Xover parts quality,/sound difference?

Whats your opinion on the quality of xover parts used in a speaker. Make any difference in sound?
hi bartokfan,
perhaps the question is a little too vague so let me put it more in what i think is the proper perspective. if a given speaker design is flawed and lacking defintion, perhaps some of the most neutral parts will not make their presence felt. if a design is less flawed and more uniform in test, what may be needed is a synergy with certain sounding parts to shift the sound for the better. this will be audible. and if one is working with a design that has very uniform test characteristics, has a continuos sound, is high in resolution with correct tone, crossover part changes will be extremely audible.
just my two cents.
bobby at merlin
Tons.... I have heard 800 dollar speakers that easily competed with 5000 plus (so called better designs) after being replaced with Alpha core Ribbon inductors, Mills Resistors, and Mundorf caps, Solen caps(cheap but very effective), and several other types of caps. 90% of the speaker is the Crossover, 7% is the cabinet, and about 3% is the driver selection... I have seen this ratio before from most manufactures and agree with it, now that is not to say a solid correctly designed cabinet is not of upmost importance but its easier, and cheaper to get then the crossovers sometimes. Drivers of high quality can do many things is crossed over correctly, some 20 dollar drivers with 500.00 dollar crossovers can sound better than 300.00 drivers with the most widely used 15.00 dollar crossovers.

As for what it did, well the speakers sounded more efficient flowing much more free, effortless so to speak.. bass normally hightens and tightens. Highs become further more airy. It will depend on how complex the crossover is too, some that use 14 parts are very compled in the first place and will have issues and be VERY expensive to build, but the more 1st order systems, that use 4 to like 8 parts only become very transparent and effective, still expensive but much easier to handle.
Sorry typo's above

Tons.... I have heard 800 dollar speakers that easily competed with 5000 plus (so called better designs) after being replaced with Alpha core Ribbon inductors, Mills Resistors, and Mundorf caps, Solen caps(cheap but very effective), and several other types of caps. 90% of the speaker is the Crossover, 7% is the cabinet, and about 3% is the driver selection... I have seen this ratio before from most manufactures and agree with it, now that is not to say a solid correctly designed cabinet is not of upmost importance but its easier, and cheaper to get then the crossovers sometimes. Some 20 dollar drivers with 500.00 dollar crossovers can sound better than 300.00 drivers with the most widely used 15.00 dollar crossovers.

As for what it did, well the speakers sounded more efficient flowing much more free, effortless so to speak.. bass normally hightens and tightens. Highs become further more airy. It will depend on how complex the crossover is too, some that use 14 parts are very complex in the first place and will have issues and be VERY expensive to build, but the more 1st order systems, that use 4 to like 8 parts only become very transparent and effective, still expensive but much easier to handle.

I hate to be contrary but your post makes little or no sense...brand name dropping is always a bad sign as capacitors have Q factors that make them right or wrong for a circuit. Labels do not make great capacitors, its been proven time and again.

But back to what baffles me,

"90% of the speaker is the Crossover, 7% is the cabinet, and about 3% is the driver selection... I have seen this ratio before from most manufactures and agree with it,"

How can you say this and own the speakers that you do? Try harder to make your real-life world correlate with your theoretical world. Because if I didn't know better I'd be very confused because what you say doesn not match what you do. :) Agreed?

Huh? Baffled is right....No its not agreed in a friendly sense.. 90% of Standard Speaker DESIGN is crossover is all the point was. And exactly why speakers with NO crossover to worry about are even another step forward. That was not the question and I chose to not confuse the matter or put my own results of eliminating them all together in the original question, eliminate a crossover all together is infact another World as you put it. Do the crossover as well as possible is the best bet, Electronic or no Crossovers is even better, but for the conventional audiophile designs litered with extra parts, Yep go for the better parts and they sound better. Sorry I was not allowed to speak on the matter even though I no longer own crossovers, and this is the exact reason why after experiencing step by step thru many speakers.. But the many I did own and upgraded had very credible increases in sound when using the better parts.. I fail to see where my comments above were to offend or confuse anyone due to my own ownership, but I have to disagree that means I have no way to give info on past endenvors for the best.

