Bencat said Hi Bencat. I too am a construction Klutz, and had to get some help from people with equipment and skills to help with... a) Cutting of MDF sheet. (NZ$120) b) Soldering the cross-over. (NZ$60) I could not buy the full kit, but if you did, I think the build would be very much simpler than the process I encountered. There WILL be joinery firms able to do the work for you, but it is really not about that I think. It is about having any budget for new speakers, and also, most importantly of all, is do you actually have any desire to change? If you go to Ivan's place for an audition, you can answer the important question, and if you think the sound quality of his speakers is worth GBP1000, then there are people in UK who build these kits as a sideline for that kind of money. One thing I will say is that Ivan may or may not have the Hivi 8" and Fountek CD3 type version of the S4TL speaker - you should ask him. That is the version I have and it is Ivan's current design for the S4TL using these excellent drivers. I do not have any idea what the designs using older units would sound like. I think you might be hearing a far lesser speaker if you cannot get to hear the newest versions using the new drivers like the S4TLs that I have built.
Hi Everyone, I posted the review hoping to share some of the feelings that I had about this project. I did wonder whether anyone would actually be interested, and as some of you have kindly responded to the post, I will fill in a bit more. I spent a lot of time looking at reviews, and luckily managed to communicate with some of the people who had built S2TL, S4TL and S5TL speakers before. I looked carefully at the drivers and read everything I could about them as used in different applications. The HiVi 8" driver seemed to have a big magnet, and very light but strong cone material, so that boded well for speed. I also have a lot of faith in the reflex/transmission line design, having built some "Daline" (decoupled anti-resonant line) speakers back in the '70s, and owning the TDL RTL2s which though relatively cheap, were pretty good speakers in 1997. It was a bit of risk to take from NZ, as there was no way to listen to these, and there is a lot of added expense getting them here. Nonetheless, we have been richly rewarded. I was advised to build the S4TLs for my size of room, but one of the people who has experienced S2TL, S4TL and S5TL says that perhaps his favourite is the S2TL - it is all about room size apparently. We do not have much spare cash in our lives, and this project was sanctioned by our wives as something we could do if we really wanted, though my other half has a "cloth ear" and thought that she would not be able to tell the difference between our old speakers and the IPLs. As soon as I connected 1 of the IPLs to the stereo (while it was still playing music on the 2 TDL Speakers), she said "wow, that is amazing!" It is that noticeable, even though at that time the IPL speaker was brand new and playing quieter than the TDL speaker I swapped it with. (I literally turned down the volume, pulled the banana plugs out of the TDL and stuck them into the IPL, and turned the volume back to where it was while it was playing at a moderate volume). I am not an expert in any way, but have an ear that tells me what I like, and that will clearly not be the same as what other people may like. I would be surprised if anybody found anything objectionable about the IPL speakers, unless you like "warm" sounding speakers where some of that warmth is developed by the cabinets. Ivan's cabinets are designed to control the air behind the speaker, but are otherwise pretty dead and invisible. Listening to these is much closer to the sound you get from decent earphones and headphones. If you do not have a whopping big budget, want to get full-range hifi speakers for your system, and have the ability to go to Ivan's place, then I would recommend it, even if you need to take a train. If you take along a few favourite bits of music that reveal what is important to you, then I think a trip to Ivan's would be a joy. Do NOT be surprised if you take something that sounds bassy at home, and it sounds relatively restrained with Ivan's speakers - they have incredible tightness and control over low bass. A lot of that "boom" that you get from many speakers simply does not belong, and it would be wise to listen to the music you are taking with good earphones or headphones first, so you know what the tracks should sound like without resonance effects. Be aware that moving the speakers around a bit changes all parts of the sound spectrum, mid-range being affected just as much as bass in our room, but I am sure Ivan will have them placed correctly at his house. Clearly with such low bass, you are going to find places where there are standing wave reflections that null the bass sound in places, and if you stand in a back corner, you are going to hear too much. Walking around the listening room will show you all these oddities. Sometimes the perfect listening position will NOT be where your chairs are, and I don't think you can do anything to fix this, but I notice these inconsistency effects just as much with my TDLs and with my friend's big Tannoys as I do with the IPL speakers, so it is not something that you must blame on the speakers, it is the room and speaker/chair placement that is at issue. At our friends house, the best listening position