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Design Acoustics D8 who knew?!


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Got these on trade a while ago.  Until that point I had never heard of Design Acoustics and they intrigued me.  The seemingly haphazard placement of the mids and tweeters (all Peerless) contradicted the heavy, well built and beautifully finished cabinets.  The two 10” rear firing woofers should produced good bottom end... 

All 9 drivers appeared to be working, and while they had potential, they weren’t great compared to my AR9LSIs or my Heathkit AS1348s.  

I decided to open them up for a look see.  I desoldered a few of the caps and they metered way out.  I re-capped them and they sounded even worse...

I chalked it up to a poor trade (I traded a set of 10pi for them) and pushed them to the back.  Off and on over the last few months they have seen duty but it’s been limited.  

The other day I put them back into rotation and they seemed to sound really good.  I settled in for a critical listening session.  Over the next 3 hours they continued to sound better and better.  I’ve never heard such a drastic change as the caps burn in before.

Eventually I had to A/B them with my AR9LSIs.  I was shocked to hear how good they sounded compared to my LSIs!  With soft jazz, horns and vocals they are the best speakers I’ve heard.  In that category they surpass the LSIs.  They don’t have the signature AR bottom end bass but, they are certainly no slouch either.  The down side is it is painful to listen to anything but the most pristine vinyl.  Every pop, and crackle sounds front and center.  

They will not replace my 9s, but they won’t be going anywhere soon either...

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Hi Scoup. I have only recently become familiar with DA speakers, too - - in fact, I began a thread here a few months ago about some model D-4 speakers that came my way. With the exception of that dome tweeter, your front drivers (all Peerless?) look similar to what's in the D-4, but I'd love to see pics of your woofers, if possible. Also, am curious about the crossover cap value for that 5" midrange driver.

Your story about the performance evaluation is pretty strange, but at least they are now providing some very satisfying results. 

DA speakers are not all that common, but the model D-8 seems to be an especially rare bird. This may not read all that well, but here is a 1973 article by designer George Sioles on omnidirection. Also, a brief listing of DA models from a 1977 buyer's guide.

George Sioles omnidirectional.jpg

DA models 1977.jpg

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On 6/25/2019 at 12:30 PM, ra.ra said:

I'd love to see pics of your woofers, if possible. Also, am curious about the crossover cap value for that 5" midrange driver.

I’ll have to see if I’ve still got my list for the value of the caps..  I did find this pic on my phone...  hmmmmm, photo does not want to load.

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  • 1 month later...

I have a set of d-8 speakers myself. I am going to start restoring them soon as the mid ranges are not in good shape and some capacitors appear to be blown out on one of the speakers control boards.  Anyone have any idea what kind of mid range I should get to replace the current ones??  They are really good sounding speakers as is. I love these things. Just need to bring them back to original condition. 

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2 hours ago, Justin said:

Anyone have any idea what kind of mid range.......?

Hi Justin, and welcome to the forum. It will be most helpful to show some pics of the midrange drivers and explain what might be wrong with them. Also, some pics of the crossover panels or other caps may be useful to a future restorer .

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  • 2 months later...

I’m the one lucky enough to acquire this pair of Design Acoustics D-8 from Scoup. He is right they are amazing. And in great shape too. I auditioned them at his home originally and they sounded great.  I got them home and, wow.  My comparators are pretty good in their own right, Yamaha NS—1000Ms and AR11s. 

The D-8 are very well balanced. There is solid even punchy bass which surprised me. The sound field is amazing. I’m still adjusting but currently I have them 6 inches from the wall in a corner and they sound significantly better than the Yamahas which lack on the bass side in comparison.  The ARs are closer but don’t have the complex sound field. These project very well. 
 

These D-8‘s are pretty incredible. Hard to find a lot of details on them from actual owners though. Does anyone else out there besides the Justin in the above string have any?

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On 8/13/2019 at 6:22 PM, Justin said:

I have a set of d-8 speakers myself. I am going to start restoring them soon....

 

10 hours ago, prairieboy said:

Hard to find a lot of details on them...

Welcome to the forum, prairieboy, and am pleased to hear your favorable impressions of these speakers. The D-8's are pretty rare, and it is difficult to find much info on this model. My suggestion to both of you is to contact a member on the Audiokarma forum who goes by the name "stickman" - - he used to work in the original factory in Torrance, CA in the 70's and is the go-to source for information on the original DA lineup of speaker models. I have had some extensive correspondence with him regarding some DA D-4's, and he has always been very helpful and gracious. 

