DIY – Pentagonal Transmission Line

The Jordan Eikona Transmission Line Array was published on our blog in December, after more than two years of development. The design has already proven popular, with several builds in progress. 

The prototypes were constructed by Ian, one of our new Eikona demonstrators and a member of the LencoHeaven forum. He has demonstrated the TLAs to a number of LencoHeaven members and the feedback has been extremely positive. We have collated a page of their listening impressions, which you can read here.

Meanwhile, we had an interesting request from Rob, a US customer who wanted to build an Eikona loudspeaker that was a little different. He was keen to build a pentagonal enclosure, having seen Simon Regan’s craftsman build. In discussion, we quickly narrowed the decision to an Array of four Eikonas, to get the required sensitivity for his low-powered SET tube amps (and also because he was attracted to the enhanced stereo imaging of the line source format). The next question was – which of our cabinet alignments would best suit his requirements?

Rob wanted the loudspeaker to be able to convey the weight of a double bass (the five-string instrument goes down to 31 Hz) so we settled on the TL Array.

Compared to the standard, rectangular cabinet, it is a more challenging construction project but the pentagon is aesthetically more interesting and its non-parallel cabinet walls reduce internal resonances. Placing the line divider at an angle is particularly effective at reducing reflections from the back of the Eikonas.

Click on the image at the top of this page for a closer view of the plan. The Pentagonal design has also been added to the TL Array Design Guide, which is available as a high-res PDF here.

Rob has begun work on his enclosures and we will publish photographs and his listening impressions as soon as they are available.

Listen in colour

Bright, cheerful and colourful. These loudspeakers will make you smile before you’ve even heard them.

Colour isn’t usually a good attribute to have in a loudspeaker. It implies harmonic distortion or, at the very least, an imbalance to the frequency response. However, this new loudspeaker from furniture designer Archie Hands has colour in abundance and on this occasion, it’s a good thing.

Archie first got in touch a year ago and purchased a pair of Eikonas. He went quiet for a while and then a few weeks ago came back with these photographs of his Eikona MLTL38 loudspeakers. We think they look great and are particularly pleased to see that he’s made each speaker in the pair a different colour. It’s bold, fun and unusual.

The MLTL38 is a mass-loaded transmission line (in reality, it’s like a cross between a reflex and a transmission line but the name has stuck). It gives a good output to below 30 Hz and you can find the plans on our website here.

Archie has built the cabinets from Valchromat, a development of MDF with some unique properties; not least the fact that the colour is built into the material. No need for paint or veneer and the colour is not affected by dents or scratches.

So how do they sound? Archie comments:

“They sound absolutely brilliant, and delivered so stylishly. The soundstage achieved with them is enchanting, and as such they have become surprisingly useful for playing competitive videogames. I’m continually astounded by the level of bass response they can produce from such relatively small drivers, and all while maintaining such a clean level of clarity. Definitely a pair I’m going to hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life.”

You can find the plans for the Eikona MLTL38 loudspeakers here.

Archie is a professional furniture maker and is open to commissions from anyone interested in having a pair of loudspeakers built by him. Contact him via his website here.

 

PS The pink feet shown below didn’t make it to the final versions …

 

DIY – Eikona Transmission Line Array

 

The benefits of using the Eikona 2 full-range loudspeaker in a line array format has been covered before on our blog. The transient response of a single, lightweight 100 mm cone is retained while greater sensitivity and power handling allow it to compete with much larger systems. The single, vertical line helps overcome problems with room acoustics as well as maintaining a stable stereo image over a wide area.

We have already designed both a reflex and a sealed Eikona Array, but we always knew we could go further by combining the array with a transmission line enclosure.

EJ Jordan Designs has a long history with transmission line (TL) designs. Ted Jordan’s first published article in 1954 described a labyrinth enclosure, a precursor to TLs, and his VTL cabinet has been popular for over 20 years. In recent years, there have been significant advances in the field, notably in software modelling and the types of acoustic damping material available.

The Eikona TL Array has been in development for two years, refining the design to match the characteristics of the Eikona. We wanted an enclosure that combined the natural sound and transient attack of Ted’s iconic drive unit with the resonance-free mid-range and deep bass that truly great transmission line speakers can achieve.

