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Thread: System #45 (Monolith IIIx, SL3XC, Sequel II)

  1. #1
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Default System #45 (Monolith IIIx, SL3XC, Sequel II)

    1. Member Name: Jonathan Foulkes - AKA: JonFo

    2. Location: Big Canoe, GA (Atlanta Metro)

    3. ML Model(s): Monolith III Active X-over, Sequel IIb, SL3XC
    Overhead speakers: 4x JBL SCS-8

    4. Year Purchased: 1993 - 1995, 2006

    5. Mods/Changes: DriveRack 4800 speaker processors as active X-over / Delay / EQ for Monolith’s, center and sub. DriveRack 260 speaker processor for rears. Updated woofers on Monolith, see description of update to new Peerless units at the thread on this forum.
    Built my own Center Channel based on an SL3

    6. Associated Electronics:
    - Marantz AV8802A pre-amp with Atmos support, Audyssey Pro calibrated (by me)
    - Sanders Sound systems ESL amp 2x330 for Monolith panels.
    - Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature 5x400 for center and rear panels
    - Sunfire Cinema Grand 5x200 for sides, rear woofers and center mid-bass array
    - Sunfire stereo 2x200 for Monolith Woofers
    - Crown XLS602 2x600 (4Ohm) for Infinite Baffle sub
    - Crown XLS2500 2,500w (4Ohm) for rear 18" sub
    - DBX DriveRack 260 speaker processor (Rears )
    - DBX DriveRack 4800 speaker processor (Monolith,SL3XC, sub, tactile transducer)
    - Guitamer Buttkicker 1000w amp and Tactile Transducer (on couch)
    - Denon DVD2930ci Universal player
    - Toshiba HD-A35 HD-DVD player
    - Oppo BD-103 Blu-Ray player / Network player
    - Sony PlayStation3 - Netflix and other streamed content and Games (GT HD)
    - DirecTV Genie HD-DVR
    - Pioneer Elite CLD-97 (w/AC-3 upgrade) LaserDisc player
    - HTPC - Core i5 mini-ATX running Jriver MC 22, HDMI to processor
    - JVC DLA-RS4810 4K front projector
    - Stewart Studiotek 130 micro-perf acoustically transparent screen
    - Full home and AV automation controller based on HomeSeer, Zwave lighting, GlobalCache IR and relay control, Philips Hue system
    - RealTraps and RPG Acoustics room treatments
    - Custom acoustic treatments
    - Balanced Power subsystem
    - Salamander Design racks (twin 7' units) in dedicated, cooled equipment room

    6.1 Additional speakers
    - Custom Infinite Baffle with 4 15" drivers housed in the first in-room manifold ever deployed
    - Custom sealed sub, Dayton Ultimax-18 driver in re-purposed Velodyne ULD cabinet, 2,500w Crown amp powers it
    - Atmos overheads TBD

    7. Comments and/or stories about your Martin Logan experience:

    Love the Sound quality of these large Electrostats, when hosted in a room designed for them, they really come alive.

    Now with a full room treatment using 25 RealTraps, plus a dozen more RPG and Auralex products and my custom side treatments, the sound is superb and it looks wonderful as well.

    I finally got the center channel I always wanted by designing and building it myself. Results are incredible.

    Using a large Infinite Baffle sub really allows the Monoliths to shine.

    See more comments, details and pictures at my site

    8. An image of your system.

    Here are front and rear panoramic views of the home theater (note: old pics still show CRT PJ, now replaced by 4K JVC. updated pics soon):
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by JonFo; 05-31-2017 at 03:26 AM. Reason: updates to list, again
     

  2. #2
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    [edit] removed comments about old pics. Top post is current now.
    Added diagram of the routing from processor and some of the 5.1 sources through to the speakers.
    20013.8.11 - Updated graphic to once again reflect changes.
    The list above is kept current
    [\edit]

    Name:  XStatic Connectivity 2013.jpg
Views: 1961
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    Jonathan
    Last edited by JonFo; 08-11-2013 at 02:46 AM.

