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Old 12-10-2006   #1
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Default DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Background Info
This review’s genesis was the generosity of npdang and diymobileaudio.com to allow myself and 6 other (SF Bay Area) members of this forum to come together to audition a whole bunch of tweeters. First, and foremost, my thanks to npdang!!!!!

References to other's "DIYMA tweeter set" comparisons/reviews:
ArcL100's review
SQ_Bronco's review
tdgesq's review

Some really good reviews by npdang on many other tweeters:
Rainbow, Seas, LPG, Max-fi, Usher, Scan Speak, Morel
LPG, AVI, Sinfoni, Scan Speak

There are many, many, other excellent review threads, I'd recommend anyone shopping for tweeters to use the search function to find info on many drivers!

Test Setup
Room: carpeted family room, approx. 12' wide x 15' deep in dimension (8' ceilings).
Associated Gear: Yamaha MCX-1000 as source unit (PCM playback), Yamaha CX-800U preamp, Behringer CX3400 active crossover, Adcom GFA-535 amp to run high pass to tweeters, Onkyo TX-DS676 receiver running low pass to home built mini monitors.

Behringer CX3400:


Mini Monitors:


The monitor utilizes a Seas 22TAF/G and Dayton RS-125S crossed at about 3.2KHz. Only a single channel was utilized. Tweeters were simply placed on top of the monitors as shown in the above picture, with no additional baffling. Technically, since the passive of the monitor was not bypassed, the 22TAF/G was still playing. This didn't seem to introduce any major problems with this testing though.

Source Material
A mish-mash of test material I use, as well as several favorites of the group that came. This included:
- Classical: Vivaldi Four Seasons, Bach "Double" Violin Concerto, Verdi's Aida
- New Age / Acoustic: Wisdom of the Wood, Various guitar tracks
- Jazz: Ray Obiedo, Mr. Chow
- Male Vocals: Josh Groban
- Female Vocals: Sarah Brightman
- Pop: Jack Johnson
- Dance: New Order
- Rock: James Blunt

The Tweeters
top row: Seas 27TBFC/G, Vifa XT25SC50-04, LPG 25NFA, LPG 26NA
middle: Vifa D26NC-55-06
bottom row: Hiquphon OWII, DIYMA Ref 1" Silk Proto, Seas 27TAFNC/D, Dayton ND20TA-6



Rainbow CAL27:


Seas Lotus RT25A:


Scan Speak D2904/6000:


Hybrid Legatia 1, Hiquphon OW1-fs: (also shown is Legatia 3 and TG9):


added, 1/27/06
Fountek JP3 Ribbon Tweeter, Alpine XT19 Derivative (SPX series tweeter):




added, 2/23/07
Pioneer Premier PRS Tweeter & Dynaudio MD100:



added, 3/10/07
Hertz Mille ML 280 (Large Chamber Version):




added, 4/25/07
Max Fidelity MFDT30NEO Silk & Peerless HDS 810921:




Click here to see all pics at high res in my pbase gallery.

Test Method
I listened to these tweeters over the course of several days. I tried to do maybe 2 tweeters an evening, or I listened until my ears felt fatigued. I probably spent a total of 4+ hours listening time on my own. I kept a notebook and jotted down things as I made observations.

For each tweeter, I used Vivaldi's Four Seasons - Spring (Trevor Pinnock, the English Concert) as a reference piece to set initial crossover point and level. I then moved through my test music suite selection by selection. For each round of listening, I would adjust crossover frequency and tweeter level as necessary (low pass level stayed constant throughout). Typically, I started at 2KHz HP and moved up in frequency until things sounded pretty clean to me. I also changed my listening position frequently, so I could evaluate off axis response, as well as how these sounded near field (like in a car). BTW, before each session, I tried to listen to my speakers (monitors) full range to "calibrate" my ears to a somewhat flat response.

During our mini-meet/Sat. afternoon group tweeter listening session, we had a brutally long session. My ears were definitely shot by the end. We went for 3.5 hours straight with only a single break about 2 hours into it.... It was very tiring... but fun! We started with a little listening to the monitors to "calibrate" ears, and then went through tweeters one after another, similar to how I did. People were free to adjust crossover slope, level and overall volume as they pleased.

added, 12/12/06:
One last thing... I don't typically listen to my music at very high volume levels, so testing was done at moderate volumes. I did not try to push each tweeter to it's physical limit, because to be honest, it's really not important to me. Any of these tweeters plays plenty loud for my taste! (this also kept me from inducing any amount of marital strain. D) So I won't comment on a tweeter's ability to go really loud. I just don't know and don't care.

(updated, 4/25/07)
Review Summary Notes
- There was one standout performer during the initial listening session that everyone seemed to agree upon: Hiquphon (OWI-fs & OWII). Everyone liked the detail, air, tonality, and incredible dispersion of the two. Amazing off axis response. I'd say the OWII is the best tweeter I've had the opportunity to own. OWI-fs being a little less sharp/airy at the top end,but capable of reaching a little lower down in frequency.
- The Fountek JP3 tweeter is quite a gem if you like hyper-detail. Very fast and light sounding, and super clean presentation. If you are a purist though, it seems to render a little bit of "false detail".
- The Peerless HDS 81092 is a standout performer in that they are excellent on the bottom end without sacrificing much on the top. Low coloration and super clean sound.
- The Hertz Mille ML 280 is a very neutral and clean sounding tweeter with good top end dispersion. If you are looking for very low coloration, and an even and clean presentation, this one is probably the best sounding compact for the purpose. Those wanting the ultimate in ambiance and detail might find this one a little too polite.
- In the budget category, the Seas 27TBFC/G was a hit ($33). It not only measures well, but sounds darn good. Too bad it's a large format! A brighter sounding top end.
- Scan 6000 really reaches low (I know, everyone knows this) and has a very robust sound. We crossed at 1,800Hz and it still sounded great. Rolled off top end though.
- Rainbow really is as smooth as they say (at least IMO!).
- I really liked the Seas Lotus RT25A, wish I could hear the RT27!
- The Alpine SPX ring radiator (XT19 derivative) is the best value for DIY compact domes that I'm currently aware of. Very good top end, and super smooth, but don't try to crank this one up too much!
- Dynaudio MD100, though old, is still a great choice if your preference is more towards classical and acoustic music.
- Pioneer Premier PRS is an outstanding value in a component set, with enviable build quality, and darn good "soft dome" sound. Detailed and versatile.
- I felt the Seas Neo 27TAFNC/D compact was quite versatile, and priced right. Not incredible at any one particular thing, but one of my top picks for budget compact dome.
- Max Fidelity MFDT30NEO silk is a powerful sounding, full bodied tweeter with good top end dispersion and a warm bend.
- Vifa XT25 was quite nice IMO, but only if you can keep the sucker right on axis. Otherwise, not so great.
- Both LPGs have good top end, but IMO have no lower treble capabilty (resolution). Personally, I wouldn't use the 26, unless in a 3-way front. The 25 was much more balanced relatively speaking, but still weak in the lower treble.
- Vifa D26 seemed to me to be very well balanced tonally, but quite boring to listen to IMO. Also versatile like the Seas Neo, but so much larger in size, I couldn't ever see using this one over that in a car.
- In the end, choosing the right tweeter for you has alot to do with personal/listening preferences.

