Battle of the Open Baffles

Watching Jay's video today about the Maco Acoustics speakers, and saw the Caladan's late last year.  Seems like open baffle death match is brewing...


I just jumped into the OB world with some Tri-Art Open 5's and I'm really impressed so far with the sound I'm getting. So I'm now an OB fan. 

I'm not sure about brands based of LII audio drivers but i have heard some of Lii's stuff and they sounded good if not that refined, granted that was a while ago so things may have improved. I found the Lii 15" to be nice over all but lacking in extension and ultimate detail level. Build quality was ok but not great. 

I've also owned some speakers that Jay owned / reviewed and he thought were fantastic and they were rather basic sounding and not overly well made IMO. so his opinions are taken with a grain of salt for me, every other thing he reviews is the next best thing in audio, he's this type of reviewer IMO.  

Agreed, he does seem to chase the dragon concerning audio.  However, I am seeing more and more points indicating open baffle is really something to look at.  Are there any commercial speakers using LII drivers?



Pure Audio Project speakers should be in the battle as well—terrific sounding speakers.

It is rather amazing they are discounting the Maco Acoustics speakers by 40% for early adopters.  Bringing the plywood model fairly close to the price of the Caladans.

I thought reading between the lines that Jay was not as enthusiastic about the Maco as he might have been, but maybe just my imagination.

@jetter I'm a big fan of "non-box" speakers i.e. dipole, bipole (had mirage M3s forever), Omnis and open baffle (had dahlquest DQ 10 40 years ago).  Im sure there are differences (between the different kinds) but the speakers disappear, and throw a wide soundstage.  On the other hand I gather they are known for bad imaging.  Jay starts to say this but doesn't fully spell it out. 



I have lusted after PureAudioProject Quintet15 for years, but can’t seem to pull the trigger without hearing them in person. They are very elusive and it’s hard to spend $10K+ and still need to assemble them. 

It would be quite hard to ship the quintets as assembled speakers.  It does not look that hard to do the assembly.  They are, to me, very much worth the effort.  I’ve heard the Quintet with the wooden horn midrange/treble module, and the Trio with the coaxial driver module and both struck me as extraordinary for the money.  I do want to hear them with the field coil Voxative module; I’ve heard the Voxativ in other speakers and it is quite a good driver-very dynamic and engaging.  However, the field coil module brings a serious bump up in price.

I definitely have enjoyed most of the OB speakers that I've heard and a lot of them seem to be great values. Just all set here with my wood boxes. 😉

Spatial Audio speakers have impressed me greatly at shows (usually paired with LTA electronics) and were fer sure my vote for best bang per buck — can’t wait to hear feedback on the new Caladans.  Best sound I’ve ever heard was the Nola Grand Reference driven by top ARC electronics so I’m on board with the OB design concept and hope to own one of them some day.

I belong to a large metro area audio club and I have not heard any other club member’s system sound better than my GR Research NX-Otica open baffles.

Paired with a 300B tube amp, they are heaven on earth.

For outstanding OB performance look up -- better still, listen to -- Linkwitz' LX521

S. Linkwitz (RIP) was one of the legendary engineers in the audio sector (think of the Linkwitz-Riley xover, for example)

I think the Linkwitz full 521.4 system would rival anything available anywhere but they do take a lot of space to sound their best. I have great interest but dont have the floor space available.

I do have a pair of Spatial X5's and for the money they are a sonic bargain.

After hearing some open baffle a friend has, seeing Ron's video on the Caladans, hearing the Caladans at CAP, and talking to Clayton, my pair is on order.  I'm excited to jump into the OB world.  I run KEF, Mission, Elac, and Emotiva speakers now.  This will be a new world/sound for me.

For around a grand you can get a great sounding open baffle speaker that uses the Lii 15 in. driver.      Randy is a great guy to work with.

Pure Audio Projects are awesome. I was at a club gathering a few years ago where the guys from PAP, Hattor, and Lampizator were demoing their gear. I heard the Trio with the voxitiv field coils driven by a Lampi Integrated, not on the market, and the Pacific DAC. Wonderful setup.

