Tag Archives: Klipsch La Scala

WHY WASTE YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

About three years ago before all this Chinese Flu stuff my wife and I used to eat out once a week. It was a diminishing experience and we found ourselves unhappy with the food quality decline. Really the whole experience was declining and since we often went as a group with others the pressure was not subtle at times to vacate those seats so they could be turned again. It was a social event with treasured friends turned into a seat rental program and it was time for us to go ready or not.

Add surly servers who expected tips no matter how crappy the service nor how unkempt looking they were and restaurants that would stick the tip on automatically since we were a group. Having worked for decades in the restaurant industry and helping to remodel dozens of restaurants I was very familiar with the use of disinfectants to mask bad things. A smell I was finding more and more and the facade can’t hide the smell so I knew what was there behind the scenes.

Around this time I noticed the idea of audiophile quality sound systems and home theaters was catching on. A trend that forced lock downs or business bans in many areas only accelerated. Used Klipsch speakers which used to be so plentiful were hard to find and going up in price all the time. Now when I say audiophile I do not mean some one who thinks they have to spend a ton of money to do this but rather someone who likes to hear good music or sound tracks played well. They are enamored of the idea they can hear great things IN THEIR OWN HOUSE.

See this is the key to the renaissance of the lost idea of inviting your friends over for a good time. Food you like prepared the way you want. Stay as late as you like and spare beds for those who like to indulge in what ever and should not be driving. Quite frankly when I pop the prime Rib Eye roast in the oven now I get to enjoy something I can’t buy in restaurants any more. Eat what you want when you want and the snack bar is open with no evil eyes directed at you for lingering.

Oh and you can watch movies plural, not singular, and have audio playback to suit your room full of people, or indeed just yourself, and not have that odious DBX theater standard hack the quality of your sound to fit their concept of how things should be. And have you seen the price of huge flat screens lately? A thousand dollars buys huge and hi res and perfect for home theater. Wont take to many $5 dollar beers or $$$ stupid expensive mixed drinks to pay for either. Or $4.50 a gallon gas. See here is something to think about. Many people can pay for an excellent system in less than two years by just taking the money they spent on public venues and having a better time at home.

Oh, and you will like the people around you which is certainly not a given in any public venue. No Karen’s invited and no screaming kids unless they are yours.

I spend some time talking about groups of people but there is something else I do with my setup. I happen to really like acoustic music and good blues. I want to hear all the details of the Cello musician as he fingers the strings and the nuances of the bow on them to great horn blat and blues like you were there in person. I want everything to be like that as much as possible no matter what the genre. I normally spend a couple of hours a day listening and I find it very rewarding. Of course finding good files to play can be a problem but when you find them you have them forever.

I also like pipe organs and to hear them like I wanted too, I built a single fold large horn with a 108″ deep throat that has no problem going down to 27hz with great crisp well defined authority.

Super MWM’s in the shop.
Painting the last bit for size reference.

That is a Klipsch K-402 horn with their 1132 driver on top. System is bi amped with Crown XLI800 amps and the DSP is a Xilica 3060. Sound personalized to suit me with prodigious clean bass. Jet flyovers and Japanese Fireworks are real life including a physical impact by the thump just like you were there. I have a steady trickle of Klipsch heads that visit me to hear these.

Great quality sound has been a quest of mine for seven years now. Of course I have dived far deeper into this than most ever will but there is one thing common here to me and to each and every one of you readers. It is the desire to be entertained in a fashion I CHOOSE with electronics I choose and people I choose or no one but me as the case often is. It is something you can only do in an environment you control and for most of us that is our house. Or shop as you can see in my case. Roll your gear out on your deck if you wish in good weather.

Music is good for the soul too. I noticed that when I was finding Klipsch Chorus speakers to fix up and sell the largest identifiable group of buyers was surprising. I sold more to ill widower men and I figure it was because it helped to transport them away from their situation. Of course you do not need to be in that shape to benefit from good music. It is for everyone who is willing to sit and listen.

At the push of a button you can be transported to audio bliss or Star Wars blowing stuff up right in your house. With your friends and good food and no curfew or time limits.

MAHL Updates and New Freestanding LMAHL’s

It is my intent to make this blog active again and a regularly posted upon entity. It has been a while but now I have decided that MAHL’s are going to be something I really wish to do as long as health and my mind hold out. At the age of 68 I assume there are a number of years left for me to pursue this endeavor. I was unsure of the reception I would get with these. I really like what I make but the true life test is what do others think of what you have done. Pleased to find out I have found a niche to fill and look forward to doing so for some time.

