December 18, 2015

Custom hybrid acoustic panel

One of my clients asks during a room analysis session "what should I do with this panel?" It was then an absorber without any fabric covering it. This photo shows demonstrates our answer. It's a hybrid absorber/diffuser and we think it also looks great.

What is a hybrid panel?

This panel is an absorber/diffuser hybrid. First, we start with an absorber - in this case it is 100mm thick and so it provides decent absorption in the midrange. Left this way, a pure absorber can make a room sound more dead than we'd like, if many are used. It is typically high frequency absorption that creates a sense of "deadness." It's at this point we know we have gone too far.

Adding slats does two things. Firstly, it reduces some of the absorption, especially at high frequencies. We retain a greater degree of liveness in the room, but now we have selectively retained the midrange absorption. So it is a selective absorber. However, at the same time, we also have an amplitude diffuser. Each slot is conceived as a binary - 1 or 0.  The number sequence serves to establish a pattern which results in diffusion at high frequencies.

The final result is that we achieve midrange absorption mixed with reduced high frequency absorption and diffusion. Ambience in the room is retained and improvements in clarity are made.

One of the great things about this type of panel is that they are fairly simple to build as a DIY project and one can add a large amount of diffusion and absorption to a room on a moderate budget.

December 15, 2015

Dayton Ultimax 15" subwoofer

This is a custom subwoofer project using the Dayton Ultimax 15" sub driver. Designed to go under a built in cupboard in a new home. A pair of subs integrated into a 2 channel system.

It's difficult not to be impressed with the build of this driver. The first thing we notice is the one-piece inverted Nomex honeycomb cone with no dustcap.

 Looking closer we see a tallboy surround to support high excursion without giving up as much piston area.

Looking even closer again, we see the lead in wires woven into one of the two spiders. This aims to avoid any problems with the leads slapping at high excursion.

Once complete, this sub will be calibrated for the room and set up with planar dipole speakers.

December 8, 2015

Vicoustic panels installed in a studio

Vicoustic ceiling diffusor (Multifusor) installed in a Melbourne studio.

It's hard to credit how easy this install was. We supplied and delivered these panels, assisting with installation and testing the final result. It is interesting to observe just one panel knock away a clear first reflection point with a panel that retains 'liveness' in the room.

December 6, 2015

Lifestyle audio in the normal living room

We're often associated with the extreme end of audio - large boutique horn speakers like PSE-144, horn subs like our HS-215 and extreme home theatre speakers. Then here at Red Spade Audio HQ we faced a challenge setting up a system for a small room where even Bose cubes might be a problem! 

Our solution? We started with a room analysis - testing the room to see what it needs. We tested to evaluate acoustic treatment options, speaker and sub placement. 

The result is a simple setup with minimal intrusion into the room. 

The TV was mounted onto the wall with a niche below so that the Blu-ray player would not intrude beyond the TV. All other audio equipment was mounted out of sight, with installed cables. 

Inwall speakers will be used here, installed into niches.

These are not typical cheap plastic inwall speakers!

Infinite baffle subwoofer coming

We tested for the best bass locations. We found that in this room, an infinite baffle sub works very well.

We will build custom decorative hybrid acoustic panels with timber slats over an absorber on the ceiling.

More info to come ...

December 4, 2015

AV10 home theatre loudspeaker

AV10 is our "middle of the range" home theatre satellite.  As with all our home theatre designs, it features:
  • the capabilty to achieve THX reference levels with a normal AV receiver
  • an easy to drive load
  • the potential to avoid a centre channel in many rooms (saving cost and also avoiding installation challenges, especially in a living room with a TV)
  • compact size considering the output capability
  • high power handling and high sensitivity
  • superior dispersion control
 This design is probably about the largest many would accept in a living room but it will also suit dedicated rooms. The next biggest (AV12) is probably too chunky for all but dedicated rooms.

Like all speakers in our home theatre range, it is available with these options:
  • DIY kit
  • Finished (veneer or paint finish)
  • Active or passive
Shown above is the prototype during testing, soon to be available for audition.