The PAP Quintet 15’s , Vox ac 1.5 widebanders with a few mods, XO and wire, are jaw dropping. 8 ft off the front wall, Wall to wall cavernous imaging. Now with addition of the Charter Oaks Peq-1 can even bring the image forward of the front plane on certain recordings. 

+1 for dougthebiker--GR Research NX-Otica. They need a medium level skillset to assemble (and lots of clamps--rent from Home Depot). The CNC work is just about perfect. Or you can always hire a woodworker, carpenter, or handyman to assemble them for you--and still have a great deal. I've listened to many OB speakers, and enjoyed some of them, but NX-Oticas are the best I've heard.

..I do want to hear them with the field coil Voxative module


Me also.  On the Voxative own speakers this upgrade seems expensive, but is lower priced option on the PAP.  Reviews say the Voxative field coil is a significant sonic uptick.  

I have both open baffle subs and speakers in my painfully square room.

The whole dipole concept has soo many advantages over box speakers especially in non optimal rooms (the figure 8 sound pattern allows you to put then very close to side walls) You do need space and diffusion to make them sound their best, and as with any system, room correction never hurts.

I do not see myself returning to anything sealed except, maybe a couple of subs to enjoy the earth movimg pounding you get in movie sound effects.

For music however, the accuracy of the bass is beyond anything I haven heard in boxed subs including the JL Gothams which are fantastic in their own right and nicely compliment any system.

OB excels in vocals and while very well suited for jazz (which I listen to a lot of especialy horns - Miles or Chet Baker are near religous experiences), I am still awe strucked by "Killing in the name of" by Rage Against the Machine and another one of my favorite mind numbing songs by Tool - "Chocolate Chip Trip".  The drums sound like drums should sound and the deep bass is so clear.  Victor Wooten on "Flight of the Cosmic Hippo" gets into to some very deep bass, and hearing those really low notes through the OB subs is something to behold.

In my opinion, you cant go wrong with any open baffle implemention, but only if you have the space. They require a minimum of 3f toff the wall behind them, but despite potentially low WAF they are eally special. (I have mine at about six feet)

I have become a fan of open baffle designs. Had a pair of Spatial X5 a few years ago, and just received my Caladans, the audio bargain of the century. They are replacing speakers that cost 3x their price, which they significantly outperform. 

@willywonka  so I hear, but haven’t heard. Doubt they would be sufficient in a room of my size though.

As I have been preaching....he he....make your own Caladan or use a $50 planar instead of the $39 dome tweeter in the Caladan for less than $1500 using the worlds best parts and construction.  A simple version can be built in a day......Home Depot cuts the wood and all you have to do is jig saw some holes and screw it all together.....super easy.  I just ordered the woofs and planars and in a few weeks will have it all done and will have pics on my website and if it is as good as I imagine, I will invite serious bay area people over to listen (I am not making or selling speakers....just promoting the idea).  Info on my website.

If you like the Maggie's, Hollis Audio Labs is doing some real cool things using active crossovers and OB subs.


  "I just ordered the woofs and planars "                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Can you please advise on the woofer and tweeter model numbers and maybe provide a link in which I can find them for purchase? Thanks.

The real advantage of the OB design is that the expense of the Baffle is not too demanding on ones pocket to produce, even if a Machine Shop produces the Board for a design.

As for a Board Material, if OB's are keeper speakers, a 25mm (1") Phenolic Resin Impregnated Densified Wood Board is the material that will ,have much improved properties to Dissipate / Damp transferred energies over other materials usually used.   

The advantage of not being caught for substantial monies for a Cabinet Design and Manufacture is also able to be off set toward the Driver Selection. There are Drivers to be selected that can push the build cost toward £1500 - £2K, but such drivers found in commercial products will most likely be close to £15K as the minimum the new purchase price.

There is also the options for Passive or Active. 

