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NeoFone Project - Thoughts on the sound

Discussion in 'd.i.y.' started by Brian, Mar 22, 2008.

  1. Brian

    Brian Eating fat, staying slim


    I thought I'd start a new thread to describe the sound quality of these amazing drivers but Building Neofones is a link to the thread showing how
    I cobbled the cabinets together over the last couple of days.

    The cabinet design can be found here : Neofone Floorstander

    Where to start...

    I've never claimed to be good at describing very well how things sound, I tend to like something or I don't, so I'm not
    sure I'm going to make a lot of sense describing how I find the Neofone, but I'll give it a go.

    My wife and I listened to music pretty much all day yesterday. We were going to head off out to Stratford for the Bank Holiday,
    but once we fired these up we decided to stay put.

    I bought the Neofone as an experiment because I need something for a second system while working away from home.
    Having heard what it can do I feel slightly uneasy accommodating such a large loudspeaker as the KLS3's in the main system.
    What I'm hearing from the Neofone is pretty much jaw dropping stuff and not at all what I was expecting from such an inexpensive
    project. Maybe this is the coherence of the single driver thing, it just sounds so 'right'.

    In many ways the Neofone is outperforming the KLS3's, particularly in the resolution of each instrument, it's eerie how much space
    there is around each and every instrument, which of course means I can roll out the cliché of hearing music I've never heard before.
    In this case it's very true though and is pretty scary when I'm listening to a CD I've heard at least 100 times.

    The tonal balance is very good. You don't expect it by the diminutive size of the Neofone, but the system does bass and it's not one-note
    either, this is bass of the well-defined and tuneful variety and it goes low.

    Everything I listened to yesterday was pretty much a revelation, it's a very fast, open and dynamic sound with a very clear midrange
    and with some sense of emotion in the vocals. This effect was described to me by a dealer one time when they were doing a demo' of
    a hicap. I couldn't hear it then and didn't buy the hicap, I think I'm hearing now.

    What the Neofone doesn't do is real thunderous volume levels but it easily goes loud enough for my listening habits and with some headroom to
    spare. My room is roughly 22' x 12' and these speakers work no problem at all. The valve amp' is a PP in triode without NFB, knocking
    out about 10 watts and it's easily sufficient. The Neofone will easily work in a small room too, so I think they're versatile.

    I experimented a bit with placement, trying them a foot or so away from the wall and finally settling on them placed a couple of inches away
    from the rear wall. They seem very suited to that position. I'll be moving the Neofones to the flat on Sunday and this will be interesting
    because I'll be running them in the second system from a SS amp' and a Squeezebox rather than the Ella PP and Meridian 206B in the main system here.

    Right now I see no reason at all for me to add a large bass unit to fill in the low stuff, although this was the original plan. I think
    it's all pretty much there and well balanced, the system does what I want. For those who listen at huge volumes it would make sense to
    add this bigger bass unit working below 100Hz, the Neofone on it's own does break up in the bass if pushed too hard. I tried this last night
    and it wasn't nice, but this was at a volume level well above normal levels for me, so I'm not bothered by it. However, I am thinking I'm
    on the verge of something really special. There is the possibility that by adding the large bass unit the system will take that step
    into the only thing I can identify that is lacking and that is effortlessness. The Neofone doesn't have this on it's own. Adding a large bass
    unit in it's own sealed box brings the advantage of allowing the Neofone to be moved into a smaller sealed box of it's own, so this gets rid
    of the ports and removes the task of low bass from the Neofone.
    I have no doubt that if implemented properly this could be a real killer loudspeaker system.

    Does it end there? Maybe, maybe not. Right now I don't see any value in adding the Fountek Neo CD3.0's, I've already bought these to work above
    12Khz, but there is sparkle to the sound, I don't feel anything is lacking in the high stuff for my 49 year old ears so I don't see (or hear) the need
    to be in any hurry to open these up.

    Thinking, thinking.....

    Music was by:

    Alice Cooper
    Phil Collins
    Crash Test Dummies
    Neil Diamond
    Dire Straits
    Fleetwood Mac
    Barclay James Harvest
    Elton John
    Maria McKee
    Eddi Reader
    Cyndi Lauper
    Amy MacDonald
    Mike Oldfield
    James Taylor
    Van Morrison
    Suzanne Vega
    Also listened to Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker Suite for something different.

    Neofone $134 pr inc postage from Hong Kong (~£70)
    VAT on import of 17.5% = £11.90
    Tax at 4% = £3.20
    Parcel Force "handling charge" = £8.00
    Wood £29
    Damping material £4.47
    Cable £3.90
    Terminal blocks £7.19

    I already had a couple of ports, glue and black paint gathering dust in the shed. It's true I spent nearly £30 on four clamps but they will come in handy for future projects, so I'm not counting them here.

    Total cost £137.66.

  2. James

    James Lord of the Erg\o/s

    There is something very compelling about a single driver. I have often marvelled at the coherence and ease of listening with my cheap Teac radio-alarm. Sure, it isn't full range not does it sound anything remotely dynamic, spatial or even hi-fi. But it sounds intelligible. I can only imagine how the NeoFones sound, but I'm not at all surprised by your findings.

    Man has been trying to build a full-range, crossoverless system for eons. I think Bose might have been one of the first commercial designs with their heavily equalised 901s. They screwed it up by facing eight of the nine drivers the wrong way. If there is a driver that can go cleanly to 15kHz and still have enough excursion to go down to around 60Hz, it would be a prime candidate for a line-array where you could have up to 20 of these drivers, maybe with a bit of electronic bass-boost, working in unison to stunning effect. I might build one of these one day. I just need to find the right driver, at the right price, to buy 40 pieces in one hit.

  3. trancera

    trancera pfm Member

    Thanks for letting us know Brian. Very interesting project with instant satisfaction and a great spread of music you listened to as well. Im rather fond of Fleetwood during a listening sesh so glad its in there, dynamic drum and tight bass.

    Regarding extra bass, I really like the way Rega put the low bass drivers on the side of the cabinet keeping the front face relatively narrow. Do you see any issues with this James? For example one concern would be the small distance behind the driver before the ait flow 'hits' the other side of the cabinet.

    Im currently running 2 ways + a subwoofer and I have to say the biggest benefit is to the lower mid and mid range driver - they seem to be able to perform much more effectively with the bass taken care of elsewhere. Crossover is at 125hz, though I think I might drop it to about 110hz, perfect for evening listening with the sub turned off.

    I guess the same could be acheived easily with these drivers and one less amplifier?

    Brian (as well)
  4. James

    James Lord of the Erg\o/s

    Side-firing woofers have been around for decades, and as long as the woofer is not expected to work above around 150Hz, then all is well. The short-distance to the opposite internal wall is not an issue with appropriate quantities of stuffing.

    However, by adding a woofer to a 'full-range' driver, you lose some of the coherence of a single driver system. The true full-range driver still remains a dream with conventional technology.


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