is actually in a walkway behind the settee, and it is like that at my house too, but if you place the speakers correctly, anywhere you sit, they are going to sound really good compared to any other correctly-placed speakers in the same room. Final word on sound differences you may or may not notice. Without an A/B comparison of your own speakers with the IPLs, you may not comprehend what you are gaining and missing. The very low frequencies deliver sound that you hear and feel, but they are not really part of what you are listening for when you test music you know. When a big pedal drum strikes, there is a low frequency sound that is an impact, not really a musical note, and it is in some ways too subtle to "hear" though you understand its presence with your ears and your gut. A fine example of this is the well-known "Sultans Of Swing" by Dire Straits. I know this song so very well, but I had no idea that the pedal drum in that was such a big drum sound until I heard it with the IPLs. There is a weight that is absolutely absent from my TDLs and the Tannoys, but is delivered by the IPLs. Another difference is the accuracy of the higher frequencies and the ability of the IPLs to reproduce separate sounds as they were recorded, even in the middle of a very loud passage with many instruments that may sound "messy" on lesser speakers, the IPLs let you hear each and every part separately and clearly. If Ivan would allow you to take your own speakers to IPL for the purposes of your test, then you will know if you want to change, and would comprehend the differences. Without this, you may come away without realising what a big difference there is. I say this because I listened to the IPLs, did A/B compares, then ran them in for a couple of weeks. When I swapped in the TDLs for one day early on in the run-in process, I remember thinking, "these old TDL speakers still sound pretty damn good" as I was still used to their delivery. After listening only to the IPLs for the last 2 weeks, I have changed back to the TDLs while I do the cosmetic work on the cabinets. NOW I notice the lack of those deep frequencies and the smoothness, speed, accuracy and separation of sounds in a way that I did not before - my ear has become accustomed to the IPLs and I mourn their (temporary) loss now that I have become used to them, and I can't wait to get them back into service.
I am another happy IPL customer. I thought I should build the S5TL speakers as our room is quite large, but Ivan at IPL and another customer of his made it reasonably clear that I should build the S4TLs. Yes it is now July 2018, and I finally completed initial build and assembly of the IPL S4TLs I ordered in May. These use the Hivi 8" driver and the Fountek CD 3 Ribbion tweeter. I wanted these to replace my old 1997 TDL RTL2 speakers which are a similar sort of Reflex / Transmission line design. I was looking for more punch in the gut and better accuracy in low bass, and I hoped for greater clarity in mid-range and treble. Ivan has been refining this S4TL design for many years, maybe 20-25 years now, and perhaps now the cross-over and units selected are as near to perfectly matched as is possible. I followed his design exactly. I have played them now for about 5 weeks and tested them against different speakers in different rooms. For comparison, we are talking about my TDL RTL2s, and a pair of approximately 2000 vintage Tannoy dual monitor gold HPD 15" speakers in 150 Litre Tannoy enclosures. The IPL speakers are amazing, they reveal so clearly things that were only hinted at by other speakers, and even earbuds. They have such tight control over the bass, there is not a hint of boom, but the low bass is there. All the way down low, it plays musically, with no hint of the "sameness" boom you get from speakers with less range at the low end. Anything which previously sounded like it was at the low limits of my TDLs or the big Tannoys is now delivered tunefully, calmly and distinctly by the IPLs. Massive Attack's "Protection" album is full of soft and soggy and very deep bass. The IPLs maintain complete control over what really is very bass-heavy stuff, while providing such accuracy in mid range and treble that we were immediately hearing things we had not really noticed before. Again, the bass notes are clearly presented as separate, musical and melodic notes, always. Police's "Walking on the Moon" (re-mastered) has such incredible attack on the pedal drum, it sounds like it is being hit with a wooden stick, not a soft pedal - there is a real crack to the impact that really belongs - you can hear it that way on headphones and earbuds. Sting's high tenor is all there, but with no hint of strain. They are just as revealing of treble and mid-range. I heard fine and fast cymbal work in "Sultans of swing" that I had never noticed, even on my earbuds. This occurs at the very end of the track just a few seconds from the end where the final short guitar solo is at its peak, yet there in all that loud sound is the super-quick, (maybe treble-time) tapping of that fine cymbal sound. Of course, now that I have heard this on the IPLs, I can tell that the sound is present in the earbuds and those other speakers, but I only hear it now because I know it is there, and where to listen for it. The clarity yet smoothness of the tweeter is amazing - I cannot imagine improving on that tweeter sound with these speakers - that balance