Overall Subjective Ratings, Sound Quality
1. Hiquphon OWI-fs & OWII
2. Peerless HDS 810921
3. Fountek JP3
4. Hertz Mille ML 280 (it's toss up though depending on tastes w/ #5 tweeters)
5. Seas Lotus RT25A, Scan Speak D2904/6000, Rainbow Cal27
6. Seas 27TBFC/G (very close to #5)
7. Alpine SPX Ring Radiator (XT19 derivative)
8. Dynaudio MD100
9. Pioneer Premier PRS Tweeter
10. Seas “Neo” 27TAFNC/D
11. Max Fidelity MFDT30NEO Silk
11. DIYMA Reference 1”
12. Vifa D26NC-55-06
13. Vifa XT25SC50-04
14. LPG 25NFA and 26NA
15. Dayton ND20TA-6

SJ's DIY "Value/Bargain" Ratings
1. Alpine SPX Ring Radiator (XT19 derivative)
2. Seas 27TBFC/G
3. Dayton ND20TA-6
4. Peerless HDS 810921
5. Seas “Neo” 27TAFNC/D, Vifa D26NC-55-06
6. Pioneer Premier PRS Tweeter
7. Fountek JP3
8. Max Fidelity MFDT30NEO Silk
9. Hiquphon OWI-fs & OWII
10. LPG 25NFA and 26NA, Vifa XT25SC50-04
11. Dynaudio MD100
12. Seas Lotus RT25A, Scan Speak D2904/6000, Rainbow Cal27
13. Hertz Mille ML 280 (based on what I know of their retail MSRP)
(DIYMA not included as it is not for sale)


Last edited by shinjohn; 04-26-2007 at 02:19 AM..
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Old 12-10-2006   #2
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

OK, continued...

Detailed Reviews
Hiquphon OWI-fs & OWII
I am lumping the two of these tweeters together because I feel they both stand out significantly from the rest of this particular test group. Also, I'd say their sound is pretty similar, and the differences between them aren't as large as the differences between other tweeters in this grouping.

The best way to describe their sound is to make a comparison. I at one time had a set of Dynaudio 1.3 MKIIs in my possession, and my first reaction was: Wow, these sound similar to, and just as good as those old Dyn tweeters! Well, in fact, a short amount of time convinced me that they sounded quite a bit better! A little bit of web research reveals there is another person who made a similar comparison to the tweeter in this speaker (the D-260), so I'll reference this review from Dave Ellis' website for more detail.

I ended up dialing in the OWII tweeter to just a hair above ~3KHz HP (the knob on my crossover only has a coarse gradation). After this initial setting, I never felt the urge to turn the knob to tweak. These tweets just really sounded great. There were two things that struck me the most about them:
1) The tweeters were so nice to listen to, I didn't seem to mind it too much if the tweeter level was just a tad too high. Likewise, if the level was slightly low, I still felt they articulated incredibly well. They were exceptionally detailed but not overbearing or sibilant. This IMO is hard to get right.
2) The off axis response was amazing. The talk is true that these tweeters really spread sound in a room. To be honest, I don't think this is always a good thing for a car audio setup, but it sure makes listening inside my house an experience. My suspicion is that this characteristic would make them ideal for use in kicks, even if they were aligned a little off axis....

Subsequent to my in-home listening, I tried the OWII tweeters out in my latest project car, the 2005 STI. The owner of the vehicle insisted he wanted them up high and since we had the tweeter wiring there anyway (we moved the old LPGs up to the A-pillar, per his wishes) I hooked them up and we tried them out sitting on the dash. To my surprise, they sounded quite amazing in this location, though a bit brighter than I remember in my home, obviously due to reflections of the environment. Up until this moment, I was unable to get satisfactory treble performance in this vehicle (well, results that I was pleased with). T/A, EQing, crossover adjustments and tweaking didn't seem to cut it with the LPG 25s mounted high. A couple of minor adjustments and the results were quite amazing with the OWIIs. The owner was very happy, and I'll say that I was quite impressed with the sound too. We aimed them dead on axis to the driver, and there weren't huge problems with that setup. The crossover point ended up at (IIRC) 3.2 or 3.6KHz HP to the tweeter and underlapped at about 2.8KHz on the Seas CA18 mid-bass in the door. Though still not my taste to have one tweeter up in my face and the other much farther away, I'd say the setup works. So well that these large format tweeters remain masking taped to the dash and A-pillars in this arrangement for now (sorry, no pictures of this atrocity). I am left to now think about how to glass these large format tweeters somewhere up high..... This is an interesting challenge, indeed.

On to the OWI-fs... After the above in-car OWII experience, my inclination is to say that the OWI would probably work better in a mobile environment, due to their (relatively, and slightly) smoother sound. Even though I didn't try the the OWII in the kick, I felt they were slightly aggressive sounding in the car, relative to in the home. Funny thing is that this is exactly what the owner wants and likes! Now I'd like to experiment more with the OWII in the kick location, and if I do, I'll update this thread.

Back to the differences, I think the OWI's real advantage is the slightly greater damping of the dome, which allows it to play lower and smoother across its bandwidth. Relative to the OWII, the OWI is a little less "edgy" (for lack of a better term). The attack of cymbals and percussion wasn't as sharp/hard on the OWI as the OWII. However, I think they both discern a very high amount of detail, and neither got overbearing, IMO. If you need a slightly lower playing tweeter, go OWI. If you are going 3-way, or have a high playing paper or poly mid-bass in a 2-way, the OWII could work, assuming you also want a slightly brighter sound.

Seas 27TBFC/G
Another large format tweeter, and as mentioned, a very high performer. I think this is probably one of the best bargains in DIY audio. (but take that with a grain of salt; I havenít heard all thatís out there!) I bought these for a HT tower project Iím about to start and Iím glad I did!

Comparing these first to the Hiquphons, they definitely didnít discern as much detail nor did they have the subtlety that the Hiqs exhibited. However, to put things in perspective, they are also 1/3 the cost. Are the Hiqs 3x better? Probably not in my book, but I guess it depends on what you really want in a tweeter and what you value in your sound.

I would characterize the sound of the 27TBFC/G as similar to other Seas tweeters Iíve heard. Tonally well balanced, and overall ďcleanĒ in nature. When listening to them, I didnít hear much (if any) extraneous stuff; most tweeters have some minor (or major) annoyance in their tonal balance or character, and I didnít find this with the Seas large format. This also means that they arenít a very ďin your faceĒ tweeter nor are they really laid back. They have a simple and straight forward presentation; no tricks & very neutral.

Though the response curve of the Seas would indicate a rolled off top end, I think most people would not perceive this. In fact, I think most would say the opposite: these have lots of top end sparkle and air! On metal instruments, I felt these were in fact a little more fun to listen to than the Hiqs, though they didnít do nearly as well on voices, acoustic instruments (guitar, violin) and the like. They just seemed to lack a little on articulation during complex musical passages. But like I said about the metal instruments: little details such as a triangle in the background, cymbals, and other instruments were just about right (IMO). Honestly, I find it really hard to fault these tweeters because in the price range, they are heads and shoulders above other things Iíve heard. Oh yeah, and the off axis response of these was also quite decent.

These tweeters can be crossed reasonably low, but with my crossover, they seemed to perform best close to ~3KHz (or just barely a tad lower). I think they played and handled lows down to 2KHz OK, but would get a bit sibilant & distorted with female vocals when crossed that low.

Now you may be thinking, could Seas get this sound into a small format tweeter? My answer is yes; and Iíll go into this more with the next reviewÖ.

Seas Lotus RT25A
Now since this tweeter was brought over during our Saturday meet (as was the Scan, Rainbow, and OWI-fs), I didnít have the chance to really listen to this as critically as many drivers, but Iíll give my impressions on what I observedÖ.

Out of all the ďcompactĒ domes that Iíve listened too, this one is definitely the most detailed and exacting Iíve heard. I almost want to say itís my favorite compact dome (overall) of this entire review group, but itís a close call between this and the Scan and Rainbow in my mind. I think they all sit at about the same subjective quality level.

Compared to the Seas large format, this one has a slightly more intimate, or ďcloseĒ character, and it does resolve a higher level of detail. Many details I missed in the larger 27TBFC/G were for the most part filled in by the Lotus. It tone was brighter even than itís larger sibling, yet still maintained what I would call the ďclean Seas soundĒ. Bright and sharp, but not harsh IMO.