Well what a half year this has been For those of you who do not have to worry about products or delivery you might not be aware of the total upheaval of the manufacturing process going on right now. Typically I order enough drivers at a time to last a half year of estimated use. This has become a real problem as I don’t have a real defined answer for usage to project to the future. Sales are rising but what would be a real number projection? Heck if I know.

Right now B&C Speakers has a SIX TO SEVEN MONTH LEAD TIME on new orders. If you go to places like Parts Express you see their driver listings populated with lots of out of stock notices. Simple things like 25mm Baltic Birch which I intend to use on a line of two way speakers I am developing are the latest headache as none is to be had. Just a half year ago in Nashville,Tn you could get endless amounts of any thickness but today the thickest available is 18mm. Woofers I intend to use from Eminence I ordered on 6-1-21 and they did not get any in until 9-16-21 and I notice they are out AGAIN.

I am going to try making a box out of 18mm BB but there is no substitute for 25mm BB for great baffles, or motorboards as you will, and gluing two pieces together presents more problems then I want to deal with. Plus I have found that 25mm BB makes a really inert neutral cabinet subject to no offending audible resonances. More on this speaker soon in a future post.

In the mean time with the supply problems I started looking for other things I could do. I like machining wood as it is certainly easy on cutters and the mill. The far more redeeming side of wood cutting however is the sheer beauty of what you can find to cut. I live next to a large Amish presence here in southern Middle Tennessee and many are involved in sawmill work. I have found a few that cut and kiln dry large slabs up to two inches thick and here is what I am doing with some of this wood.

Front View Ambrosia Curly Maple Freestanding LMAHL
Side View Freestanding
Back View

This is the finest piece of wood it has been my privilege to cut on and I have been saving it for some time until inspiration struck.

I have had customers for my SMAHL’s who put them on stands and then rest them on top of their speakers. Primarily Klipsch La Scala, KHorn and Belle owners. Sound takes time to travel through the air and some have hearing acute enough to detect the muddiness that occurs when sound emitted from the drivers have different setbacks from the front of the speaker. So aligning the tweeter driver with the mid range driver provides more coherence to your sound and what you then hear.

This new tweeter type is limited to wood that I can make book end pairs from. Some will have very distinct patterns and others will merely have continuation of wood grain. All will be unique and one of a kind sets. I might be close at times to duplicating appearance in different sets of these but it would be an illusion since there is no substitute for sequential cutting. The difference might be minor but it would be there.

I have made these with a support block and 3/4″ stainless steel rod connecting the tweeter and adjustable support blocks and there is a set screw on the bottom not pictured to keep it all together. The intent here is to keep the assembly from tilting forward or backwards. The main block size is 1.75″ thick, 8.875″ tall and 7″ wide. The height is enough to allow sound to pass freely above cabinets with a roughly 14″ setback from the front which is typically where my customers have placed these using their home made stands. I have taken the liberty of using their experience to incorporate into these tweeters.

Looking for ideas for some sort of cushion on the bottom of the blocks to keep from marring cabinet tops and prevent vibration. I have thought about felt and just have not decided if it would be resistant enough to being pulled off by kids or cats. You might laugh but they are two of the major perils to happy healthy speakers. Any suggestions on a good non marring/ marking and thin cushion will be appreciated.

Working on a set of Cherry ones right now too. I was unaware of how light fresh Cherry is and will wait until they get more of that reddish Cherry color back before posting them. The slab I cut them from was much darker and apparently ageing darkens Cherry.

I was surprised at how many little cracks and splits there can be in solid appearing wood and I will end up throwing away more than I wish in pursuit of bookend slabs. It certainly adds to the time to cut and machine but in the end the amazing esthetics of the audio art produced are certainly worthwhile in my eyes and I hope they are to my readers also.

Until next time.

The Beauty of Wood

    One of the things that I find fascinating with machining is the idea of cutting anything within reason. One day I got to thinking about wood horn lenses and what they would look like.

    I have 56 acres of mostly woods and used wood to heat shop. In the process of cutting for the heater I have seen many interesting pieces of wood over the years. I saved some with no idea as to what I would do but they were to pretty to throw out. In the mean time I had begun cutting the SMAHL and LMAHL tweeters in aluminum and when people on the Klipsch forum saw these they started asking about wood.

