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Very Nice Cheap Kit Speakers: HiVi/Swans DIY 2.2A & 3.1

GGroch

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#1
If you are looking for an interesting way to spend a few winter evenings building kit speakers, I can recommend these.

Last year I put together the HiVi 2.2a speaker kit, 2-Way 6.5" Passive Monitor (floor stand) speakers that sound far better than a $220 kit should. If you lack the skills, space, or time for fully DIY woodworking these are a nice choice. It took me just a couple of days, with 2-3 more for spray lacquer finishing. I have owned small high quality passive speakers for years, these are well designed, and have very high quality components for the price.

I think they are an excellent value compared to other kits. For example, the 2.2A I am using features a 6.5" HiVi woofer that was originally designed by ATI in Canada as a Dynaudio copy. 3" Voicecoil, they sell for $80 each on Parts Express....so Parts Express price for the 4 drivers alone is $200. The new Totem Audio Signature One ($2650 a pair) uses a very similar ATI by HiVi Woofer.

Here is the Amazon listing. Hivi DIY 2.2A and 3.1.
Here is the current Swan Speaker Kits Site
Here is an AVSForums link of builders of these kits.
Finally, Zeos Built the 3 way 3.1 kit and provides a 4 part video reference for how it can be easily done if you, like me, had no previous kit experience. You will probably get a kick our of his rudimentary soldering skills...but the tape & strap method of assembly he uses is a lot easier than what I did for putting together mitered cabinets before someone on AVSForum pointed out this right way to do it.

I bought both the 3 way and 2 way...but have been so pleased with the 2.2A that I sold my ACI Sapphire XL's (they are better, but not MUCH better) and have been happily listening to them for the last year. The attached photo is not of the set I made, which are white lacquer.

DIY 2.2A:
DIY22a.jpg
 
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#2
Hi GGroch,

Thanks for sharing. I found it interesting that you think the ACI Sapphire XL is not much better than the HiVi 2.2A. This comparison is informative to me, as my 1st pair of DIY speakers based on a purchased kit was built from a kit (2-way, also called Sapphire IIRC) from ACI. That was almost 30 years ago. Later I bought and built another kit from ACI that used RD-75 line sources. Those speakers are still the best among all the speakers I have built.

Since you have both the 3.1 and 2.2A, could you comment on how they compare to each other? The price of the 3.1 kit is not much higher than the price of the 2.2A kit, and the 3.1 uses a ribbon tweeter and a dome midrange. One paper, the 3.1 seems to me to be a more promising design for not a lot more money. Is there a strong reason not to go for the 3.1 instead of the 2.2a?
 

GGroch

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#3
I am sorry, I have not yet built the 3.1 so I cannot comment. If you follow the link above to the discussion on AVSForums you will find much more information on the 3.1, which seems to be the more popular choice. There is also discussion of simple modifications to the crossovers to provide a flatter response. I do think the ribbon/dome mid drivers are intriguing.

The ACI Sapphire XLs are the best speakers I have owned, but I did not own them concurrently with the HiVi 2.2A, so my comparison is from memory. I generally live in moderate sized urban apartments, so simple 5-7" two way designs couple with the rooms well, and provide what I think is a smoother more coherent sound than most 3 way designs. Plus, I was spoiled by the Scanspeak Revelator woofer in the Sapphires...and having experienced what a premium driver like that can do in a well designed cabinet, the HiVi 2.2a seemed more likely to come close to that experience.

I have directly compared the Jamo C-103, and also the 3 Way Polk LsiM 703 stand monitors to the HiVi 2.2, in my room with no equalization the HiVi sounds better to me- More detail, smoother overall response, and tighter bass. I listen at low volumes, to jazz, classical, and acoustic folk music most of the time, so smoothness /musicality are higher priorities for me than high SPLs or extended frequency response.
 
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#4
Thanks for the reply. I misinterpreted your statement "I bought both the 3 way and 2 way..." to mean that you have bought and built both the 3.1 and 2.2A kits.

It has been a while since the last time I slapped together a pair of DIY speakers, so I am feeling bored and itchy to build another pair. After reading your original post, I was intrigued by the idea of building the HiVi 2.2A, but after some pondering I realized that I don't really need another pair of "conventional" two-way speakers. I am now listening to fully horn-loaded speakers, and they blow the JBL LSR305 speakers (I got two pairs) out of the water. I like the bass and big sound the horn speakers can offer, and it would be hard for me to go back to small 2-way speakers with relatively small woofers. :)
 

GGroch

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#6
HiVi posted an excellent series of videos on YouTube showing how to build these kits. The instructor, Frank Hale, was a co-founder of the original Swan Island Maine Swan Speaker company that HiVi purchased and added to their branding. Googling shows Frank was a senior designer for HiVi for many years.

