Hey, all. Starting a thread isn't normally my thing, but... I wanted to share my results my first build as there isn't always the information you need easily available.
There seems to be a lot of mixed opinions and feeling regarding many of the speaker kits out there so finding one as a first project can be a challenge to say the least... After many hours of internetting I managed to narrow it down to two options. Kairos being top pick but expensive when considering exchange rate for USD to CAD. The other was a Seas kit (IDUNN?). Not enough consistency in the reviews for me to pull the trigger. It seemed that the Kairos, although only having a few real reviews, they were consistently good. So I sucked it up and payed for the Kairos (~$1050.00 to my doorstep on Vancouver Island).
Packaging was solid and everything was there, plus some spare bits n' bolts - much appreciated! The candy in the last little blister pack was a great touch (consumed within moments of opening).
I was hesitant as to where to start so I ended up kind of doing a little of everything at once. I have basically no experience in this area other than renting a little shop space off my parents that I dick around in making art and this n' that - rarely committing to a longer project for fear of losing interest. I decided that Baltic Birch would be the foundation of the project, and I'd decide what, if anything, I would finish them with (veneer, etc) once I had the cabs assembled.
I cut the Birch into strips on the table saw to the specified thickness and turned them on side and laminated them for an all end/edge grain front baffle. It not only looks badass (my opinion) but It also took care of the thicker front baffle without the need for more materials being purchased. Prior to assembly I did a 27 degree angle to the perimeter so that they weren't just boring sharp edges. I also used this material to make the top as in my head I was going to leave the top the match so all the lines would be continuous. In the end I didn't like the visible join... But that got dealt with... You'll see.
The sides were the tricky part as I don't have any industrial sized tools and the only logical way to get the angle cut was to use a circular saw and be mega careful to get all 4 sides identical. What a pain in the butt however they all came out good (or at least very close). Back, and bottom were simple, nothing to get into there.
The internal bracing went smooth. I only have a plunge router, no router table or guides, so I just took my time following the guide lines I drew. Finished off with a round over but for nice smooth contours. Everything went quickly and painlessly - I was pleasantly surprised.
I test fitted everything and then glued in stages as I have limited clamps and I was too cheap at this point to go spend more money. I glued the sides, bottom, top, and bracing at one time. Next I routed the driver holes and then glued the front baffle. Before I glued the back on I sealed every single little possible place for air to escape with silicone (make sure that stuff has dried a couple days before putting drivers in!!). Then I glued the back on and sealed it as well.
Once everything was sanded and gaps were filled, I wasn't totally satisfied with the join between the front baffle and and the rest of the cab so I decided to veneer the sides, top and bottom with a contrasting wood. I chose Walnut as, well, I fricken love that stuff. Now, with the Walnut veneer on I was happy. I used oil as my finish of choice 'cause I wanted that natural grain to show! Boy am I glad I chose oil, so natural looking with nice deep colour, especially on the Walnut.
Fist time soldering a crossover - or even following a schematic, but that was a breeze. I drilled holes in the board to solder everything tidily underneath. This made life very nice and easy!
Finally................ The moment you've al been waiting for - First impressions. I pulled the speaker wires from my gigantic Acoustat Model 4 electrostats and stuck 'em in the back of my spanky new Kairos. I let them play a while after making sure things were working as they should. I didn't really listen to them at first as I wanted them to open up a touch before really forming an opinion. A few hours later I adjusted them on their stands and sat down for a listen. Nothing is going to sound as huge as 3' x 5' electrostats (other than ever bigger ones) but boy do these have a big open soundstage, the first track I played had instruments well outside if the physical placement of the cabs. Vocals are very natural and are presented well with incredible detail. Boatloads of bass as well for a bookshelf speaker, however I still paired then with a sub - Im used the the stat's which go down to nearly 28hz flat. Very very listenable, and unlike the stat's you have the freedom to move around a bit and still maintain a good soundstage - nice off axis listening.
Well, there you have it. If a 24y/o first time builder can get these right, then with some patience, so can you! Very fun, rewarding build. Thank you Jeff Bagby, master of sound, and Menicus for being so thorough and helpful. Guess I should post some pics now so here you go!
Note: for any of you smarty pants who will notice. In the crossover pic, the negative lead IS going to the wrong spot, but I quickly noticed and fixed it.
Thanks for reading if you got this far!