By the way the crossover parts I mentioned in most designs will quite litterally require 5 to 10 times the amount of space over the basic 3" X 6" computer grade crossover boards used in many brands. Actually most will require outboard cabinets as big as 12" x 12" for exotic Caps and inductors, not to mention they will weigh in the 15 to 20 lb range vs. the 2 or 3 lbs of the original passive units normally replaced.

D_edwards, keep in mind I was speaking to the majority of audio speaker guys and not trying to push a product I happen to own on to them, simple as that. Thanks for the concern though :)
Different parts in the crossover will result in different sound most definitely. It is not even a matter of different parts, but even how those identical parts could be laid out and / or connected to each other. If i were to show pictures of some of the crossovers that i've taken apart and rebuilt / re-designed, it would blow your mind. Just because you're paying "big bucks" for "high end" stereo gear doesn't mean that you are getting what you paid for. This is especially true with speakers. Sean
I have DIY speakers with crossovers I built from scratch. I have use precise calculation to find the right crossover points. On my crossover, I use Dayton caps and dayton ir core inductors. I did find the sound to be much better then the radio shack crossover.

I agree with Sean, it is the construction and layout that shape the sound.
Sure quality parts can be important but the total design is what matters.I do tend to use simple semi 1st order networks with very hi-quality parts in many of my loudspeaker designs also very hi-quality transducers and cabinets.Then like Bobby said its very easy to tell the good from the ugly.In more simple designs with highly complicated crossovers I can skimp on parts costs a bit without much penalty soundwise.
There are also many spots in a crossover that make little difference if you use cheap parts or not. Wasting all your money on exotic caps in a low pass circuit usually makes no sense unless there is a specific design need for it. I will agree that higher end components often sound much better in the mids and highs, but only when properly implemented. A badly designed XO is still bad even with high end parts. In addition, things like silver ribbon inductors etc are extremely expensive, and putting these with a $20 tweeter will not get you a good sounding speaker. There are bargain drivers that sound very good, and some speaker manufacturers are notorious for filling a fancy box with $20 drivers and charging $10,000...however many other incredible sounding speakers use very expensive drivers ranging from ribbon tweeters to ceramic and beryllium mids, so to say these benefit 97% from the crossover is misleading to say the least.
After over twenty years of building and modifying speakers crossover design and components remains a bit of a mystery.
I really think that most good speakers are just a fluke synergy between crossovers components and drivers and something that is hard to replicate in a different set of components.
Of course a lot of experimenting and listening must help but this does not explain why companies with huge research and design resources [Focal,Jamo,Mission,B&W etc]fail to achieve consistently good sounding speakers.Some models are good,others are not,and yet each speaker probably has similar development input.This is also why many cheaper speakers,with cheaper components,often sound better than very expensive ones.
Companies like Spendor and Proac which are highly regarded for the consistency of their speakers and driver integration tend to be very conservative in their model changes and drivers used-as if they evolve new products from long running successful designs rather than designing them from scratch.
Sbrtoy, I agree, low pass can definatley work well and even better with standard 1 dollar to 15 dollar caps eg. Solen, Auricap etc...

My statements were made to be VERY general, as to simply say yes better parts can produce far better results, and then I used some simple examples just to give what flavors can change, that is all..

But none of this stuff is provable until the hardcore audiophile trys it, and believe me there are much worse mistakes and costs that audiophiles make then maybe taking a 5000.00 pair of speakers and having the guts to get in there and throw in some equal value higher quality parts. And Nobody said 97% is the crossover, Actually I said 90% of the Final sound in the product will be based on how well the crossover is designed, implemented, Executed, and has definate lean against the quality of parts.

It was not so spelled out maybe, but that is what I meant if this is what you are refering too. So sorry to mislead.
I have upgraded the caps, resistors and air core inductors on all three pairs of my Klipsch speakers and can tell you for a fact that I HEARD a tremendous difference in sound. I replaced the stock caps with Kimber Kaps, stock resistors with Mills non-inductive resistors, and stock air core inductors with Madisound.

I lived with all these speakers stock for about 5 years, so I was very familiar with the sound. What I heard after I upgraded the crossovers was nothing short of amazing. Trust me, I wasn't TRYING to hear something either to justofy the less than $100 in parts cost.