seems to be exactly right - accuracy and attack without ear-piercing aggression or undue sibilance. The mid-range is controlled and delivered very well by the Hivi 8" unit and the crossover appears to be invisible. We were able to listen to "difficult" music that screeched at you on other speakers - with the IPLs it sounds pleasant and controlled even at very high volume. We had a fun time dragging out "difficult" songs that we loved, and playing them really, really loud, without needing to turn the volume down when the previously screechy section of the song arrived. Prior to the IPL test, we always reduced volume for these passages. Words to describe these speakers... revelatory, controlled and authoritative, but most of all, just plain musical. There is no colouration that I can hear, this is particularly obvious when listening to news reports and other human voice soundtrack from TV or movies - the speakers do not have any boxiness or bassy colour to them. We have played these very, very loud, and also very soft in two different rooms. Both are big enough to hold these speakers, but they have quite different brightness. I have found that their positioning is both important and variable, it is worth moving them around a bit as even an inch or two can make a big difference TO ALL ASPECTS of the sound. In my room, the speakers work well in two places - 12" away from the back wall, (not 10" or 15") and funnily enough, they work fine just 4" away from the back wall. Weird, but then again our room is a weird shape with a very high ceiling. Currently they are sitting 4" away (which is the nicest for WAF) and sound just about as good as they do at the 12" position. In my friend's room, they were also fine at about 12" from the back wall. Am I happy? Well yes, these speakers have delivered everything that I was hoping for. Clarity and musicality, also the "feel" of very much bigger units than they actually are. There is a certain "Grandeur" to the sound of the 15" Tannoy Dual monitor golds, which while not necessarily accurate, is very attractive, and these IPL speakers go incredibly close to replicating that same sense of grandeur in almost every track we tried, but with a sound stage and an accuracy that is obviously far greater than that delivered by the delightful Tannoys. I took advice from a person who has built 3 IPL kits, and I stuck rigidly to Ivan's design. The build was not as easy as it is for those with full kits from IPL. Because I live in NZ, I could not afford to ship the 50Kgs of MDF here. I had help with cutting MDF, but this was not a CNC machine - just a big table saw, and I had to cut the various holes etc myself. Nonetheless, the build was easy enough, the hardest thing for me being the soldering of the cross-over, and the fitting of the bracing and the foam. These were not really difficult to do, but it was fussy work for somebody with such limited DIY and electronics/soldering knowledge as myself. I have seen comments from some people suggesting that these speakers have some lack of this or the other in the sound, or that they are "woolly" but I really think that must be room issues, incorrect stuffing, or placement issues (it makes a GIGANTIC difference with these speakers). Maybe earlier versions were not as well matched with cross-over and stuffing as they are now. I say this because the accuracy and separation of the instruments with these speakers is incredibly accurate, more so than our other speakers. The sound stage with earbuds is obviously more distinct, but the sound is not otherwise noticeably different, and these IPLs truly deliver something close to earbud accuracy and "crack" on drums, and all other instruments, but with real gut-punch IF IT BELONGS. The IPLs do seem more revealing than the earbuds, but I do not really understand how that could be possible. I can hear the sounds on the earbuds, but had not noticed them before hearing it on the IPLs. I have found that at times the IPLs sound LESS bassy than the other speakers we compared them to, but that seems to be at points to do with resonance and the limitations of the one-note sound at the lower end of those speakers with less range. The IPLs always sound more controlled and tighter. There is no point where the IPL speakers boom at you. So to our ears, they are the exact opposite of "woolly". Also, I may be just imagining this, but it seems to me that they did seem to get a little better once they had done a bit of work, though they were obviously and extravagantly amazing the very first time we connected them. Again, am I happy? Yes, but these things show EVERYTHING, so trying to listen to Layla (Derek and the Dominoes) is now really hard, because you can tell just how awful the recording is, and that is the same for a lot of the music I love. Be warned, these are so accurate that they will show all the badnesses in your system, from source to speaker. I did not fully comprehend this warning when I read it myself, but it is oh so true. If you are thinking of upgrading some old speakers, and you want hifi, then these are for you. If you want to listen to poor quality recordings with the same pleasure you did before, then forget it and stick with what you have. Many of you will probably already have speakers better than these, but for the money that I spent, we have a very good pair of speakers with an extended and smooth frequency response, and brilliant speed.