My experiences ,have not left me with, any prejudices against any electronics in the signal path. I have learnt that Active for the Bass will be much, friendlier to ones pocket than going down the passive route, (think Plate Amp). 

Xovers can be produced relatively cheap and are easily upgraded with alternate components over time, upgrades can have a substantial influence for the better, especially when Drivers are becoming more settled and presenting closer to how the design is intended. 

The individual selling the Speakers in the Link has a wealth of OB experience and was very very impressed with these speakers for the associated cost. For those only interested in off the shelve options, these as a model are well worthwhile looking into.

If OB's seem too much of challenge to take on as a project, the DML Panel Speaker might be more to ones tastes, still offering all the values of experiencing unconstrained sound, as a result of not having Cabinet Influences to contend with.   



Gold buttons open links to drivers. Much more to come as I assemble the speakers and test....and also more general info, including parts and construction details.



I totally get the Post from @ricevs, there is so much to be had when the Drivers are selected using the monies saved from the avoiding the 'mark up' created by commercial ventures. 

Off setting the costs that can be incurred to much better components, catapults a design into a new level of being competitive with much much more expensive models available.

When a 'Build Your Own' model is on offer as a design produced by an individual with credentials that are not questionable when it comes to producing Audio Devices, and build support is readily at hand, the novice has now become quite smart, and their only skills needed are reduced to be ones where a little manual work is required along with basics in soldering.

Either of the above basic skills can be found not too far from a home as a supporting service, so not being too confident should not be a blocker to make in roads to the new discoveries to be had.

The Link will show a Speaker that comes with all the Pedigree that one could want behind the design, the Baffle has a little more complexity than a typical OB, but is already produced to the point of being assembled, there is history to show there is no shortage of build support to be had from the Designer.

Have a listen to Speaker in Post 163, it will hopefully stimulate the want to read through the whole of the Thread. 



I am building the XDS and really hope I can get them to work in my very limited place of residence, full time RV. I added 1.5 to the rear length and stiffened it up greatly so I could have enough space behind them or any speaker design I find the best. I have highly upgraded Edgarhorn Slimlines I would love to use but have little faith will work in this place and a bit big but can work around that, I at least have to try them. I also plan to build other types of speakers until I find the best solution but do love OB, and horns, the best by far.

I opted to go with eight 8" drivers per side instead of the 6.5s to try to get more bass, no sub, now I am thinking of going back to the 6.5s and building very shallow corner subs into place for the two Image Dynamics ID15's I have in storage. I used to use 4 of them in my house, sealed, tons of power, amazing really. Before than I had two of them in a massive horn loaded enclosure that was a major eyesore but they would massage your feet on the other side of house, huge and exceptional clean output.

No room for OB subs or really big OB speakers with dual 15's, etc....but the 8x8 setup would have far more output than needed but might not go as low as I want. The 8x6.5 would  pair with the dual 15's and result in a smaller footprint.

I am considering getting a Claro walnut slab to build the front of the baffle and 3/4 for the sides.



I have five 6x30 watt AB amps, can be bridged to 4x60 +2x30, looking at starting out all active until final speaker selection is done. Evenutally I would like to use an SET amp, or at least mids and tweets on the system.

Here is a list of things that could be improved on the XSD

1. Drivers are not time aligned.

2. No felting around the mids and diffraction city.

3. The mids and woofs are not wired to the voice coil wires....tabs? you have to be kidding.

4. Wire is are all the xover parts.

5. Way too complicated and hard to build. Too much wood to throw away once you realize this is NOT where it is at.....he he.

Now compare this to the speaker I am talking about. You can build it in one day ($1500 total cost using super wire and parts), 18 inches wide, bass to 30hz.......93db sensitive.....fully dipole.....time amp does the whole enchilada.....of course, you could bi-amp as described on my webite and also make a line source of planars for more output, lower distortion and more vertical dispersion. If 18 inhes is too wide then make the baffle 13 inches wide and use slightly angled out wings on the bottom to extend the bass response to match an 18 inch wide baffle.

