Monday, January 14, 2008

DIY Electrostatic Loudspeakers / ESLs - The Cabinets and Final Installtion

Fast forward a couple of months, the panels have been in my listening room, leaning against the wall, playing faithfully. I have been listening to them almost daily without fail. They never fail to amaze me. I finally decide that the panels should be placed in their cabinets. Fortunately my Uncle is a carpenter by trade and he has all the tools and raw material that I need to make the cabinets. It took me about a week to design the cabinets, borrowing heavily from examples found in the user manual and the designer's website. After much discussion with my Uncle, we had all the details of the design ironed out and after a couple of overnighters at the workshop, I (as in my Uncle) complete the cabinets. I used a hardwood, my Uncle told me the name but I forget. More than a few nails and screws have been broken off as we were constructing the cabinets. Joints were mainly glued and then nailed. The cabinets featured a removable cover which you will see below. This removable panel is secured by screws. The cabinet is constructed out of 2 main modules. In this picture you will see a box with 4 aluminium legs. This box measures h320xw600xd250mm. This will serve as a base for the ESL panels. It will also house the EHT and transformers. Behind the base and leaning against the wall, you will see the removable panel. This panel forms the rear of the base. The large round hole will house the speaker binding posts and the small rectangle will hold the power cables connections.In the next picture you will see a large rectangular frame that will house ESL panels. The frame measures h1300xw600xd160mm. I did a mockup, and I was surprised as it seemed a lot larger than I expected. Its going to dwarf everything else in my listening room. It stands at about 1.6m. The frame holding the panels will screw onto the base as shown in the mockup. I originally wanted to make the base and the top using one piece of wood, but we did not have a piece large enough. Well, can't always get what you want...And here are the braces that will go into the top module. These braces serve 2 basic purposes. 1. To 'brace' the top module so that it is more rigid and resists sideways motion. 2. To serve as a backing to support the panels. The braces are also radiused so as to reduce reflection.Before I can install the panels, my first task was to install the channels where the panel will sit in. This was a simple affair, just nailing the appropriate length of square cross section wooden rod into the top module.Here is another picture of the channels being nailed into place.With the channels installed, I test fit the panels. Perfect fit! I love the look of the ESLs, really majestic. I am wondering if I need some kind of cover or should I leave them naked. Opinions...Rear view of the panels during the test fitting.A closer view of the Panels sitting snugly in their channels.I also test fit the braces. While the fit is good, but the support points are too narrow don't quite line up with the edges of the panels that it is supposed to support. I will have to fashion a new support that will extend to support the all the panels properly.Satisfied that everything fits, I remove the panel to clean them and the cabinets up. Here is a picture of the completed cabinets without the panels.Here is another view of the empty cabinets. Notice that the channels at the bottom are different from the other channels. They are screwed on to aid easy installation and removal of the panels. They were an afterthought and so the wood is not finished in the same colour as the rest of the cabinet. Notice that I have already predrilled holes in between the channel brackets so that the wires can be passed through to the base that will house the EHT supply and transformer. This will make things look neater.I clean the cabinets up thoroughly and give the room a good vacuum. I then start installing the panels into the cabinets. I make sure that all screws are tight. Here is a rear view of the final install.I place the EHT and the audio transformer into the base. I connect all the wiring. The ESLs are now in position. They are right next to the side wall and about 2 feet from the rear.After making the final connections, I turn on the ESLs, put in some Nat King Cole, Marsalis, Hall and Oates, Eagles..... I am left speechless. The ESLs were used without the cabinets for a good 2-3 months and they were just wonderful. But now in a proper enclosure.... they just got better. The sound emanating from the ESLs has just been elevated one level better. It sounded fuller, mid bass has much more presence and goes the panels go down another half an octave. I'll whip out the sound analyser for tests later. For now I just want to go enjoy the ESLs.Feel free to leave you comments. Read about my Treble Frequency Problem or return to Home.

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