Bottom line: better parts do make a difference.
Vman71, Klipsch are what I did many of my trials on as well.. They did respond incredibly no doubt. Maybe some of these guys just simply have less results due to lower sensitivity speakers.. I mean many speakers are very overdamped sounding, for example my Dynaudios were less responsive to complete crossovers at first but it was more than subtle so I heard far lower noise etc.. Still. I had JM labs which were one of the best I ever heard after having outboards, near cost no object built as well, The sharper speakers such as the Jm labs with metal tweets, and the Klipsch with the compression drivers were much more apparent in the upgrades so maybe that is why its hard to prove.

But then again I think more of the argument is here from the DIY guys building From scratch and putting their stock into the design factor more than the parts cost, I have not had as good of results building from scratch myself, but have had huge increase in fidelity using hi quality crossovers in already proven designs that skimped on the best caps, inductors etc...
"Wasting all your money on exotic caps in a low pass circuit usually makes no sense unless there is a specific design need for it"

Have you ever measured the losses through a typical electrolytic as compared to a group of ganged "exotic" caps? These losses become self-evident when the speaker drivers and cabinet alignment are up to the task. Problem is, most speaker systems lack proper transient response at low frequencies, hence the difference between caps getting lost in the "mud" & "smearing" that emanates from such a design.

If one has some parts laying about with ( near ) identical values in an "exotic" and electrolytic cap, and you have a variable voltage power supply with a meter, try the following.

Place the electrolytic cap on the power supply with the supply turned all the way down. Gradually bring the power supply up in steps, paying attention to the voltage as it tracks upward. So long as the cap is in decent shape and not ancient, bring the voltage up to or just below the rated voltage. Double check the voltage reading on the meter and let it sit for half an hour or so. Then come back and check your voltage reading again. In most cases, the voltage will have climbed noticeably higher than where you left it. Remove the cap, but don't discharge it.

Use the same approach as above, but replace the electrolytic with the "exotic" cap. Step the voltage up and watch as the cap tracks the voltage climb. Bring the voltage up to the same point where you originally stopped with the electrolytic i.e. just at or slighlty below the rated voltage on the electrolytic. Now let the cap sit for half an hour on the power supply.

When you come back, you'll find that the voltage is still very close to where you originally set it. Unlike the electrolytic, there should be very little "voltage creep" after the initial setting. That's because most "exotic" caps have FAR better transient response and / or "loading characteristics". This translates sonically into sharper transients with less time induced smearing. Remove the cap, without discharging it, and let it sit next to the electrolytic. Obviously, you don't want these laying about where someone can get "whacked" by touching the charged caps.

After several days, come back to the caps and measure their voltages. What you'll find is that the "exotic" cap has retained very close to the full charge whereas the electrolytic has lost quite a bit of voltage. This has to do with internal losses in the electrolytic. Just as the electrolytic has a higher voltage loss, it also has a higher signal loss too.

The end result is that, using "exotic" caps anywhere / everywhere in a crossover circuit, and they really don't have to be all that "exotic" in terms of price, is lower loss with improved transient response. As previously mentioned, the rest of the circuit / speaker design has to be up to the task of revealing the differences / benefits in such a change. Otherwise, one really is wasting their money using these "higher grade" parts.

A reasonable compromise here is to use an electrolytic and combine it with a group of ganged "exotic" caps in order to achieve the total capacitance value desired. This helps keep costs down quite a bit as compared to using all "exotic" caps without incurring the massive sonic losses associated with using just a single large electrolytic. While many will instantly think of "bypass caps" as found in a power supply, i'm talking about a MUCH higher ratio of "exotics" to electrolytics in terms of absolute values here.

Since music is of a transient nature, the "exotic" caps in such a set-up provide the speed, clarity and focus that most electrolytics lack. Dynamics become far punchier and tighter.

On the other hand, the electrolytic provides the core foundation for the storage capacity needed. We need this in order to keep the circuit working as electrically intended, both in terms of volume and in terms of actual crossover frequency, while keeping costs down.

This approach allows the sluggish response of the electrolytic, which is now smaller in value than the original cap used, and therefore less lossy, to be helped along by the faster response times and reduced losses of the "exotics". We now have the electrolytic carrying the brunt of the load at reduced costs without having to respond quite as quickly. That's because the "exotics" take over that part of the equation. The cost of the "exotics" has been reduced too, as we are only using them for a portion of the total capacitance used.