Markmuse. Would love to hear your input on the Caladans. I just received and assembled them on Wednesday, but left for vacation the next day…..haven’t even had a chance to hook them up, much less give them a listen.

I've also been experiencing OBs for the first time thanks to a DIY project, and find them to offer all of the things already said here. Dynamic, tight, fast bass, full and satisfying mids, impressive soundstage. If you're interested in a well thought-out DIY approach, check out "ABX Audiophiles" on YT; James has videos outlining the design, and he can get you into the Discord where we discuss the build and link to the design and components. 

@larryi @kennyc  The PAP Trios with the Voxativ field coil drivers are sublime, far outperforming the "standard" Voxativ drivers offered as the center drivers for that model IMHO (albeit at a significant cost increase). I heard them at the New York Audio Show a few years back and needless to say they left a big and long lasting impression. I hope you get to hear them one day.

I’ve heard several systems with Voxativ field coil drivers and they are remakably dynamic, which is why I am interested in how they sound in PAP systems.  My concern is with how bright and sharp sounding, something I heard with their driver and some other field coil widerange drivers.  I hard similar sound with various Classic Audio field coils and the G.I.P. 4165 12” full range driver.  
Some other field coil full range drivers are smoother and more mellow, such as the ones used in Songer Audio speakers.  The best wide range field coil I’ve heard is the Jensen M-10, a driver that is from the 1940’s.  

The ABX Audiophiles speaker has the tweeter way behind the time alignment is way off.  And that tube connector that the compression driver is mounted on will add "horn throat distortion'.

The Voxativ drivers have crappy binding posts on them.  Throw the nut on the binding pos away and hard wire to the voice coil wires and it will blow your mind....way more pure and refined and extended.

Eveything makes a difference!!!!!

Have you heard the ABX speakers? The throat extension was actually designed to correct for a time alignment issue that is present when the modified dipole compression driver is mounted directly to the mid. Based on my listening experience I’m not hearing what you’re saying.

I have been making speakers and modding them since the 1970s.  The information I share is based on listening tests and reading and talking to others about their EXPERIENCE.  There are lots of things to consider....including the phase of the speakers as measured in pulse Stereophile does.  Does your tweeter sound best set back that far?  Have you experimented to infinity?  All speakers that I mention in my "expanding the possibilities"  lectures are great speakers stock.  However, 90% of what I say can be applied to most speakers with sonic benefits.  Horn throat distortion can be measured.  Do you really think you can send a sonic wave down a tube and not have a coloration?  Does this make sense to you?  Do you really think that having no diffraction control right on the edges of the speaker cone does not affect the sound?  You cannot trust that because someone made something (and even if they have a great reputation)...that they really know all there is to know.  It takes a it takes an entire world.  The knowledge of Audio is infinite.  This is why there are so many choices.  NO ONE......including me knows jack diddiy squat.......I am a master tweaker (relatively speaking).....but I am NOT a master.  There is NO MASTER.  Have you looked at Dragsters....they all look the same and do the 1000 feet in exactly the same time and speed.....That is because there is common knowledge in what makes a car go have horsepower, traction, drag, gearing and weight.....that is all there is.  In Audio you have infinite possiblilites.  Every single piece of wire has its own sound.....every connection.....every cap....every resistor....every diaphram....every thing matters.  Do you have your cables off the floor?  It matters.  Have you removed all your binding posts and speaker wire connectors and LEDs....and run your whole system off a super inverter system?  Do you have a super ground rod and filtered ground system for your stereo?  It works.....the game never ends....there is always more to learn and to discover.....which makes the audio game like life itself.....ever expanding joy, love and discovery.  I wish you feel better and better about yourself and everyone.....forever.

Ever expanding light, love, knowledge and Joy.....that is who we are.

I heard two sets of spatial audio a few years ago and thought the bass was excellent at first but then it became fatiguing as if peaking on one frequency.  

Since there is usually bass boost in the crossover to compensate for frequencies lost behind the baffle i attribute the peaky sound to it.  