  3. #3
    EricE
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    Hi Jonathan,

    Glad to see you here again. I posted your pic from the IB cult a while back as I am very interested in a IB setup for my HT as I think I have a perfect setup for it.

    Your setup looks and must sound amazing!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Robin's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Beautiful System...

    Quote Originally Posted by JonFo
    The pic is old, it shows the old subs on the sides and is missing the Hush box over the projector. Will post updated pics when I get some spare time.

    Jonathan
    Jonathan,

    You have an excellent system! I was reading your most recent posts on a thread I started regarding, 'why we like mono blocks so much'... I was intrigued by your views, so I wanted to see your system. Wow, you are a Sunfire poster child, my friend. I was considering the Sunfire Cinema Signature Grand seven ~ 400 for a very long time, and you have not one, but two Signature Grand five ~ 400's. Your Sunfire amplification is just amazing.

    So you bi-amp most of your speakers? You must have additional dedicated electrical ampheres - circuitry for your HT, just to power in all?

    I love the ML Monolith III Active X-over...

    Beautifully powerful system.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Robin's Avatar
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    Default Newer Photo's...

    Jonathan,

    Back in march of last year, you had eluded to posting some more photos of your system, when you had the time...

    I almost forgot to ask, if you could please post some newer / up-dated photo's of your fantastic system...

  6. #6
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robin
    ...

    So you bi-amp most of your speakers? You must have additional dedicated electrical ampheres - circuitry for your HT, just to power in all?

    I love the ML Monolith III Active X-over...

    Beautifully powerful system.
    Hi Robin,

    Yes, as noted in the diagrams at my web site, I bi-amp (or more, depends on the channel). For example, the Left / Right have highs, lows and sub crossovers.

    I run a very complex power management system I designed myself. It is based around the Equitech (www.equitech.com) line of Balanced Power transformers.

    I run a 5KVA transformer that feeds my entire A/V system. It has made a noticeable difference in the audio and the video. Primarily, a lack of noise and ‘grime’ in the low level audio and reduced noise-bars in the video.
    Plus, the huge reserves of the big torodial transformer smooth any peak demands from the five power amps (15 channels total, some biamping and a 7.1 layout).
    The voltage meters never vary, even under the most intense demands (movie explosions, with full field white on the big CRT projector and all channels driven hard).

    While I originally ran multiple 20 and 30 amp feeds into my HT from the breaker box, I wound up hooking up the Equitech to a 30 amp dual phase line and creating my own local power distribution network in my HT equipment room. This eliminates any RFI or other interference picked up along the way to the HT equipment room (50’ from mains box).

    The rig is controlled by an automation system (HouseBot) through a bunch of custom relay’s I put into the outputs of the Equitech. This lets me perform sequential startup and shutdowns of the system under full automation control. This is a requirement when peak inrush for the entire rig is somewhere north of 50 amps

    I also wired the power outlets for the MartinLogan speakers into the Equitech fed network. This eliminated some slight hum and buzzes they were picking up from dimmers in the house. No problem with Balanced power, and much more effective than any power cable ‘upgrade’ in term so what the speaker can do.

    Since we’re talking power management and conditioning, I also added a set of Powergy PowerMax (http://www.powergy.com/) power factor correction and whole house surge protection to my mains panels. These power factor correctors made a huge difference in the noise generated by electric motors in the house (refrigerators especially) and since my main kitchen built-in fridge is over the HT, I appreciated the results.
    They also attenuate the noise side effects of dimmers throughout the home.
    And they help save money to boot. Should pay for itself in about five years ( or less time if you live in California

    Thanks for the kind comments.

    PS- the whole room was designed around the Martin Logans, and all wiring was specified by me. It was so over the top (HT and the whole house) that the orginal electricians quit on the very first day of the job
    Last edited by JonFo; 12-28-2008 at 03:03 AM. Reason: updated links
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  7. #7
    Senior Member Robin's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Awesome Electrically Distributed / Conditioned HT & Home...