Depending on the caps used and what one wants to spend, one can play with the ratios here. Obviously, the faster and less lossy the cap used, the better the overall performance will be. As such, the more that we can reduce the overall volume of capacitance in the electrolytic, and shift more of it onto the "exotic" caps, the better the potential sound.

With that in mind, one big problem can arise from all of this. That is, "exotic" caps tend to be quite large in size for the given volume of capacitance involved. As such, one can eat up a good amount of internal volume within the cabinet if using gobs of "exotics". This can end up detuning the bass alignment somewhat, so one may have to play with adding additional damping material in the cabinet in order to achieve similar box volumes. That is, ADDING damping material makes the box seem bigger internally, not the other way around.

One more thing. Many "exotic" caps tend to have very long legs on them. These legs tend to ring or resonate quite badly. If one doubts this, loosely hold the body of the cap and "flick" the extended lead of the cap with your finger. Chances are, you'll not only feel the cap body shake quite a bit, but a very metalic ringing will be heard quite loudly. As such, you always want to keep the leads as short as possible AND damp them as they go into the body of the cap.

Since the leads are shorter going into the cap, there will be more heat transfer as connections are made using a soldering iron, so i recommend using some type of "clip on" heatsink device between the connecting point and the body of the cap. Something as simple as an alligator clip can work quite well.

One more thing. Before replacing older caps with newer "exotic caps", gradually bring the new caps up to rated voltage with a variable voltage power supply. Let them sit for a day or two and then check their voltages. If a cap has dropped down in voltage quite a bit, it needs further forming. Apply more voltage and re-check in a few days. If it is still losing voltage at a high rate, that cap may not be worth installing as an "upgrade". You may be able to return it to the place of purchase, so you don't want to cut the lead length down until actual installation takes place.

One more thing for sake of safety. After you're all done checking the caps and letting them sit for a few days, ALWAYS discharge them before handling them. A cap can hold quite a bit of energy i.e. enough to scare the hell out of you and / or possibly stop your heart. If you're unskilled in this area, read, learn and find someone nearby with experience to help you.

Using this appoach, the electrical "break-in" period of the new caps forming is drastically reduced. Since the caps were brought up to their rated voltage, or very near it, this is FAR more voltage than they would ever see in an actual loudspeaker circuit. The fact that this voltage remained consisted for a few days and was not just a temporary dynamic swing, like that of a music signal, further stresses and helps form the cap. This reduces both loss in the dielectric and helps it to fully "form".

On top of that, the "metalic ring" that many complain about with some "exotic caps" is reduced / negated. This is due to the damping of the leads at the entrance into the body of the cap. As far as damping material goes, the use of something along the lines of "Blu-tak" or the generic equivalent seems to work well and is easily molded.

Hope this helps and opens some ears / minds. Sean
Vman: I have NO doubt that you experienced massive gains in your Klipsch products after upgrading parts. This was the first brand of speaker / crossover that i experimented with about 20 years ago and it involved their "classic" line of speakers.

There are further gains to be had in damping the horn bodies, sealing the cabinets, replacing existing wiring, changing the type and quantity of stuffing material, etc... Don't know where you're at with any of that, or if it even interests you, but there might be some more food for thought there : ) Sean

Spoken like a true veteran! The things you've mentioned like horn dampening, sealing the cabinets, stuffing material, etc. are things I need to do. I was so impressed with the results of just upgrading the parts that I stopped with the speaker mods and decided to mod my CDP with better caps, diodes, internal silver wire, easy power supply tweak, and chasis dampening.

CDP mod results were even more impressive! Now I want to do the same to all my gear!

Thanks for always having great advice & ideas and sharing them.


You bring up a really good point about the sensitivity of the speaker and it's relationship to responding to crossover upgrades. A great perspective I didn't think about, probably because I haven't yet upgrade any speaker crossover networks that have a low sensitivity.

