm no expert so I'm not sure how seriously to take those claims - part of the value for me is the enjoyment and learning I get out of the project. I like good sound but I'm hardly an audiophile.

Some speakers that have piqued my interest and which I'm curious to hear opinions on:
  • Amigas - Right now on sale for $270 w/ baffle only at Parts Express, which is enticing. I've heard some criticism that the design is outdated & some [poorer measurements](https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/my-experience-with-diy-and-its-many-frustrations-that-are-not-talked-about.46923/post-1676013), but it also seems widely built.
  • Speedsters (or Spitfires) - Ribbon tweeter is interesting and folks seem to enjoy the sound profile a lot. A bit expensive right now since no full kit exists.
  • Hivi 3.1A w/ Sehlin mod - On paper looks great.
  • CSS 1TD - Higher end on price but seems to get rave reviews & has upgrade path to 1TDX.

Any other suggestions are appreciated!
 

staticV3

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Hi @scihoi! Welcome to ASR.

The more I research the more I realize that beyond entry level DIY kits like the C-Notes there's no clear "best" DIY kits in my price range of $300-600. I see a lot of comments that in 2024 it is harder for DIY to compete both on price with commercial offerings and technologically e.g. in terms of dispersion.
Actually, at least according to Harman's Loudspeaker Preference score, some of the best passive speakers in your budget are DIY designs:
Screenshot 2024-01-16 211224.png
https://www.spinorama.org/scores.ht...false&priceMax=400&power=passive&quality=high

Perhaps @Rick Sykora, ASR's DIY speaker expert can give you some recommendations :D
 
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Rick Sykora

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  1. Hello everyone,

    About a year ago I built a set of C-Notes last year from a flat pack kit & painted/veneered them. I enjoyed the project quite a bit and the speakers have treated me quite well as the primary speakers in my apartment living room.

    I'm itching for a winter project and would like to take on something a little more complicated. I have access to woodworking tools, so I am able to build my own cabinet. I would like to make a second pair of speakers for my room/office to listen to music while working from home. I'm a bit torn between going for some tower speakers for the living room & moving the C-Notes to my office or building another set of bookshelves and keeping the C-Notes where they are.

    The more I research the more I realize that beyond entry level DIY kits like the C-Notes there's no clear "best" DIY kits in my price range of $300-600. I see a lot of comments that in 2024 it is harder for DIY to compete both on price with commercial offerings and technologically e.g. in terms of dispersion. I'm no expert so I'm not sure how seriously to take those claims - part of the value for me is the enjoyment and learning I get out of the project. I like good sound but I'm hardly an audiophile.

    Some speakers that have piqued my interest and which I'm curious to hear opinions on:
    • Amigas - Right now on sale for $270 w/ baffle only at Parts Express, which is enticing. I've heard some criticism that the design is outdated & some [poorer measurements](https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/my-experience-with-diy-and-its-many-frustrations-that-are-not-talked-about.46923/post-1676013), but it also seems widely built.
    • Speedsters (or Spitfires) - Ribbon tweeter is interesting and folks seem to enjoy the sound profile a lot. A bit expensive right now since no full kit exists.
    • Hivi 3.1A w/ Sehlin mod - On paper looks great.
    • CSS 1TD - Higher end on price but seems to get rave reviews & has upgrade path to 1TDX.

    Any other suggestions are appreciated!

I concur with most of your findings. Almost all of these are older designs and are nothing special. Unfortunately with the demise of Meniscus Audio, options are much less. Here are a few that I think stand out:
  1. Zaph ZA5s are an older but well engineered bargain. Notably, I have the MTM in my bedroom. The MT was reviewed here and got a high score but got panned by Amir for lacking bass. While do not think he was wholly unfair, was also done prior to using eq in his reviews.
  2. SB Acoustics has several kits at Madisound. The Bromo is comparable in price to the CSS but is newer with nicer cabinet. Have not heard it but is a credible design while being similar to the Philharmonic Ceramic at a lower cost.
  3. The Dayton BR-1 is a decent step up from the C-Note. Like the ZA5, it is a great learning experience and think Dennis Murphy’s mods make it even better.
Finally, if the Bagby Mandolin is of interest, I have the design. Meniscus has the IP and said they might share but has been 6 months without any progress. Same goes for the Selah Integrity btw.
 
