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Building an Electrostatic Speaker
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beun



Joined: 28 Jun 2006
Posts: 664



PostLink    Posted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:48 pm    Post subject: Building an Electrostatic Speaker Reply with quote


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Thanks to this forum I just received an order for a custom electrostatic speaker. The customer has agreed that I put the whole built process up on this forum, this way he is kept up to date and you guys may find this interesting as well. Heck, maybe someone will feel compelled to order one for himself as well Wink

To start with, the picture shows a rendering of the speakers finished in East Indian Rosewood veneer. Their size will be 80cm wide by 220cm high (31"x86"). This should be big enough to reach down to 60Hz.

Kim


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zaphod



Joined: 16 Jun 2006
Posts: 1988
Location: Cloverdale


PostLink    Posted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi - how close to the back wall are those? thinking to my CLS (similar design), 4 to 5 feet is a sweet spot. otherwise some
acoustical damping on that brick wall would be a good thing.

thanks for starting this thread - i'll be following it!

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Spanky Ham



Joined: 22 Mar 2006
Posts: 4434
Location: Comedy Central


PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That looks like and artist rendering not a real speaker.Wink

I will follow this with interest.
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beun



Joined: 28 Jun 2006
Posts: 664



PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's indeed a rendering, I used Google sketchup and the podium renderer. In real life they would be somewhere between 3 and 5 feet from the wall.

Placing them closer is actually not that detrimental. The hotel room where the Lone Star Audio Fest show in in is rather small and they still sound remarkable good.

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Tom.W



Joined: 09 Mar 2006
Posts: 6539



PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beun this should be an interesting thread ! If you don't mind my asking where do you source your drivers ?

Also do you design speaker cabinets with cone drivers ?
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beun



Joined: 28 Jun 2006
Posts: 664



PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom,

As you know, there are no drivers in an electrostatic speaker, the sound generating portion consists of only two sheets of perforated metal with a stretched mylar membrane in the middle. The perforated metal you can get anywhere, I order it custom from a manufacturer in Pennsylvania because it has to look good and nicely finished all around. If you don't quite care about the looks you can buy a big sheet from McNichols and have it cut into four pieces. I then use a local powder coater to have them sand blasted and coated.

The metalized mylar is both easy and difficult to get, a thick 1mil (25micron) roll is sold at hydroponics supply houses but this will roll off the higher frequencies above 10kHz a bit more. To be honest I tried it and I don't hear the difference, but I am sure you can measure it. The thinner 0.5mil (12 micron) or thinner is more difficult to get especially when you want the shrink version. I have called various suppliers and the first thing they ask is how many pallets per month you are going to buy.

I actually designed a ribbon driver with open baffle woofer a while ago and I think I would like to redo the design and built it. See below how I originally envisioned it.


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kal
Forum Administrator


Joined: 06 Mar 2006
Posts: 12815
Location: Ottawa, Canada

TV/Projector: JVC DLA-RS56


PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Building an Electrostatic Speaker Reply with quote

beun wrote:
Thanks to this forum I just received an order for a custom electrostatic speaker. The customer has agreed that I put the whole built process up on this forum, this way he is kept up to date and you guys may find this interesting as well. Heck, maybe someone will feel compelled to order one for himself as well Wink

Good idea! Lots of pictures and text please! Once completed I'll pull it together and I can publish it on the order page and/or in a newsletter. People love to see DIY type stuff like this. I know I'm interested in seeing the process!

Kal

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MikeEby



Joined: 24 Jun 2007
Posts: 5232
Location: Osceola, Indiana


PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember the first time I saw a pair of Martin Logans they were amazing...super clean highs, this was probably in the early 90's...It seemed like you could smell traces of ozone from them. It could be my memory is faulty....Is that possible?

Mike

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zaphod



Joined: 16 Jun 2006
Posts: 1988
Location: Cloverdale


PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spanky Ham wrote:
That looks like and artist rendering not a real speaker.Wink

I will follow this with interest.


well yes, it's obviously a rendering ... but often people render the expected end result .... and putting large panel stats up against a brick wall needs a lot of rethinking.

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beun



Joined: 28 Jun 2006
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PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike,

Electrostatic speakers usually don't give off ozone, a plasma tweeter does though. Are you sure you aren't mixing them up?

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MikeEby



Joined: 24 Jun 2007
Posts: 5232
Location: Osceola, Indiana


PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beun wrote:
Mike,

Electrostatic speakers usually don't give off ozone, a plasma tweeter does though. Are you sure you aren't mixing them up?