December 2, 2015

Extreme pro audio - point source horn with Acoustic Elegance TD18H+ and Keystone tapped horn sub

Extreme pro audio. This is a pro audio point source horn with a 1.4" compression driver, intended for small scale (up to 200) events. This client built a sealed box for the woofer (AE TD18H+ and then used an impressive neo B&C 21" woofer in a 30 Hz horn sub. We designed the crossover for the horn and calibrated the system for outdoor use. A very fun project.

This point source horn is about 1m wide and was tested outdoors to set up the DSP crossover.

The entire system was then calibrated outdoors, set up in the way they are intended to be used.

November 30, 2015

Red Spade Audio now a dealer in Vicoustic Acoustic Treatment

Need acoustic treatment? We now sell Vicoustic treatment products. The main reason for choosing Vicoustic is that it's not that easy to find affordable diffusers and we want to introduce people to the benefits, without having to build them. We have been recommending these for quite some time to our clients using our room analysis service, so it made sense to follow up and provide the products.

Their polystyrene diffusers are an affordable and easy to install option.  They can be installed easily even in a rental using removable picture hanging strips.

Wood version:

Perhaps the most familiar of all is their wavewood panel.

 Vicoustic Wavewood panel (Nordic)

This is a hybrid panel that offers midrange absorption as well as high frequency diffusion. In many rooms, more absorption is required in the midrange region. They are ideal where a simple absorber might make a room sound too dead. Panels such as these result in a room that sound more neutral yet retains an element of natural ambience.

November 28, 2015

Red Spade Audio now a Rythmik Dealer

Rythmik Audio have been a DIY favourite for well over a decade.  And for good reason. Not only do they provide a great range of articulate subwoofers but they also cater to DIYers with kit versions.

How do they compare?

We've heard all kinds of subwoofers, both DIY and commercial. Regardless of price, none are more musical than Rythmik. 

The only caveat we need to mention is that they are not designed for punishment. They are designed for home theatre and audiophile applications. They are not designed for party use where driving them hard with music might occur. With that kind of use, they may be pushed to the point of thermal overload. This is not an issue for the vast majority of audiophiles.

Custom designs

We offer custom design for our clients. You may want to match your other furniture - we can help by matching with a painted finish or a veneer.Or in other cases, you may want a subwoofer that is visually integrated into your space. 

Aussies - buy local

Even if you simply want to purchase for a sub you will build yourself, you can buy from us. 

We can also provide custom kits.

November 26, 2015

Coaxial AV8C - a compact point source loudspeaker

Previously we only offered a very large point source speaker - PSE-144. Now we introduce a relatively small speaker which also features a point source.

We start with a well-built Italian 8" coaxial woofer with a compression driver integrated into the structure.

This pair was built in-house using DIY techniques, so the result is what is readily achievable with the kit. Duratex is rolled on with a foam roller - this gives a smoother texture than you get with the texture roller commonly used, which gives a fairly coarse result we see in PA boxes. We think this is a nicer finish for a home theatre.

The design includes integrated keyhole brackets to make mounting easier.

This design originated as a custom design for surround speakers to match a system that had 8" coax drivers on the main speakers.

How does it compare to our AV8? There are some challenges in using a coaxial driver such as this. The tweeter and woofer tend to interfere with each other. The response of both woofer and tweeter are not as smooth as equivalent drivers, where the compression driver is loaded into a horn or waveguide. The top end of the woofer tends to require more work in the crossover.

The end result we are very happy with. Although it was designed for surround use, we evaluate each speaker with music and expect even a surround speaker to sound refined and musical, such that we would be happy to use it in a music system. AV8C passes the test.

The value of a point source

In a 2 channel speaker a point source is expected to have superior imaging and this can often prove the case. However, we are often hesitant to go down that path as sometimes the compromises can be worse than the benefits. In its intended application, as a surround it will be experienced off axis in both the horizontal and vertical planes. This is where it comes into its own. Especially in a room where you have multiple rows, the coherence is a strong advantage. As Atmos becomes more widespread, this may become even more signirficant and AV8C is an ideal surround speaker.