 

 

 

 

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On 10/23/2019 at 9:02 AM, ra.ra said:

 

Welcome to the forum, prairieboy, and am pleased to hear your favorable impressions of these speakers. The D-8's are pretty rare, and it is difficult to find much info on this model. My suggestion to both of you is to contact a member on the Audiokarma forum who goes by the name "stickman" - - he used to work in the original factory in Torrance, CA in the 70's and is the go-to source for information on the original DA lineup of speaker models. I have had some extensive correspondence with him regarding some DA D-4's, and he has always been very helpful and gracious. 

 

 

 

 

Thank you! I contacted stickman and he has been very helpful. A very nice guy. It sure seems these speakers are unique and were almost custom made in a limited run. Still remain very impressed with them. 

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Hey, I'm real pleased to hear that you made the effort to contact stickman, and I was pretty certain he could be helpful. If you have any additional information on these speakers that you wish to share, this is a great place to post it for posterity or further discussion. 

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I’ve had a few pms with stickman about D-8 s and Design Acoustic in general. With his permission I will post the highights here in a couple posts. 
 

About the D8:

“The D-8's were probably the best sounding speaker system ever made by the original Design Acoustics (better than the D-12 or D-12A). The midrange and tweeter drivers used on the front panel were superior to those used in the D-6 models and the dual woofers allowed for much higher volume levels at a lower level of distortion. Not that many D-8's were made or sold due to their substantially higher price (and cabinet height) compared to the D-6 which was priced at a "sweet spot" for most buyers at the kinds of stereo store where D-A speakers were sold. Again the caveat is that the rear firing woofers make room placement critical to get a proper sound balance out of them, but it will be worth the effort to do so.

The design philosophy was to intentionally create a somewhat diffuse sound field so ideas like "stereo imaging ability" used with conventional speakers with all drivers in the same plane on a front baffle don't apply to the D-8. The sound presentation is "different" from a conventional speaker but not in a bad way. The D-8's may take a bit of getting used to but once you are .


”Don't expect the D-8's to be as accurate as the NS-1000M's, but they will stand their ground! (lol)

The D-8's would need to be at least 6 inches from the rear wall and possibly more, and the nearer they are to a corner the more emphasized the bass will be. The designer was not going for deep bass on any of the D-A speaker models but rather efficiency and reasonable bass extension.

Two things to look out for: 1.) The grilles become brittle with age and will crack around the edges where the retaining outer edges are located. The grilles are perforated plastic with grill cloth glued on which could be easily and safely removed when new as the plastic was pliable but it does tend to get stiff and brittle over time and no replacements are available (unless by some miracle a nice pair were ever to show up on eBay and I never see D-8's on eBay). 2.) The Peerless sealed back midrange driver used had a foam surround which does disintegrate over time, but they are such nice drivers they are well worth the expense of re-foaming if that becomes”

” They are an unknown speaker because so few of them were ever made and sold, so their extremely limited numbers will always mean they are a rare speaker that few people have ever heard. I don't think I've ever seen a pair for sale on Ebay and I've been checking the Design Acoustics listing for years.

A couple of years ago there was a fair condition pair (woofers needed re-foamed, no grilles, scuffed up cabinets) being offered here on Craigslist in the Los Angeles and Orange County area with the listing saying Design Acoustic. They started at around $ 400 for the pair and kept dropping it until I went to check and they were offering to give them away for free! I responded to the ad but they were already long gone by then. I have no room for a pair of speakers that size but for free I still would have brought them home! (lol)

Another rare, low production volume D-A model worth owning is the 12 sided D-12A model which was produced near the very end of the original D-A company's existence. The D-12 models could be mounted on a pedestal or hung from the ceiling and the final A designated models sounded much better than the standard D-12's as they used a different driver complement. Of all D-12's ever made I would guess the D-12A's to be a tiny percentage of the total.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Design Acoustics:

”The founder of D-A George Sioles was a really cool guy who designed some unique and good sounding speakers in the 1970's and anything I can do to keep that legacy alive is my pleasure. George was an acoustical engineer that worked at the Mattel toy company in the 1960's who designed and built the first pair of D-12's for himself in his garage as a project. Everyone that came to his house and heard the D-12's wanted George to build them a pair and that is how D-A was born. Once George decided to go all in he quit his job at Mattel and D-A thrived through the early to late 1970's. By the late 1970's sales began to decline and by 1979 the closing of D-A's single biggest customer, the Cal-Stereo chain in So. California, meant D-A was no longer economically viable. George sold the company, and most importantly the respected brand name, to phono cartridge manufacturer Audio Technica around 1980 who carried over nothing product wise from the original company. A-T opened a factory in Stowe, Ohio making their in-house designed P-S Point Source series of models that sold extremely well in the 1980's. I have never heard a P-S series model in person but reviews on AK have been favorable.

