Lounge PJ / surround system

Hoku

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Finally getting round to this. I’ve been meaning to do so for some time. It’s been great seeing other members photos - for ideas as much as anything else. And in some cases, the drool factor of course.

Mine is a lounge set-up, so not a dedicated room as such and much more humble than many systems on this forum. I’ve been into hifi for over 30 years, and home cinema kit for about 14 years. I’ve always had the opinion that I’d rather take my time and get each component at a time, gradually building on the system with quality rather than quantity in mind.

Much of my system has been put together on a shoestring though: open-box, Ebay, ex-demo, you name it. And I have changed my speakers a fair few times over the last 20 years. The most recent change was to my front 3 speakers. This is what my system looked like last year...
 
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The speakers were lovely - Ruark Talisman III L&R, with Ruark Dialogue II centre.

Sadly my right speaker developed a fault. I initially looked at repairing it, but this process got increasingly difficult during lockdown, so in the end I decided on new speakers with a warranty.

So I managed to find a pair of Dali Rubicon 2’s open box from Audio Affair, and by chance, a single Rubicon 2 speaker on Ebay that would obviously perfectly match my L&R. It was so much cheaper than the official Rubicon centre, and would actually match my main speakers better anyway as the tweeters were the same. So this is what the system looks like now...
 
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As my previous speakers were floorstanders, I needed three stands that would bring the total height of the front three just below the top of the screen, which meant having 500mm high stands, plus some Iso Acoustics mini pucks at 25mm high. (They’re superb BTW).

So anyway me and dad saw some ideas online and decided to make our own...
 
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Lovely craftmanship.
 
The base and plinth were walnut, with all the uprights made from ash. Used all hand tools (apart from a drill and sander), because that’s all we had at the time, but I’m well happy with the end result.

Rest of the system is as per signature.

The Dali’s are absolutely superb - they just make everything; from documentaries to music to blockbuster movies sound exciting. They just have a certain magic that’s missing from other speakers regardless of price.

Interestingly I also tried some Rubicon 5 floorstanders in the same room: technically the bass went lower, and they also had the ribbon tweeter, but they were flat and boring in comparison to the Rubicon 2’s. And most surprisingly, their bass just had none of the life, spring and vitality of the 2’s. And again, regardless of price, the Rubicon 2’s on the end of the Anthem have some of the best bass I have heard from any system. It’s just delicious. And I’ve never been that bothered about bass before - but these really are the business.

The only downside of the Rubicons is that they are 4ohm and do take considerably more gain than my previous Ruark Talismans, or MA Apexes before that. But in every other respect, IMO they really hit a lovely sweet spot in terms of value vs performance.


So system wise the only remaining things to sort, in due course, I’m in no rush, is an upgrade to the sub, possibly adding a power amp for the Dali’s, and some more carpentry.

I badly need somewhere convenient to store my CD’s, so the plan is to make a rack to do the job. But after that the intention is to make a new hifi rack. The one in the photos is a cheap and cheerful unit I had from years ago. I got rid of my previous unit when I changed from a TV to a PJ.
 
Yes great speakers and beautiful stands great craftsmanship
 
Thank you chaps.

Obviously it’s a little unusual to have three identical speakers like that underneath the PJ screen. But it’s not a massive room, so if I’d placed the main L&R speakers each side of the screen it would have placed them too close to the side walls for my liking.

So there was no real need to have a conventional horizontal centre speaker as all three come to about 870mm high, just a smidgen under the bottom of the screen: the same height as my old floorstanders. That way the screen isn’t too high & the speakers aren’t too low.

And I was just really fortunate to source a single identical Rubicon 2 for sale at a fraction of the cost of the official Rubicon centre, which wouldn’t have matched as well anyway.

Certainly sound wise it works really well for music & film.

It would be handy if manufacturers sold speakers as single units - especially in the case othe Rubicons where the only centre has a different tweeter arrangement to the Rubicon 2.
 
Well after the first project of the speaker stands, the official unveiling of the CD rack took place today.

Although most of my listening is using Tidal, I still like collecting my very favourite CD’s as you can’t guarantee they’ll always be available on streaming services - especially the more obscure albums.

As with the speaker stands I got various ideas online, then adapted the design for the space and needs we had.

We used the same ash & walnut combination we used for the speaker stands. We had originally intended using a router jig to make dovetail joints on the corners, but ash is such a tough fibrous wood we just couldn’t get a clean enough finish. So instead we used dowels.

The dowels worked really well and helped keep the rack very strong laterally, so there’s no chance of it ‘racking’.

Although in the hallway my hifi rack is only a few feet away in the lounge, so it’s nice and handy. And because CD’s are relatively small, it takes up very little depth from the wall so doesn’t obscure the adjacent doorways.

All in all, really chuffed with the results. So the next project is a new hifi rack. But that’s at early design concept stage for now.

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Looks fantastic! You are obviously skilled in this area, great work!
 
So, the final two pieces of the jigsaw are in situ now.

My Monitor Audio Radius sub went pop a couple of weeks ago. I’d been considering upgrading it anyway, but that was the extra incentive needed. Its main board had failed some years ago, and I replaced it at the time, but it wasn’t worth repairing such an old sub.

I didn’t want to spend mega bucks, and considering I have a strong musical bias in my system, I went for the BK XXLS400 (front firing) in the end.

Well happy so far with the results. The MA sub wasn’t awful by any means, but could be a little “one-note” at times, and could sound a little wooden when pushed.

In my relatively small (approx 4m x 5m) room, the BK is plenty powerful enough and certainly sounds like it’s operating well within itself. I’ve yet to properly calibrate it yet, but the wooden sound of the MA is gone, and it can pressurise the room much more easily. And yet the timing and attack is much better than my old MA.

Playing the Bad Batch sounds truly awesome on the system. Such a grand sense of scale and space, dynamics are superb and speech is beautifully clear and yet weighty too.



Then the second jigsaw piece is the equipment rack.



My father and I used the design of the speaker stands we’d previously made and scaled the design up and added two shelves. So here are the pics…
 
Here’s a before and after shot…
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Some close ups of the rack…
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And, not much to look at really, just a big black box, but here’s the sub…
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I chose piano black to match the DALI Rubicons.
 
So the equipment rack is walnut base and top with all the uprights and middle shelves in ash.

It was noticeable how much the wood costs had increased since we made the speaker stands, but thankfully we had some wood left over from the CD rack we made (see above), which lessened the pain a little.

It was still slightly cheaper than buying an equipment rack off the shelf, and the end result is significantly nicer and fits the equipment and space it was intended for exactly.

It’s more satisfying too gradually seeing it come to fruition.



So that’s it now. My system isn’t 4K, but the 1080p picture from the BenQ PJ is so crisp, I honestly don’t feel the need to upgrade. So the only time money will be spent now is if something breaks or becomes totally obsolete, but hopefully that’ll be some way off yet.
 
Rack looks excellent.
 
The rack and stands are really beautiful pieces of furniture.
 
wow that is gobsmakingly good craftsman ship there
 
Just came across this.

As Arthur C Clarke almost said;

Sufficiently advanced carpentry is indistinguishable from magic.

Super impressive work.
 

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