Kain
Hi Mark,

I found out on the Home Theater Shack forum that you recently made improvements to the tweeters of your speakers. Could you highlight what the improvements are?

Link to post: http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/home-audio-speakers/165570-seaton-sound-catalysts-submersive.html#post1555714

Thanks
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hifiaudio2
And the new coaxial that is mentioned in the specs now... . any details on both of these improvements?

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Stereodude
Is there any way for existing owners to upgrade their Catalysts or do amps (DSP) need to be reprogrammed also?
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Mark_Seaton
Kain wrote:
Hi Mark,

I found out on the Home Theater Shack forum that you recently made improvements to the tweeters of your speakers. Could you highlight what the improvements are?

Link to post: http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/home-audio-speakers/165570-seaton-sound-catalysts-submersive.html#post1555714

Thanks


hifiaudio2 wrote:
And the new coaxial that is mentioned in the specs now... . any details on both of these improvements?


These are referencing the same upgrade to the new 8" coaxial we use.  This is the same coaxial we are using in the new Spark models.  The upgrade to the Catalyst comes from a combination of improving the geometry of the high frequency waveguide inside the new driver (behind the dust cap), and how this change allowed me to better optimize the DSP crossover & overall frequency response.

The improvements with the new version of our 8" coaxial are most significant above ~2kHz where the further off axis response is much more uniform and stays in better balance with the on axis response.  Over 10 years time measuring and setting up the Catalyst models in various spaces I have a good grasp on what they do so well, and what aspects could become tricky to get the sound I want.  This is largely related to the realities of room acoustics and the speaker's interaction with them.

The biggest real-world advantage will be an in-room behavior that is easier for the room-correction systems like Audyssey, ARC & Dirac to correct effectively.  The original Catalyst design is voiced very nicely in the upper frequencies on its own, but I often found that room correction systems tried to correct some narrow irregularities making the sound more forward or strained.  In systems which allowed editing of the target curve, keeping the system from over-correcting what was measured quickly restored the more natural voicing of the speakers.  The more reflective the room, the more this was an issue.  Along with smoothing the off axis response of the tweeter, the upgrade also noticeably widens the high frequency response above 8-10kHz.  There were some benefits on axis with the original design, but the new 8" coaxial allows much wider high frequency response for a net gain where previous alternates I had tested always left too many other compromises.

In subjective listening, the speaker sounds more balanced at higher frequencies in more rooms from the start, and the wider high frequency extension makes some obvious improvements in spaciousness and sound staging both in music and movie use. It delivers what the original Catalyst did so well over a nice size window on-axis and extends it much further.  Where the original Catalyst could still deliver very even dialog across multiple rows of seating and wide rows, the update extends more of the high frequency detail and sparkle to a wider area, while making the speaker even easier to set up in-room.  Please keep in mind that when I say easier to set up, I'm speaking in context of my own very high expectations and perfectionist expectations.  Many owners who have heard a starting point calibration vs after I'm done with the fine tuning will comment that they didn't know it could get even better.  The idea is to make it easier for more owners to achieve that "even better" result. [smile]
Mark Seaton
Seaton Sound, Inc.
sales@seatonsound.net
773-290-8436
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Mark_Seaton
Stereodude wrote:
Is there any way for existing owners to upgrade their Catalysts or do amps (DSP) need to be reprogrammed also?


I will be working out an upgrade option.  The kit will be available this summer, not long after Axpona.

Being a new coaxial driver this does require shipping the amplifier back for re-programming, but the swap is a matter of replacing some wiring (no soldering), re-locating a board secured by 2 screws, and screwing a new back on the mid-chamber.  All that's needed is a Philips head driver and a 5mm hex bit/driver.  By the time it's all packed up with gasketing applied, wire harnesses prepped, etc, etc, required to make for a quick and straight forward swap, I expect the upgrade to be around $500 and we'll have to work out a trip back to our location for the amplifier reprogramming.
Mark Seaton
Seaton Sound, Inc.
sales@seatonsound.net
773-290-8436
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Stereodude
Mark_Seaton wrote:
...I expect the upgrade to be around $500 and we'll have to work out a trip back to our location for the amplifier reprogramming.

$500 per Catalyst 12C speaker?
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Mark_Seaton
Stereodude wrote:

$500 per Catalyst 12C speaker?


Correct.  As most owners have 3 there will probably be some savings with shipping and packing everything up, but as I haven't gone though the cost of the required, CNC'd, new mid chamber cover and associated wiring, I don't want to estimate too low, and that's still a fraction of the cost to sell and replace such a speaker with anything comparable.
Mark Seaton
Seaton Sound, Inc.
sales@seatonsound.net
773-290-8436
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Stereodude
Mark_Seaton wrote:
Correct.  As most owners have 3 there will probably be some savings with shipping and packing everything up, but as I haven't gone though the cost of the required, CNC'd, new mid chamber cover and associated wiring, I don't want to estimate too low, and that's still a fraction of the cost to sell and replace such a speaker with anything comparable.

So what exactly do we get for ~$500 per speaker?  Amplifier reprogramming and a new CNC'd waveguide that reuses the rest of the existing co-ax driver already in the Cat 12C we already have and a little bit of wiring?  Or did I misunderstand your posts and there's more parts being changed?
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Mark_Seaton

Stereodude wrote:

So what exactly do we get for ~$500 per speaker?  Amplifier reprogramming and a new CNC'd waveguide that reuses the rest of the existing co-ax driver already in the Cat 12C we already have and a little bit of wiring?  Or did I misunderstand your posts and there's more parts being changed?


Yes, it appears you misunderstood that this upgrade uses an entirely new 8" coaxial with a fully neodymium magnet system which allows for the improved geometry for the high frequency section inside the driver.  The frame, cone and screened dustcap are the same, everything else is different.