    Jonathan,

    Your description of totally up-grading, designing and modernizing your HT & home electrical distribution / surge protection and power conditioning, with Equitech Balanced Power Transformers as well as Powergy PowerMax power conditioning / whole house surge protection is just truly incredible. Wow! what a home improvement project. I had to laugh when you said that the electrician quit after the first day. It is amazing how some "professional" service folks just are not up to the task. I have found that is so very true, anything else is the exception. I appreciate and find it rather interesting that most of the electrical improvements you described, would not be very visible in a photo, so thank you for taking the time to explain what is behind your wonderful HT System. But if you get the chance, I would love to see more of your current system in photographs, as for one thing, other than a high-end audio store, I don't think I have ever heard of so many "Sunfire" amplifiers in one HT system before...
    Your HT system and experience has given me fresh ideas for better sounding HT.

    You have an incredibly awesome HT system...

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    Super User Kruppy's Avatar
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    All I can say is "Holy Cr@p".

    How much time have you devoted to your system? Looks like a lifetime from your website.
    Last edited by Kruppy; 02-16-2006 at 03:32 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Robin's Avatar
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    Talking Far-Out Wow...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kruppy
    All I can say is "Holey Cr@p".

    How much time have you devoted to your system? Looks like a lifetime from your website.
    Jonathan,

    Kruppy, you can say that again. Jonathan your web-site is the extreme in audio cool. Excellent photo's too... You give audiophiles a good name Jonathan. Thank you for sharing...

    Wonderful HT and system.

  10. #10
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kruppy
    All I can say is "Holy Cr@p".

    How much time have you devoted to your system? Looks like a lifetime from your website.
    Ah, time, yes lot's of that and cash I'm afraid

    Hey, it's a hobby. I sometimes think I'm going for the 'Most Complex System' award.

    Been putting this particular system together since 1998. Pieces get upgraded here and there, but mostly I just keep adding stuff.

    The most fun thing to add in the recent years was the Infinite Baffle Sub. That thing is amazing. It is sooo clean and plays sooo deep it really adds a new dimension to music and movies. It’s the perfect match to the MartinLogans.

    The reason an IB totally surpasses a good sub is that low-frequency reproduction at high SPL is all about moving enough air, my IB has 15.24 liters (or 870 cubic inches) of volumetric displacement, whereas a Velodyne ULD-18 only has 2.15 liters (or 131 ci) of displacement. That’s 6.5 times the displacement as the driver in the Velo.

    All sealed box subs create distortions and need massive amp power to compress the air in the box. The velo's use servo feedback to fight (quite effectively) the distortion, but they have to give up something, and that something is SPL.

    An IB in contrast needs very little power, as it's ultimately driver excursion limited, they do not waste effort or create distortions trying to compress anything, as the air mass is roughly equal front and back of the driver.
    Now, mind you I still think the world of Velo's and I moved one of my ULD's to the loft system and it's awesome there. I also would get a DD-18 in a heartbeat if I could no longer have an IB.

    But unless you've actually experienced (not just heard) a really good IB setup, you just have no idea how much better it can be. I know I sure did not before I built mine.

    Cheers.
    Last edited by JonFo; 12-28-2008 at 03:04 AM. Reason: updates to links
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  11. #11
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Default Updates to list

    Finally got around to updating the Pic and the list to reflect the latest in the efforts to lock down that coveted 'most complex system' award

    Nothing like designing and building a three way center channel speaker to match my Monoliths to really challenge the skill set. But it was a ton of fun to do. And the results are absolutely incredible.
    The front soundfield balance is near perfect and the mid-bass power of the system is like no other ML rig I've ever heard.
    Very happy.

    Bedsides the new center, I’ve updated the Monolith panels as well.
    The Logos was sold.

    HD Video and HD Audio are totally awesome in this theater now. I've had guys over who have very nice systems (each worth >$60K ) and they all walk out shaking their heads and wondering why theirs doesn’t keep up. That big Infinite Baffle is one reason, but the rebalanced MLs are the other.

    Well, I'm off to enjoy a movie and music day.