    Cutting wood is a different animal than metal and there was a learning curve. The V1 type lenses were cut in Walnut and Red Oak. This choice of wood was based on the veneer types Klipsch used on the vintage speakers I like so well so I used the same for my tweeters.

     Walnut cuts like a dream and is smooth enough to not need further work unless you require a perfectly smooth surface. I have coated them with Satin Spar Polyurethane with very good results as is when finished with just a little hand buffing with a scotchbrite pad. Red Oak however is a different story and with it’s much coarser wood grain and pore size was a nightmare to get even close to good. No matter what there were always some pick outs with this. Liked the wood grain pattern appearance it had though.

    One thing leads to another and there have now been perhaps six or seven variations on these lenses to arrive at the current one which I do not expect to change in the future.

    There is a huge variation in wood and I find a lot of it quite appealing. Here for instance is a set of Walnut Crotch SMAHL V2’s cut recently which turned out well.

 

DSC_0101

Black Walnut Crotch Wood SMAHL V2

      In case you are wondering wood does not change the sonic characteristics of these tweeters and these are cut with the exact same geometry as the aluminum ones and indeed the same cut paths with the feeds and speeds modified only.

     One of the other ideas I am kicking around is building complete speakers and cutting mid range horns into the motorboard. It will be a while before I get these done though as first is building and testing and figuring the best way to cut to allow for minimal to little hand prep of surfaces.

    small wwood mid

  Sorry about the glare on the LMAHL V2 but I did not have time to redo the picture. In any case the main item of interest is the mid range horn  cut into stacked and glued 25mm Baltic Birch which I am a huge fan of. Folks if you are going to ever make a speaker and want it to be durable and sound right and be good looking you cant beat Baltic Birch. This would get an Atlas Pd-5vh driver and have an aluminum mounting plate to the horn. Now I may or may not build this as it was a test run but I think it is part of cutting in wood and a work on progress. I will have more on this mid horn topic soon in a separate post.

 

  In any case just letting you peek behind the curtain at some things I will have finished and up for sale soon and planting seeds for the future. I might start offering exotic wood cut to order for the SMAHL’s in addition to the Walnut soon to be out there.

  Sadly at this time I do not thing the LMAHL’s will be offered in wood as the .20″ thick flange is too thin to be durable as a drop in replacement for Klipsch in existing motorboard cutouts.

  Until next time and some other variations of the tweeters lenses for specific Klipsch situations.

Introducing Machined Audio Horn Lens

This will be a brief introductory post today which will herald the launch of a blog/website relative to what occupies my life now.

For some time I have had a love affair with Klipsch speakers and when I used to travel around the country welding stainless steel tables together for the Chuy’s Tex Mex chain I had a chance to buy and fix many sets of speakers.

This became a passion of mine and more than wanting to just get them home and fire up something I had not heard before I want to know what could be done with them. It is a learning process and I ran across the official Klipsch forum The Klipsch Audio Community and there discovered a whole new world of technical ability and tweaks and how to’s relevant to my favorite speaker brand.

It can be a path with no end and at first I started with recapping crossovers since that seemed simple enough. With proof in hand some simple things like recapping made a real difference in what I heard I started looking more and more into restoring, tweaking and rebuilding.

A couple of years ago the trips slowed down and Klipsch started getting more expensive fast and much harder to find. It was evident that without paying trips where I could as a bonus buy used Klipsch at the other end I would not be able to buy fix and sell and show something for my time.

Now when you are a CAD and CAM guy you mind can quite easily wander over to if you can’t find something to fix what can you find to make?

The end result was a tweeter replacement for the K-77 in a set of one piece fiberglass coated La Scala Industrials I had at the time. I used an Eminence APT50 driver on my machined aluminum horn and man what a difference it made. It ate up all the shrill I objected to without me really realizing it was the K-77 tweeter doing it until I replaced a set.

This was the first version and I bought the APT50 because it was cheap and did not know better. Even so it still was a real improvement.

I can come up with ideas and designs and machine things but I am not a software using speaker and driver testing wiz (yet) with audio so while I was coming up with improvements I had no way to know precisely what was the level of improvement.