The brief was to design a transmission line that could handle pace and rhythm – many TLs can sound slow, especially in the bass. One of the routes to achieve this was to fold the line a minimum number of times and have the line exit at the port. This immediately makes it sound more open and leads to fewer acoustic problems in-room, with line mouth and drivers closer together. Although the Eikona TL Array looks simple,  it has taken considerable fine-tuning, including careful choice of acoustic damping material.

The Eikona TL Array is straightforward to build as there are none of the awkward folds or angles seen in a number of traditional TL designs. The line partition helps with cabinet rigidity and there are additional braces shown on the plans. The height of the enclosure enables it to be cut from the customary 1.2 m wide sheet side. (Incidentally, although either MDF or high quality birch ply can be used, we strongly recommend the latter for better performance.)

Early builds of the Eikona TL Array have been running for some months now and we’re pleased to report they have matched our design aims. The TL Array has an effortless grace and coherence, enabling it to handle the full scale of any music, from a single female vocalist to the might of a full orchestra. It even does pretty well on the likes of Massive Attack (and thanks to Ian, our early tester, for demonstrating that one!)

Listener feedback has been excellent and we will add full reviews at a later date. Typical comments are:

“The detail from the speakers was quite extraordinary … there was weight and real solidity to the sound.”

“The level of detail is incredible, you can hear everything recorded, separated but integrated, set in its exact position. The bass is beautifully tight and drums…well they sound like drums, which isn’t as easy a task as it sounds, especially for such small drivers. They also go very loud without losing anything!! The soundstage is huge and has real depth and height.”

 

Benefits:

  • A single fold in the line for a simpler build and improved air flow
  • The line exits at the top – so the sound is cleaner and puts the port close to the drivers
  • Increased sensitivity and power handling over a single Eikona
  • 4 smaller, lighter cones have faster transient response than a single, larger bass driver
  • An easy 8 ohm load
  • Tall enclosure but not too bulky
  • Height designed to fit standard 1.2m sheet

 

You can download the Eikona TL Array construction guide here.

As ever, if you decide to construct this loudspeaker, we are always available to answer queries and are happy to host photographs of your project on our Facebook and Pinterest galleries.

Jordan Eikona SL-B project

The Eikona SL is a compact, floor-standing loudspeaker which takes its inspiration from Ted Jordan’s VTL enclosure whilst being smaller, more room-friendly and easier to build (for more in-depth information, please see our Eikona SL blog. We decided to release the SL in two versions, the SL-A with sloping baffle and SL-B with a more conventional vertical front panel.

Below are some photos of a build of the SL-B enclosure. It was initially finished in dark grey and was then fully veneered.

Here is the builder’s review of his finished loudspeakers:

“I’ve been listening to the SL Eikonas for nearly three hours now … I went through my usual list of test tracks and to be honest I was gobsmacked! OK, they don’t have the weight in the bass of the TL’s nor the effortless dynamics, push the little SL’s hard and they’ll get a little ragged. At sensible – quite loud – levels, tracks like Massive Attack’s Angel sound excellent while gentler stuff like Emiliana Torrini’s Fisherman’s Woman LP sounds quite sublime. If anything, imaging from the SL’s is a bit better than the 4 driver TL’s and the soundstage is ridiculously big for such small speakers with bags of width and depth.

“I ended up putting Karine Polwart’s new album, Laws of Motion, on and sat there totally enthralled by what I was hearing. If you don’t know this album but like a bit of modern folk then you should try this one. Karine has a beautiful voice and the instrumentation behind is quite excellent.

“The fact that I just ended up listening to music says much about how good these little speakers are. My room is a reasonable size (a bit over 21x14ft) and the SL’s have no problem filling it with excellent music. Bass is better than good for the size, imaging and soundstage is superb and tonally they are as sweet as a nut …You should be very proud of this design.”

To read more about the Eikona SL and download the plans, click here.

 

 

 

 

DIY – Eikona SL compact loudspeaker

The new Jordan Eikona SL loudspeaker enclosure is a compact, alternative to our VTL enclosure design. Ted Jordan’s VTL transmission line remains deservedly popular but we have had a number of requests for a cabinet which is smaller and easier to build. The SL provides this without compromising too much on bass extension.

Uniquely, we are offering the design in two versions.

