Listening, Learning, and Tweaking

For the past week we have been spending some time in the evenings listening, learning, and tweaking our two sets of North Creek speakers. It is clear that these speakers are good enough to justify the best source material. We have played some master recordings, taken directly from either live performances or those we have made ourselves, and they certainly can show off when given the best material.

We still are not completely satisfied with the sound of the North Creek Kitty Kats. It is important to note that we have not done a formal tuning of the bass port, and therefore we are suspending judgment until that can be accomplished. In addition, we have decided that we need to apply our engineering skills to the problem and not go by listening alone.

We also received some good suggestions from George Short about the tuning of the port on the Kitty Kats. He suggested that we should remove the straws completely from the port tube and report back. He also suggested that we check the phase and polarity of the woofers. We did so, using a battery, and everything is connected exactly as it should be. He also suggested more break-in time, with which we agree.

Removing the straws from the ports made quite a dramatic improvement in the low end of the Kitty Kats, and at the same time seemed to reduce the boxieness of the sound. This is a very hopeful sign that we will ultimately be able to get the sound we desire. This is not a gross effect but there never-the-less. We also feel that the top end seems a little reserved and not as hot as the mids. These first impressions are not a final conclusion for sure. However, there is still work to be done. We have tried several listening session with the straws in various positions and have decided that the speakers sound best with them removed, although the bass is not as well controlled under those conditions. We are also wondering if the port is actually too long for the cabinets as constructed. It may be that we need to shorten up the port, and then replace the straws to determine the optimal position. Rather that go on guessing we feel a more rigorous plan is needed.

Therefore we have undertaken to begin to make measurements of our three set of reference monitors, the North Creek Kitty Kats, North Creek Casitas, and the Genelec 2029b monitors we have been using for some years. We have the capability to make MLS Quasi Anechoic measurements except for a calibrated microphone which we decided to order this past week. We found a web site (Cross Spectrum) that will provide calibration files for a very inexpensive microphone, the Behringer ECM8000. We intend to measure, listen, optimize and publish our results here in this section.

In the meantime, we will continue to listen and evaluate, and break-in the speakers until the mic ships and we get underway on our measurements. To complete the whole picture, we have requested and received a previously published frequency response graph for the Castias. The Kitty Kats response curves are available online as are those for our Genelec 2029b's.

It will be an interesting study as we determine if we can find measurements that correlate with what we hear, and then make the optimum adjustments and demonstrate the differences.

Please stay tuned....

Please see the next article in the series Kitty Kat Port Tuning Progress

Copyright © 2010 David L. Bytheway