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Thread: Modifying the Odyssey crossover - my adventure

  1. #16
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    As the caps begin to arrive today, I thought it prudent to mention that I will be replacing one cap at a time, pausing for a lengthy audition. It is very likely that a mod may end up with deleterious effects, so one needs to be very careful; not to mention that I will keep the original panel caps around for quite some time, just in case.

    In the meantime, I found this white paper from ClarityCap on why capacitors sound different very interesting...

    And for reference purposes in this thread, I just scraped the following list off the humblehomemadehifi web site - it presumably represents the cream of the crop according to that popular site:

    Amp Ohm FE-XAL-AL alu-foil / polyster in oil*
    Audience Auricap MKP *
    Clarity Cap MR *
    Duelund VSF Cu-foil / paper *
    Duelund CAST Cu-foil / paper in oil *
    Intertechnik Audyn Cap Reference *
    Jantzen Audio Superior Z-Cap *
    Jupiter HT BeesWax *
    Le Clanché PPM MKP *
    Mundorf M-Cap 630VDC MKP *
    Mundorf M-Cap Supreme Cap *
    Mundorf M-Cap Supreme Silver/Oil *
    Mundorf M-Cap Supreme Silver/Gold/Oil *
    Obbligato Aluminium Foil *
    Vishay MKP 1837 * (bypass; 1839 is the same cap in axial configuration)

    Finally, let me clearly state my goals with this mod: keep the tonal balance of the Odysseys, and try to improve on overall bass and panel speed and articulation.

    More pictures and initial listening impressions next week...

  2. #17
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    spectral,

    Keep us posted on how thing's progress, i'm very interested in this, and am about to begin work on my Spire xover, and am hoping that this makes the difference between an excellent speaker and a truly engaging one.

    Are you also looking at new inductors, as it seems that this area can be tricky to get the values needed and keep the DCR required.

    Best Regards,
    Paul.

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ps68 View Post
    spectral,

    Keep us posted on how thing's progress, i'm very interested in this, and am about to begin work on my Spire xover, and am hoping that this makes the difference between an excellent speaker and a truly engaging one.

    Are you also looking at new inductors, as it seems that this area can be tricky to get the values needed and keep the DCR required.

    Best Regards,
    Paul.
    All the panel capacitors are in as of last weekend, with the front woofers' having arrived yesterday, while still waiting on the Vishay bypass, with the epoxy setting coming in last... So here are my initial impressions and how I approached this mod...

    1. First of all, if you can't get shiny solder joints don't bother - you will mess it all up. Second, test your solder joints structurally to make sure they are firm, and then test, test, test and test again for continuity etc. You will end up spending about 40-60 hours total. Tools I needed: cutter, tongues, two-sided tape, WBT Silver solder, variable temperature Weller soldering gun (very important - joints can be thick and you need a higher temperature there), Super Glue, electrical tape, head-mounted flash light (very critical), Fluke multimeter, epoxy glue (yet to be used), cable ties.
    2. I decided to upgrade one speaker's panel caps first, in order to be able to perform a meaningful and easy A/B between them.
    3. The results are truly exceptional and the caps have not been broken in yet: I first played a piano recording and kept going back and forth between the speakers - the upgraded one consistently exhibited more depth and dimensionality, attack, 2-3dB added dynamic range, and overall improved clarity in the entire spectrum. The highs in particular have now become as crystal clear as you'd expect from ribbons, with incredible attack and decay (the Spectrals are really enabling that). Basically, a major veil has been lifted. By contrast, the other speaker sounds a bit flatter (less depth), a bit congested - and this is really evident with choruses, where the upgraded one just shines - with slower attack and shorter decays (the latter was very easy to demonstrate with gentle cymbal strikes: dIiIiIiiiiing vs diiing - the "Ii" is trying to also depict a sinusoidal decay). The overall outcome is more vividness in the entire spectrum. Being an extremely critical listener, this is the very first time I'd say I am really wowed by the sound of the system.
    4. These tests were repeated after swapping the channels via the Revox, and the results were consistent.
    5. I believe the upgrade can be dangerous if your system is already on the bright side, so approach this carefully.
    6. After the second speaker was upgraded, it was time for some serious listening, and mind you the capacitors are still not broken in. The results above were confirmed again: large orchestral pieces are reproduced with extreme ease - vivid, sharp, with visceral attack and believable instrument decays; very precise pin-pointing; very realistic piano attack; very realistic instrument timbers; impressive voice reproduction. And the additional dynamic range helps render big-sounding instruments like mass French horns and tubas more realistic, though this is still not horn-speaker territory either.
    7. I no longer hear the glare in the 400Hz and 4kHz ranges that annoyed me so much before.
    8. I believe all of the above are the result of simply plugging in faster capacitors, and you can probably do better with even faster but more expensive ones. But for me, it's also important not to change the speakers' tonal balance at the same time, therefore I believe in my system, the Mundorf Silver-in-Oil might make the sound too bright. If I had the money, experimenting with Duelunds would have been interesting, and I may still do it with the 10uF cap, for an additional $470 per speaker; but I am awaiting a review of the Duelund caps by Myles Astor on WhatsBestForum.com first.