Version A is the no-compromise enclosure featuring an attractive sloping baffle. The 7º slope serves to break up standing waves within the enclosure, strengthens the side walls and provides greater dispersion of the sound from the Eikona full-range driver unit.

Version B is the same height and width but the front panel is vertical and the Eikona placed higher in the cabinet to get it to ear level. In terms of sound, version B requires slightly more damping to reduce internal reflections but is an easier cabinet to build. Some of you may also prefer the appearance.

In both versions, the port is built into the structure of the cabinet, making it more rigid. The cabinets should be built in mirror-image pairs, with one having the port on the left, the other on the right. This gives the option of boosting low bass by placing the ports closer to the wall when the loudspeaker is angled inwards for the best stereo image.

The SL is designed to be operated near a rear wall and features a built-in stand to allow the downwards-firing port to function correctly. The sides of the cabinets can be extended, if required, to raise the Eikona, but should not be reduced below 50mm. The built-in stand makes it possible to fit connection terminals to the base of the speaker and keep them out of sight. The plinth can be increased in area to maintain stability on carpeted floors and spikes can be fitted if required.

We recommend grilles are fitted to protect the Eikona drive units.

Bass response extends below 40Hz in-room and sounds fast and responsive. The Eikona SL is ideal as a compact music system or as part of a home theatre with a supporting subwoofer below 50Hz.

Benefits:

  • Compact
  • Versatile
  • Easy to site
  • No stands required
  • Excellent bass response
  • Straightforward to build

You can download the PDF construction guide here and it includes plans for both versions of the SL.

As ever, if you build this cabinet, we would be interested in seeing photographs of your project and the finished loudspeakers and sharing them on our Facebook and Pinterest galleries.

 

Martin’s Eikona DCR

Over the years, Ted Jordan’s Eikona DCR design has proven to be very popular with our customers. We regularly receive feedback on the quality of the speakers’ sound and they have featured on the blog before. The latest feedback was from Martin, a customer in the UK. He was kind enough to send photos and a detailed description of his construction process, which you can read below:

 

“I first learned of Jordan Eikona drivers from the great thread over at Lencoheaven.

“I work in construction and the challenge of building some cabinets appealed. The driver cut outs are really the tricky part. Holesaws in a pillar drill provide a starting point. This cut is then improved with a bearing-guided router bit. I reached the exact size by varying the cutter diameter in relation to the bearing, until I had two accurate templates.

“The process of making the stepped cuts at first seemed complicated, but really a simple compass to mark the concentric circles is sufficient, lining up the templates on the baffle to these marks. 

 

I decided on 18mm birch ply for the cabinets – I’m no fan of MDF due to its dust. The ply is great to work with and offered the possibility of a reasonable finish without the need to veneer the cabinets. I deviated a little from the DCR plans but the internal dimensions are as recommended. The sides of my cabinets are wider, and stepped front and back.

The back is built in two parts, so is 36 mm thick, and removable. The bottom section is sand filled. I rebated the joints, used glue and pocket hole screws for the assembly and it makes a strong cabinet. After about five coats of tinted Danish oil they were ready for the Eikona drivers and wiring!

“Now I was ready to connect to an amp and finally hear some music. I’m fortunate enough to have a couple of amplifiers and combined with the option of either parallel or series connection to the two Eikonas in each cabinet, this gives a few different possibilities. 

“Never having heard speakers of this type before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The expense and the time had been a bit of a gamble, and the first few minutes of music left me thinking I would need a while longer to figure these out. Well, over a week later I seem to have settled on series wiring (12ohms) and at the levels I listen, neither my 300b amplifier or modestly-powered solid state amplifier have any problems providing sufficient volume.

“As for the sound: The bass is surprisingly good for the size of cabinet and the size of the drivers. The higher frequency seems to have a tighter on-axis response than I’m used to, but it doesn’t lack any extension. They’re fast, vivid, detailed, and I think they’re great at revealing the accurate timbre and texture of sounds and they have a monitor-like clarity. Given this, they certainly don’t flatter any recordings, but for the most part they have put a grin on my face!”

We wish Martin many years of listening pleasure!

For more details of the Eikona DCR, visit our DIY plans pageWe are always happy to help our customers with any queries they may have when constructing their speakers.