There are only two things I found to be (slight) downsides of this tweeter: 1) they arenít really that small; the case and rear chamber make this one of the deepest and biggest ďcompactĒ tweeters. 2) their off axis response IMO was pretty poor. If the off axis performance were better, Iíd probably had said that this was hands down the best compact dome of the bunch.

Scan Speak D2904/6000
What can I say that hasnít already been said? This tweeter is great. For strings and other acoustic music, as well as vocals, I think this was probably my favorite of the group. Its ability to reach low gave me the best sense of integration into the midrange, and that is where this speaker shines. (didnít even break a sweat with 1,800Hz crossover) I currently run the Dynaudio MD100 tweeter in my car, and the Scan reminds me of it in character (detailed, natural, musical, and rolled off top), but is far, far, better IMO. I would say that if you donít want or need the very best top end sparkle (high hats, cymbals, and other ďear candyĒ) I canít think of a better tweeter Iíve heard. If you are most impressed with airy, high frequency detail and delicacy, this isnít the one for you; youíll be disappointed. Also, this sucker is big, like the Lotus!

Rainbow Cal27
Rainbow is pretty well known in car audio circles, but to be honest, Iíve never heard any of their speakers. This was a nice first treat for me!

Given that I am comparing things, I would say this tweeter is a nice balance between the Lotus and Scan. A good amount of detail, good top end sparkle, smooth overall response, and good off axis response. It wasnít as exacting as the Lotus, or as full bodied as the Scan on the low end, but very good in its own right. Probably one of the easiest tweeters to listen to. (Can you say no fatigue?) Itís also smaller in depth than the other two, and as a result, may be easier to mount. However, I too found the mounting flange to be very ugly! Iíd probably take the sucker apart and repaint it if I ever installed one!

Seas ďNeoĒ 27TAFNC/D
There are numerous reviews of this tweeter on the website, so I wonít go too much in depth, but like I said, this is one of my top picks for "budget" compact dome. Overall a stronger performer than any of the others in the original tweeter audition set (Vifas, Dayton, LPGs) due to its relatively good tonal balance, ability to crossover low, and relative precision.

Compared to the Seas large format, this one has less top end and is less exacting. It also can sound a little bit on the sibilant side relatively speaking, but itís not a screamer, and to me isnít very fatiguing. I donít think you can expect much more out of a compact tweeter at this price point, and it surely beats the mass market competition (tweeters used in budget 2-way car audio component sets). I think it is a very versatile tweeter in that it sounds equally good with any kind of music, and still has a very clean sound, reminiscent of its larger siblings.

I think you could get away with crossing over at 2KHz, provided you donít want to blast yourself. The tweeter didnít seem to strain too much or get overly hard/distorted when set up this way in my LR. Much better off axis than the Lotus, but not even close with respect to detail. But hey, itís less than $30!!!!!

Vifa XT25SC50-04
Hereís what Iíll say off the bat: if you can keep this tweeter directly on axis to your listening position, this is a real gem! It has an extremely detailed mid to lower treble which I found to be extremely good on classical music. I found harpsichords to come across with some of the best sense of detail and articulation out of the group and female vocals were outstanding. On axis, this is not a laid back tweeter; very much ďin your faceĒ but mostly in a good way.

For all its good qualities, its bad qualities are just as numerous. Off axis response is absolutely horrific; it just doesnít exist IMO. Also, this tweeter gets VERY harsh and distorted sounding if the crossover frequency is too low. (I wouldnít drop below 3KHz personally) Finally, I found this tweeter to be fatiguing to listen to after a certain period of time. To me, this is the flip side of the more ďin your faceĒ sound characteristic. Iíd bet though that this aggressiveness in sound could be tamed with a little selected cutting with an EQ or processor. Boy, if Vifa could smooth it a little more and get it performing off axis; this would be an INCREDIBLE value.

Vifa D26NC-55-06
I kinda feel like this tweeter was the easiest to work with among the bunch. Itís by far the smoothest and most laid back sounding of them all. I thought the tonal balance was really good, and there was never any hint of sibilance with this tweeter. Iíd say its probably best suited for those with softer music tastes, because of its timid character.

Overall, I felt it had enough detail to be convincing and natural sounding, but metal instruments and other high frequency detail seemed to get somewhat lost in the background. This could be good or bad depending on your tastes and perspective. Like the Seas Neo, a very versatile tweeter. I think most car audio folks would find this speaker less appealing than the Seas due to its larger relative size, and comparative lack of detail compared to the Neo. Strong performer though. Even though its fs isnít that low, it seemed to work OK above 2.5KHz.

LPG 25NFA and 26NA
After more time with both of these tweeters, and being able to compare them directly head to head with so much of their competition, Iím actually less impressed with them than before. Prior, I gave them a very positive review, which I think it still mostly true, but here's the whole story now that I have a better basis for comparisonÖ

The two LPGs IMO still represent a great value for those seeking a budget alternative in DIY car audio. In comparison to the big box brand stuff, I think these are still really nice sounding speakers, both of which are probably best suited toward those who are seeking a tweeter with an airy, detailed, crisp (add other adjective here) top end.

Between the two of them, I personally prefer the 25NFA. The simple reason is that to me it sounds fuller and more natural than the 26NA. It has better overall presence across the treble range, and Iíd say is more tonally correct. Its top end is airy and shimmery, but IMO not over exaggerated or harsh. On the other hand, I think the 26NA goes beyond natural and is just a tad too much for me. Its shimmer is exciting at first to hear, but I couldnít live with it day in and day out. Now donít get me wrong though, this is not a harsh tweeter like say, many of the MB Quart tweeters, or some of the Focal line.

Based on my experience, I know there are many who would (and do) prefer the sound of the 26 over the 25. Take for instance the owner of the í05 STI Iím working on. I think the 26 better suits his tastes because he listens to a lot of music with percussion (both live and synthesized). He had one listen to the 26NAs and said, ďWow!Ē To describe this feeling, Iíd say that metal instruments come across with an impact that is almost frightening. To me it feels like your ear is right near the percussion, which is really, really exciting. About as crispy and bright as you can get without getting really harsh.

Those people who were groomed on ďtraditionalĒ big box car audio and are transitioning over to DIY might favor the LPGs (and esp. the 26NA) to much of the other budget DIY competition due to their relative sparkle. I say this because I know how bright most big box car audio is. But then again, if you are running away from the bright light, the 26NA is probably not your gig.

IMHO, both LPGs (and esp. the 26NA) might be good candidates for a 3-way front stage because of their top end. However, I think both faired poorly in their performance with lower and even mid treble. The 25NFA especially sounds strained, spitty, harsh, and distorted if asked to play too low. But it does play the lower registers better than the 26NA. On the 26NA, the lower treble was so hard to hear relative to the top end that I kept turning up the gain of the tweeter on some on my music to make sure the tweeter was playing. That was a strange experience.

On the other hand, if you are looking for an A-pillar tweeter, I can tell you based on experience that I think the 26NA might actually be better, even in a 2-way (which I really donít recommend). For some reason, the 25NFA, even if crossed at a relatively high f, sounds poor with all the reflections of the windshield/dash, etc.. No amount of EQ I used was able to reign this in. When placed lower, in stock speaker locations with a high-playing mid, or in the kick panels, I thought the 25NFA was quite good. Go figure; this car audio stuff is not easy!

Dayton ND20TA-6
Here was another big surprise to me. This TINY, TINY tweeter really impressed the heck out of me. If you really need the smallest form factor and reasonably broad range out of a tweeter, I think you have to buy a set of these things to at least play with! At a cool $4.60, thereís no reason not to.

I really thought this tweeter was going to sound terrible. I was all prepared for poor performance, but when I fired it up, I was amazed. I couldnít believe that it played with such fullness and authority. It wasnít bad, it was really good!