    So far, the $2K spent is nothing compared to the gained improvement. I have absolutely no reason to upgrade to the Summit X's at this point, and in fact, I would argue the new O's might be the better speaker now for a variety of reasons: quieter cabinet, larger panel, just as fast, better tonal balance (which on the X's is really hard to get with tilting - I feel the tonal balance in the Summits and the Summit X's was intentionally tipped up in order to make them fit in a wider variety of rooms, and tilting was provided as a way to tune that; but in the end, it's unnatural to begin with. I really like panels to be tuned sitting straight up - like the CLX for example).

    I will comment on the bass after all woofer caps are in place.

    Upgrading the inductors is an interesting proposal, and I have given it some thought; but there are some issues: 1) They have to be custom made due to the unusual values (no idea what the cost would be); 2) I am not happy with the wire gauge in the existing ones, so any replacements would have to use 14 or 12 AWG wire, making them very heavy and big - fitting them in the cabinet might be an issue; 3) The point-to-point wiring is still making use of 16 or 18 AWG wire, so that would have to be upgraded as well; 4) heavier gauge might increase magnetic fields with potentially detrimental effects. And I haven't researched yet how inductors really affect the sound and to what degree.

    I will be posting more pictures later today.

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    Some more pictures...

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    The 51uF replacement

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    All the panel's caps ready to be installed

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    Everything in place; 10uF top; 13uF upper left; 51uF bottom left; 47uF bottom right

  5. #20
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    Great job there, excellent write up. It appears that swapping the caps has had a substantial effect on the signal, (for the better), which is good to hear. Out of the caps replaced, which one's are in series with the load?

    As i mentioned on Agon, i have placed an order for Clarity MR for my Spires, and have divided the capacitances equally between the originals, ie, there are 2 x 47uf for the mid band, so i'll use 4 x 23.5uf. Clarity will make these to order, but will be around 5 weeks, then i'll put them on my Audiodharma for a few days.

    Let us know how things alter during the first 200 hrs with the Mundorf's, it sounds like it wont take long to get there..

    Another question is how do you measure the FR, do you use software/mic, or sig gen etc. I will want to check mine before removing any part to keep as a reference, but will need to get a test method together. All very exciting, for us at least!

    Regards,
    Paul.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ps68 View Post
    Great job there, excellent write up. It appears that swapping the caps has had a substantial effect on the signal, (for the better), which is good to hear. Out of the caps replaced, which one's are in series with the load?
    All the panel ones are; the woofers' are in parallel.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ps68 View Post
    As i mentioned on Agon, i have placed an order for Clarity MR for my Spires, and have divided the capacitances equally between the originals, ie, there are 2 x 47uf for the mid band, so i'll use 4 x 23.5uf. Clarity will make these to order, but will be around 5 weeks, then i'll put them on my Audiodharma for a few days.
    Excellent choice! And probably much better than Mundorf. May I ask what the price for these is? I suspect about $200 per cap...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ps68 View Post
    Let us know how things alter during the first 200 hrs with the Mundorf's, it sounds like it wont take long to get there..
    You got that one right

    Quote Originally Posted by Ps68 View Post
    Another question is how do you measure the FR, do you use software/mic, or sig gen etc. I will want to check mine before removing any part to keep as a reference, but will need to get a test method together. All very exciting, for us at least!
    I just use warble tones, the RadioShack SPL meter and the Rives-corrected response curve of said meter (but not their CD, which contains pure sinewaves)...

    BTW, I am looking at my pictures again and the inductor values, and I am thinking I can easily fit better Mundorf inductors in there...

  7. #22
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    So the reason I went with the Mundorfs in the end was their construction... I've been told that a capacitor is really an unavoidable RLC network - I scraped the following pseudo diagram from the ClarityCap paper I mentioned earlier:

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    Therefore, what sold me was their "special" induction-free winding technology: "Two capacitor windings are interleaved so that their inductances effectively cancel each other out. These two windings are connected in series."
    Last edited by spectral; 10-14-2011 at 04:04 AM.

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    Update 10/14/11: I will be installing the remainder of the caps (front woofer and bypass) this weekend. And I have taken the plunge and ordered replacement Mundorf Copper Foil inductors for the panel, for $560, to arrive in about three weeks...
    Last edited by spectral; 10-14-2011 at 10:38 AM.

  9. #24
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    Well, whatever the reasoning behind the caps design it sounds like it has worked well in your O's, of course by paralleling 4 or 5 caps will reduce the resistance considerably, would that mean that inductance would increase, albeit to a small amount?

