Archive for May, 2017

The Dayton Audio Epique (CBT24K) Linear Array Speaker System Kit from Parts Express

May 29, 2017

I purchased the Eqique speaker kit from Dayton Audio.  The kit arrived in two boxes.  The larger box (16″ by 19″ by 67″) contains the speaker cabinet, stand, wiring harness, and miscellaneous parts; the smaller box contains the 48 drivers.

The packaging was spectacular: the larger box contained a second box which contained the speaker cabinets themselves.  The outer box had a hole in it, as did the inner box, but the speaker cabinets were perfect.  They each come wrapped in a cloth bag.  I felt as if an enormous amount of care was taken to ensure a quality product arrived at my home.

The speaker cabinets are made from MDF.  The joints were perfect.  MDF can be a challenging surface to finish, and there were some spots that needed attention before a primer could be applied.  I put on two coats of primer.

Finishing the speaker cabinet was challenging.  I chose a Rust-Oleum hammered paint using a small roller.  The instructions on the can are insufficient to allow you to get good results.  If you try to apply a second coat at the recommended 30 minutes, you may dissolve  some of the first coat, leaving white patches.  Better to wait 4 hours before applying the next coat.  Also, you need to apply a LOT of paint, and then work with it quickly: if you come back a few minutes later, the roller will leave stringy hairs of paint as the paint thickens. The way around this is to finish each section and then move on, or to use the roller very slowly if you need to return later.  I needed 3 or more coats before it looked uniform.

The assembled cabinet has a floor stand, and there are gaps between the speaker and the stand.  You may wish to assemble the speaker to the stand, fill in the gaps, and then finish the entire structure, in order to eliminate the gaps.  If you choose to finish the cabinet and stand separately, be sure to finish inside the stand, since it will show via the gap.

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The wiring harness and drivers are polarized, which eliminates many potential problems. Good attention to detail.

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A word about the hex drivers (Allen wrench) used to mount the drivers.  You will be screwing in a LOT of screws (almost 200).  If you allow the hex driver to spin in the screws, you will round off the tip of the driver.  Best practice seems to be to use an electric drill or electric screw driver to get the hex head screws in about 80% of the way, and then tighten them by hand later.  This minimizes the chance that you will round off the driver and/or round off the hex sockets.  I used an electric drill on low speed.

Note that the hex screws are not uniform, and some of the hex sockets will not work.  Out of the 200 or so that I used, I found about 4 that were unusable because the sockets were too large.  You are better off discarding those screws than trying to make them work.

When you remove the drivers from their boxes, do so a few inches over a flat surface.  The plastic bag around one of the speakers was attached to the label on the box, and the driver did not fall out of the box as expected.

The following procedure may serve you better than the instructions from the manufacturer

  1. After finishing the speaker cabinet and mounting the cabinet to the base, place it on a 20″ stand.  Do NOT install the rear connection cup yet; it is easier to connect the wiring harness to the cup before you mount the cup to the speaker cabinet.
  2. Drop the wiring harness in through the top driver hole and pull all of the numbered driver wires out of each driver hole.  I did not need to tape the driver wires to the side of the cabinet.  Be sure to put driver 24 at the top of the cabinet (that is, feed the wires for driver #1 in first).
  3. Pull the two input wires out the back of the cabinet and attach to the rear connection cup.  Then attach the rear connection cup to the cabinet using screws from the big packet of speaker mounting screws.
  4. The instructions say to install the drivers with the cabinet on its back, but I installed the drivers with the cabinet vertically.  Push one of the polyfill damping pads into the #2 driver hole, and distribute it behind drivers #1, #2, and #3.  Then connect the bottom 3 drivers to the wiring harness and mount them to the cabinet, from the bottom up.  Be careful to ensure that the spade connections are made properly: if the spade slips between the connector and the enclosing plastic insulator, it can feel as if it is properly inserted, but it is not.  Only tighten the screws 80% of the way, using an electric drill or screw driver. Be careful to support the cabinet with one hand while you screw with the other: the stand is not designed for pressure from a screw driver (which may be why the manufacturer recommended that the drivers be installed with the cabinet on its back).  The drivers are a tight press fit into the cabinet, so you could install all of the screws after the drivers are in place
  5. Work up from the bottom of the cabinet toward the top, three drivers at a time; they are boxed in rows of 3, which is convenient.  If you do this, it is impossible to drop a screw into the cabinet.  When finished with the first 12 drivers, go back and tighten all of the screws by hand.
  6. When you get half way up the speaker cabinet, place the speaker cabinet on the floor and continue with the remainder of the drivers

Here are some pictures of the speakers during the build process.

Wiring harness installed and ready for batting and drivers

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Drivers partially installed

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Drivers installed

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From the side

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FedEx Really Screws Up

May 27, 2017

I ordered a product from “Amazon” (and I say “Amazon” because it was actually sold by a third party) on the 10th of May.  That package left Georgia via FedEx on the 12th of May, and arrived in Williston, VT, on the Tuesday the 16th of May.  Williston, VT, is about a 40 minute drive from my house.  FedEx delivers packages to my home regularly, from Williston.

FedEx attempted to deliver the package on Saturday the 20th of May. That is, no attempt was made to deliver the package on Wednesday the 17th or Thursday the 18th or Friday the 19th. The package just sat in Williston for 3 days.

They said that they would attempt to deliver the package again on the “next business day”, which for them is Tuesday.  They failed to attempt to deliver the package on Tuesday the 23rd, but promised (on their web site) to deliver on Wednesday the 24th.

They failed to deliver on Wednesday the 24th, but promised to deliver on Thursday the 25th.  I called FedEx.  They said that this was puzzling, and promised to fix things and that they would call me back on Thursday. They never did call me back.

They failed to deliver on Thursday the 25th, so I called FedEx again.  This time I asked to speak to a manager.  They said that Williston had failed to respond to requests for information about the package.  And then, suddenly, the FedEx web site announced that the package had been transferred to the USPS for delivery sometime in the next week.

The package was actually delivered by Priority couriers on Friday the 26th.  It took 16 days for FedEx to move the package from Georgia to Vermont.

It turns out that the local FedEx location is short of drivers, but that fact had been hidden from upper FedEx management.  And FedEx management apparently has no mechanism in place to detect and highlight package delivery problems.  FedEx central should have seen this problem when no attempt was made to deliver the package on the 17th, 18th, and 19th.

What could FedEx have done to improve the situation:

  1. FedEx central should have been aware of the problem more than a week before I called; they were clueless
  2. FedEx Williston should have passed the package off to Priority as soon as it became clear that they lacked the drivers to deliver the package in a timely manner; they did not
  3. FedEx Williston should have been honest with FedEx central about what was going on.  Instead, Williston tried to cover up what was going on locally.