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:
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!
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.
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.
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
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
Seas Lotus RT25A:
Scan Speak D2904/6000:
Hybrid Legatia 1, Hiquphon OW1-fs: (also shown is Legatia 3 and TG9):
Fountek JP3 Ribbon Tweeter, Alpine XT19 Derivative (SPX series tweeter):
Pioneer Premier PRS Tweeter & Dynaudio MD100:
Hertz Mille ML 280 (Large Chamber Version):
Max Fidelity MFDT30NEO Silk & Peerless HDS 810921:
Click here to see all pics at high res in my pbase gallery.
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.
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.
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)