Eikona MLTL30 variation

One of our most popular loudspeaker enclosures for the Jordan Eikona 2 is the MLTL30 transmission line, designed by Jim Griffin. We describe it in detail on our blog here.

The MLTL30 is a relatively compact loudspeaker at 80 cm tall, 26 cm wide and 19 cm deep but is capable of impressive performance, producing bass to below 30 Hz in-room.

Following Ted Jordan’s preference, Jim’s original design for the MLTL30 was adjusted to have a wider baffle than is common in commercial loudspeaker systems. We find that this lends extra weight to the mid and bass frequencies.

However, if a conventional, narrow look is preferred, it is easy to adjust the ratio and make the size 21.5 cm wide and 23.5 cm deep. The cabinet height, driver position, and port size and position all stay the same, and the port can now be fitted to the front panel. A sketch of the two sizes is shown below.

The MLTL30 is an ideal compromise for those looking for a solid bass performance from a smaller cabinet. You can find our own MLTL30 enclosure plans here.

Nathan’s Eikona DCR

EJ Jordan Designs has a long history of selling direct to hi-fi enthusiasts, going back to when the company was founded by Ted and Denise Jordan in 1976. One of the pleasures is the interaction with customers, from answering questions to assisting with advice for whichever loudspeaker project they are undertaking. And at the end, we hope, there is the satisfaction of reading customers’ impressions of the final result.

Nathan, in the USA, embarked on building a pair of Eikona DCR loudspeakers almost a year ago. He and his brother Paul (who was handling the woodwork) were determined to produce something very high grade and in the course of their build had a number of interesting questions. (Always useful to us here at EJJ because it makes us think again about how we put the information across on the website.)

Earlier this month, we were gratified to receive an enthusiastic email from Nathan which read:

“These speakers are amazing! Super clean! Accurate!!!! Super good bass as well. Thank you for all your help”

We couldn’t resist asking for photographs and more details:

“Being an ‘Old Rocker’ at heart, the DCR build has completely quenched my thirst for a pair of speakers that can be played at high volume levels in my living space without breaking apart.

“With super tight controlled bass to spectacular crisp highs, they sit proudly in their new living space. The sound stage is wide and the separation of each instrument and note is spectacular. From soft vocals and small instrumental pieces, to heart pounding complexed electronica, these babies push out ear candy that keeps you wanting to hear more. I am so happy to be washed away with sweet high notes and no harsh ripple or static to my ears. I can hear fine details in music that makes me grin from ear to ear. Slight nuances of the breath on horns and fingers on strings, also small background voices that come to new life having been absent or unnoticeable on other speaker systems.

“I wanted a professional finished grade build to accommodate the fabulous sound they produce.

“I thought they should sit a little higher than the actual plans, so I constructed a unique foot for them to stand on that accentuates the dual speaker boxes by using two round pieces that separate the foot, which I think looks quite lovely.

“What a fun build, and what amazing speakers! Thank you for helping make this new addition part of my love for music.”

You can find the Eikona DCR, among other plans, on our Loudspeaker Plans page. And please remember that if you are embarking on a build, we are happy to answer any questions and always interested in photographs of the final result.

Vintage Hi-Fi Receivers

Whilst digital audio broadcasting (DAB) and internet radio continue to spread into homes, there is no denying the allure of the classic FM stereo tuners and hi-fi receivers from the 1960s onwards. The best of them featured polished woodwork, brushed aluminium front panels, tactile controls and the attractive blue glow of the tuning dial. They also weighed a ton!

If, like us, you feel drawn towards this kind of retro, there is a website just for you.

Classic Receivers is a blog devoted to vintage hi-fi receivers from the 1970s and 80s. It is based in the USA so the emphasis tends to be on classic Japanese receivers such as Marantz, Pioneer and Yamaha, but there is still a lot of interest for enthusiasts in Europe.

The list of models is extensive and it is being added to all the time. There are comments about performance, from both the technical and subjective viewpoints, and examples of current second-hand values. It’s a fun and useful resource.

Those of us in Europe might like to see more representation from this side of the pond. For example, classics from Norwegian specialists Tandberg, Swiss open-reel manufacturers Revox and, of course, Denmark’s Bang and Olufsen.