I think the ND20 can hang with some of these other $30 tweeters for the simple fact that they sound very big and full. I had them crossed as low as 2.5KHz, and they did not sound like they were falling apart. (recommend probably 3KHz+ though) They can effectively present source material in a musical way, and they have a nice presence to them. Not nearly as neutral, detailed, or clean as some of the others, but very acceptable IMO. They sound a little ragged/rough on the low end, and they donít sparkle like the LPGs, but I could see these being used as a low cost A-pillar tweeter.

DIYMA Reference 1Ē
Finally, and last on my list, is the prototype 1Ē DIYMA silk dome tweeter. Good overall efficiency, and great potential (IMO) to be a Scan Speak competitor if executed well, this tweeter in prototype form was a little bit of a let down.

First, the good: I thought this tweeter had a very detailed and intimate character, and a warm-biased lower treble. Out of the bunch, it was only bettered by the Scan for its ability to play low. 2KHz crossover seemed just fine and dandy for this guy. SoÖ an airy tweeter that can reach down low, so whatís the problem, right?

Well, the more I listened, the more it seemed to me that this tweeterís purpose was to play really low, if even to a fault. In contrast to the LPGs, I found this tweeterís balance to be a little too much biased toward the lower treble. It almost sounded like this tweeter was attempting to be a midrange driver. This gave the tweeter a somewhat unnatural timbre, and most peopleís ears get really sensitive in these frequency ranges, so I think itís really a hard game to play in.

Listening to acoustic music (strings, etc..) I would say that the sound got a little bit gritty and hard. Itís as if the speaker were being overdriven when it wasnít. To me it sounded like a distortion problem, but who knows, I could be wrong. I didnít try to EQ it at all so I donít know.

In summary, all I can say is that if another version of this tweeter were to be developed, Iíd be HUGELY interested in listening to it. With a little smoother tonal balance, and this grittyness problem eliminated, I think it would work outstanding in a two way auto sound front stage.

added 1/27/07
Fountek JP3 Ribbon
Ah.... a ribbon tweeter.... Well, I won't bore you with alot of background, just suffice it to say that alot of people like them (including our illustrious host!), they have their own unique characteristics/challenges in car audio, and as a group they have not measured very well.

Having said that, here goes.

I like these ribbons alot. How much? Well, certainly enough to recommend them to those who are looking for this type of sound. They definitely do live up to their reputation as being very "airy" and super detailed. To sum it up, I think these tweeters are for the person who wants and likes to hear hyper-detail. If you really need your tweeters to bring forward (and out) the tiniest of subtlety in your music (for instance, little details like triangle strikes, etc..) then these seem to be the right ticket.

Before I hooked these tweeters up, looking at the ribbon element made me cringe a little. Thoughts of aluminum foil being crumpled next to my ear entered my mind, and for that reason I thought these tweeters were going to sound somehow resonant, heavy, or sharp. Nothing could be further from the truth. These ribbon tweeters have a very light and fast character to them; never sibilant or resonant. The result is that everything sounds just a little bit more effortless on the top end.

When I first fired them up to listen, I was hugely impressed with them; IMO they were spacious, detailed, and to me, very natural sounding. However, as I started to get through some of my acoustic music selections I started hearing all kinds of things in the music I hadn't heard before. Some singer's lip smacking sounded almost like kisses in my ear. Triangle strikes seemed to come out of nowhere while the initial attack of harpsichords became quite dominant in some music selections. This kinda reminded me of Jon's (jay) guitar music that he often uses to demo systems with. There are these guitar tracks he has where a pair of guitars are very, very, very, closely mic'd and the resultant recording is super, super, resolved, but very much unlike what guitars (IMO) sound like in real life. The initial pluck and attack was just too strong in this music. With these ribbons, I got that type of impression when listening to classical and other acoustic music selections which were not recorded in this fashion. I guess I would describe this as being the "false detail" that many other ribbon reviewers on the net have talked about.

Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing. My guess is that many people (if not a majority of people) would really enjoy this kind of sound. I did at first, even though it seemed to me that there was something there that shouldn't be. The interesting thing though is that I've now had these ribbons in my home setup for a couple of weeks, and could honestly say I could live with them in a set of home speakers long term. The simple reason is that when listening casually (not critically, sitting in the sweet spot) they sound darn good! Typing on my computer and listening to them reflected about the room I think they are great!

So I'll leave you with this: they aren't small, and don't have the best off axis response (particularly vertical) but they are super detailed, light, and overall sound great. Worlds apart in terms of airiness, tonality, and articulation from any of the compact dome competition. In my ratings, I would put them right up there with the Hiquphons in terms of sound quality. Better in some ways, worse in others. However, force me to pick between the JP3 and OWI or OWII, I'd have to go with the Hiquphons for my tastes. But that's me, and everyone's got slightly different tastes. In conclusion, if you can fit these bad (big) boys in your kicks, enjoy an extreme amount of detail in music, and can afford to cross your mids a little on the higher side, go and buy some ribbons. You won't be disappointed. The cheaper ones like the JP3 can be had at a very reasonable price!

Alpine SPX (XT19 derivative) Ring Radiator
This tweeter set was an impulse buy based on their low price and availability at PAC Parts. I made it in on the deal early (before PAC Parts was flooded with orders and went out of stock) and to be honest, am really glad I did! I'll say this right now: this is the best bargain in the DIY world I've made to date! At $28 for the pair + shipping, it can't be beat!

After a good amount of listening in my home, I found that I prefer these tweeters over the other bargain DIY competition by a good margin. They are not only very smooth in character, but they have what I would call a "soft" tone. This is not to say they are not detailed, but their sensitivity is a bit low, and as a result, I was fooled a little at first into thinking that they didn't have very great performance. Once I got them dialed in, I was very, very impressed with them. This is a nice tweeter.

I would have to say that their biggest advantage is their small size. This gives the installer enormous flexibility (IMO) to place these tweeters. They also have a great top end. The response sounds very extended and they sounded surprisingly good, even when compared to the JP3 ribbons I also recently acquired. I'd say that on axis, these tweeters to me had the best top end dispersion out of any of the compact domes I've auditioned to date.

While it is true that these tweeters don't have the best off-axis response, I found them to be significantly better in that regard than the XT25 Neo I also heard, and they have a better top end to boot. The other thing I found, (related to their "soft" tone) was that I didn't mind at all listening to this tweeter very close to my ear. Practically any of the other compact domes were too much for me to handle that close to my ear (and I'm talking within a foot of distance).

On the down side, (and again due to their diminutive size) they don't play very low at all, and they quite audibly distort if crossed too low. I crossed them a bit over 3 KHz (probably 3.2-3.5 KHz) to get them to perform well. I didn't push these tweeters very hard at all, so I can't personally comment on their ability to play loud, except to say that npdang says they don't and I can't imagine a tiny tweeter like this blasting you away.

My take is that if you can cross your mids 3KHz or above, and you're on a budget, it's going to be hard to beat the performance of this tweeter. Smooth, extended top end, great overall sound with good tonality (I didn't notice any problems with the response). My current pick for the DIY value category.

added 2/23/07
Dynaudio MD100
An oldie, but IMO still quite a goodie. I currently use these tweeters in both of my own personal vehicles, and I still like them alot. So far, I haven't reviewed them because I wasn't motivated enough to un-install one to listen to in my (home) "tweeter audition" setup. I've finally done that, and can now make a fair comparison with the rest, so here goes.

I'd sum up this tweeter by saying that it's a great tweeter for someone who listens primarily to classical and acoustic music; particularly stringed instruments. In fact, for classical and acoustic, it might still be my favorite compact dome. To me, this tweeter has a very natural sound as it is somewhat robust in character, with just enough sparkle and detail to make acoustic music sound realistic. Now I've heard alot of people say that the MD100 is very smooth, and I'd agree somewhat generally, but compared to the Alpine SPX, I wouldn't really say that. The lower treble comes across alot stronger on this tweeter than many of the others (including the Alpine), which is great for acoustic, but can be a little tiring on other types of music (like rock). Violins and guitars IMO come across as very lively and natural, which has kept my ears very happy over the last 7 or so years!