November 24, 2015

Custom Scan Speak, ATC and Acoustic Elegance floorstander

We love custom projects! On the drawing board is a floorstander based around the ATC midrange dome. Includes a Scan Speak dome tweeter with a purpose built waveguide and a pair of Acoustic Elegance woofers. This will be a solid enclosure in piano gloss black and fully active.

Scan-Speak D2608/91300 1" dome tweeter

 This is a tweeter with an attractive price and good performance. This project will feature a waveguide designed specifically for this tweeter by Joe Rasmussen of JLTI 


What you may not appreciate from the photo is that it uses a very high quality plastic known as Acetyl Homopolymer.  More about the waveguide on DIY Audio.

The midrange driver for this project was sourced second hand. It is a well regarded ATC midrange dome. The magnet on this is larger than many woofers!

 The woofer is a 10" Acoustic Elegance PB10.

This speaker will be active.

November 21, 2015

Custom high end Accuton tower

This is a custom project featuring high end Accuton drivers in a WWMTMWW tower configuration.

This will be an DSP active design.

Accuton C12-6 Ceramic Tweeter

Accuton C79-6 Ceramic Midrange driver

Accuton C92-6 Ceramic 6.5" Woofer

These drivers feature an integrated metal grille due to their fragile ceramic diaphragms and cones. They are easily damaged and come with safety instructions to avoid damage.

October 30, 2015

For sale: Sealed bass box (pair) with 18" Eminence Magnum 18LF

For sale: Sealed bass box (pair) with 18" Eminence Magnum 18LF

Comment with your email to express interest (our contact form is not currently working). We will reply via email so that your email is not published.

September 8, 2015

PSE-144 showcase in Elwood - Sun Sept 27

Your chance to hear PSE-144 in Melbourne. Sun Sept 27th there will be a BBQ showcasing the finished version in a large listening room.
StereoNET thread:

Note: If you're not on StereoNET or facebook, comment here with your email. We will send you a message but not publish your comment so your email is kept private.(No comments are published right away, they are only published when we approve them to avoid "comment spam").

August 4, 2015

Red Spade Audio 8 Channel Linear Phase DSP speaker and room correction coming soon

This is a quick heads up about an exciting product we are introducing in the near future. Quite a number of our PSE-144 customers are running DEQX and wrestling with the limitation of only being able to set up a 3 way system. Ideally a system that features our point source horn would include woofers and a sub - this means a 4 way system. It's a serious investment to buy two DEQX units. We are offering a new DSP system as an alternative. It will work as a stand alone device like DEQX but it will also mean any of our speakers can be available in an active version. We expect to have the first working prototype in a few months.

July 23, 2015

John's HE2 build complete

Mal's PSE-144 bass box build

This is a custom DIY enclosure with Acoustic Elegance TD18H+ above and below PSE-144. CNC machined skeleton structure with 4 layers of 5mm bendy ply to form the curve, then a flat baffle on the front. The PSE horn is inserted into a void between the two boxes.

February 24, 2015

PSE-144 Feb pre-order now closed

We've had a very good response but the deadline has passed and the pre-order is now closed.

A new batch is coming and we're excited about bringing extreme fidelity to a new level.

February 19, 2015

PSE-144 Feb launch deadline approaching!

Just a few more days before this pre-order closes. Not much time!

PSE-144 featured on StereoNET Australia:

February 13, 2015

Acoustic Elegance Australian group buy

Quick heads up. There is a group buy on Acoustic Elegance drivers running currently via StereoNET.

TWO DAYS remaining!

 TD15H US$295

TD18H US$399

Now is a good time to buy as the price is about to go up after this. You will soon be paying more.

February 12, 2015

Dolby Atmos - is it worth pursuing?

Is Dolby Atmos worth pursuing at home? A recent talk at audio post production studio Soundfirm in Melbourne shed some light on the new format.