Vintage hi-fi is becoming very collectable (as we have seen from the prices fetched by Ted Jordan’s earlier loudspeakers from Jordan-Watts) and receivers are gaining an increasing following. Steve Guttenberg wrote about it a few years ago on the CNET site and here’s a comparison (wrongly linked in the article above) of a mid-1980s Pioneer receiver pitched against a modern AV receiver: You can guess which one wins …

So, is this something to be taken seriously? And which vintage hi-fi receiver would you buy?

Pentagonal Eikona loudspeaker

Simon Regan’s beautifully-crafted Eikona VTL speakers featured on our blog a few months ago so we were intrigued to see his latest creations. These are a pair of unusually-shaped, floor-standing loudspeakers, based on one of our Eikona MLTL (mass-loaded transmission line) designs. The cabinets have a pentagonal cross-section, designed to reduce internal resonances, and were commissioned by a customer after reading about Simon on our blog.

Simon’s client, George Foster, belongs to the London Live DIY HiFi Circle. He has a history of using Jordan units, having built one of the original Jordan JX92 MLTL designs, and he felt it was a logical next step to try something similar with the Eikona 2.

George experimented with pentagonal cross-section cabinets after hearing the well-known Pentachord speakers in the 1990s. He became convinced that reflective surfaces within enclosures were worth avoiding (something we have achieved with the Eikona Triangular Array).

George says:

“I began with a single Eikona in the 35MLTL enclosure and then added a second driver, in the manner of the DCR. It made an enormous difference – I was surprised at how much fuller the sound became. The next step was to keep the same height but double the volume to 70 litres. Simon and I worked together on the plans, and he showed my wife and I a wide range of veneers. The resulting cabinets are of a much higher quality than my old ones – they look and sound very much better, and our choice of veneer fits beautifully with our living room.

“I was surprised at how much difference Simon’s cabinets made to the sound. I listen to a lot of acoustic modern jazz on vinyl and I have been particularly noticing the improvement in piano sound. The larger cabinets also give an impression of ease – the music seems to float out of them in a way which reminds me of open-baffle designs.”

Simon adds:

”Initially, George wanted me to veneer his existing birch ply cabinets. For various reasons, I suggested that it would be better to make new cabinets. I was convinced that by the time I had worked on the existing cabinets (eg re-machining driver cut-outs and rebating the Eikona 2s), I could have made new ones. I also recommended having veneer on both sides of the board (inside and out) as it balances the wood and avoids warping in centrally-heated homes. George agreed and I was keen to make these look as good as they would sound.

“George and his wife chose birdseye maple veneer, which I selected from Capital Crispin Veneer in East London. Buying it in leaves or strips allowed me to book-match the veneer consistently around the two cabinets. (This is a technique of creating patterns by using two sheets in mirror image to each other like the pages of an open book.) On veneered work, I like to use solid lippings – strips of solid wood – especially on edges which need to be particularly robust or require rounding over. Solid birdseye maple is difficult to find, so I made a trip to Timberline in Tonbridge, a specialist timber yard often used by lute and furniture makers. One thing to note is that birdseye maple can be a challenge to work with since you have to take great care with unpredictable grain direction.

“Apart from the ports, I made sure the cabinets would be completely airtight and very rigid. Inside are a series of pentagonal braces each cut from a single piece of board, then hollowed out and tongue-and-grooved into the sides of the cabinets. Once glued, these added great rigidity and were also helpful when it came to assembly, where I wrapped the cabinet walls around the braces. I used an aerolite glue, which allows the longest time possible to assemble, adjust and clean up the cabinets before the glue sets.

“Prior to gluing, I covered about 70% of the interior of the cabinets in Dedsheet material from Sound Service. As well as adding damping to the cabinet, it added a considerable amount of weight! I attached fine netting to the brace immediately beneath the bottom driver to stop the stuffing (long-haired sheep’s wool) from falling into the lower half of the cabinets. I finished the cabinets in three coats of a clear polyurethane lacquer.  A clear satin finish really looks great on birdseye maple and brings out the detail of the grain.

“It was great to work with George on this project and to hear how and why he came up with the design. It was very satisfying to hear the substantially improved sound and to be part of the process producing this pair of speaker cabinets.”

Simon is happy to work on other Eikona-based loudspeaker commissions. To see more of his work and to contact him direct, visit his website.