Thanks for the advice. The reason I thought of using the heavier MDF was some comments I saw elsewhere, and some other DIY builds of the S4TLs where the builders have doubled up on the 18mm front panel at least. In the end I asked Ivan if it would be OK to use 25mm instead of 18mm for the outer cabinet, and he said that it should be fine. They are big cabinets, and I hope the 25mm will make them slightly stiffer and less prone to resonance of any kind. I agree that the cabinet can have a significant effect on the sound, and can understand your chipboard ones sounding better with the units you had for them. I think for this build I will start with cabinets fairly "dead" and hope that the drive units and TL will sound nice like that. If not, I will try your suggestion of a different cabinet material like your plywood.
Thanks very much for your feedback. In the end I was persuaded to build the S4TLs for myself, though my colleague may well decide that the S5TLs are definitely what he wants. It will all depend on how the S4TLs sound when they are built, run-in and tuned. As for bracing, it is one of the thoughts I have with my plan. I have decided to use 25mm MDF throughout, rather than the 18mm specified - the deader the better for cabinets IMHO.
I am trying to decide between S4TL and S5TL kits from IPL ACoustics. I see you still have your S5TLs, obviously you must be happy with them. Have you ANY experience of the comparison with S4TL speakers?
Ivan thinks I should build the S4TLs, but I am looking to build something as good as can be had. Ivan thinks that the S4TLs would suit me better - he is probably right, but I have a big enough room, 27' x 14' with very high angled ceiling.
Also, we have "music afternoons" out in the garden where we drag the speakers outside and let them breathe - they all sound better out there. We live in lots of space and we can wind them up well and truly if we so desire. Whatever else goes on in the sitting room, I imagine the S5TLs will do much better out there.
My current little TDL 1997 RTL2 speakers sound absolutely fantastic outside like this, and they are only 6-inch drivers, so there is no doubt that the S4TLs would do this fine.
I know that "dragging" the S5TLs anywhere would be hard yakka as they weigh a bit, but I think we can manage that for the number of times we do this.
Have you any advice or thoughts?
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I must say that depending on what these sound like, we may well try to get some S5TLs for my friend. We both had our hearts set on the S5TLs, but Ivan was reasonably insistent that I should choose the S4TLs, and the only person we found with extensive experience of both told us the same thing.
It seems that a number of people with the STL5 (apart from your good self) have suggested that they demand a REALLY huge room, and even then apparently it is difficult to subdue the bass output of these. To me that sounds like exactly the speaker we want for ourselves! We would rather have a speaker that generated too much bass power than one that generated too little, and I do bass and treble controls on my little Denon amp, so I could attenuate it if necessary (my friend has super high-end German amps with no tone controls).
I had already paid my money before I saw your first response, so the S4TLs are on their way, I will let you know how I get on. Meanwhile I am delighted that you are so obviously happy with your S5TLs. Is there anything you would change about their sound? Is mid-range well matched with bass and treble?
I listen to mainly electronica and other bass heavy music so a bit of bass boost is a good thing in my opinion. When I bought them originally I had a relatively large listening room (22x12) firing down the long axis and they sounded great. I do occasionally branch out into some other genres and they can sound a bit woolly with large scale orchestral music but i rarely listen to that kind of thing.
My main criteria when I bought them was bass performance having heard a friends JBL k2's and being blown away but not having his financial resources to enable me to drop 20+k on a pair of speakers.
Although the IPL's are not quite up to that standard they are close enough for me, especially considering the price.
I'd love a touch more treble clarity but there's not much to complain about there really.
Midrange flows and integrates very nicely to my ears too.
Hi there Brozier,
I am thinking of buying IPL Acoustics S4TLs, or the S5TLs. Hard because I live in NZ, so looking for advice from others such as yourself.
Sounds like you are happy with the deep bass on these - is it fairly flat 25-50Hz?
Have you ever heard the S5TLs?
Hi dloper, I live in NZ and am trying to decide on IPL Acoustic S5TL or S4TL speaker kit. I currently have little TDL RTL2 speakers which are 20 years old, and still perfect, but I want something with lower bass capability. Ivan thinks I should get the S4TL, even though my room is 27' x 14' main area - (normally I sit at 17' from the back wall of the long side). I want to build the best sounding speakers of IPLs options, and note that you have the S5TLs. I liked your write-up of them, and wonder if you still have them? Also, have you ever heard the S4TLs? Cheers, Justin.
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