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Howard Ferstler's second AV system

Howard Ferstler

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The system here is the smaller one of the two I have at the house. The bigger one already has a description and photo spread on this site.

While the left and right main speakers are not fully Allison items, they do make use of some Allison components. The 6.5-inch woofer at the bottom of each unit was made by the company, and the two tweeters in each of those left and right speakers are Allison RDL models. The midrange drivers and Tang Band 4.5 inchers, with phase plugs. (Roy has explained to me that phase plugs improve dispersion.) I had hoped to use the same RDL drivers that Roy put in the AV-1 minispeaker, but I discovered that while the RDL drivers work fine with a 2 kHz crossover point, they are not suitable for the 4 kHz point I wanted with my home-built speakers. The TB units work just fine, and they also reach down to the 400 Hz woofer/mid crossover point just fine, too. The crossover network is my own design, with polyswitches protecting each driver section and the smaller caps being polypropylene types for a long life. The sides, top, and bottom of the cabinets are solid pine, with the front and back panels being mdf. There are actually two enclosures in the box, with the woofer having the one at the bottom and the mids having the one at the top.

The center speaker is a hybrid, too. It is basically an NHT VS1.2 MTM driver center speaker, turned on end and installed in a floor-standing enclosure. The lower section is sealed, and contains a downward facing 6.5-inch Allison woofer. There is also a modified Allison passive subwoofer crossover network in that box, and it shunts signals above 180 Hz to the NHT system and signals below that point to the woofer.

Bass below 90 Hz is electronically routed to the Hsu Research VTF-3 MK3 subwoofer to the right of the center bookcase. Two modified Radio Shack minispeakers are in the upper left and right corners (modified, in that they have RS woofers and Allison tweeters and modified Allison crossovers), and they are fed by the front "effects" outputs of a Yamaha DSP-A1 integrated surround amp. (The amp also contains the subwoofer crossover network.) The normal (side/rear) surround speakers are Allison Model Fours (I use four such speakers in my main system; they make excellent surrounds) that are out of the picture.

The audio part of the system has four inputs: video sound from the 56-inch Samsung TV, a Panasonic DVD/VCR recorder, an Onkyo DVD player, and a top-line Pioneer laserdisc player (I still have 40 or so laserdiscs in my software collection). Two Rane THX-22 stereo equalizers EQ the three front channels (one of the equalizer channels is unused). The wide room shot shows the equipment rack off to the left before I downsized it to the form shown in the individual shot of the rack.

This is a good system and I think my left and right main systems can hold their own with many fine store-bought brands, including some produced by Allison.

PS: the stuffed bear collection belongs to my wife.

Howard Ferstler

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Nice systems, both.

Several things stand out:

1. I presume you made the speaker cabinets, since you took the opportunity to point out your woodshop visible through the window of the other room. Good-looking cabs, very professional. Did you make grilles also?

2. Tang Band makes some intriguing drivers. I've not used these particular units--do you like them?

3. It's apparent that you're very close to Roy Allison. Is that how you came to have so many 'extra' Allison drivers to use?

4. It's a pleasure to see a real "grown-up's" system, one (or in your case, two) that takes into account the fact that you live in a real house, with real decorating/aesthetic considerations. I love this hobby and I love this gear, and I love trying out new items and restoring old units. But....I have no "hobbyist/junk room" and every unit I have that gets used is part of our actual house and blends in just beautifully into the overall scheme of things. I haven't had that wild "wires everywhere" look since my bachelor days in my first apartment, more years ago than I'm willing to admit.....

Steve F.

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