An evening organised by AES included a talk by one of their senior mixers, Chris Goodes, a tour of the facility and some demos of the capabilities of Atmos. The demo room was the size of a small to medium commercial cinema. One thing that became clear was that with Atmos you get much greater resolution of movement. Instead of an array of side surrounds that all act as a single channel, each one can act as an individual channel. This means there is greater control of movement.

The object approach means that out of over 100 possible simultaneous objects, each one is assigned a 3D location within the cinema as well as the object having a size. In a 5 or 7 channel system we have 5 or 7 speakers which seek to recreate the sound. With atmos the difference is probably best represented in a commercial cinema where you might have 10 side speakers rather than 1 or 2.

We experienced a demo of the movie Gravity and it was a good example of being drawn into the scene far more. We also saw a demo of paper airplane which was mixed at Soundfirm. One of the attendees heard it recently and commented that the Atmos demo of the night was a substantial improvement.

An interesting comment from was the Atmos is pulling the sound further away from the screen. The experience is certainly more three dimensional.

Driving home I couldn't help but start thinking about how I might implement Atmos.

The implications in the home are interesting. In terms of movie mixing, I suspect it may result in greater emphasis on surround content. This would place additional demands on surround speakers and amplifiers. Most people have had more capability in their main speakers for pragmatic reasons, although it has always been ideal that all channels have equal headroom in the listening region. Questions in my mind arise over whether people will start to water down quality in attempting to get so many channels. It all does start to become expensive.

I think we will see three types of experience of Atmos:

1. Atmos done poorly, with unnatural use of effects coming from the ceiling that don't belong there
2. Atmos done very impressively like the Gravity example - the kind of demo that puts it into "must have" territory for many
3. Atmos done in a more subtle way so that it becomes an enhancement rather than knocking you on the head with it

I'm in no hurry to implement it right away but it's on the cards for me.

In terms of products there will be some new designs emerging with Atmos in mind.

Premium 18 high gloss bass module for PSE-144

Acoustic Elegance TD18H in a high gloss black enclosure for PSE-144. This is the ultimate bass solution using arguably the best bass driver available.

February 8, 2015

Premium passive crossover for PSE-144

This is the premium passive crossover for PSE-144. As you can see, it's a hand made crossover, assembled with great care.

Most speakers are made with PCB based crossovers which can be assembled in minutes. With this crossover, it takes a full day to build a small number of them.

1. First, boards are cut. Here we have used 18mm MDF. Edges and corners are sanded with a slight round over.

2. Holes are drilled. Most holes are for straps to tie down the components.

3. Painting. Boards. Two durable fine texture coats are applied to the raw MDF.

4. Terminal strips are screwed in place.

5. Wire links soldered.

6. Resistors are glued in place.

7. All caps and inductors are both glued and strapped to the board.

8. Boards are tested.

9. Glue is applied to fix wire runs in place. In case of a bumpy ride in transit, glue is also used to hold wire runs apart. Some runs are also glued in place where they run along the board. This is not shown here as the photo was taken prior to testing.

All up this is a slow process. A pair of these crossovers would take around 6 hours or more labour if not built as part of a larger run. On a PCB it would be a matter of minutes.

February 7, 2015

First batch of PSE-144 passive crossovers

This is the first batch of PSE-144 passive crossovers. They have just been soldered but not yet tested. Each one will be tested prior to sending them out. This is not the entire batch, as there is also a batch of crossovers with upgraded parts.

January 30, 2015

PSE-144 Feb pre order

We're now taking pre-orders for PSE-144. This is the next batch and the deadline is Feb 22. Production starts the following day and after this run, the price will go up around AUD $500 to cover recent cost increases.

Now is a really good time to buy, not only to avoid a price rise:
  • Exchange rate: The Aussie dollar has dropped, (21% saving for US customers)
  • Save 20% on shipping: We've consolidating packaging so that two horns fit in a single box
  • No Paypal fees: We're covering your Paypal fees, saving you around $150 on your order (international customers)
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