How many of us either
1) have actually seen with our eyes, the Xover in our speakers
2) know the brands of the parts used, and if its "run-of-the-mill" cheapis or best that money can buy.
I just looked at Madisounds web, and there seems to be from cheap to expensive. Hopefully we do not pay $$$ for a speaker and they are using cheapo parts. Its rare thata lab tells you what parts they use.
We need to take this hooby to a new level. Labs need to be forthcoming as to parts used. I want to know what I'm paying for, don't you?
Labs accountants/owners "lets see i can order 5K of this capacitor for $5/each...thats ...$25K...or I can oder this cap at $40 each, thats....$200K....I think I'll get the $5 cap. Who's gonna know the difference anyway..."
I'm afriad this takes place more often than not.
Like i said earlier, some of the crossovers i've seen were enough to make one want to either laugh, cry or at least shake their head in disbelief.

As far as sensitivity being a major portion of the revelatory importance of such upgrades and differences, i don't necessarily find that to be true. Many of the models that i've performed crossover surgery on were low to moderate efficiency designs. The results there were just as good ( if not better ) than with high efficiency designs.

Part of this may have to do with the fact that most high efficiency designs are bandwidth limited. As such, even if one were to modify and improve the crossover in such a design, the drivers themselves may not have the bandwidth to take full advantage of such mods. Minimizing signal losses and distortions are most beneficial when the drivers themselves are linear enough to reveal such changes and wide enough in bandwidth to reveal the full potential.

Besides all of that, lower efficiency designs can also benefit from the reduction in series losses from crossover upgrades. As noted above, electrolytic caps are FAR more lossy than various types of "exotic" caps. On top of that, high efficiency designs are already pretty responsive to input levels and dynamic shifts. As such, the further gains from reducing internal losses aren't as dramatic with them as compared to lower efficiency designs, where small gains become more noticeable.

Part of this could be due to the typically higher parts count in the crossovers of lower efficiency designs. Lower efficiency designs typically have more parts and more of those parts tend to be electrolytics. More parts upgraded and improved results in a greater overall percentage of improvements. Sean
definatley the more complex with higher slope designs, the more expensive and lesser sound to be had per dollar.
Undertow: I think that we are thinking along the same lines, but expressing it in different ways.

While you are saying that more complex crossover designs limit the sonic potential of the system as a whole, and i tend to agree, i'm saying that these designs can be the most responsive to parts upgrades.

Think of fixing a ton of leaks in a boat verses fixing just a few leaks. Obviously, the boat ( or system ) with the least amount of "leaks" ( losses ) would be ideal, but we can't always start there ( or even end up there ). As such, turning 10 gaping holes into the equivalent of what might amount to 3 tiny leaks via the reduction of losses brought about by parts upgrades can obviously make for a very worthwhile approach to improving one's sound and system.

Granted, we still aren't perfectly sealed with some losses taking place, but the before and after results will still be quite evident and speak for themselves when all is said and done.

I say this because it is hard to achieve wide dynamic range, smooth response, high spl's and wide bandwidth simultaneously with very simple designs. As such, some folks "wanting to have it all" have gone the route of more complex speaker designs. They should not be discouraged from trying to upgrade those speakers themselves simply because they have a higher parts count and / or may be more complex to work on. Because of that higher parts count, it becomes even more important to use the best parts that one can afford in order to minimize the damage that the greater quantity of parts does.

As such, keeping it simple is a great rule of thumb. Unfortunately, you can't always keep things simple and achieve ALL of the results that one desires. Trade-off's are involved in most everything that we do, so the key is to keep things balanced and try to keep moving forward. In that respect, i think that we can all agree on one thing for a change : ) Sean
Sean, I see what you are saying. I agree, also just to clarify I was simply trying to keep it more 'well more simple I guess. I was also more or less just stating that the simpler design in the crossover might have the quicker and more apparent results being able to afford and replace 5 or 6 parts that would be the total crossover, vs. hitting or missing on pulling only a couple Caps in a 14 part - 20 part crossover and hoping for absolute results. But to be honest most of the stuff I ever did was I believe 1st order replacements, but I think my Jm labs from memory were a good 10 or 12 part and were like a 12 or 18 db slope, so second or third order, and I still replaced all the parts with excellent results, but could not comment on just putting in a new hi pass cap or something alone, which yes might have had just as much effect, but I figured money to burn and if I had to tear it apart just spend the extra and do it in one shot. Its all simply putting your money where your mouth is in the end and hearing it especially if you are very familure with your speakers sound you will notice a difference for good or bad, that statement is not directed to anyone specific just a general thought that I follow now cause internet chat boards will not tell the story till you experience it.
I am just completing the process of upgrading my crossover in my Dunlavy IVa speakers. I intend to write a full review of the research I did, and how I chose which components to replace as well as the sonic results.