About this time a gentleman by the name of Claude Jodoin became interested in what I was doing and he did have the technical ability to analyze what I was doing and he has been a significant help since. Tip of the hat to you Claude.

Over the course of the next year and a half or so there have been perhaps ten iterations of various shapes until the latest versions which are the LMAHL V2 and SMAHL V2 tweeters.

While designing these it was my goal to offer something never done before. What I came up with was a system that would allow more than one type of driver to be mounted on the horn lens. Today I have the only modular clamp system that will allow three different mounting bolt patterns on the SMAHL V2 and four different mounting bolt patterns on the LMAHL V2. Plus the machined aluminum looks darned cool.

I have also started cutting some out of wood, primarily Black Walnut right now and these are limited to the SMAHL V2 size.

I have other ideas in various stages of design or completion and if you tag along over the next few months I will be talking about them all. I believe my tweeter retrofits are the very best out there for Klipsch speakers and they are the ONLY ones that sound this good and have superior versatility engineered right in.

I do have these for sale right now on EBay and if you go there and type in “LMAHL V2” or “SMAHL V2” you will find them. You can also buy direct from me at this time by posting a comment and I can reply to your email that way. This will save you a bit of $$$.

Bear with me I am having problems with comments showing up publicaly and I can’t figure out why. I do see all comments though and can reply. I approve them and now they don’t show up. Seems like nothing just works right the first time anymore.

Machined Horn Lens Replaces Klipsch K-77 Tweeter

For the last few years I have had a hobby that consumes a lot of my time. Audio and it all started back in 1981 when I had a guy invite me over to hear his stereo. So I walk into his living room and there were two big black box things in the corners and two more diagonally out in a straight line towards a coffee table with a chair and a receiver. That was all he had in there. He fired them up and played “Toccata in D Minor” and Mellancamp’s “Crumbling down”. I had just been introduced to the world of high fidelity and the big black boxes were Klipsch Cornerhorns and Klipsch La Scalas. It can still run chills up and down my spine remembering what that sounded like.

Fast forward many years to about 2014 when I decided it was time to get some speakers and lo and behold there next to a job I had in Orlando were two pairs of La Scalas for sale. Since that time I have become quite serious about buying and selling Klipsch vintage speakers because I like listening to the various types and I liked fixing them up. One thing was certain and that was I could listen and resell what I bought if I did not like it and get my money back out of it. I have since gone through a number of Cornwall’s, Fortes, Chorus, La Scala and various Klipsch Professional line speakers. For my personal use I have migrated to a set of Klipsch MCM 1900 three way’s and a pair of Klipsch KP456’s.

The problem with a hobby like this though is that buying speakers close enough and cheap enough to restore and sell for a reasonable profit is getting really tough. It typically involves trips of hundreds of miles to buy and problems to fix when you get them home. It has been a struggle to do this and I have quit looking for vintage Klipsch. I do get some offers I don’t refuse but by and large I don’t seek them anymore. I look for Klipsch Pro speakers which all things considered yield FAR more audio satisfaction for the money spent even if they are not as pretty. Where it matters with the sound they produce they are the best.

One of the audio things I had been kicking around was how to make a hobby productive and maybe even help pay bills when I pretend to retire. I decided to have a try at designing and machining a drop in horn replacement for the Klipsch K-77 tweeter used in many of their offerings. As time passes and I come up with something I cut one and use an APT50 driver and an elliptical horn lens and install them in a pair of Pro La Scalas. The difference was huge and all the shrill went away. Thus began my serious effort to design and begin producing.

I ended up with two horn lens types and a modular base plate that would allow for the horn lens to use either the common 1 3/8 18TPI threaded driver or a two bolt driver like the B&C DE110 or DE120. All final tweaking has been done and I will begin selling these the last week of May. Here are some screen captures of the assemblies from Solid Edge which they were designed in. Basic dimensions first and then the two types of horns which are the Elliptical and Tractix style.

Basic dimensions for horn and DE120

I will be acquiring the skills to measure speaker output in the future but for now a very knowledgeable individual has assisted me with some technical info so people know what to expect with these horn lenses and B&C DE120 drivers. You know who you are and THANKS. I would quite frankly be groping in the dark without his technical ability and assistance.

First up are the Polar Spectrograms of the Elliptical horns.

