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A journey with Betsy (Read 969 times)
CJinArcadia
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A journey with Betsy
05/31/21 at 19:17:46
 
I'm not certain where I first read about the Betsy driver by Wild Burro. It could have been here on Decware, maybe on Randy's Caintuck site, or somewhere else on the web. But I was intrigued by the idea of these open baffle speakers, especially with Randy's low barrel design. I still remember, some 30+ years ago, hearing a pair of giant Martin Logans, and being blown away by the airiness and soundstage. Could these, little full range speakers deliver some magic? I decided that I had to dip my toe in to see.

I've had a few sets of speakers in the past 40+ years. Avid, Klipsch, Monitor Audio, and Thiels. The Thiels I've been most satisfied with and have had them for 12 or so years. But last year I got the bug for something a little "different". Thus, the journey.

My journey started with a plain Betsy, using glued and clamped 1/2" mdf so that the baffles were 1" thick. A string and pencil gave me the arcs for a pair that were about the size of Randy's (mine were 22-1/2" tall by 18-1/2" wide). Cut the arcs with saber saw, speaker holes with a home made router jig, mount a base, spray some paint, mount the drivers, and hook up some wires. I wasn't concerned too much with WAF at this point; these were first prototypes to see if I liked the sound.  And did I! (Especially with them pulled away from the wall a few feet.)

But then I wanted just a bit more reinforcement on the lower end. Through this site I came across the old Betsy & Buck idea from Caintuck Audio. I went back and forth between the B&B, or a Lii 12" or 15" driver. The B&B won out due to aesthetics (WAF) with using the 10"Alpha 10A drivers. (And a compromise on probable low end versus the 12 or 15" Alpha drivers. Since these are in my living room, looks are critical.)

Prototype 2 was again 1" thick mdf, but I took more care on the construction. The arcs this time were cut with a router jig, changed the design to rear mount the drivers, and I used a roundover bit for the front edges. And of course made them taller (24-1/2"tall by 18-1/2" wide). Based upon input from Randy (Caintuck) and Doug (Wild Burro), I initially ran these with a separate small amp with built in crossover. In my system, I wasn't thrilled with the results and ordered a pair of 10mH chokes to try passive mode on powering the 10" drivers. I was extremely happy with the resulting sound.

Here's prototypes 1 and 2.

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Since I was so pleased with the sound, time to make an even nicer set. This time from 6/4 cherry from a local custom lumber yard. I decided to make them slightly larger (25" tall and 19-1/4" wide), and altered the side arcs to more of a slight "tulip" shape where the base is slightly wider than the top. I used a larger roundover bit for the speaker holes, and bought some super Q chokes with heavier guage wire. So far, I and my wife, are both thrilled. Yes, the upper and low ends aren't the same as my older Thiels, but the airiness and soundstage have exploded.

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With the music that I primarily listen to: jazz, vocals, acoustic (guitar, piano, Irish Trad), classic rock, with a touch of music from up in the hollar (I'm near the NC hill country after all), these speakers in my system deliver. The speakers disappear. The sound stage seems like it sometimes goes outside the room. Both male and female vocals sound "right". And with the bit extra provided by the 10" Alpha, things like standup bass come across with the right authority.  

Next up: What happens when I replace the plain ol Betsy with a fancy Alnico version? I can't wait to find out.

After That: How do things sound when I replace my old PSE amp with one from Decware?

Chris
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Rega Apollo cdp; Raspberry Pi + HiFiBerry DAC2 HD streamer/DAC; Unique Audio tube pre; diy Curtis Spud amp; anticable & diy cables; diy Betsy & Buck speakers
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Geno
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Without music, life
would be a mistake.
Nietzsche

Posts: 1415
Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #1 - 06/01/21 at 04:00:21
 
Hi Chris. I was anticipating being able to see the pictures. I see you have them shown in the “members systems” section. Very nice!

The Betsy’s are very special drivers, and Randy is responsible for starting the whole open baffle craze on this forum. You and us other open baffle folks are lucky to have found both.