On the other hand, the MD100 has quite a rolled off top end, and this is the one area I feel this tweeter is most lacking. When listening to any music with metal instruments (cymbals, triangles, high hats, etc..) I found this tweeter to be a little less revealing. It simply isn't as exacting on the top end as the LPGs, Alpine, or the Seas Ref. and Seas large format. Don't get me wrong though, I'd describe the MD100 as being very detailed and clear across most of its range, but just not at the highest octaves.

In as far as crossover point, this guy seemed to do great just a tiny bit under 3KHz. To me, I think you could drop it to ~2.5KHz and not have much noticeable distortion. Do note however, that this tweeter (based on personal experience in the car) isn't the most well behaved at high volume levels. Keep this one at moderate volumes and it will sing.

One last comment: I've have these installed for 7 years and although they've held up really well, I'm pretty disappointed in the build quality of this tweeter. Having seen so much of its competition recently, I cringe when I look at the exposed leads on the back, and the loose way the grill is mated to the tweeter housing. (take a look at my pbase gallery for pictures of the rear of the tweeter) But hey, it still sounds pretty darn good, so what can I say.

Pioneer Premier PRS Tweeter
Special thanks to ATB for sending me a pair of these to audition so I could add it to my review!!!!

When I first laid eyes on this tweeter and held one in my hands, it immediately reminded me of the Dynaudio MD100 due to its size/form factor. It's not a very small tweeter, being somewhat larger in OD (the specs say, 1 1/8" OD) than some others, but it isn't nearly as deep as the Seas Ref, Rainbow, or Scan. I think it's a good compromise in size because the depth is often the hardest dimension to accommodate in installs. Pioneer did a good job on this one: making the leads integral, giving it a highly polished and finished aluminum shell, and molding in a low-profile (DLS-like) guard. It's build quality is truly remarkable, and seeing it side by side with the Dynaudio really shows how old and dated the Dyn is from a design and technology standpoint.

So, on to the sound...... Let's just say that I wanted to write the Dynaudio review above prior to this one because in some ways the sound of the PRS tweeter reminds me of the MD100. I guess I would summarize my thoughts by saying that it's a "poor man's" Dynaudio, with better top end detail and extension, but a bit less clean in overall sound. It's a good tweeter, and it holds its own quite well with the DIY competition.

Very similar to the Dyn, the PRS tweeter has what I would call an articulate, yet soft & forgiving sound. It's very much what you would expect from a nice soft dome: detailed and rich in sound without being cold or brittle. I enjoyed listening to this tweeter quite alot with acoustic music selections, and found it to excel across a variety of music (pop, jazz, rock). It wasn't as much of a "1 trick pony" as the Dyn. True to this point, I found the PRS tweeter to have better overall tonal balance than the Dyn. It was smoother and less heavy across the lower treble, and it didn't roll off on the top end like the Dyn. Due to it's better top end, I found it also revealed a higher level of micro detail, esp. on those metal instruments that I found a little disappointing with the MD100s.

So now the bad part: I felt the PRS tweeter was a little bit (for lack of a better term) "dirty" in its overall presentation. During intricate acoustic passages with harpsichords and the like, there seemed to be a little bit of "extra" content there. A bit hard to explain, but the best way I can describe the sound is that it got just a tad bit "gritty" with certain types of music. I also noticed this quality during some well recorded female vocals. If I had to guess (in the lack of any measurement data) I'd think there might be a slight distortion problem with this tweeter. The reason is that as I turned the crossover frequency higher, this characteristic was much less noticeable. If you don't mind the slight grittiness in sound, then crossing these fairly low isn't much of a problem. I liked them crossed at about 3.4 KHz the best, but was able to turn them down pretty close to 2 KHz without creating an issue.

Take all this with a grain of salt, because I'm being fairly picky, and as of late, I've been listening to ribbons and some other nice tweeters at home, which have a very "clean and tidy" characteristic sound. The PRS tweeter is quite a good tweeter, if you are looking for this type of sound. The build quality is amazing, and when purchased as a set (with mids and passives) for about $250 it is quite a steal, DIY or not. Other car audio component speaker manufacturers take note: Pioneer has really raised the bar on price/performance ratio. Now I'm actually thinking about the entire set even more, because if the mids are as good as others say, I want some!

added 3/10/07
Hertz Mille ML 280 ("Big Chamber" Version)
Special thanks to BodegaBay for entrusting a pair of these with me for a week so that I could have an opportunity to listen to them and compare them to others!!!

Since entering the world of DIY audio (both mobile and home), I've found that I've become less and less atuned to the vast landscape of car audio products available today. Case in point, it wasn't until after I was asked to review this set of tweeters that I actually realized that Hertz was part of elettromedia, the company that owns Audison. That realization actually made me feel a little embarrassed, but then again, who the heck cares who makes something? The question to me was and is always the same: how does the speaker sound and perform?

Well, before I get into the sound, a comment on its external appearance/construction: this tweeter IMO is quite beautiful, and is physically very well suited for car use. With its relatively small size, simplistic external appearance, beautifully machined aluminum casing, and minimalistic, yet functional grill, I have no complaints about this one. And to those wondering, I did NOT crack this one open to look inside, even though I knew the rear chamber was easily removable. (I didn't out of respect for the fact that these were not mine, and on loan) The only pictures I have are of the exterior, as shown in my pbase gallery. Note the pictures also show this tweeter next to the diminutive Alpine SPX, to give you an idea of the scale.

OK, so on to the sound...... I found this tweeter to be the most neutral sounding compact dome I've heard to date. Very low in coloration, it didn't make high hats and cymbals sound as flat as the other soft domes in this group did. It's top end dispersion is really good, and it's ability to articulate detail is excellent. To me this tweeter has a nice balance of detail & air, neutrality and lack of coloration, and fullness of sound. I guess I could say that this tweeter is the closest I've found to "ribbon-like" sound in a compact tweeter. Now, please don't take this to mean I think these sound as good as ribbons; they simply don't. However, they have a very neutral and clear sound that reminded me of my Founteks.

Comparing to some of the others, I found its dispersion to be significantly better than the Alpine, while still maintaining much of the fullness in the lower treble that I like with the Dynaudio. I liked this tweeter significantly better than most of the DIY competition, but am a little torn when trying to compare to the likes of the Seas Ref, Rainbow, and Scan, due to the fact I haven't heard those in awhile. But based on my recollection, I'd say the Hertz is: more resolved in terms of detail than the Rainbow, but less lively/exciting to listen to; more neutral and natural sounding than the Seas, but slightly less resolved; not as good in the lower registers as the Scan, but WAY more spacious on the top end.

In essence this tweeter is a good compromise of attributes IMO. Now, if you're shopping for tweeters or a component set, the most important thing is to determine what kind of sound you are after, and what you hold important to you. Case in point, my good buddy Steve got a chance to listen to the Hertz after having had the Hiquphon OWIIs installed in his car for awhile. He found the Hertz Mille to be too "polite" sounding. After listening to the Hiqs again head to head with the Hertz in my home, I can better qualify what he is saying. The Hiqs simply have an incredibly lively sound that allow them to have the best presence (esp. on vocals) of any tweeter I've heard. The Hertz on the other hand, being very neutral (and also laid back) come across IMO as accurate, but perhaps a little on the analytical/sterile side of things. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it won't be everyone's preference.