As a quick summary Dunlavy used an all first order crossover design; that certainly does not guarantee less parts. The bass crossover has four capacitors, one resistor and four inductors. The treble/mid-range crossover section has six resistors, four capacitors and one inductor. The critical path components were determined to be two capacitors (one tweeter and one mid-range), two resistors (again one and one) and two inductors (one mid-range and one bass). The tweeter has no inductor in it's circuit.

I chose to buy very high end components for these circuits believing the added cost was in terms of this hobby fairly cheep when I consider I could get the best available for say an extra $500.

The results are not jaw dropping stunning, but they are definitely worth the investment in time and money. SMOOOOTH is the best word to describe the silky clean sound. I am using the visual description of resolution to describe the improvement. As if I changed the resolution on my computer from a lower setting to the highest, and changed the color from 256 to 1 million. All the same information is present but the picture is so much more appealing and detailed.

I will be writing a full review of the process as an educational tool as well as some praise for the excellent product and service I received from Duelund Coherent Audio. World class!

Jade, truth is that is a lot of parts like you said, and might take longer to settle in and then bigger changes will occur. When I did my last pair they sounded more efficient having to use less power to drive at first but sounded a little restricted in terms of they just were not loose yet, but this took about 2 months and then they really opened up and sounded like 5 ft deeper soundstage etc.. So see how it goes, I mostly have heard big changes in 2 way designs, I believe you have a 3 way and thats why you have an abundance of parts vs. a 2 way 1st order network.
JD: I wish that you would have mentioned doing this sometime previously. Gradually bringing the voltage up to or very near the rated voltage on the caps allows them to fully form prior to installation. This drastically reduces break-in time, allowing one to see what the speakers can do far sooner with mucy more uniform performance. I would have been glad to either have done this for you with your caps or lent you a power supply. Then again, some folks don't feel comfortable playing around with multiple hundreds of volts : )

Either way, i'm glad that you're getting the results that you desired and you found this to be a worthwhile investment. Sean
Some day Sean, some day I will learn to ask you, Bob and Greg for your advise. I have never been real good at that. I am more apt to jump in with both feet tied to rocks and see if I can swim. It has served me well often, but I also have a few flaming blunders in my past. Thank you for your kind offer to help. I will make more of an effort, I do enjoy your help.

JD: I wasn't suggesting that you ( or anyone else ) ask my ( or anyone else's )specific advice on anything. What i was suggesting was that if someone is going to make major changes within their system and / or modify a primary component within their systems, it might be a good idea to ask for comments before doing so. Not only may it help by learning from others experiences, it may also bring about discussions on other subjects that pertain, but may not be directly related to.

This not only keeps the forums interesting due to the variety of subjects that come up, but may also give us more food for thought as to how one change can alter the performance of inter-related components. After all, i think that most of us are after better sound. While changing parts ( as you did ) may provide better sound, why not learn how to implement those changes in the most optimum manner that we as a group can arrive at? Knowing what is involved in such a project before attempting it will typically result in less effort with better results most every time.

We have a great "think tank" here with a lot of various experience at our disposal. Even if we don't always agree, why not use it to all of our advantages? This is why i encourage rebuttal to my posts and the information provided, as i too want to learn from others and better understand other vantage points.

Having said that, i do a LOT of research of my own via the Agon and AA forums. This is not to mention the vast amount of technical info available across the web. Many of the tidbits / items that i share here were culled from information that i learned from various posts / resources available to me. Granted, not every source is 100% factual and / or scientifically verifiable, hence the necessity for us to use our own brains and sort through what pertains to our individual situations and what doesn't.

Either way, i'm glad that things worked out well for you. I hope that you took this as intended i.e. a general offer to help a "regular" contributor to these forums. After all, if this hobby / industry is to continue moving forward, it will only do so by the efforts that we as a group can muster and share. Sean
Sean, this is an excellent thought. I too have a desire to have everyone's ideas and learn as a group. I think sometimes I avoid this step simply tiring of the off color contributors. I have not been a real patient member in this regard, and often leave the site because of it. This is my personal problem, not the sites problem.