One thing that made the original D-A viable in the 1970's was the fact George Sioles became a personal friend of Julian Hirsch who wrote loudspeaker reviews for:Stereo Review magazine. The two most popular stereo equipment magazines in the 1970's were Stereo Review and High Fidelity and Julian wrote extremely positive reviews about Design Acoustics speakers partially in exchange for D-A doing a fair amount of advertising in Stereo Review almost exclusively.

Three things that helped lead to the demise of the original D-A were: 1.) George was completely satisfied with his original speaker designs and saw no reason to upgrade or change them over the years until the final couple of years in the late 1970's as sales began to falter, but by then it was too late,, 2.) The 1970's were a stereo equipment crazy decade with new speaker manufacturers coming out of the woodwork causing increased competition for established brands., 3.) D-A was always a small company with limited production and distribution capabilities and when the dominant customer Cal-Stereo quit buying speakers and went out of business, it pretty much took D-A down with it.

After the sale of the company around 1980 I've been told George didn't last very long and passed away even though he wasn't that old, probably due to cancer or a heart attack like most men in that age bracket, but I don't have any actual details. I found this out when I ran into D-A Production Manager Doug Smith years later and was very much saddened to hear of it. It was a fun place to work and I'm glad I had the opportunity during my college years of the late 1970's to be part of it as a part-time employee.”

 

 A personal thank you to stickman from me for his openness and help. He is now for posterity sake, the only “ I was there” historian I have found for this very unique and acoustically stunning brand. My D-8 s continue to amaze me. Thank you stickman. 

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9 hours ago, prairieboy said:

A personal thank you to stickman from me....

Ditto from me.

That sounds just like the sort of information that stickman was generous enough to share with me, and I appreciate you both sharing it again here in such detail.

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  • 2 months later...
On 10/22/2019 at 9:30 PM, prairieboy said:

I’m the one lucky enough to acquire this pair of Design Acoustics D-8 from Scoup. He is right they are amazing. And in great shape too. I auditioned them at his home originally and they sounded great.  I got them home and, wow.  My comparators are pretty good in their own right, Yamaha NS—1000Ms and AR11s. 

The D-8 are very well balanced. There is solid even punchy bass which surprised me. The sound field is amazing. I’m still adjusting but currently I have them 6 inches from the wall in a corner and they sound significantly better than the Yamahas which lack on the bass side in comparison.  The ARs are closer but don’t have the complex sound field. These project very well. 
 

These D-8‘s are pretty incredible. Hard to find a lot of details on them from actual owners though. Does anyone else out there besides the Justin in the above string have any?

I have a beautiful pair taking up room in my garage in California, contemplating selling. Time has taken its toll on the midrange speakers of course..I am the original owner. I used to sell these for Cal Stereo...back in the day.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/22/2019 at 9:30 PM, prairieboy said:

I’m the one lucky enough to acquire this pair of Design Acoustics D-8 from Scoup. He is right they are amazing. And in great shape too. I auditioned them at his home originally and they sounded great.  I got them home and, wow.  My comparators are pretty good in their own right, Yamaha NS—1000Ms and AR11s. 

The D-8 are very well balanced. There is solid even punchy bass which surprised me. The sound field is amazing. I’m still adjusting but currently I have them 6 inches from the wall in a corner and they sound significantly better than the Yamahas which lack on the bass side in comparison.  The ARs are closer but don’t have the complex sound field. These project very well. 
 

These D-8‘s are pretty incredible. Hard to find a lot of details on them from actual owners though. Does anyone else out there besides the Justin in the above string have any?

I just picked up a pair from a Goodwill for $50 in awesome shape. They sound so sweet!!

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  • 5 months later...