I think these sounded really good will all my music selections, and I didn't have much to complain about on these except that on a couple of my tracks (female vocals, jazz) I noticed a hint of hotness in the frequency response somewhere in the higher registers (~16 KHz?). It's not super obvious with most music, and I bet could easily be EQ'd out if one found that annoying. However, if you are one to look for clean and neutral sound in a compact dome, this one is pretty darn good and hard to beat IMO. If you want super, super, detail, bite the bullet and get a ribbon or go for a slightly more articulate metal dome and live with the slight coldness/brittleness in the vocals.... If you want vocal presence, the Hiq is going to be hard to beat. Want something middle of the road, then give the Hertz a try! I could easily live with these tweeters in my car!

added 4/26/07
Max Fidelity MFDT30NEO Silk
Special thanks to WLDock (Walt) for sending these tweeters to me for a little audition session!

To start off, I must say that I didn't have a very good first impression of these tweeters. This was primarily based on their appearance. I guess I was expecting fairly high build quality and polish, based on the fact that they come as a pair in a (somewhat) attractive box. Pulling one out of the box, I was a little underwhelmed. I didn't care much for the unique swiveling mounting cup they came with, as they seemed bulky and quite unattractive. Max Fi went through the trouble of providing this mounting hardware, but they provided two flush mount options, instead of a flush and a surface mount option.* Also, the plastic used for the mounting and the tweeter housing looks and feels cheap. It seems to me that Max Fidelity was going for low cost of materials and manufacture, not super high aesthetics, etc... Having said that, at least they did come with mounting hardware; the Seas Neos and LPGs don't! Also, if you take them out of the mounting cup, they are quite small, which is nice if you secure them with just the back screw or double sided tape!

* correction as of 4/27/07: the cups can be used for a flush mount, simply by removing the spring clips on the back, and utilizing the smaller of the two securing flanges. Thanks to Walt for this correction.

Anyhow, here's some shots of the mount and packaging on the Max Fis:




OK now, so on to the sound: The first thing I noticed about the Max Fis was that they were quite efficient relative to others I've listened to. I found myself not only lowering the gain of the tweeter, but also raising the gain of the low pass to get this one dialed in. This was quite surprising, and gave me the hint that these might be a good choice if you want to get higher volume levels out of a tweeter. Although I did not play these tweeters (or any of them in my tests) super loud, they did impress me in the sense that they did sound a little bit more effortless or powerful than most of the other compacts I've auditioned. Aside from the great efficiency, I also thought the tweeters had a very slight bias to the mid/lower treble ranges, which may have also added to this impression. Taking a second look at the tweeter closely, you can see that the dome is quite large compared to the 1" Peerless HDS next to it, which seems to make alot of sense with my observation.

In terms of subjective "sound quality", I would say that the Max Fi is both airy and musical, with a warmer tone than most of the other tweeters in the group. As they stand, they are a nice sounding set of tweeters, living up to their good reputation. However, on the downside, I felt that this tweeter was not able to articulate details as crisply as I wanted. On some music selections, particularly classical ones, I felt that some of the details of the music got mixed together or washed out. Note however that this was compared to the other tweeters I had readily on hand: Alpine SPX, Hiq OWII, Peerless HDS. Now I recognize this could also be somewhat of a tuning issue as I applied no EQ to the tweeters, but alas that's how I felt. Also, note that this "lack of articulation" may not be bad for all, because it gives the tweeter (IMO) a somewhat "easy" quality.

Moving on to top end performance, these rank reasonably high to the competition. This surprised me looking at that huge dome! Comparing to others, I didn't think these were quite as good as the Alpines or LPGs, but IMO were better than the Seas Neos. I've heard a couple of comparisons between the LPG25 and Max Fi, and I'd have to agree that the Max Fi is just slightly worse on the top end than the LPG, while maintaining reasonable lower end capability. As such, I'd personally choose the Max Fi hands down over the LPG 25 for my tastes. Having said that, I'd still take the Seas Neo over either.

In as far as crossover frequency, these seemed to do well down near 2KHz in my session, but it seems 2.5KHz is just about right for them. In terms of musical selections, I enjoyed the sound of these most with vocal performances, although there was a hint of sibilance in some of the female singers I listened too, but this was by no means very objectionable. My comment above about articulation seems most relevant when listening to some of my classical music selections, and less so on other selections, so YMMV. And like countless other silk domes I've listened to, these aren't the type of tweeter you want if you are looking for the most impact/shimmer in percussion.

So to sum things up, if you don't critically listen to classical music alot, and you want a powerful, and fuller sound out of a tweeter, this one is definitely worth checking out!

Peerless HDS 810921
OK, so I know I was really anxious to hear these tweeters, and alot of people have been waiting for a review of them too. Well thanks to bdubs767 for selling them to me and making this happen!

So I'll cut to the chase: I love these tweeters. I really want to at least try these in my car because to me they seem ideally suited for a kickpanel-tweeter 2-way front stage. (FYI, I'm actually toying around with both 2-way and 3-way options for my daily driver re-vamp)

Since it's getting late, let me summarize the details of my opinion in a few bullet points:
+ Awesome build quality and aesthetics. Love the metal face plate.
+ Excellent low end sensitivity and performance. I think it'll mate awesome with practically any mid: metal cone? who cares. I think this one would be awesome for practically any 2-way setup.
+ Very clean sound and low coloration. Wow! To me these tweeters seem devoid of any annoying this or that quality, distortion, etc..
+ Reasonably good top end: while they are no Hiquphon, ribbon, or even LPG, I felt the top end was good enough to satisfy me. Enough air to sound convincing, natural and realistic.
+ Great value: at $60 each, easily worth their cost and more IMO.
- Large format: sucks for car audio, but you don't get something for nothing!
- Not the most "exciting" sound: if you're looking for the most "blow you away" type sound, these won't suit. Clean they are. Realistic they seem to be. But they won't "slap you in the face" so to speak. To me, they kind massage you and then paint a beautiful picture, if that makes any sense. (figuratively speaking)
- Better options out there IMO if you want to go 3-way.

added, 6/14/07
Rainbow CAL 28 Platinum
Special thanks to Gabe (Se7en) who generously gave me the opportunity to listen to audition and review this beautiful set of tweeters!!!!

So I'm sure this tweeter needs no introduction. It seems most people in car audio circles are very familiar with Rainbow products. Their reputation is obviously excellent, and as such, their products do hold a special place in the marketplace, commanding relatively high prices. This "Platinum Line" product is no exception, which is why this review was very fun for me to do! Even though I seem to buy/sell/trade speakers with great frequency these days, I find it hard to get my hands on a product like this as I'm usually shopping the classifieds . I must commend Rainbow for doing a good job keeping their product "stock" high. I hardly ever see any of their products on ebay, and I've yet to hear of fakes circulating around.... In any event, I digress....

This audition is the first time I've been able to really spend a good amount of time with any Rainbow product, and I must say that I'm impressed having had this experience. Starting from my initial impressions, I found the packaging and overall construction to be quite nice. The foam IMO is really the best way to keep these tweeters well protected, and that's good, given the fact that tweeter cases are machined from solid aluminum. It's interesting, because every surface of the tweeter is treated differently, and therefore has a unique appearance. The outward (top surface) has a very nicely painted gray grill, with a small and unobtrusive Rainbow logo. The surrounding flange is polished and anodized, while the back of the flange is left a little more raw with the machining marks still showing. On the back cup, the cylinder portion appears brushed, with the grain flowing with the depth of the cup. Finally, the rear chamfer and rear surface are both bead blasted and the Rainbow name, polarity (terminal) markings and "Platinum" insignia are pad printed in a nice soft gray tone. (note the rear cup is all anodized too) The appearance is simple, yet elegant: just what I like. To me, it's clear there was a great attention to detail paid on the appearance of this tweeter. (BTW, the provided angle mounts are equally simple and elegant looking.)

Some pictures:



(If you want pictures inside, I think npdang has some in one of his review threads... I didn't take these tweeters fully apart!)

Now on the other hand, I, like so many others, didn't really like the speaker wire terminals on the back. Take a look:

They look out of place, make this already deep tweeter even deeper, and require a tiny, tiny hex key to fasten. I can guarantee you that more than a couple of these little set screws have either been lost, stripped out, or damaged in some way by installers. But well, at least you can fasten your own wire to the terminals, and the terminals allow connection of wire from two different directions (axes of insertion), so I do see why Rainbow decided to go with this option.