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Rick Sykora

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HighFutility

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Hello everyone,

About a year ago I built a set of C-Notes last year from a flat pack kit & painted/veneered them. I enjoyed the project quite a bit and the speakers have treated me quite well as the primary speakers in my apartment living room.

I'm itching for a winter project and would like to take on something a little more complicated. I have access to woodworking tools, so I am able to build my own cabinet. I would like to make a second pair of speakers for my room/office to listen to music while working from home. I'm a bit torn between going for some tower speakers for the living room & moving the C-Notes to my office or building another set of bookshelves and keeping the C-Notes where they are.

The more I research the more I realize that beyond entry level DIY kits like the C-Notes there's no clear "best" DIY kits in my price range of $300-600. I see a lot of comments that in 2024 it is harder for DIY to compete both on price with commercial offerings and technologically e.g. in terms of dispersion. I'm no expert so I'm not sure how seriously to take those claims - part of the value for me is the enjoyment and learning I get out of the project. I like good sound but I'm hardly an audiophile.

Some speakers that have piqued my interest and which I'm curious to hear opinions on:
  • Amigas - Right now on sale for $270 w/ baffle only at Parts Express, which is enticing. I've heard some criticism that the design is outdated & some [poorer measurements](https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/my-experience-with-diy-and-its-many-frustrations-that-are-not-talked-about.46923/post-1676013), but it also seems widely built.
  • Speedsters (or Spitfires) - Ribbon tweeter is interesting and folks seem to enjoy the sound profile a lot. A bit expensive right now since no full kit exists.
  • Hivi 3.1A w/ Sehlin mod - On paper looks great.
  • CSS 1TD - Higher end on price but seems to get rave reviews & has upgrade path to 1TDX.

Any other suggestions are appreciated!
Im in the same boat, FYI not sure but it appears hivi 3.1 is no longer available on amazon. Looks to be OOS. At least that's my hopes, it could very well be pulled.
 
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S

scihoi

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Im in the same boat, FYI not sure but it appears hivi 3.1 is no longer available on amazon. Looks to be OOS. At least that's my hopes, it could very well be pulled.
I ended up going with the AlTis. Will report back once they’re built. The drivers look nice and they measure well, I figure I can at least build the cabinets. Cheap with the PartsExpress sale too.
 

D!sco

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Im in the same boat, FYI not sure but it appears hivi 3.1 is no longer available on amazon. Looks to be OOS. At least that's my hopes, it could very well be pulled.
They've updated the crossover, maybe a copy of one of the sehlin mods:
Mentions "Perfectionist" alignment.
 

HighFutility

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Rick Sykora

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Im in the same boat, FYI not sure but it appears hivi 3.1 is no longer available on amazon. Looks to be OOS. At least that's my hopes, it could very well be pulled.
Forgot about the Swans. These are an amazing value.

Amir reviewed back in 2020 and if I did not have other project plans, would not hesitate to buy.
 

J49

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I ended up going with the AlTis. Will report back once they’re built. The drivers look nice and they measure well, I figure I can at least build the cabinets. Cheap with the PartsExpress sale too.
I built a pair of the AlTi's and can recommend them.
 

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J49

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Very cool, what is the sub?
Subs are my own design. They are sealed, down firing, with 300w plate amps. Drivers are the 8in GRS 8SW-4HE. I went with a larger volume (~14L) than the parts express kit with the same driver, as hornresp predicted quite a high Qtc for that small of an enclosure. Subs sound great! They are 8in drivers so the impact won't knock pictures off your wall, but the extension is very satisfying with two of them in corners. Music is completely covered and movie LFEs also sound really great. Hornresp shows at max power I'm pushing past Xmax though; the trade off with the larger volume. Happy to share this design if there is interest, although it's not particularly novel or difficult to arrive at.

For more pictures...
 

John Limbach

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I wish I would have asked this question after my first simple build lol…I joined a maker space here in my city to have access to a full wood shop open 24/7 and have had to enlist the help of a professor of fine woodworking to help with my my choice.

I chose the SB Acoustic Ara which are essentially mirrored pairs, two baffle angled compound mitred facets and a seven degree back lean. Wow! I had no idea, in her words, the complicated nature of these cabinets. And not complex. Complicated she said lol…everything is mitred at wierd angles and the speakers are essentially mirrored pairs. It’s been fun working my brain like this, but wow.

My favorite question she did ask me so far was “ do you want me to train you to be a DIYer or a woodworker?” lol. Good luck!!
 
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