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The zHorn Dakini measures 30 x 12 x 6.5 inches. It is a made of either Candian FIr or Russian Baltic Birch.
New as of February 2003: the beveled solid maple mounting plate. This makes for a noticably more spacious stage presentation...a less "boxy" sound. (Similarly, the carpet piece helps in this regard). Also the compression chamber is rounded via triangular cut corner pieces.
New as of March 2003: the zHorn constucted in Baltic Birch. The frame is 13 ply birch and the internal boards are 11 ply except one board of 9 ply.
1.) Choice of mounting: beveled solid maple or aluminum. Now my favorite is the beveled maple. By trimming off just 1/2 inch of defractive cabinet around the driver, the soundstage grew in tremendous depth with the back wall of the stage becoming very flat; also hardly any image localizes at the speaker itself. (Previously, with the aluminum plate, there was some "U" shape to the stage). About the aluminum mounting plate. This was inspired by the Audio-Resolution platforms which work extremely well beneanth any speaker (or electronic component). Both mountings are hard materials that conduct vibrations away from the driver into the cabinet
2.) The compression chamber is triangular in length and hexagon in cross-section. Sound vents into the body as in the manner of a funnel. Thus, the vibrating air is controlled and the midrange is especially smooth. I've tried rectangular, and was never as satisfied with the midrange.
3.) Homasote and/or foam is used to absorb cabinet vibration and to convert vibration into heat. This absorber/converter is located directly beneath the driver, and to a lesser degree behind it. Homasote is archetecturally used for sound absorbtion.
4.) Carpet optionally inserted over the front panel (see pictures below) to inhibit cabinet reflections, results in a larger soundstage and a smoother midrange with clearer highs. Without the carpet, the midrange is brash and smeared (placing such a piece of carpeting or felt to the front of many speakers can help very much). Also, keeping the speaker away from side or rear walls, unless they are damped with tapestries, helps to hold down the brash, bright sound of wall reflections. (This carpet merely presses in and holds in place by means of it's own stiffness.)
5.) Front venting allows for postitioning away from the rear wall or side walls. Thus, the staging and imaging of each driver is not impeded by rear or side wall reflections.
6.) The cabinet is made of birch veneered 5-7 ply fir plywood or Baltic birch of 11-13 ply. A cabinet will color the sound. Many speakers are made of Chipboard or MDF (commercially because it is easier to work with--it does not easily splinter). MDF is heavy and retains the vibrating energy, only to release it slowly. This slow release smears the sound. Real woods without all the glue filler, transfere and quickly release the energy. In the history of the zHorn four different woods have been employed. 1.) MDF: dull, grainly, and slow; 2.) aspen plywood: more lively, quicker, more engaging; 3.) birch veneered fir plywood: more delicate, most lively dynamics, quicker & tighter bass, more extended highs, rounder midrange; and 4.) Baltic birch plywood: more laid back, more subtle dynamically, more extended on top, more tight in the bass, and will sound clearer at lower volumes. Combining the Fir and Baltic birch seems to bring about a balance of dynamic life and nuance.
7.) The zHorn cabinet is French polished, the traditional method used for guitars and lutes. More than a dozen layers of hand rubbed shellac, with Tung oil gradually added to the final layers to bring up a shine and harden the surface. With this finish, small scratches are easily rubbed out with a little alchohol. Most importantly the grain takes on an iridescent quality. But finishes, such as Danish oil can be asked for--and even cost less. The standard colors are natural birch or Garnet (orange brown) shellac.
8.) Internal wiring is of your choice, I have Audio Magic Septre, Magnet wire, Cat 5e...
All details are open information and "how to" plans can be found here.
Pictured in the bottom left, are the Tang-Band w4-657s , which are sweet and extended in the highs, smooth in the midrange with a mid-hall perspective. They are more soft and forgiving than the Jordan or Fostex. These are imported by : http://www.nuera-acoustic.ca
Pictured to the bottom center, are the Jordan jx92s which have one of the smoothest midranges imaginable and a fuller midbass that reminds me of the classic British sound. The midrange and highs are electrostatic in openness and speed. Compared to the Fostex 108 E Sigma, the midrange is quicker and clearer. The bass is clear and serviceable to 50 Hz. These drivers are only 88db/watt efficient. These in the zHorn Dakini can sound bass heavy, so am now recommending them in a Jordan style wide baffle transmission line. Pictures upon request. They are imported by:http://www.creativesound.ca/jordan.html
Also, available are Radio-Shack 40-1197(also called FE-103) which comes in the "purple" or "blue" box variety. Very open and airy, forgiving on the highs (though a little ragged) and rhythmic in the bass. Also it is quite efficient.
Finally, pictured on the upper left is the new Fostex 108 E Sigma. These are efficient at 90 db/watt in horn loading. The bass is quick and bouncey and deep. The highs are sweet and extended. The imaging is deep, wide and precise. These are imported by: http://www.madisound.com/fostex.html
Of these drivers, the Radio-Shack, Tang Band and Fostex are easy drop-in replacements of each other.
Special thanks to Bob Zurowski (for much of the design & inspiration), Mike Gerndt (for an objective non-audiophile criticism and for putting up with messes and noise), Jim Baily (for the fine points of woodworking and use of tools and time) and Jerry & Kevin (for cutting wood so perfectly).