OK, so now on to the important part: the sound! I listened to these quite extensively, both in my home and in my car. The home setup is just as it's always been, while the car listening was done with my current 3-way front stage w/subs (Scan 12M midrange, Pioneer PRS as dedicated mid-bass, Boston Pro 12.5LF subs), all run with Alpine 9861/H701/C701 combo, and Phoenix Gold & Alpine amps. In car, the tweeters were placed in the kicks, next to the midrange drivers. See my pbase gallery for pictures of the car setup/install.

I found the Rainbow Platinum to be the smoothest, and most mellow sounding tweeter I've heard in the Rainbow lineup so far. (I've had short sessions with the CAL 27, CAL 26 Titan, and CAL 26 Silk) This quality is what I think most people seem to refer to as the "Rainbow Sound". I would have to agree with some of Derrin's (AVI) descriptions, where he comments that Rainbow tweeters "split the difference" between "detailed" and "musical". The Platinum fits this description quite well.

It's interesting, because I honestly cannot say that this tweeter did any one thing better than the other compacts I've listened too. Surely, the Seas Ref was more detailed, the Hertz was more neutral/accurate, the Scan was more full and robust in the lower registers, etc.. Also, when listening to the CAL28 compared to the Hiquphon head to head, the Rainbow sounded a little dull in comparison too. So why would I really like this tweeter? The simple answer is that it makes most music sound pretty darn good. I found the Plat to be quite forgiving relative to other "high end" tweeters, which meant that I could throw all kinds of music at it and still get very good sound. Poor recordings were rendered in a non-offensive way, which was refreshing after having spent considerable time with some quite detailed tweeters in my car. In my listening sessions, I did not find any response peakiness, shrillness of sound, or offensive tone at all. That surprised me alot, and made me realize Rainbow put some really good effort in this tweeter to "tune" it for this characteristic. As such, I found this to be perhaps the easiest tweeter to integrate in my system. Dropping them in, I hardly fussed with the crossover setting much, and I never actually reached for the EQ. High points for ease of use! (at least in MY install)

Switching gears now, I have to say that the one thing I would complain about with this tweeter was it's ability (or lack of, IMO) to render percussion with detail. Like other silk domes I've listened to, this one seems to color cymbals and percussion to make them seem somewhat flat. The attack and decay just didn't sound right to me; it was almost as if the percussionist in some pieces used a softer implement to hit their instrument. (think brush vs. stick.... sorta) Now the interesting part was that the Plat somewhat made up for this by its fairly nice dispersion on the top end. In other words, the tweeter almost fools you into thinking that its suppossed to sound this way.

In terms of crossover point, I had no problems with this tweeter down close to 2 KHz. They were very comfortable playing low, and as a two way worked well with the PRS Mids. Configured this way, I was pleasantly surprised at how full these tweeters sounded down in the lower registers. I was actually reminded of the Peerless HDS when listening to this configuration! When I added back the Scan12Ms as mids, I think I ended up crossing the Plats in the 4.5KHz range. So, I can see this tweeter working in both 2 or 3 way front stages quite well.

So to sum things up, if you tend to like silk vs. metal, and enjoy a smooth, not fatiguing sound, I can't recommend a better compact dome than this one. The "Rainbow Sound" is definitely alluring in it's own way, and yeah, these would be very nice to run if I needed a compact dome! But for now, I'll stick with my Hiquphons. Detail freaks need not apply here; they will be disappointed!

Oh yeah, and no need to get naked when listening to these tweeters either.

I will report more when I actually get a chance to give it a go in-car. I'm hoping they work as well as I think they will in the harsh in-car environment!


Last edited by npdang; 06-14-2007 at 10:23 AM..
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Old 12-10-2006   #3
 
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Quote:
Originally Posted by shinjohn
Background Info

The monitor utilizes a Seas 22TAF/G and Dayton RS-125S crossed at about 3.2KHz. Only a single channel was utilized. Tweeters were simply placed on top of the monitors as shown in the above picture, with no additional baffling. Technically, since the passive of the monitor was not bypassed, the 22TAF/G was still playing. This didn't seem to introduce any major problems with this testing though.
What? The tweeter is still playing and you just basically "add" another tweeter on top? Say it isn't so..
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Old 12-10-2006   #4
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

no. he turned off the tweeter. i'll throw in some comments later on as well. i'm tired, .

edit: after reading that it was still on, like shinjohn said it didn't cause any problems.

HU/Processing: W200/H701
Drivers: IDQ12D2v3/Dyn MW160/Lotus RM110/Seas neo Alum
Amps: Alpine PDX 4.150/4.150

Last edited by alphakenny1; 12-10-2006 at 01:28 AM..
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Old 12-10-2006   #5
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Heheh... hiquphon ow2 is just a stepping stone to ribbons

A speaker is only as good as the room you put it in.
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Old 12-10-2006   #6
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

how come no ribbons were in this test?
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Old 12-10-2006   #7
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Quote:
Originally Posted by alphakenny1
no. he turned off the tweeter. i'll throw in some comments later on as well. i'm tired, .

edit: after reading that it was still on, like shinjohn said it didn't cause any problems.
IMO, you guys should turn that tweeter off, really...
You are testing tweeters, having another tweeter on that I suppose running same frequency and so close together IS a problem..

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Old 12-10-2006   #8
 
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Oh man, can't wait for full review!

Looks pretty intense!!!

-aaron
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Old 12-10-2006   #9
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

why didnt you just disconnect the tweeter in the monitor speaker or would that have killed the passive control over the mdirange? seems rather inaccurate to have a tweeter playing "on top"?? of another tweeter while subjectively testing?


cant imagine how long that took though, NICE EFFORT
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Old 12-10-2006   #10
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Quote:
Originally Posted by npdang
Heheh... hiquphon ow2 is just a stepping stone to ribbons
Dude, you're killing me! (and my wallet!)

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Old 12-10-2006   #11
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Quote:
Originally Posted by cotdt
how come no ribbons were in this test?
Nobody had any to bring, but they are on my list of things to try!

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Old 12-10-2006   #12
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

On the disconnecting the monitor's tweeter issue: yeah, I would have liked to have taken the passive crossover and other tweeter completely out of the picture, but in all honestly since the speaker was only running low pass (actually band pass, since it did have a high pass filter too, however low it was set) it didn't make a noticable difference. When I started this testing, I put my ear literally right against the monitor's tweeter, and I couldn't hear any real output.

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Old 12-10-2006   #13
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Man what an opportunity. I have to thank Shinjohn for throwing the get together. How many times do you get a chance to listen to so many good tweeters in one sitting. The equipment set up was great and it was cool to meet everyone.

There was no issue with the tweeter running off the passive as it wasn't getting any signal and produced no sound. It didn't affect the tests at all.


Those 0w2's! No hype they were nice.
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Old 12-10-2006   #14
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Big thanks to Shin John for putting htis together and hosting it.

Both Hiquphons were my fav tweeters that we listended to. - for my taste, I like the OW1's a little better - I'm not a fan of a super airy or shimmery top end, so I like the more-laid back sound of the OW1-fs. Then again, I could be a bit biased The OW2's are really great sounding as well.

For 33 bucks, you would be hard pressed to beat the Seas large format - were the Hiq's better? - you bet, but at $212 a pair vs. $66 a pair you get a whole lot of performance for the dollar.

For the small formats - the Scan 6000's are still one of my favorites, the early roll off doesn't bother me as it would others, so it's one of my picks. Another of my picks is the Lotus tweeter - really fantastic sounding with plenty of detail.