In addition to providing an appropriate old geezer folksy tone (and owning a dog with perfect comic timing demonstrated at the end of the 2nd video), he shows how to assemble the cabinets using no clamps, just tape and glue. Because the cabinets use mitered joints a lot of us were confused on how to best assemble them. Turns out you may not need to clamp them at all.
 
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invaderzim

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#7
Am I the only one that ends up at a site that tries to load bad stuff on my computer when I click on the 2nd link in the first post?
 

GGroch

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#8
Sorry, updated. They now have a site aimed only at the kits. The "Helpful Links" section on the new site is helpful. It appears the new marketing angle is "don't text, build speakers."

Interesting how similar the dimensions/weight/drivers on the DIY 2.2A look to the Dynaudio Special 40s. The woofer on the 2.2A is indeed a copy of a Dynaudio woofer. The Swans Woofer was originally made by API (Audio Products International) in Canada...then HiVi Swans bought API.
 
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#9
Do t forget there’s a Midwest audio thread on how to upgrade the 3.1 crossover to tame the somewhat hot treble. Good stuff.
 
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#10
If you are looking for an interesting way to spend a few winter evenings building kit speakers, I can recommend these.

Last year I put together the HiVi 2.2a speaker kit, 2-Way 6.5" Passive Monitor (floor stand) speakers that sound far better than a $220 kit should. If you lack the skills, space, or time for fully DIY woodworking these are a nice choice. It took me just a couple of days, with 2-3 more for spray lacquer finishing. I have owned small high quality passive speakers for years, these are well designed, and have very high quality components for the price.

I think they are an excellent value compared to other kits. For example, the 2.2A I am using features a 6.5" HiVi woofer that was originally designed by ATI in Canada as a Dynaudio copy. 3" Voicecoil, they sell for $80 each on Parts Express....so Parts Express price for the 4 drivers alone is $200. The new Totem Audio Signature One ($2650 a pair) uses a very similar ATI by HiVi Woofer.

Here is the Amazon listing. Hivi DIY 2.2A and 3.1.
Here is the current Swan Speaker Kits Site
Here is an AVSForums link of builders of these kits.
Finally, Zeos Built the 3 way 3.1 kit and provides a 4 part video reference for how it can be easily done if you, like me, had no previous kit experience. You will probably get a kick our of his rudimentary soldering skills...but the tape & strap method of assembly he uses is a lot easier than what I did for putting together mitered cabinets before someone on AVSForum pointed out this right way to do it.

I bought both the 3 way and 2 way...but have been so pleased with the 2.2A that I sold my ACI Sapphire XL's (they are better, but not MUCH better) and have been happily listening to them for the last year. The attached photo is not of the set I made, which are white lacquer.

DIY 2.2A:
View attachment 21383
Hey! That’s one of my pair!
 

GGroch

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#11
Hey! That’s one of my pair!
Yeah, I could have put a photo of my hand rubbed white lacquer pair in the first post....but their deep piano gloss and expert craftsmanship might set unrealistically high expectations for those less talented than me....... ;) Just Kidding, your pair is gorgeous, I wish I had your veneer skills.

Do t forget there’s a Midwest audio thread on how to upgrade the 3.1 crossover to tame the somewhat hot treble. Good stuff.
Thanks for this. LINK I'm motivated now get my set of 3.1's out of storage and finally assemble them. A good January project. I would like to see a comparison from someone who has heard both the 2.2 and 3.1. I have been so impressed by the 2.2 that I hope the 3.1 are not a let down.

Amazon had a lightning deal on both versions last week: $167 and $227, hopefully they will do that again.
 
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#12
Yeah, I could have put a photo of my hand rubbed white lacquer pair in the first post....but their deep piano gloss and expert craftsmanship might set unrealistically high expectations for those less talented than me....... ;) Just Kidding, your pair is gorgeous, I wish I had your veneer skills.



Thanks for this. LINK I'm motivated now get my set of 3.1's out of storage and finally assemble them. A good January project. I would like to see a comparison from someone who has heard both the 2.2 and 3.1. I have been so impressed by the 2.2 that I hope the 3.1 are not a let down.

Amazon had a lightning deal on both versions last week: $167 and $227, hopefully they will do that again.
Lol, full disclosure, I bought them from the builder that veneered them.
 
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#13
Yeah, I could have put a photo of my hand rubbed white lacquer pair in the first post....but their deep piano gloss and expert craftsmanship might set unrealistically high expectations for those less talented than me....... ;) Just Kidding, your pair is gorgeous, I wish I had your veneer skills.



