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DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

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DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby Logarhythm » Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:40 pm

Anyone ever tried any of the kits from the likes of IPL or Wilmslow Audio?
I'm in need of some new small-ish monitors for nearfield use - have a large pair of old Yammies that I like but are too big to sensibly mount on a desk, and the little Tannoy Revolution XT Minis that I've been using for casual listening while most of my "studio" has been boxed up sound ok but are a long way from transparent, at least to my ears.
Don't want to spend £squillions, have a bias towards sealed box, and thus was quite tempted by AE22s but they don't come up for sale very often. In a moment of stupidity I thought about building something myself but don't have the time to learn anything like enough theory to design a cabinet around off-the-shelf drivers, and that's before factoring in my rather second-rate carpentry skills...
I came across a few companies offering DIY kits that purport to be relatively simple to put together, and allegedly offer far better value than buying complete speakers from established brands. Wilmslow and IPL seemed to be the most significant in the UK, both claim to offer some options that are "monitor" standard (and we all know that putting the M word on a speaker improves performance very significantly...) and the latter's transmission line speakers seem to get very good feedback around the web, but I haven't seen any reviews from sources that I'd trust all that much.
I liked the idea as a bit of a project and may take a gamble on it anyway, but was just curious if anyone else had any direct experience of these?
I was particularly interested in the IPL M4: https://iplacoustics.co.uk/Copy%20of%20ipl_m4_5_litre_shielded_compact_.htm
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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby resistorman » Thu Aug 23, 2018 11:36 pm

Those look good for the money :)
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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby Music Wolf » Fri Aug 24, 2018 5:50 am

A long, long, time ago (probably before the last ice age) I built a pair of the small Wimslow Audio monitors. I think that there were two models, the Monitor one and the monitor two. Don't quote me but I think that the two's were the smaller set. IIRC they were reviewed in this mag. This was all pre t'internet so it was handy that I was less than 20 miles away from Wimslow.

The build was straight forward and they served me well for many years.
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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby ef37a » Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:22 am

Do you already have a suitable power amplifier?
I ask because the cheapest of those kits is £330 or so and if you had to factor in the cost f a decent amp you are up to some very good ready made active monitors.

Yonks ago, speaker kits were very popular because they avoided swinging Purchase Tax (and later VAT? Can't quite recall...) and so you could get some really nice speakers some 30% cheaper than retail. I ran a pair of Peerless speakers for home listening for some years.

The tax breaks no longer apply AFAIK so I doubt there is much advantage in a kit except the pleasure of building it yourself (busman's for me!)

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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby Phil Ward » Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:24 am

Hmmm,

I've wondered a few times about designing a small(ish), closed box, passive monitor kit that could perhaps be sold through the likes of Wilmslow (https://www.wilmslowaudio.co.uk) or Falcon (https://www.falconacoustics.co.ukl). I really don't know how much of a market there'd be though (or how it would look with the monitor reviews on the conflict of interests front!).

Anyway, you've got me thinking about it again – as if there wasn't already enough to do.

Phil
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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:51 am

Phil Ward wrote:.....or how it would look with the monitor reviews on the conflict of interests front!

As long as you didn't review them yourself for SOS, or promote them excessively on the forums, there would be no conflict of interest as far as I'm concerned -- and your abilities and experience as a professional loudspeaker designer is precisely what makes you such a valuable contributor to the mag and these forums.

H
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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby James Perrett » Fri Aug 24, 2018 12:25 pm

Just had a look at the kits on the Falcon Acoustics site and notice that they pretty much focus exclusively on their LS3/5a kits. By the time you've bought the kit for nearly £800 and added a suitable amplifier kit for £250 you are going to be paying exactly the same price as a new pair of Neumann KH120's which are noticeably superior.

Now you may be paying for the collect-ability of the LS3/5a's here and there may be better value kits around but, in my opinion, you'll get better value for money looking for something used. I've seen the little ATC's going for a similar price to the kit you mentioned in the first post and I'm sure that there are similar bargains to be had. Facebook seem to be improving their Marketplace so that would be worth keeping an eye on.
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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:21 pm

James Perrett wrote:Now you may be paying for the collect-ability of the LS3/5a's here...

Not really. Genuine LS3/5as were all individually tested and calibrated against the BBC's original reference units... -- that was always a part of the licensing agreement, and that obviously doesn't apply to these DIY models. So while they may use similar drivers, crossover and cabinet, they aren't going to be calibrated to the same standard as real LS3/5as, which must count against them as far as 'collect-ability' is concerned!