I loved the Betsy’s, and then switched to the Alnico’s. IMHO, they are worth the extra money. They add something “extra”😉.

And speaking of “extra”, you are in for a real eye (and ear) opener when you get a Decware amp - a perfect match!

Best,

Geno
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SE84UFO and Spud Kit (Balanced monoblks) OR Sansui AU-222 OR Sansui AU-555A OR Sansui 800 OR Pioneer SX-626
Cambr. Aud. CXN (ModWright) • Cambr. Aud. CXC • ZBIT
Technics SL-1210MK5 (KAB Mods) w/ Concorde 40 cart
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Lii Cryst 10 • Lii W-15
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CJinArcadia
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Posts: 20
Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #2 - 06/01/21 at 14:00:46
 
Hmmmm. I’m not sure what happened to the photos . They were there when I looked yesterday. I can see them now when using the computer, but not my phone.
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Rega Apollo cdp; Raspberry Pi + HiFiBerry DAC2 HD streamer/DAC; Unique Audio tube pre; diy Curtis Spud amp; anticable & diy cables; diy Betsy & Buck speakers
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Dana
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Posts: 462
Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #3 - 06/01/21 at 22:14:37
 
Rats,  
I can't see them on my computer... just blue boxes.

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Tom Waits:
And the newspapers were fooling,
And the ash-trays have retired
'Cause the piano has been drinking,
The piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking,
Not me, not me, not me, not me, not me
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CJinArcadia
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Posts: 20
Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #4 - 06/02/21 at 01:50:17
 
So lets try again!

Prototypes #1 (just Betsy) and #2 (Betsy & Buck)
" alt="" title="" border="0" />

Betsy and Buck in cherry


" alt="" title="" border="0" />
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Rega Apollo cdp; Raspberry Pi + HiFiBerry DAC2 HD streamer/DAC; Unique Audio tube pre; diy Curtis Spud amp; anticable & diy cables; diy Betsy & Buck speakers
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Dana
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Posts: 462
Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #5 - 06/02/21 at 06:15:24
 
Those came out nice!  What a clean build.  Thanks for sharing
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Tom Waits:
And the newspapers were fooling,
And the ash-trays have retired
'Cause the piano has been drinking,
The piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking,
Not me, not me, not me, not me, not me
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Coyote
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Posts: 60
Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #6 - 08/29/21 at 21:48:05
 

Congratulations.
Very nice yesssss.

I am about to have some Betsy with Lii F15 built in anticipation of the UFO2 Steve and his team are building.

Cheers,

a.
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Steve Deckert
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If the 1st watt
sucks why continue?

Posts: 5201
Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #7 - 08/30/21 at 02:45:31
 

Very nice build!  

Steve
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Brian
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Posts: 784
Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #8 - 08/30/21 at 03:51:31
 
They came out beauties!
I have always liked this two way version of the open baffle. Randy wrote great things about the sound when it was first introduced.

How do you like the Gerry Curtis pentode amp? I almost never come across anyone who has one.

Brian
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EdwardT
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Posts: 143
Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #9 - 08/30/21 at 14:00:21
 
That makes me want to copy your design with some 10/4 white oak I have drying in my shop. Very nice build, I’ll bet the sound is wonderful.
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Amp on order, Gr-Research X-SLS, Marantz HD CD-1
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CJinArcadia
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Posts: 20
Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #10 - 08/30/21 at 20:54:22
 
First - Thanks for the kind comments about the build!

The Journey Continues .....

So I contacted Doug at Wild Burro a couple of months ago to let him know that I was interested in the alnico version. He finally got some in (or finished) and I now have a pair installed. I initially put them in the basement in a pair of my prototypes, and was not impressed at all. But I figured that they needed a bit of time to break-in. After 25 or so hours of off and on play, it seemed as though they were completely different drivers. At around 40 hours I decided it was time to replace the original Betsy's with the alnico version.