Ahh...That could be.


Mike

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beun



Joined: 28 Jun 2006
Posts: 664



PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I ordered some veneer samples of South American Rosewood and quartered East Indian Rosewood and I just noticed that I made a slight pricing mistake. I figured they quoted the price per sheet but it is actually priced per square foot with 32sq feet per sheet. I guess I have to be really careful veneering those things.
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ecrabb



Joined: 13 Mar 2006
Posts: 13968
Location: Iowa & Michigan

TV/Projector: JVC RS45


PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Exotic veneers are definitely pricey!

So, you were off on the wood finish by a factor of 32, then Kim? Major ouch!!!

SC
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beun



Joined: 28 Jun 2006
Posts: 664



PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I calculated the total wood area a bit optimistically in the beginning so it is not that bad, but I am definitely off. I just have to be careful in measuring before I start to cut it up.
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beun



Joined: 28 Jun 2006
Posts: 664



PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just got the first quote in for the perforated steel stators, I still have a few questions but the answer won't be back till Monday.
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JustGreg



Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Posts: 3098
Location: Kenosha, WI


PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been hoping to come up with the 'extra' $$$ for some time now to produce a set of ESL's from Jazzmans project. It's still on hold due to the economy. Thumbs Down
http://jazzman-esl-page.blogspot.com/

I like Jazzmans overall design but when (if?) I get around to building mine I want to incorporate the electronics used by Sheldon in his project here:
http://quadesl.com/diy_esl1.shtml

I like that Sheldon uses a more hands on approach to the electronics. He has incorporated SIP resistors to allow for quick output modeling too. His plans are a bit dated (2003/2004) so more efficient OPA's and other components may be available today. Overall I like that he didn't leave the active crossover choice to a static off-the-shelf solution.

I hopefully haven't undermined any commercial ventures by posting my DIY link to plans... I don't believe it will because some of us would never buy a set even if we could afford to. IMO building a DIY set of ESL's is the ultimate in bragging rights and additionally allows the builder to model their output to the intended environment. If I have whizzed in Beuns Wheaties I sincerely apologize. Embarassed

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Greg

"Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care!" --Jimmy Buffett
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beun



Joined: 28 Jun 2006
Posts: 664



PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greg,

Don't worry about whizzying in my Wheaties or posting other links, after I am done with the whole thread everyone should have enough information to built my plan for themselves. I actually encourage everyone to give it a try. Most people will figure out soon enough that it is one heck of a job to get them to look nice and that it is going to cost some serious time.

People will also notice that it is more about fine woodworking than anything else, so if you don't already have a decent set of woodworking tools it will actually be cheaper to just buy them from me than to do it yourself.

I also understand the desire to do it yourself, that's how I started over 20 years ago after seeing the Martin-Logan CLS and thinking to myself 'I can do that'. Ultimately I could but my first pair took me over a year to finish, remember too that those were pre-www days.

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RayN999



Joined: 25 May 2010
Posts: 192
Location: Minneapolis, MN

TV/Projector: Sony VPL-VW40 and Toshiba 65H84 CRT RPTV


PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I picked up a 'budget' set of Martin Logan Aerius i speakers a couple years ago from a local high-end shop, and there's nothing quite like the sound of an electrostatic. The clarity & "presence" is like nothing you'll hear from a regular box speaker.

This definitely looks like an interesting thread, and I'll keep a watch on it as well. One thing I rolled around in my noggin a couple years ago too was the idea of electrostatic headphones along the lines of Stax, but DIY. Your build info, along with the HV power supply, may reinspire me to look back into that again.

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beun



Joined: 28 Jun 2006
Posts: 664



PostLink    Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ray,

I built headphones too a long time ago and planning to create a new pair. If you want to start with electrostats, do a headphone first. You can use any perforated piece of crap you have as stator, I originally used experiment PCB board. When you keep the spacing small, about 1mm, a 600V bias is more than enough, and to start with a 220V-9V toroid power transformer (think cheap) is capable enough to drive them. You will be surprised with the quality.

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beun



Joined: 28 Jun 2006
Posts: 664



PostLink    Posted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Went out this morning and bought a 4x8 sheet of 11ply baltic birch for the frame. When I don't do anything wrong this one sheet should be enough.



I also attached a PDF with a quick construction drawing just for me.



ESL088.pdf
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