ACI 5.1 Home Theater System from Kits
Copyright by Lou Coraggio 1999, All Rights Reserved

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After a brief, but rewarding encounter with a Carver Cinema 5.1 system that I bought from Costco, I burned out the sub amp. The Costco people were great in returning my money. But I was spoiled. I needed a quality, bullet proof, home theater set up for a reasonable price. I auditioned several systems at my local sound shops, but everything I liked was $3K and up. The Net wasn't much help. (Nothing seems to divert opinions like audio!) After a lot of review, I decided to do kits. I checked a lot of the vendors and decided to go with ACI. Mike Dzurko promptly answered all my Email. As part of a major sale, Mike extended me a great price on a system package. After much "buyer anxiety" I went with the following system:

1 Titan Subwoofer
3 Emerald satellites (L/R/C)
2 Encore satellites (surround)

After studying the plans for awhile I decided to build the Titan out of 1" stock. I set up a spreadsheet to calculate internal volumes and came up with a 15 x 15 x 23 external size for my Titan (excluding my modified base). This allowed me to use some 24" birds eye maple veneer I bought on clearance. Since I had to buy whole sheets of MDF, I decided to do the Emerald fronts out of 1" MDF as well.

Cutting the Stock

MDF is heavy! The 1" sheet weighs about 130 lbs. Most stock is also cut 1" oversize at 49 x 97 inches. (If you decide you want smaller pieces of 1" stock, and you don't want to buy a sheet, you could laminate two ½" pieces with wood glue and some heavy weights) The factory edges aren't necessarily that great. To ensure good parallel edges, I cut each piece 3 times in the table saw, taking another 1/4 inch each time. Since I am "mature", with bad knees, I decided to pre cut many of the large pieces with my circular saw to make them easier to handle. This means doing a lot of resetting of the saw fence - but it beats losing a couple of fingers! To make the resetting go faster, I used my first correctly cut pieces as "story boards". To reproduce later pieces, place the "story board" against the blade, then move the fence against the outside edge. Saves time on those setups, and really squares up the final box. Mark each piece as you cut. (See Table 2 for Titan Volume Calculations and Table 1 for a Cut List of all the pieces, Figure 5 for sketch)

Pay particular attention to dust control. (I hook my shop vac directly to my table saw). MDF produces wood flour - not dust! Wear a mask, cover anything you want to keep clean. Goggles help a lot. Judging by my experience, I would probably cut one extra box (if you do 5 like I did) or at least one extra piece of everything. Having an extra box (to practice your jointing on) wouldn't be a bad idea. I screwed up one of the Emerald fronts and it took me about 3 hours to reproduce it.

Cutting the Speaker Holes

This is definitely the time burner for a project like this. For the Titan, I used my jigsaw and took my time. For the Emeralds and Encores, I decided to use my plunge router. (Half the reason to do one of these projects is the excuse to buy some new tools with that money you saved!) I experimented with some templates, but I felt they really didn't save that much time. There are seven 2 3/4" holes that I used a template to cut. The rest, I freehanded. I used a ½" by 1 ½" straight carbide plunge bit. To save my back, I clamped each piece into my workmate and worked from a chair. I also set up a floor fan to the left of my work to help clear the dust. Take about a 1/4" (depth) at a time until you punch through. Cut about 1/16" inside the line. When your hole is through, carefully trim out to the line. Use some coarse sandpaper, or a file, to smooth out the hole. I then used a ½" rabbet bit (with pilot bearing) to cut the speaker recess. I also used my plunge bit and a straight edge to cut the port slots for the Emeralds.

If you're doing this on the cheap, you can probably do all the routing with one GOOD straight bit and templates. Don't even try to cut MDF without a good carbide bit. It took me about 6 hours to cut the holes. (I take a lot of breaks!) The bit cost me about $12. Worth every penny. Be sure to have good eye and hearing protection. By the time you get done with these holes, you will be one skilled router dude.

Gluing and Assembling

I chose to use butt joints with biscuits for assembling the cabinets. If you want to rout the edges later, screws can wack your router if you aren't careful placing them. If I were to use screws and glue, I'd adjust the volume and use 3/4 x 3/4 glue block to help with alignment.

MDF is basically glue and sawdust, a well glued joint is almost as strong as the material. Especially face-to-face joints. However, the board is really a sandwich. A hard face with a softer center. Rabbets and dados aren't really that great for MDF. The biscuits add strength, but mostly help with squaring up the box for clamping. (I got my Freud biscuit joiner for $98, another "premium" from my savings!) They also leave most of the hard skin intact.  [Tips on Biscuit Joining]

Another tip on gluing. Use good wood working glue! (I like the Titebond products but there are other good ones as well.) Buy a fresh bottle. If your edges are straight and true, the boxes will be tight and sealed. Use a cheap "acid" brush to spread on both surfaces. You should have just a little bead of glue squeezed out after clamping. Wipe off the excess with a damp cloth. Clamp for at least 2 hours (or screw). If you have ragged edges, consider something like Liquid Nails. It will fill gaps, but it's a nightmare to clean off excess.

I started by gluing the Emerald port bottoms to the spacers. When they were dry, I glued the ports to the Emerald tops making sure the ports were flush with the edge of the top. I then clamped the braces on the inside of the Emerald face frame. BIG MISTAKE! I would have been smarter to wait until final assembly. I wound up cutting about 1/32 off the face frames to square up with the box carcass. Of course I had to go back and sand all the braces flush.