I had no idea as to what to expect except from a few comments (like Geno's) that the alnico version was even more special. I thought that I loved the sound of my B&B with the plain Betsy, and I do, but with the alnico version it seems like they are in another league! I'm not sure how to describe what I hear, maybe faster. It seems like things like cymbal hits are more clean and clear. But even on some of my jazz tracks, stand up bass seems to come across with more clean authority, but not out of proportion by any means. Anyhow, I am extremely pleased to have a pair, even with the price increase that Doug has had to introduce.

Regarding the little Curtis Spud amp, I am delighted with it. I do still want to get a Decware amp, and with this relatively inexpensive option (I built it from one of Jerry's kits), I've proven to myself how good a 2-3 watt tube amp can sound. I'd thought that I probably needed something like a Rachael or one of the Torii's, but now I know that isn't the case. (And for me, doing the build was extremely interesting and fun!)

I'm running my Unique Audio Designs preamp into the Spud and am using the preamp to control the volume (I pretty much leave the Spud on max). I had something funny and enlightening happen a couple of weeks ago.  Prior to the Spud I was using my old PSE Studio IV solid state amp. With it, my normal preamp volume knob was turned nearly to the 12:00 position, and it was loud. With the Spud, I'm at around the 3:00 position for comparable volume. I was thinking that I was probably coming close to maxing the Spud out. I did some playing around and (re)discovered that the volume setting on the preamp starts at around the 9:00 position. With the PSE, I was only using around 1/4 of the dial, and with the Spud, about 1/2. I cranked the volume up and discovered that I really have tons of headroom. It easily goes way louder than I can stand.

I was very pleased with the PSE for the years that I had it, but the Spud does deliver a level of detail that I wasn't getting with the Studio IV. I wouldn't hesitate to recommended one of Jerry's amps, especially if your wait for a Decware amp is going to be a while. I can't even imagine how one of Steve's Super Zen Triodes would sound, but I'm guessing amazing!
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Rega Apollo cdp; Raspberry Pi + HiFiBerry DAC2 HD streamer/DAC; Unique Audio tube pre; diy Curtis Spud amp; anticable & diy cables; diy Betsy & Buck speakers
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HockessinKid
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Posts: 726
Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #11 - 08/30/21 at 22:48:24
 
Yes, those alnico Betsy drivers are special. Enjoy.

HK
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Nottingham Interspace TT w/ Dyna 20x2 cart + Modwright PH 9.0X phono OR MWI modded Cambridge CNX V2 > CSP3-25th mods pre > ZMA-25th mods amp > PI Audio UberBUSS > Omega SAHO XRS or Caintuck Audio Lii15+ speakers > Snake River Audio & ZenWave cables.
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EdwardT
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Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #12 - 08/31/21 at 00:48:45
 
Do I guess correctly that the inductor is inline with the Eminence driver to limit its response to under 125 Hz?
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Amp on order, Gr-Research X-SLS, Marantz HD CD-1
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CJinArcadia
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Posts: 20
Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #13 - 08/31/21 at 01:47:23
 
That’s correct about the choke. I’m using a 10mH. The two drivers are in parallel with the choke in-line with the 10”.
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Rega Apollo cdp; Raspberry Pi + HiFiBerry DAC2 HD streamer/DAC; Unique Audio tube pre; diy Curtis Spud amp; anticable & diy cables; diy Betsy & Buck speakers
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Brian
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Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #14 - 08/31/21 at 03:52:54
 
I thank you so much for the report on the Jerry amp. I remember when Jerry was a correspondent here in this forum, and have long wondered what his amps are like.

Brian
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CJinArcadia
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Re: A journey with Betsy
Reply #15 - 08/31/21 at 11:49:34
 
Unfortunately I have very little to compare his amps to since his is my first tube power amp.
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Rega Apollo cdp; Raspberry Pi + HiFiBerry DAC2 HD streamer/DAC; Unique Audio tube pre; diy Curtis Spud amp; anticable & diy cables; diy Betsy & Buck speakers
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