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Part II: Stephæn’s perspective.
Pete Riggle reminds us of where we left off in January 2011. On to a discussion of life with the Po’ Lil’ Things. Our first efforts led us to work with notch filtering of the midrange compression driver as discussed earlier. Stephæn likes a composed and liquid presentation. We toyed extensively throughout 2010 with the horns and system to develop said presentation. But in all honestly we did not get all the way there. Whereas we kicked off the Po’ Boys and the Po’ Lil’ Things with 4th-order passive crossovers at 350Hz, we eventually tried 1st-order passives with the Lil’ Things and feel that this moved us in the correct direction. That said there is still more work to be done.

Stephæn's setup from the listening chair.

A crucial point to understand is that when we first heard the Cogent True-to-Life loudspeakers in Ron Welborne’s room at the inaugural Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, they were being run through a DEQX and bi-amplified with Welborne tube amplifiers. We didn’t know that a DEQX was in play until after we had built the Po’ Boys. Despite the clarity and dynamic abilities of horns, they tend to be troubled by irregular frequency response, phase errors and time delay problems. These are exactly the sort of problems a DEQX can efficiently attack. Despite the bad rap horns and digital reproduction get at times, we were listening to vinyl through digital in the Welborne room and didn’t even know it. And we have heard the same message from others who visited that room. So at this point we were hoping the very kind folks at DEQX would temporarily provide Stephæn with a DEQX system to be tried with both the Po’ Lil’ Things and the Po’ Boys—in which case Stephæn would be reporting on the results of said investigation.

Stephæn picks up the narrative. Here now is that report. It took two years to get my hands on a DEQX processor to deploy in my system. Why? Because as John Lennon said, "life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans". This actually worked out for the best in terms of getting more knowledge and experience with passive crossover networks as well as other active options. About the time I was able to commit the needed energy to set things up and evaluate results, DEQX the company had introduced its latest HDP-4 preamp/processor. After receiving rave reviews at RAMF 2012 and beyond, some DEQX owners were ready to upgrade. I waited in the wings for a HDP-3 trade-in which eventually surfaced. Jonathan Scull brokered the deal and had it boxed up and sent my way.

The rest of the hardware on the sidewall.

In the many months before said box was dispatched, Pete and I experimented intensively with refining the passive crossover we had first tried on his hefty hornspeakers, the ones greatly influenced by Steve Schell and Rich Drysdale of Cogent True to Life loudspeakers fame and Bill Woods of Acoustic Horn. After we spent some time struggling with the passive approach, Steve took mercy on Pete by loaning him his DEQX 2.6. With the roughed-in DEQX working in Pete’s system, it sounded damn good. We could now enjoy music and focus some energy on my situation.

As time went on the refinements to the passive crossovers mentioned earlier showed much promise. But in the end the slow-moving and seemingly never-ending effort to optimize and align three drivers per side whilst integrating a subwoofer, tri-amping the mains and getting the tone we craved all became overly complicated. The parts count alone became daunting. The wiring. The measuring. The re-measuring. Trying this crossover point and then that slope. As system theory tells us, a change here inevitably meant a potential change there. Or there. Not to mention that the crossovers would require significant real estate. Whilst not quite overwhelmed, we knew we were sliding into the realm of the disheartened. That’s not what the hobby’s about.

The rather small world of DIY audio is a supportive one. Most participants are pleased to skip over a lot of the showboating and what-not that seems to be part and parcel of other groups of people who are more, um … trophy-driven. We just want to get to that happy place where we enjoy our absolute sound because we already know that the absolute sound doesn’t exist. But our absolute sound does. And it’s achievable. With some hard work and some good luck. Thankfully when we get stuck, we usually find the help needed shows up just when we need it most. Good thing too. We were sorely due for such an intervention.

Stephæn's horns when the process was still about neat and tidy figures on a sheet of paper.

Enter Jeffrey Jackson. Jeffrey is the man and artist behind Experience Music, Inc. I first met Jeffrey at VSAC 2003. We subsequently connected at a gathering hosted by our mutual friend, the late and dearly missed Terry 'Ten Fingerz' Cain at his wood shop in Walla Walla, WA. This was just before Jeffrey moved to Memphis. I recall that in 2008 he had the guts to haul a huge system from The Home of the Blues to VSAC 2008 in Vancouver, WA. There he hosted a room with U.S. Goto Unit importer Ming Su. His suite was the place to hang and duly won my vote and the People's Choice Award for best sound of the show. As David Adams put it, "it was good of Jeffrey to bring out such a big and difficult system. It gave many a glimpse into the world of possibilities at the upper edges of the audio arts—something only a few of us have heard." If you checked out the link to the 2008 show above, you understand that Jeffrey is no slouch. "I am very serious about music and love to create systems that communicate the full emotional impact of great musical works," says he. Visit his website. Check out his work!