Speedster DIY Speaker Review – Paul Carmody

by admin
Background
I made the mistake of moving to New York a few years ago without bringing any of my DIY speakers back home other than my quarks speakers. While the quarks are competent little speakers with a sub, as a standalone, I found myself being constantly unhappy with them as the only speakers. With a limited set of tools and space for both speakers and sub (thanks New York!), the Speedsters from diysoundgroup seemed like the perfect fit. I’ve built at least 5 Overnight Sensation kits, so I knew I’d be happy with Paul’s tuning.

 

Summary
The Speedsters are an amazingly compact set of speakers that offer a lot of value. They have enough low-end extensions to be a standalone, the ribbon tweeters deliver a responsive crispness in the upper end, and there’s a tremendous amount of depth from the woofer, providing a rich and smooth hifi experience that makes you want to dig through your collection. They’re definitely not neutral, but if you’re looking for a high-end standalone system in a small package that lets you hear all the details in the music, these are a huge step up from the overnight sensations. These are serious hifi speaker that have minimal flaws and kick ass with any type of genre you throw at it.
One important note: These are the first speakers that I could not stand without an equalizer. I generally don’t like using equalizers, but I COULD NOT stand the stock signature out of the box. See sound for more details.

 

Build Notes
Just like other smaller speaker builds, the woofer is small, so don’t glue the front panel until you finish with the inside unless you have ridiculous tiny hands. Also, the 3 inductors make for a heavy crossover, so I’d mount them on the bottom and make sure the crossover is small because there isn’t a lot of clearance on the bottom at all, especially with thick woofers. I wish I used perf boards with zip ties like I normally do. Lastly, Be careful of inductor orientation because you don’t want to cause interference. This is the layout that I used.
Also, I’d not fully screw on the woofer until you’re absolutely happy with the sound since you might want to play around with the stuffing amount.

 

Sound

I was pretty upset when I first heard them. I’m still scratching my head as to how other people are finding them perfect out of the box, but maybe they just have a better tolerance than I do for heavy bass. These were insanely bass heavy to the point where I was getting a headache listening to them. I tried playing around with wall distance, stuffing, and double checked my xovers, but I still had the same issue. I am not a basshead, but I do enjoy bass and enjoy headphones such as DT 770s that are bass heavy, but these were too much. Maybe you don’t have this problem, but if you do, this is my equalizer setting that I’m happy with. These sit 6-8″ from the wall and sit on a wood desk with 2-4′ feet listening distance, so bass does resonate quite a bit.

Obviously, the 10-40s don’t matter what you set them, but the 40-300 is where the difference is huge. You can also try setting 83-166 hz at -6db since the upper bass hump seems to be the point part causing a headache for me. After turning the bass down, I absolutely LOVE these speakers. They still retain the fun bassy characteristic while providing me with rich details. Another note is to add foam stands or some sort of stand to separate it from wood desks to help attenuate the bass and provide a cleaner sound.

The Speedsters definitely retain Paul Carmody’s slightly V shaped signature to bring out of a lot of details, so those that exclusively listen to a ton of mid range music might bumping up mid range in the equalizer or buying neutral or mid forward speakers. I personally love this signature and is my 1 of 2 favorite preferences for speaker sounds (other one being perfectly flat), and it’s not fatiguing at all. I easily spend 5-7 hours listening to them, and my only regret is that I didn’t pull the trigger earlier to build these!

The sound is addicting, and these are officially my 2nd favorite pair of speakers behind the clinically accurate Zaph 5.2s. It’s hard to find noticeable flaws with these speakers aside from the bass response. If you exclusively listen to solo vocals, you might want a slightly more mid-focused speaker, but even then, I’d argue that these speakers handle them pretty well.

Bass extension – These are the first pair of speakers where I can say you might be able to run these without a sub and still be adequately happy. Obviously, having a sub will make a noticeable difference, but these get low enough with enough depth that you can still enjoy dynamic music that covers a wide range of frequencies. I’ve owned tower speakers that don’t have extensions like the Speedsters (TriTrix, Stentorians, etc).

I’m also very happy with the ribbon tweeters. Throw on some high-heavy and fast music such as Buddy Rich or Rush, and these tweeters come to life.

Music section
Giorgio by Moroder – Daft Punk
  • 00:00 – 00:36 – There’s so much depth is his voice in the beginning, and the quality is stunning. The background noise is surprising suppressed compared to most speakers or headphones, but still present and clear.
  • 00:36 – 1:08 – Plenty of details and clarity when instruments enter while still retaining the fun and bassy characteristic. The guitar pops could come out more, but the synth riffs have a ton of quality and depth in them.
  • 6:58 – 7:30 – This section makes me love ribbon tweeters. So light and responsive without feeling too harsh. The bass line does seem slightly muddy, but it handles this part much better than most speakers that are used for standalone testing.
Tom Sawyer – Rush
  • 00:00 – 00:50 Very similar to above. Plenty of clarity to focus on individual lines.
Come Away with Me – Norah Jones
  • 00:00 -1:00 Definitely not mid-forward and her voice won’t wow you like warmer speakers, but there’s a ton of clarity around every instrument.
Four seasons L’estate III Presto – Vivaldi (Pavel)
  • 00:00 – 00:44 Violin attacks are sharp but not too bright, and the cello / double bass adds a nice texture that really makes the Speedsters sound full.
  • 00:45 -1:04 Pavel’s aggressiveness is present, but not insanely aggressive like most bright speakers or headphones. I wish it actually did a slight bit more.
  • 1:05 – 1:20 – Every part can be heard clearly, and the depth is surprisingly decent despite how busy this part is. Especially the lower end stuff.
Count Bubba – Gordon Goodwin
  • 00:00 – 00:41 Separation is solid as usual. This is what these speakers were made for.
  • 1:10 – 1:39 This section sounds very clean, albeit slightly flat.

 

 Closing thoughts
  • vs OS, same form factor, but significant upgrade is noticeable. The tweeter is night and day, imaging and depth are better, and woofer is smoother. Mid range is actually comparable; however, these are significantly more expensive.
  • Is it the best speaker I’ve heard? No, but for how small they are and how much bass extension you get, I think you’ll have a tough time finding a small form factor speaker that can do what the Speedsters can do

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