This remains my favorite place to hang, I guess I have just become reluctant to become involved in open ended forums where learning is not always the goal of those posting. In specifics I was hoping to avoid the comments like "Parts do not matter, Why waste your time with THOSE speakers? THOSE capacitors are simply over priced hype..."

As I said this is my problem I have struggled with over the years here. This topic is worth a full research and I agree I would have learned more.

As always Sean my friend, I have never taken offence by any comment you have made towards me, you my friend are class A.

To those with experience, is there any advantage to moving the crossover outside the speaker's cabinet?
Dbld, This is a very good question. The short answer is yes. If you are to consider the improvements made on solid state electronics from isolation cones, bearings and shelf material then certainly the vibration filled environment of a speaker is worse. Many people have claimed very large improvements with an outboard crossover, but I have not yet tried this.

I have been considering building an outboard wood box for my crossover that would have binding posts for the speaker cable, and then using another set of binding posts for each of the three drives. (tweeter, mid-ranges and woofers) The speaker would then have yet another set of posts for each driver. The reason for this clumsy setup would be for experimenting with different wire types, gauges and configurations to optimize the sonics. I could for instance use solid gold for the tweeter (I have found gold is perfect) and some combination of wire types and gauges for the mid-range and then maybe silver for the woofer. I figure if speaker cables make such a difference, than I should discover the best wire for each driver.

The point would be to tune the speakers with short affordable wire. If I discovered an affordable combination I could the re-wire those drives based on the results of this experiment.

I expect to try this out over the winter, so if anyone has thoughts...

I found that it works well.. But can't say direct comparison wise, because fact is the only reason I have had to move them out of the cabinet was physically if your gonna use the Best parts available they are literaly 5 times the size of a cheap computer grade board and parts in most of these designs... For example, I did a pair for a friend, they had about 5" X 3.5" x 1.5" boards that maybe weighed 1 lb or so.. Well the EXACT same values of caps, Inductors, Resistors etc.. Of the highest quality we could get our hands on took up a minimum board of 12"(1 ft) X 9", and had to take up about 5" Height on top of it.. So we had to move them to a dedicated cabinet that with those parts weighed about 12 lbs... They were decent sized Cubes for sure.

Even if you have the space to fit such a huge difference in size you could probably knock the speaker out of Volume specs for the drivers if they share a chamber with it. Just a point to make, but I keep it safe if your gonna do an actual upgrade then build them outside for ease of everything, and yes maybe vibration control will be an added benefit, but just pulling them out for fun, I don't know, I would probably not mess with it.
JD - be careful how much you play with the internal guts and wiring. I have been advised that even changing from a slide-on spade connector at a driver to straight soldering could change the impedance characteristics of that driver, and therefore alter the way the crossover was intended to work by shifting what it passes either up or down or widening it range too much.

Disclaimer - the above statement may make it sound like I know what I am talking about, but I assure you that I do not. I am just regurgitating what a very reliable source had told me.

Perhaps Sean could elaborate with more credibility.
JD proposes to
experiment(...) with different wire types, gauges and configurations to optimize the sonics
Actually that can as much fun as it is frustrating:) As you are very thorough, patient and persistant, I don't doubt you'll get optimum results.
Much of the frustration IME came from playing with guages (I gave up on playing with different matls and used single core copper, twisted of course): thinner wire for the tweet--> better hi-frequency BUT also increased resistance... so, there goes my xover point (& amplitude & power response patterns). The differences are slight mind you, but in the tweet's case for example, 1 measured 1db down in amplitude response. Fortunately, I had a L-pad on the tweet that, amazingly, helped out beautifully.
Dbld: Most commercial designs are SOOOO far from being electrically optimized that just covering the basics i.e. better connections, better conductors, shorter signal path, etc... will almost always introduce better sonics. Parts tolerances and methods of construction vary so much from unit to unit ( in most cases ) that the small amount of error / variance that a "tweaker" may introduce becomes negligible in the grander scheme of things.

Obviously, as one gets into more precisely designed componentry, what would normally be considered a "subtle" change might manifest itself to greater degree. This is why i recommend keeping maintaining a log with diagrams PRIOR to doing any mods, so as to document what goes where and how each change alters the performance. If one wants to obtain greater precision and detail, they have to be more precise and pay attention to details. Sean