You get:

  • New neodymium 8" coaxial driver
  • New CNC cut mid chamber cover fitting the new driver and relocating the HF network and landing board.
  • New wiring harness for the tweeter and mid to allow wiring to route through the adjusted mid chamber and required screws/harware
  • Updated mid chamber stuffing to fit the new driver.
  • Completely updated DSP crossover for the new driver (requires reprogramming of DSP at Seaton Sound)
Mark Seaton
Seaton Sound, Inc.
sales@seatonsound.net
773-290-8436
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Stereodude
Mark_Seaton wrote:
Yes, it appears you misunderstood that this upgrade uses an entirely new 8" coaxial with a fully neodymium magnet system which allows for the improved geometry for the high frequency section inside the driver.  The frame, cone and screened dustcap are the same, everything else is different.


You get:

  • New neodymium 8" coaxial driver
  • New CNC cut mid chamber cover fitting the new driver and relocating the HF network and landing board.
  • New wiring harness for the tweeter and mid to allow wiring to route through the adjusted mid chamber and required screws/harware
  • Updated mid chamber stuffing to fit the new driver.
  • Completely updated DSP crossover for the new driver (requires reprogramming of DSP at Seaton Sound)

[redface] Apparently I very much did.  Do we get to keep the old co-ax driver or does that go back to Seaton Sound?
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Mark_Seaton
Stereodude wrote:

[redface] Apparently I very much did.  Do we get to keep the old co-ax driver or does that go back to Seaton Sound?


That estimate does not include returning the original coax leaving you free to do with them what ever you like.
Mark Seaton
Seaton Sound, Inc.
sales@seatonsound.net
773-290-8436
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Stereodude
Mark_Seaton wrote:
That estimate does not include returning the original coax leaving you free to do with them what ever you like.

Okay, thanks for filling in all the missing details and explaining things to us.
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RonParty
Slightly OT.  Mark, have you ever thought of making a speaker with ribbon tweeters?
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Stereodude
RonParty wrote:
Slightly OT.  Mark, have you ever thought of making a speaker with ribbon tweeters?

I won't pretend to speak for Mark, but I would imagine they aren't capable of the SPL levels Mark is after in his products.
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Mark_Seaton

RonParty wrote:
Slightly OT.  Mark, have you ever thought of making a speaker with ribbon tweeters?


I have looked into and done experiments. I have quite the shelf of random tweeters and small drivers that have been used for experiments and or are at the ready if I stumble across the part required to mate with them. This also gives us plenty to grab off the shelf to do quick proofs of concept on certain ideas. I have been reaching to and adding to this shelf/rack a bit more as I keep analyzing the needs and realistic solutions for Atmos and other 3D audio needs, along with developing ideas for a worthwhile step beyond the Catalyst.

Ribbons are most often hindered by having enough balance of low frequency extension and output for their size. Seeing and hearing all the different ways Tom Danley would create sound with his mad-scientist inventions, I learned long ago to not get caught up in the exact method of sound reproduction or type of driver.  It's more a question of how the sound is radiated from the device, and any limitations of the diaphragm or sound creating mechanism.

Straight, tall, line sources seem great in theory, but typically only align with their theoretical ideal over a narrow range, and then have issues of how the speaker behaves below that range. What is quite desirable is a narrower vertical dispersion which is still large enough cover listeners standing or sitting, or even 2-3 rows of seats. This coverage also has to hold for a significant bandwidth, else you get a speaker who's balance is very dependent on the room's acoustics. This generally means keeping a similar pattern or having moderate widening to below 1kHz.  With that goal, you then run into realities of required dimensions.  As a reality check, realize that no matter the shape of a single driver or horn, at 1kHz a 7" tall element or exit can never have narrower than ~90 degrees of vertical pattern. This means that any 7" tall device with a tight 10 degree vertical angle above 5-10kHz will be quickly widening toward 90 degrees through the range down to 1kHz.  The best solutions are to use some combination of a taller device and widening the angle.  Just doubling that angle to 20 degrees makes a huge difference in uniformity of power response as doubling the angle effectively doubles the sound power into the room.

I've experimented with various drivers including ribbons, AMTs, multi-dome combinations, slot exit horn drivers, and even a HF design of my own.  In all likelihood I will pursue something using multiple HF drivers arrayed vertically to produce a narrower vertical than works well with a simple horn but tall enough to cover real world uses, or a driver that creates the similar tall-slot output.  As an example I like what Triad did with their Cinema Reference speakers, but vertical dispersion is a a bit narrow, and while low compared to a dome 2-way, the crossover is still a bit high for the large, 8" midrange drivers which are rather far from the waveguide.  I have a few viable concepts to take to a next stage of prototyping & testing.  That's one of the many reasons I added this fun toy in the tool kit a while back.  That's a 16" x 16" x 21" print area, and since this picture it has been outfitted with a heated bed as well:

[gMax2] 

Mark Seaton
Seaton Sound, Inc.
sales@seatonsound.net
773-290-8436
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FOH
Nice! Good stuff Mark.
You toss out a gem like this and the silence is deafening. If this was posted in a high traffic forum environment we would be pages into the deep end of responses by now. Also, I dig the new toy.
All the best, Kevin
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hifiaudio2
Darn you Mark!  I can already tell you are going to be making me spend big money on speakers again someday soon.

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audioguy
hifiaudio2 wrote:
Darn you Mark!  I can already tell you are going to be making me spend big money on speakers again someday soon.


You could do much worse!!
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RonParty
Mark, thanks for the detailed answer.  You have all the fun, playing with various drivers, amps, x-overs, etc.  One day I hope to be able to visit you in your shop, if for no other reason than to get a glimpse of the toys with which you get to play.
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