Thanks for this. LINK I'm motivated now get my set of 3.1's out of storage and finally assemble them. A good January project. I would like to see a comparison from someone who has heard both the 2.2 and 3.1. I have been so impressed by the 2.2 that I hope the 3.1 are not a let down.

Amazon had a lightning deal on both versions last week: $167 and $227, hopefully they will do that again.
take em up a notch even from the Dayton audio components with mills resistors, sonicaps, and air core inductors. Danny has a nice selection and competitive pricing at gr research.
 
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#14
I build a pair of the 2.2A kits in 2019 and love them. I prefer them to my floor Phase Tech 10.5's 120 lb. monsters. First time I used real wood veneer since I made salad tongs in grade 7 for my mom 45 years ago.

IMG_20190822_191228903.jpeg IMG_20190822_191353156.jpeg IMG_20190823_095246972.jpeg

Frank Hales videos were very helpful.
Sorry; no pictures of the salad tongs but my mom still uses them today. :)
 
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#15
I build a pair of the 2.2A kits in 2019 and love them. I prefer them to my floor Phase Tech 10.5's 120 lb. monsters. First time I used real wood veneer since I made salad tongs in grade 7 for my mom 45 years ago.

View attachment 44614 View attachment 44615 View attachment 44616

Frank Hales videos were very helpful.
Sorry; no pictures of the salad tongs but my mom still uses them today. :)
Nice!
I bet the FR of the tongs is really low...
 
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#16
take em up a notch even from the Dayton audio components with mills resistors, sonicaps, and air core inductors. Danny has a nice selection and competitive pricing at gr research.
Would be interesting to see if there’s a measurable difference between the cheaper components and the one suggested here?

I followed Danny’s YouTube video on upgrades for the Klipsch model but didn’t see a before and after measurement.
 
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#17
Would be interesting to see if there’s a measurable difference between the cheaper components and the one suggested here?

I followed Danny’s YouTube video on upgrades for the Klipsch model but didn’t see a before and after measurement.
I have been following Danny's spin on the Klipsch makeovers as well. I have made some of GR Research's speaker kits as well and I was not as impressed as some other talented builders. The parts included in the crossover are very good. 'Sonicaps', from what I have read elsewhere, do not measure well. If I were to improve them I might add an electronic crossover as per Frank Hale's suggestion. I am very leery of 'superior audio quality' parts.

I guess my speaker guru would be Alan Shaw of Harbeth Speakers. Alan and Danny have been in a few disagreements over the years. :eek:
I appreciate your input though. My next project is a IcePower 200asc + 200ac amplifier. Waiting patiently for the case to arrive from Ghent.

Cheers!
 
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#18
Would be interesting to see if there’s a measurable difference between the cheaper components and the one suggested here?

I followed Danny’s YouTube video on upgrades for the Klipsch model but didn’t see a before and after measurement.
Yeah interesting for sure!
 
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#19
I have been following Danny's spin on the Klipsch makeovers as well. I have made some of GR Research's speaker kits as well and I was not as impressed as some other talented builders. The parts included in the crossover are very good. 'Sonicaps', from what I have read elsewhere, do not measure well. If I were to improve them I might add an electronic crossover as per Frank Hale's suggestion. I am very leery of 'superior audio quality' parts.

I guess my speaker guru would be Alan Shaw of Harbeth Speakers. Alan and Danny have been in a few disagreements over the years. :eek:
I appreciate your input though. My next project is a IcePower 200asc + 200ac amplifier. Waiting patiently for the case to arrive from Ghent.

Cheers!
may I ask which ones you did that you were not as impressed? Would you be willing to elaborate a bit on your thoughts? The gr thread at AC is a bit of an echo chamber among acolytes...

I’ve been considering building a gr research kit as well as the diy 3.1s with upgraded perfectionist crossover....

thanks!
 

TimW

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#20
I posted these measurements of inductors in a comment on one of those Klipsch upgrade videos. This was after Danny claimed that the difference between his crossover design and the original design wasn't what made the speaker sound so much better. He says most of the improvement in sound quality is just due to using higher quality crossover components. This seemed odd to me since he showed FR measurements of the speaker with his crossover and the original, and his was much flatter. His design however only uses first order electrical slopes which made me ask if he had performed distortion measurements before and after as well. Here is part of his response:

"That guys measuring the coils is looking for differences in the wrong ways and areas. It is not about distortion. Distortion is a marketing catch phrase. In the end what matters is what sounds the best."
 

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