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  #1  
Old 05-06-2021, 11:02 PM
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Default My DIY GR-Research X-LS Encores compete with the Big Boys

Some of you may remember my DIY build of the GR-Research X-LS Encores I did back in August, 2020. These cost me all of about 850 bucks, all in, including having the cabinets built, clamped and glued, veneered, and stained for me by Killian at GR-Research.

Here's a pic of them in the system from last fall.


I hadn't listened to them much of late, so I thought I'd break them out and give them a listen. Had an audio buddy over the Sunday before last, and while we agreed they sounded quite good, they couldn't match my Harbeth 30.2s for open-ness and expansiveness.

Back when I built these, I asked the guys in the GR-Research circle at AC the no. of hours these needed to run-in, and they said, "Oh, 20-25 hours".

Well, I spoke to Danny Richie at GR-Research about these last week, and he asked how many hours I had on them, I said, "Oh, about 15-20 hours, The guys in the GR-Research circle said they only needed about 25 hrs. or so."

Danny replied, "Oh, no, no way. With the Miflex copper caps and all the premium you have in the crossover, you will need 400 hours on them to get them fully burned-in and the speakers fully run-in. You haven't even begun to hear what they will really do when they are fully burned-in."

My curiosity piqued, I set them up in my listening area and did some measurements using REW 5.0, comparing them to my big Dyn Contour S3.4 and my Harbeth 30.2

Here's the setup details:
NIST-traceable calibration mic, a Dayton EMM-6 and did some in-room frequency response tests using REW 5.0; both speakers were positioned to face straight forward, no toe-in. Front baffle was 4 feet from front wall and 4 feet from side walls. All measurements taken with a laser "tape measure".
a) the mic was at my reference listening (sitting) position (not industry-standard 1W at 1 meter)
b) the mic was at the position of my ears with respect to height from the floor
c) REL R-305 gain/crossover was set at the position I determined some years back with my Design of Experiments for integrating the REL to the big Dyns.
d) X-LS Encores were mounted to the top platform on Pangea DS400 stands with beeswax cloth to provide coupling and some constrained layer damping. The Pangea stands were placed on painted particle board platforms determined by measurements* to provide mechanical grounding support and damping. They also sounded the best of all materials of support platforms I tried using listening tests.

Target SPL: 70 dB

The first comparison was between my large-ish Dynaudio Contour S3.4 (with Esotar 2 tweeters) floorstander and X-LS Encore on the R Channel. I’ve applied 1/3 octave smoothing (the same that Danny uses with his CLIO system) to reduce the impact of noise, but not so much so as to conceal problem areas with peaks or nulls. Dynaudio in RED, X-LS Encore in GREEN.



The next comparison was on the L channel, comparing my Harbeth 30.2 to the X-LS Encore. Harbeth 30.2 in BLUE, X-LS Encore in RED.


The results are pretty interesting. While all the speakers are pretty good with respect to real-world, in-room response, in both cases, the X-LS Encores were notably smoother, particularly in the critical midrange, than either the Dynaudio or Harbeth.
* – measured using Hamm Seismograph

Next step will be to compare the R Channel between the Harbeth and X-LS Encore.

Not bad for 850 bucks. Needless to say, I need to get 400 hours on these bad boys...they look like giant killers.

Stay tuned.
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Old 05-07-2021, 10:49 AM
Soundmig Soundmig is offline
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Very interesting .... looking forward to additional measurements / impressions once you hit the 400 hour mark! Hard to believe that "break in" takes THAT long, but ... stranger things have happened. If they even come close to the 30.1's at that price - that will be amazing! Many, many enthusiasts for audio simply can't afford Harbeth's, Dynaudio's, JA's, Revel's, etc. So, your measurements, educated ear and overall impressions will be informative. Might also be interesting (as an adjunct) to see if there is a low cost speaker cable that mates up reasonably well with the GR's. AQ Type 4, Cardas Crosslink, Kimber VS series, entry level WireWorld, Blue Jeans ???, etc. For the person out there scraping together $800+ for some decent speaker, they may not have $$$ left for more esoteric speaker cable? Just an idea :-)
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Old 05-07-2021, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soundmig View Post
Very interesting .... looking forward to additional measurements / impressions once you hit the 400 hour mark! Hard to believe that "break in" takes THAT long, but ... stranger things have happened. If they even come close to the 30.1's at that price - that will be amazing! Many, many enthusiasts for audio simply can't afford Harbeth's, Dynaudio's, JA's, Revel's, etc. So, your measurements, educated ear and overall impressions will be informative. Might also be interesting (as an adjunct) to see if there is a low cost speaker cable that mates up reasonably well with the GR's. AQ Type 4, Cardas Crosslink, Kimber VS series, entry level WireWorld, Blue Jeans ???, etc. For the person out there scraping together $800+ for some decent speaker, they may not have $$$ left for more esoteric speaker cable? Just an idea :-)
Hi Soundmig,
Thanks for your post. 400 hours is not at all unheard of for speaker (or capacitor) burn-in, older Dyns, e.g. my Contour S3.1 and the legacy Confidence line took a minimum of 300 hours and new Dyns can take 400 hours or more. The Teflon caps in my CJ CT-5 pre took...1500 hours and about 2 1/2 years of use. So, none of this is uncommon when premium parts are used.

I think the measurements show they already come very close to the Beths and the Dyns, and presently, actually measure smoother in the critical midrange. I know for a fact that the X-LS Encores have as good or better parts in them as the Harbeths or Dyns, as I built the crossover, and there are no sandcast resistors, iron-core inductors or electrolytic caps in the crossover.



As for high-quality affordable speaker cables, I'd go with Danny's DIY speaker cables at GR-Research, too, only $13.75/foot.

He has a video about them here: https://youtu.be/DfjQJxeTANE

I'll try to measure the R Channel Harbeth today so we can compare to the X-LS Encore.
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  #4  
Old 05-14-2021, 10:17 PM
R.S. R.S. is offline
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About speaker burn-in, my experience is that the speakers needs to be driven up against their max power handling to open up. Open up a beer-can, put on some old rock and let them have it!
I`ve heard things happen during the first hour
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Old 05-15-2021, 06:56 PM
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R.S. ... Welcome to AA!
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  #6  
Old 05-16-2021, 08:17 AM
R.S. R.S. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Masterlu View Post
R.S. ... Welcome to AA!

Thanks! Btw, I`ve been building speakers since 80`s, my own designs.
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