Elliptical Vertical Spectrogam

Elliptical Horizontal Spectrogram

Next up are the Tractix style. Basically what this is is a round to square to rectangular series of transitions a number of horn lens makers are doing now. I imagine specific dimensions are proprietary to various companies but mine were derived in house according to shoehorning these transitions into very limited space. So namely when I was happy off they went for testing.

Tractix Vertical Spectrogram

Tractix Horizontal Spectrogram

Here is the commentary the tester had regarding these.

In the horizontal direction, look at the yellow to yellow-green color for the approximate -6 dB
point (the usual reference that’s used for polar coverage. It looks like its got about 90
degrees coverage down to about 6 kHz, then narrow to about 60 degree in the 4-5 kHz region, then
broadens again to about 120 degrees coverage below 4 kHz.

Looking at the vertical direction coverage polars, you should use the orange-to-yellow
transition, which is about 30 degrees coverage from 10 kHz on up, 60 degrees from 6-10 kHz, and
90 degrees coverage from 2-6 kHz.

There is a bit of a hot spot at 5 kHz which moderates as the polar angle increases. I tried
EQing the peak at 5 kHz (on-axis) down to flat, but all that did was to decrease the 5 kHz SPL
too much at 20 degrees and greater off-angles–so I re-ran the polars with no EQ and the off-axis
plots look better. The only issue is the 5 kHz peak at zero degrees (on-axis). If you move off
axis by a very small amount, that peak in response at 5 kHz disappears.

The tweeter is also quite hot above 12-14 kHz, with rising response. This should NOT be an issue
since no one older than 30 can really hear well above that frequency, and most recordings roll
off those frequencies to keep the anti-aliasing down above 15 kHz (CD tracks) and vinyl actually
sucks above 12 kHz anyway–it can’t reproduce well above 12 kHz if its been played more than a
couple of times (i.e., pulling a rock through plastic wiggly grooves). So in balance, no one’s
going to complain about that fairly gently rising response above 10 kHz.

I failed to say that the overall frequency response is good without EQ–that’s something that you
can advertise. Note that the 5 kHz peak is only audible on-axis for about 10 degrees of
coverage–a very small amount. If the loudspeakers are not pointed directly at the listener,
they’ll probably never hear that peak.

Some observations:

1) Both B&C drivers required about an hour or two of driving at 100 dB on-axis (one meter) for
their frequency response to even out. It wasn’t gradual, but rather sudden, as if the driver
diaphragm suddenly became unstuck at 6 kHz and above. That caused me the most time in re-
measuring once that driver performance transition occurred.

2) The 6 kHz peak response on-axis is also apparent on this tweeter design, so that’s probably a
B&C driver characteristic, not a horn/driver issue.

3) Make sure that you read the average level on the zero degree line as your baseline “color” for
each plot. In this case, that’s roughly the color at the yellow-orange junction, so that would
be your new “zero dB” level, and minus 6 dB from that point would be the transition to the color
green. If that’s true, then this tweeter has about 90 degrees coverage horizontally from 4 kHz
on up to ~16 kHz, and in the vertical direction, the coverage starts at 60 degrees at 20 kHz and
broadens to almost 180 coverage at 5 kHz.

Now a few comments from me.

Regarding testers choice between the two. Now I will say this beforehand. I have put an APT50 in a La Scala with the Elliptrac horn and it made a BIG improvement over the stock K-77. The general consensus is that bringing the horn mouth to the front of the motor board makes a very noticeable difference even when using a driver like the APT50 which is not as good as the B&C DE120. The tester who had the DE120 and an Elliptrac and Tractix style horn lens to test preferred the Tractix style horn lens. I think all variations are better than stock K-77’s at the very least since the mouth is flush or nearly so with the motor board.

At this time I am going to sell these as follows. Look for them on EBay under “Machined Aluminum Horns Klipsch K-77 Drop in Replacement”

The Elliptical lenses by themselves with the DE clamp plate $156.00
Ellipticals with B&C DE120 drivers $267.00
The Tractix horns take longer to machine and there is a price difference.
Tractix lenses by themselves will be $166.00
With B&C DE120 drivers $277.00

I will update these prices within two weeks to include the APT50 driver clamp plate and in addition I am looking into a Beyma driver. Drivers small enough to fit the badly restricted K-77 space are very few but I am going to make an attempt to make adaptors for them and you decide what you want at that time.

For all of you waiting for these the time is ticking down to next week when they will finally be for sale.