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Thread: Keith's Acapella system

  1. #1
    Addicted to Best! Keith_W's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Melbourne, Australia

    Keith's Acapella system

    Since i'm new here I thought I would post a description of my system. Some of you would know me from other forums and would be familiar with my journey. It has been a rather unique one, and more or less centers around my struggle to get my speakers to work properly.

    The Acapella Violon has a plasma tweeter, a horn midrange, and a conventional bass cabinet. When I bought these speakers in 2007, I was aware that the bass was its downfall. It was muddy, indistinct, and noticably slower than the midrange and treble. However, the midrange and treble was unlike anything else I have ever heard - crystal clear, dynamic, and utterly revealing.

    At the time, I thought I could cure the bass with a few simple tweaks (e.g. bi-amp, subwoofer, etc) but little did I know! Making this speaker sing has taught me a LOT about audio. Along the way, I obtained a measurement setup, dissected the speakers, tried to understand loudspeaker engineering, bought a subwoofer, bought a crossover, performed some surgery to bypass the internal crossover, learnt how to program a DEQX, and finally got a custom driver manufactured to my specifications. My speaker is completely unique - the drivers I had manufactured are a special one-off, and there are no speakers anywhere else in the world in existence that use the same driver. Many thanks to a local speaker engineering firm (SGR) for many hours in consultation and help.

    This is the equipment list:

    - Playback Designs MPS-5
    - Micro-Seiki BL-99V turntable, MA-505 Mk.2 arm, Lyra Dorian cartridge, RCM phono stage

    - Cary SLP-05 preamp
    - Marchand XM-44 crossover
    - DEQX HDP-3 crossover
    - Cary CAD-211AE power amp
    - SGR EL30S power amp

    - Acapella High Violon 2001
    - JL Audio F110 subwoofers x2

    - Acrolink 6N and 7N
    - Transparent

    Here are the pictures:

    The vertical panel of lights next to the subwoofer is the DEQX HDP-3. Its sole purpose is to perform subwoofer corrections, however I may have other plans for it.

    Equipment stack. SGR rack.

    CD collection in 2010

    CD collection in 2012. On the top left of the CD rack is my remote receiver. It receives RF from the transmitter (Marantz RC9500) and controls the whole system via macros.

    Finally, here is a video of my system:

    Last edited by Keith_W; 03-31-2012 at 11:31 AM.

  2. #2
    Addicted to Best! Keith_W's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Melbourne, Australia
    Here are some images of the loudspeaker dissection.

    Anatomy of a plasma tweeter. Remove the top plate, and this is what you will see. On the right is the power supply. On the left is the high pass filter, volume control, Class A amp, and various other electronics.

    Remove the center panel and you see the PL519 valve, the high tension coil, and the combustion chamber - milled from solid brass.

    Another view.

    The anatomy of the bass cabinet. This is a very unusual combination and explains why the bass sounds so muddy. An internal 8" driver is mounted in that round hole, and runs direct from the speaker binding post bypassing the low pass filter. This fires into the back of another driver which is externally mounted - this driver is connected to the low pass filter.

    This is a driver comparison. On the left is the standard driver that came with the speaker - it is a SEAS CA125, which you can probably buy as a spare part for $80. Note the flimsy looking stamped metal basket. On the right is the custom driver, manufactured by Loranz Audio (Melbourne). Note the cast iron basket, the more substantial magnet assembly, and the "nice" binding posts.

    This is the midrange horn. The entire enclosure weighs a bloody ton. After a lot of swearing, we managed to get the horn off and we found out why - the entire enclosure was filled with sand!

    This is a picture of the enclosure. As my friend said, it is very German. Only a German would construct an enclosure out of thick ply, fill it with sand, and then think to himself ... let's line it with lead!

    After removing the sand, you can view the crossover for the midrange horn.

    This is how you get the sand back into the enclosure. There is a little fill hole at the back.
    Last edited by Keith_W; 03-31-2012 at 11:39 AM.

  3. #3
    Member Sponsor Addicted to Best! flez007's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    Mexico City
    ...pretty impressive! Congrats!

  4. #4
    Addicted to Best! RogerD's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Very nice!
    Speakers: ParAcas Satellites ParAcas Dual 16 subwoofer Velodyne FSR18 Fulton Little Maestros Mission speakers
    Electronics: Agtron Platinum Mono Blocks Accuphase C200 preamp Accuphase P300 amplifer Parasound amplifier ParAcas Sierra electronic crossover
    Digital: Monarchy NM24 DAC Sony DVD Transport
    Tuner: McIntosh MR78
    Cables: NBS Statement,Pro,Master Cables, Nirvana Digital SPDIF Cable
    Turntable: Linn LP12 Technics 1200
    RTR: Ampex 350,351,440BC,MR70
    Studer C37 60hz,Crown 2-844,824

  5. #5
    Site Founder And Administrator Steve Williams's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Coto De Caza, California on the 13th fairway of the south golf course
    Indeed, very impressive
    Steve Williams
    aka oneobgyn
    There's ALWAYS another Steve Williams BUT there's only "oneobgyn"
    USA Dealer of Center Stage Feet and owner of PitchPerfect Sound (
    Dealer Lamm Electronics
    My System

  6. #6
    [Industry Expert] Member Sponsor
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Keith, can you shoot video? PM me. Your system belongs with the "worlds greats" on avshowrooms. I can't wait to get Steve's system video'd!!! Any member who wishes to share their set-up in video please PM me.

  7. #7
    Member Sponsor Addicted to Best! jazdoc's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    Amazing system and beautiful room. Enjoy!!

  8. #8
    VIP/Donor [WBF Founding Member] ack's Avatar
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    May 2010
    Boston, MA
    Very nice! I would redo he crossover... electrolyics?
    Analog: VPI Aries 3, custom suspension/Magnetically stabilized JMW 10.5i/Ortofon A90/Modded & shielded Pass XP-25 Digital: Spectral 3000SL/Heavily modded Alpha DAC Amplification: Spectral DMC-30SV/DMA-500AR Speakers: Heavily modded MartinLogan (custom Mundorf xover, cabling, woofers; structural mods)/Modded REL Cabling: Shielded MIT Oracle 50ic,MA-X/Oracle 90.1 Power: MIT Z-Strips, Magnum Z-Traps; Shunyata Black Mamba CX HC cords, Typhon
    System link WBF

  9. #9
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member] FrantzM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010

    I am also a fan of Acapella .. I got the shock of my life when I heard an Acapella Sphaedron, I though that for the price it ought to be good then I heard a Campanille driven by Burmester electronics ... The best horns I have heard to date and likely the best tweeter out there ... The Sphaedron was not lacking in bass, nor did the the Campanille albeit to lesser extent and quality ...

    I am curious why the Marchand and the DeQX?

    BTW Tour system and lts layout are HIMPPRESSIVE .. not a typo .. Hyper-IMPRESSIVE !
    Last edited by FrantzM; 03-31-2012 at 06:22 PM.

    "For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."
    —Carl Sagan
    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."
    — E. F. Schumacher
    (mis-attributed to A. Einstein)

  10. #10
    Addicted To Best
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    Jan 2011
    NSW Australia
    I can only echo the sentiments of everyone else here: a very impressive journey, that dedication to the "cause" is what this hobby is all about! Personally, I would not touch that crossover; to me it looks as if it is already highly optimised, the electrolytics are heavily bypassed, which is the key to making the end result capacitor work as it needs to.

    What I don't like is that you attach to the crossover with push on connectors! All that hard work, potentially weakened by a "junk" connection. Soldering is inconvenient, yes, but it may make a major difference ...


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