Anyone else hear obs that way? 

Once I build something as a test bed for what I want to achieve, get it working, etc then I do many things like directly wired drivers, quality wire, quality xover parts as needed and work on time alignment. I plan to use high grade materials for the baffles, etc... and proper construction methods.

I will take a good look at the different OB designs and likely build more than a couple, it will be great fun to do so and see what I can come up with that fits our very particular needs, which might not be OB unfortunately.

Not sure which I like better, OB or horns which I love done right and not at all done wrong.

I do have shielded dedicated lines to feed the system and moved the RV power connection to be away from it as well. I am looking into grounding solutions though I have metal skirting all around with at least twenty four one foot long spikes into the ground, all tied into the chassis of the RV thus breaker box, etc.

My computers are on a separate circuit and not tied to the audio system in any way.

I only run a wired ethernet setup, CAT6 cables for now, considering higher grade next phase of our remodel. 

Acoustical treatments are critical and will do all I can in the confines of what we have to work with, I am very experienced in sound deadening of all sorts, from world class car audio competition systems to planning and implementing a very critical military installation.

Whatever speakers I end up running will be very well treated in all aspects to make them the best I can and all will be quite affordable:)









@ricevs What's your website?  I want to check out the open baffle build you have been working on.  I have been watching more and more people build speakers and may want to dabble myself at some point. Thanks!

Being judgemental is easy.  Giving praise is harder and more powerful and transformative for everyone....Every single thought you have or word you speak effects the whole world.

Only Love creates LOVE.......please....never stop loving.  I love you!....forever

@ricevs Does the method of wiring directly to the Voice Coil add any risk to the Driver when terminated a Wire?

I always thought Spades were used to keep the heat away from the driver to avoid a potential damage occurring.  

There is no damage to be done to a driver by hardwiring it (unless you try hard or are very non thinking). However, you need to have some skill and intelligence. I will have very detailed info on my website about this soon......including pictures.

Spade (disconnect) terminals are used mainly for convienience. Of course, those filled with fear will tell you they are there so you do not damage the driver. Some people and a very few manufacturers will solder to the tab on the speaker. However, do you want your dealer to come to a customers house to change the midrange on a Magico speaker and pull the driver out and solder on it?....dripping solder on the front of the speaker? No way, so you use a push on connector and degrade the sound. Best sound is your PC triple c wire soldered directly to the voice coil wire.

Clayton may be soldering to the tabs on the woofers in the Caladan shown in a fuzzy pic of the back of the speaker. This will be known with a better pic.....No, he is not soldering to the voice coil wires (the other end of the tab).

@ricevs Thank You for this info, and for offering to make available info to give guidance.

You set off my inquisitive side, strange that it is, as 90% of my listening is carried out with ESL’s creating the sound.

My Speakers are a Design with Audax Drivers HD-3P - HM130 CO - HM210CO

There is controversy about my having successfully filled the HD-3P to hold its charge of air.

Some say I have not controlled the fill pressure and some say the charge should be Nitrogen.

I say I have not heard a Tweeter has captured my attention for being attractive like this one, especially in the condition I have created, I have felt compelled to buy another pair and have them on standby to incorporated into being used with the ESL’s.

Back to being inquisitive, Typically a X over is placed within a Cabinet and less traditionally it has its place outside of the Cabinet.

One might suggest the outside of the Cabinet as a design, is classed as an upgrade to keep cabinet conditions from impacting on the X over.

Your idea of Hardwiring the the Voice Coil is a Bypass, or Shortest Route without connections in the signal path.

Can that be taken a stage further and have the X over mounted as short a distance as Possible from the Voice Coil.

An interesting reference to PC Triple C wire are you yet familiarised ?


Glad to see there are more and more commercial OB choices available these days. I bought a pair of Spatial Audio M3 Sapphires three years ago (sadly, they are no longer available) and consider myself very lucky to own a pair. I actually can’t imagine ANY box speaker sounding as good as the Spatials in my somewhat challenging room.