But I agree that there are some excellent value second-hand quality speakers available if you look around... and that KH120s offer astounding bang for the buck! :-)

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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby forumuser918214 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 2:02 pm

I had LS35As (Rogers) for quite a while in the 70s. At that time, they were the best small speakers I was aware of, and I loved them. They do not compare to modern powered small monitors in terms of dynamics, spectral accuracy, dispersion control, bass response and require an amp.
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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 24, 2018 2:21 pm

Very true. It was a ground-breaking design almost fifty years ago... but the world (and the technology) has certainly moved on.

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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby Logarhythm » Fri Aug 24, 2018 5:30 pm

Hi all,
Thanks for the input, some interesting points!

@Dave - already have an amp, otherwise the sums would look quite different. Old Rotel power amp, nothing fancy but has done a reasonable job of driving various things.
Whether the saving from a kit is that significant in terms of "quality per £" is an interesting question, and that was partly what motivated me to ask here. But the other motivation was the lack of smaller sealed box offerings in this type of price range - I'm relatively local to IPL so dont even need postage, and £315 for a pair of monitors sounds very appealing if they're half decent. Plus I haven't had a project (at least a manageable one) for a little while...

@Phil - I'd 100% buy those, but am on the eccentric fringes of amateur status so wouldn't take my enthusiasm as a sign of commercial viability ;)

@James - the LS3/5 is partly what started me off on this silly idea, as I saw a kit on eBay a little while ago. But the price is excessive (IMO), whereas the little IPLs come in at a fraction of that. I did also wonder about the LS3's oddball JR149/150 cousins as they seem to go for less than the LS3s, but I'm still not sure it's a sensible decision...
Am also keeping an eye out for the occasional pairs of ATCs (and PMCs) that pop up at a good price.

@Hugh - KH120s had crossed my mind. If I hadn't spent too much on bicycles this year (yes, really) it would probably be a foregone conclusion. I'd even get over my irrational fear of ported speakers given the unanimous praise, but like the AE22s they don't come up for sale very often, and residual values are pretty high (which probably says quite a lot).
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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby Wonks » Fri Aug 24, 2018 5:37 pm

It would appear that a decent set of sealed box monitors like the the AE22s at a similar price point is a big hole in the market that no-one is filling. I wonder why not? The AE22s were constantly being recommended here at the time, very similar to the way that the KH120s are now.
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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby Logarhythm » Thu Aug 30, 2018 5:32 pm

So I did the sensible thing and found the answer to an absence of a current AE22-a-like - I've just purchased a pair of second hand AE22s...
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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby Phil Ward » Thu Aug 30, 2018 5:48 pm

Logarhythm wrote:So I did the sensible thing and found the answer to an absence of a current AE22-a-like - I've just purchased a pair of second hand AE22s...

Yes, I thought I felt a slight yet satisfying disturbance in the Ether. I hope you enjoy your purchase.

P
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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby Logarhythm » Fri Aug 31, 2018 10:09 am

Thanks Phil. If they're anywhere near as good as the overwhelmingly positive reviews suggest then I'm sure I shall!
Must get act together and finish putting what passes for the "studio" back together in anticipation of their arrival...
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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby Logarhythm » Fri Sep 07, 2018 6:10 pm

Phil, I'm sure you don't need me to tell you as much, but having now had the AEs for a couple of days and tested them on various tracks I know very well, all I can say is that I'm hugely impressed - you designed a fantastic monitor!
Only grumble I have is that I can now hear how much work I have to do on a number pieces of my own...
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Re: DIY monitor kits - yay, nay, very nay, experiences?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Sep 08, 2018 3:16 pm

40 years ago I bought and built Wilmslow Audio LS3's and KefKit 104aB's The cost back then was under half the new price of the 'real thing' I still have them and use the 104s daily, they have had (Peerless IIRC) replacement drivers (suggested and supplied by WA) but the LS3s are original (down to the matt black painted boxes, veneer was difficult/expensive back then though I did veneer the 104s fairly badly......).

They are very good to my, not particularly 'golden', ears but do they stand up to modern monitors? I don't know but I have been advised that the cost of replacing with something equivalent would be significant (the guy from WA, when I was discussing driver replacement 15+ years ago said over a grand to match the 104s).

Would I build again? No, I can afford something decent like KH120s when I decide to replace so will go with tried and trusted by the people on this place who know these things.
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