    The Clarity MR's were not cheap, the 47uf, for which i'll use 2 x 23.5uf were about £155, or $245 each, so 500 USD per 47uf cap, and i need 4.. Scary, i hope this works, there's 16 caps, 4 inductors, which are actually not expensive at all, and 8 Cast resistors @ £25 ($39) each....

    I'm hoping that the Mundorf copper foils will suit the panels well, have you ordered 17mm width? That gives the higher dcr, as ML use 18 or 20 gauge wire inductors, the 17mm width equals to 16 gauge.

    For me and i'm sure for you Peter, that these speakers are for long term use, i'd like to think i'll still be enjoying them for another 15 yrs. The only other model i really dont want to hear are the MBL, 111f, 116 etc. I'm sure Gordon will reassure me that they sound hifi..

    Good luck with this weekend's tweakery, as usual, keep us up to date on progress..

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    My replies seem to take forever to get posted, unless I use my phone, so there should be a response soon..

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    All caps are in, and there is no longer easily detectable bass overhang. In fact, the bass is now fast, taught, and punchy on Reference Recordings and some Telarcs that I tried - actually, it's phenomenal! So much so, that I stopped looking for replacement bass drivers (I was going to try the Accuton 8" - similar electrical and mechanical characteristics with what I got from ML).

    On the bypass caps - again, I first installed them on one speaker for an easy A/B - not successful, because in the first hour, as they were breaking in, the sound was a little veiled on that speaker; basically, a 10nF cap is capable of inflicting its own [detrimental] sound. After an hour, things improved; I didn't want to wait any longer, so both speakers now have the bypass caps and been playing constantly.

    I'll just mention a very characteristic case here which was the primary driver for this modification - Stravinsky's Rite of Spring on Reference Recordings... I happened to have auditioned the Summit X with the exact same Spectral electronics and Berkeley Alpha DAC right before I was about to purchase - the sound got harsh on full orchestral climaxes especially with mass winds, and in fact one of the amps shut down. Well, at home now and after the mods, I just played the same piece as loud as back in the dealer room - the sound was just simply effortless, horns blaring and all. Granted the O's impedance goes as low as 1 ohm while the X's will go down to 0.8, but I don't think impedance or the amps' ability to drive the X's was a factor - I hear much less distortion, more vividness, a wider and deeper soundtsage, and larger dynamic contrasts in the new O's...

    Finally... I've never heard drums sound so crisp, real and annoying before - on par with what I heard from the Magico Q3.

    What I can easily say at this stage is that this has been a phenomenally successful modification, and is highly recommended... I am not sure when I'll replace the inductors yet... I no longer feel ashamed coming back home from Symphony Hall to my stereo
    Last edited by spectral; 10-18-2011 at 06:29 AM.

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    Fantastic Peter, well done, i bet it is like a second honeymoon with your odysseys..

    How many bypass caps did you use in the end? While most cap rollers will suggest that the caps make the substantial difference in SQ, some do believe that the inductors are as significant or maybe even more so, it is certainly true that they can mess things up just as easily, but selecting correct parameters should control this. I expect you are feeling that it sounds pretty damn good now, and you are happy with that so may not feel the need to fit inductors just yet.

    I am itching to get going on mine but have a 5 week wait still. Oh well, it still sounds terrific with the stock boards.
    Keep us posted on burn in and improvements!

    Cheers,
    Paul.

  13. #28
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    I am really glad that it worked out for you just as great as it did for me.

    I did not want to comment on Summit X vs Ascent sound deliberately not to sound preposterous
    but as you did it I say a big +1 from my side.

    Actually, after hearing the Summit X - which is beyond any doubt a magnificent speaker - we
    concluded that the sound at my den does not lag behind it at all, in some aspects being even
    more natural. I think this coincides pretty well with your findings.
    ML Ascent (bi-amped, modded crossovers), Vacuum State (VSE) SVP-1, VSE modded Dynavox VR-80 monoblocs (panels), McIntosh MA-6500 (bass, modded), VSE Level 6 modded Sony SCD-555ES with internal UeberClock, VSE TMS-1 music server, modded Thorens TD 126 MkIII/WTA clone/Ortofon Vero, VSE silver interconnects, Monitor (inakustik) LS-1202, self-built power cabling and filtering

  14. #29
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    Thank you both. Yes I did not mean to be critical of the X's, but facts are facts when it comes to driving them with my electronics. Let it also be known that I have praised the X's in the past in this forum as well, since they do a lot of things really well. It now feels like most ML speakers should have their crossovers upgraded in order to get the max out of them; same goes for the X's perhaps.

    Ps68 - yes, some do claim that inductors do make more of a difference, and this is why I decided to upgrade them too, hopefully by the end of October. I intend to do one speaker at a time and just panels at the moment, and see where we go. I'll be sure to report asap.

    Finally, I used just one bypass cap per capacitor bank (i.e. per capacitor replaced). From your own Spire pictures, I think I see the same horrible yellow Bennic caps???

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    A couple of pics of one of the bypass caps...

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