    Cheers
    Last edited by JonFo; 06-24-2006 at 03:09 AM.
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  12. #12
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Default Hush Box pic

    Some of the CRT owners here asked about the G70 projector hush box.

    Here is a pic and you can see more pics and read a thread about it on AVSForum

    This keeps the noise levels down so I can really appreciate the ML's.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  13. #13
    Member johnwa's Avatar
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    Default Amazing

    undefinedI have been a ML fan since the first time I saw a pair of Sequel's in a high end audio store. I was first struck by the design and then when the owner fired them up I could not believe what I was experiencing. That demo left a huge impression on me but finances and priorities at the time (I know they were screwed up) did not allow me to purchase them the. However, I never forgot that experience and as soon as I could I bought a pair of Sequel II's and have never looked back. I used my Sequel's) as the core of my two channel dream system for about 6 years and they remain the front end of my HT system. They are complemented by a ML Center channel but I am now completely humbled by your genius and ingenuity as what you built is brilliant. The rest of the home theatre speaker set up is made up of four M&K surrounds and a Volodyne sub (again humbled as by your discription you have managed to harnessed thunder itself).

    In any event, I am new to this amazing site and stumbled across it as I was searching for information on Monolith III's as I am looking for a pair (found them by the way) to have them service as the focal point of a new/old new deam two channel system. I have been pouring over this site for a few days now and am completely in awe of what so many people have done and amazed at what you have in your head that I would love to apply to the Monolith's that I hope will soon grace my home office area. With that in mind I would love to get some more practical advice on the active cross over path you have taken. I read the thread and will probably pass on the ML active cross over and go with the DBX DriveRack260 speaker processor you use. Do you have a "how to" guide for me to follow?

    I am so happy to have stumbled into this incredible forum and see so many people share this passion. I will fill out the profiles with pictures etc soon but any advice you might pass on would be greatly appreciated.

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    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnwa
    ... I have been pouring over this site for a few days now and am completely in awe of what so many people have done and amazed at what you have in your head that I would love to apply to the Monolith's that I hope will soon grace my home office area. With that in mind I would love to get some more practical advice on the active cross over path you have taken. I read the thread and will probably pass on the ML active cross over and go with the DBX DriveRack260 speaker processor you use. Do you have a "how to" guide for me to follow?

    I am so happy to have stumbled into this incredible forum and see so many people share this passion. I will fill out the profiles with pictures etc soon but any advice you might pass on would be greatly appreciated.
    John, welcome aboard and thanks for the kind words.

    We are all here to help each other and share some good times around our little hobby.

    I have been giving some thought to posting a ‘How To” guide for doing active crossovers and then tuning the system, as it seems popular enough and I sure keep preaching it
    It will be a fairly lengthy document, as this is no easy subject, but there are ways to tip-toe into and learn progressively.

    What I’ll do is start out with a bit of a community effort, with an open thread in the DIY forum where we can start out and chat about the goals of this guide and even some drafts of elements for it. That way people can either contribute content or seek further clarifications before final publication.

    Enjoy your new Monoliths and make sure you see all my posts about tweaking them (just look for posts I’ve made on the forum using the advanced search by user name, or click this). Some have pics and tips for updating panels and woofers.
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  15. #15
    Member johnwa's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks for the response and I did look at some of your mods which is what drew me to explore this venue in more depth. I am sure there are a few people out there like me that would love to do the tweaks you have done but just do not have the knowlege. The woofer replacement assembly looks straight forward but is this something you recomond I do out of the gate?

    I have a choice on whether or not to purchase a pair of Monolith's with the factory active cross over or passive. There are two pairs and someone has first rights on the Actives but based on what I read I should go with the DBX DriveRack 260 anyway. I looked up the dealers in Seattle (that you for the link that made that easy) and based on your notes the costs are about a wash. The delta between the active and passive option for the Monolith's are about $1,000.

    Any advice and guidence would be appreciated as I am a complete novice when it comes to anything outside of writting the checks.
    Johnwa

    System: CLX, Depth, JL Audio Fathom 212 x 2, Speaker Lab S7

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