I purchased my D8's in 1980, I auditioned over a hundred pairs of speakers,  the best available at that time. (Being military I spent days in BX sound rooms listening to speakers and matching.  While using different  driving combinations, Nakamichi, Yamaha, Sansui, Pioneer, Technics, and far more. Speakers JBL, Altec, AR , Klipsch, Snell, Infinity, and most of what everyone today drools over. The only pair of speakers that accurately reproduced the TELARC version of  Tchaikovsky's 1812th overture was the D8's. They were not not shrill and those (yes) small 10 inch woofers did not buckle....... I was amazed. The Altec VOTT's (I have a set) buckled. The infinty RSII's had real problems. AR7's again failed. In 1980 Design Acoustics was being sold to ADC and I purchased the last set of D9's they had in stock. ( if you were paying attention) You noticed D8's and D9's,  sometime in 1979/1981 time frame one driver was  added and the speaker grill cover was changed. I have a set of D8's and a set D9's. They perform beautifully 40 years later. I have yet to find a set of speakers for under $10,000.00 that would match them.  For those that need to know your D8/9s should be placed about 2 feet from a wall and be allowed the "breathing" around them. (more knowledge as I carried a head shell with a Stanton 881S with D81 Stylus, and the Telarc album all over the pacific  and California while I listening to speakers ( at that time only the shure v15 4 and the stanton 881s could track that album) My D8s and D9s are being driven by a Pioneer Sx 1980, which I also purchased at that time. LOVE THOSE DESIGN ACOUSTIC D8'S AND D9'S.......

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  • 3 months later...
On 8/13/2019 at 6:22 PM, Justin said:

I have a set of d-8 speakers myself. I am going to start restoring them soon as the mid ranges are not in good shape and some capacitors appear to be blown out on one of the speakers control boards.  Anyone have any idea what kind of mid range I should get to replace the current ones??  They are really good sounding speakers as is. I love these things. Just need to bring them back to original condition. 

I have a set of the D8s and cant get the wiring correct on the inside, any help or inside pics would greatly be appreciated 

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On 8/28/2020 at 10:05 PM, turbinetwister said:

I purchased my D8's in 1980, I auditioned over a hundred pairs of speakers,  the best available at that time. (Being military I spent days in BX sound rooms listening to speakers and matching.  While using different  driving combinations, Nakamichi, Yamaha, Sansui, Pioneer, Technics, and far more. Speakers JBL, Altec, AR , Klipsch, Snell, Infinity, and most of what everyone today drools over. The only pair of speakers that accurately reproduced the TELARC version of  Tchaikovsky's 1812th overture was the D8's. They were not not shrill and those (yes) small 10 inch woofers did not buckle....... I was amazed. The Altec VOTT's (I have a set) buckled. The infinty RSII's had real problems. AR7's again failed. In 1980 Design Acoustics was being sold to ADC and I purchased the last set of D9's they had in stock. ( if you were paying attention) You noticed D8's and D9's,  sometime in 1979/1981 time frame one driver was  added and the speaker grill cover was changed. I have a set of D8's and a set D9's. They perform beautifully 40 years later. I have yet to find a set of speakers for under $10,000.00 that would match them.  For those that need to know your D8/9s should be placed about 2 feet from a wall and be allowed the "breathing" around them. (more knowledge as I carried a head shell with a Stanton 881S with D81 Stylus, and the Telarc album all over the pacific  and California while I listening to speakers ( at that time only the shure v15 4 and the stanton 881s could track that album) My D8s and D9s are being driven by a Pioneer Sx 1980, which I also purchased at that time. LOVE THOSE DESIGN ACOUSTIC D8'S AND D9'S.......

I have a set of D8s and need inside wiring pics please! Any help would be greatly appreciated as I am dieing to listen t ok these bad boys, thank you

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Hey everyone.  I wrote a reply on this forum last year sometime about my d-8s. Unfortunately I had a fire in my home and lost them due to water and smoke damage.  I was planning to restore them right before this all happened.  I really loved the way the speakers sounded even with drivers that were falling apart. 
 

I was wondering if anyone still had a set for sale by chance?  I would like to buy another pair to replace the ones I lost.  It would also make my dad happy to see them again as he had them since they were brand new.  If anyone has any or information please let me know!  Thanks, Justin. 

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  • 4 months later...
1 hour ago, Greg Medeiros said:

I am the original owner of a pair of pristine Design Acoustics D-8's. I've just recently rebuilt the midrange speakers and am looking for a serious buyer out here in California. Anyone interested? 

Hi Greg, I messaged you!  

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