One thing is for sure - you can't listen to 3" midranges in a coffee cup - they all sound like poo.
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Old 12-10-2006   #15
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Very nice review. Thanks for the pics.
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Old 12-10-2006   #16
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Any review of the Legatia tweets or mids? Also, out of these, which should work well in a-pillar? I was thinking of trying the new Seas RT27F
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Old 12-10-2006   #17
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

well the rt27f has rolls off pretty bad past 10-12khz. i emailed eng and he said on his PEQ at 18khz, put it to the biggest Q, and added 7dbs. he said that helped a lot on the top end. i have the rt25a and probably be best in kicks on axis, and if off axis only slightly do it.

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Old 12-10-2006   #18
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Thanks. I am really looking at going back to an a-pillar setup, too many people kicking my tweeters when they were in the kicks. For my application maybe the LPG 26NA with its rising response would be best suited.
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Old 12-11-2006   #19
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Quote:
Originally Posted by 03blueSI
Any review of the Legatia tweets or mids? Also, out of these, which should work well in a-pillar? I was thinking of trying the new Seas RT27F
Some guys listened to the L1's - I didn't really pay much attention as I own them. The L3 "test" we did was well, crude as best, and I wouldn't want anyone to base opinions on the L3 driver based on what we did with them.

They are great little speakers - if you want a small format midrange, definitely consider them. Both drivers can be placed near anywhere in a car and work.

You are in the bay right? If so, I may be able to setup a way for you to audition them if interested.
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Old 12-11-2006   #20
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Awaiting the completion of this eagerly.

On the mids, you could make a couple of baffle adapter plates that goes into the speaker hole of the two-way that you are using.

Iīve only had a short listening to the Legatia 3 and found it to be very pleasing and have a warm/robust timbre. Quite likeable, and quite different character from the TG9.
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

what? no morel supremos?
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Old 12-12-2006   #22
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

bery niiiceee!<borat>

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"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."
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Old 12-13-2006   #23
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Bump!
I added a review for the Hiquphon tweeters, though it's probably WAY longer than it needs to be. In any event, skim it if you don't have time.
More to come soon.

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Old 12-13-2006   #24
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobditts
what? no morel supremos?
Wanna send me a set to listen to?

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Old 12-13-2006   #25
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Default Re: DIYMA Tweeter Reviews + More

Quote:
Originally Posted by shinjohn
OK, continued...

Test Method
I listened to these tweeters over the course of several days. I tried to do maybe 2 tweeters an evening, or I listened until my ears felt fatigued. I probably spent a total of 4+ hours listening time on my own. I kept a notebook and jotted down things as I made observations.

For each tweeter, I used Vivaldi's Four Seasons - Spring (Trevor Pinnock, the English Concert) as a reference piece to set initial crossover point and level. I then moved through my test music suite selection by selection. For each round of listening, I would adjust crossover frequency and tweeter level as necessary (low pass level stayed constant throughout). Typically, I started at 2KHz HP and moved up in frequency until things sounded pretty clean to me. I also changed my listening position frequently, so I could evaluate off axis response, as well as how these sounded near field (like in a car). BTW, before each session, I tried to listen to my speakers (monitors) full range to "calibrate" my ears to a somewhat flat response.

During our mini-meet/Sat. afternoon group tweeter listening session, we had a brutally long session. My ears were definitely shot by the end. We went for 3.5 hours straight with only a single break about 2 hours into it.... It was very tiring... but fun! We started with a little listening to the monitors to "calibrate" ears, and then went through tweeters one after another, similar to how I did. People were free to adjust crossover slope, level and overall volume as they pleased.

added, 12/12/06:
One last thing... I don't typically listen to my music at very high volume levels, so testing was done at moderate volumes. I did not try to push each tweeter to it's physical limit, because to be honest, it's really not important to me. Any of these tweeters plays plenty loud for my taste! (this also kept me from inducing any amount of marital strain. D) So I won't comment on a tweeter's ability to go really loud. I just don't know and don't care.

Detailed Reviews
Hiquphon OWI-fs & OWII
I am lumping the two of these tweeters together because I feel they both stand out significantly from the rest of this particular test group. Also, I'd say their sound is pretty similar, and the differences between them aren't as large as the differences between other tweeters in this grouping.

The best way to describe their sound is to make a comparison. I at one time had a set of Dynaudio 1.3 MKIIs in my possession, and my first reaction was: Wow, these sound similar to, and just as good as those old Dyn tweeters! Well, in fact, a short amount of time convinced me that they sounded quite a bit better! A little bit of web research reveals there is another person who made a similar comparison to the tweeter in this speaker (the D-260), so I'll reference this review from Dave Ellis' website for more detail.

I ended up dialing in the OWII tweeter to just a hair above ~3KHz HP (the knob on my crossover only has a coarse gradation). After this initial setting, I never felt the urge to turn the knob to tweak. These tweets just really sounded great. There were two things that struck me the most about them:
1) The tweeters were so nice to listen to, I didn't seem to mind it too much if the tweeter level was just a tad too high. Likewise, if the level was slightly low, I still felt they articulated incredibly well. They were exceptionally detailed but not overbearing or sibilant. This IMO is hard to get right.
2) The off axis response was amazing. The talk is true that these tweeters really spread sound in a room. To be honest, I don't think this is always a good thing for a car audio setup, but it sure makes listening inside my house an experience. My suspicion is that this characteristic would make them ideal for use in kicks, even if they were aligned a little off axis....

Subsequent to my in-home listening, I tried the OWII tweeters out in my latest project car, the 2005 STI. The owner of the vehicle insisted he wanted them up high and since we had the tweeter wiring there anyway (we moved the old LPGs up to the A-pillar, per his wishes) I hooked them up and we tried them out sitting on the dash. To my surprise, they sounded quite amazing in this location, though a bit brighter than I remember in my home, obviously due to reflections of the environment. Up until this moment, I was unable to get satisfactory treble performance in this vehicle (well, results that I was pleased with). T/A, EQing, crossover adjustments and tweaking didn't seem to cut it with the LPG 25s mounted high. A couple of minor adjustments and the results were quite amazing with the OWIIs. The owner was very happy, and I'll say that I was quite impressed with the sound too. We aimed them dead on axis to the driver, and there weren't huge problems with that setup. The crossover point ended up at (IIRC) 3.2 or 3.6KHz HP to the tweeter and underlapped at about 2.8KHz on the Seas CA18 mid-bass in the door. Though still not my taste to have one tweeter up in my face and the other much farther away, I'd say the setup works. So well that these large format tweeters remain masking taped to the dash and A-pillars in this arrangement for now (sorry, no pictures of this atrocity). I am left to now think about how to glass these large format tweeters somewhere up high..... This is an interesting challenge, indeed.

On to the OWI-fs... After the above in-car OWII experience, my inclination is to say that the OWI would probably work better in a mobile environment, due to their (relatively, and slightly) smoother sound. Even though I didn't try the the OWII in the kick, I felt they were slightly aggressive sounding in the car, relative to in the home. Funny thing is that this is exactly what the owner wants and likes! Now I'd like to experiment more with the OWII in the kick location, and if I do, I'll update this thread.

Back to the differences, I think the OWI's real advantage is the slightly greater damping of the dome, which allows it to play lower and smoother across its bandwidth. Relative to the OWII, the OWI is a little less "edgy" (for lack of a better term). The attack of cymbals and percussion wasn't as sharp/hard on the OWI as the OWII. However, I think they both discern a very high amount of detail, and neither got overbearing, IMO. If you need a slightly lower playing tweeter, go OWI. If you are going 3-way, or have a high playing paper or poly mid-bass in a 2-way, the OWII could work, assuming you also want a slightly brighter sound.

More reviews coming soon....
Don't worry, I'll write ALOT LESS on the others. I also plan to rank order them once I get all my thoughts down.

to be continued.... and apologies for the really long-windedness!
a BIG X2, agree with pretty much everything said.

on a sidenote, if you get the chance, you should definitely play around with the ow2's in the kicks (make sure you try them off-axis as well)
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