After trying to completely glue and assemble an Encore all at one time, I decided that I had neither the clamps nor the patience to try it again. Biscuit joining isn't as easy as Norm Abram makes it look. It's tough to hold the joiner steady. So I built a little jig (just a high right angle fence really.) I took the fence off the joiner. By marking all my biscuits on the inside edges, I could simply slide the joiner on my work surface. I clamped all the vertical pieces to my jig and cut those biscuits the same way. On subsequent boxes, I first built the sides, top and bottom. After each dried, I then attached the back and face. Much better.

The Titan was really the easiest to assemble. Since I veneered the Titan, I used biscuits on the outside pieces and screws & glue on all the internal braces. It was a snap. Be careful to drill before screwing and counter-sink the screws. Take care with your holes, its easy to split edges in MDF. If you do, back out the screw and take a small piece of scrap (like saw off-cut) and glue it over the split. Clamp the repair. Then use a slightly shorter screw, coat it with glue, and replace.

After rummaging through my coffee cans of screws and nuts, I ran across a set of Threaded Inserts (TIs). They are about ½" long, ½" in diameter (you can get them from mail order hardware people like Rockler Woodworkers Store). The inside accepts a 1/4" hex bolt, the outside has a coarse thread for wood. I modified the base of the Titan to use these. Working on the top slab, I drilled four 7/16" holes, ½" deep to accept the TI's. Then I drilled thru the rest of the slab with a 1/4" hole. I then drilled a ½" hole in a piece of scrap, clamped it over the TI hole, I threaded a 1/4" bolt through the slab into the TI, and drove the TI home with a big screwdriver. (The scrap helps start the TI, and keeps it from splitting the MDF). I then drilled out the bottom slab, and counter sunk holes to accept a bolt and washer. (Drill the washer hole first!) The TI has only ½" of threads. Bolts come in ½" increments. I tried combinations of bolts and dowel lengths. After a couple of tries, I settled on 1½" dowel length, with 3" bolts. I drilled a 1/4" hole through the dowels. The bolts then go through the bottom, through the dowels, and into the TI. SOLID! I cut a 12½" hole in the upper slab for the speaker (oversize to accommodate the neoprene front on my driver). I then drilled pilot holes for the speaker in the case bottom, and "sandwiched" the top slab to the case bottom with glue. [ My shop sketch for the Titan]

While the sandwich dried, I marked the outside locations for the braces on all the main panels. I glued the sides, top, bottom sandwich, and baffles together. (I added a 1x1 brace behind the amp cutout for more stiffness.) Then I put on the front and back to complete the Titan assembly. Here, I can say I appreciated the biscuits on the small boxes. Filling the screw holes and leveling them added another step. With veneer, (especially that paper back flexible stuff) any deformities in the substrate will show up on the surface. Easy to sand thru any humps. I final sanded the MDF with 160 grit, and rubbed down the surface with a tack cloth - before applying contact cement.   [ Sanded Cabinets ]

Soldering the Crossovers

The challenge is to silicone all the components on to a board small enough to fit through the woofer holes on the assembled cabinets. This is especially tricky with the Encores. Lots of parts and small speaker holes. At the suggestion of ACI, I "stacked" some of the smaller components. This required two days to do. Silicone the board pieces, let them dry, then silicone the stacked piece. I was able to get the crossover down to a 3" x 4" board.

The key to soldering is having a heat sink. I have a pair of surgical forceps (you can buy these at the Shack). They clamp and lock. Handy tool for small work, sewing and removing splinters! Where you have 4 wires coming together, first clamp two together. Twist that pair tight. Repeat for the other pair. Then clamp the two pair together with the forceps and twist again. Leave the forceps attached to the base of the wires, make sure all wires are in contact with the jaws. This is your heat sink. It prevents the soldering iron from cooking the components. (If it conducts electricity it will conduct heat!) Hold the iron against the wire bundle, and rub the solder across the opposite side of the bundle. When things get hot enough, the solder will flow over the joint. Remove the iron as soon as it flows like water. If the final joint is shiny, with no gaps you're done. Trim the top and file it a bit so you won't cut yourself later.

I didn't like the fit of the press-on clips provided by ACI. For the connection to the binding cup, I went ahead and soldered the joints. (I did use the clips for the drivers so I didn't void the warranty) This meant I had to silicone the crossover boards into the finished cabinets, then pull the leads through to solder.
[Emerald crossover, Hedlock & Threaded Insert]

Preparing the Cabinets

The first thing I did was sanding. (Everybody hates this part! Mindless work). I used my little orbital finishing sander. I used 60 grit to knock down the big edges, then 100 to prep the box surfaces. Let the sander do the work, keep it constantly moving. If you can feel any edge with your fingernail, keep sanding. Use a soft brush to frequently clear the dust from the work and from your paper. Don't bother to fill any holes yet. Do that before final sanding with 180 grit. The putty tears out if you work it too hard. With the square edges, I hand chamfered the edge using 4 up and back strokes with 100 and a sanding block. Before painting, I also dry fitted the drivers and drilled pilot holes for all the speaker mounting screws.

I used a commercial wood filler for big dings and nail holes. However, this stuff is pretty soft. You can also make your own filler. Get a bit of really fine MDF dust from routing or sanding (You will have plenty!). Mix it with wood glue using your putty knife and apply to fine cracks or suspected leaks. Use plenty of extra because it will shrink when dry. This will make a rock hard filler. Good for those corner dings on the boxes.

The grills are definitely tricky to do. I started with the Encores. (They're going up on the walls anyway!) First, I clamped the grills to cabinets and sanded them to size. Then I used my 3/8 roundover bit to rout the radius along the edge of the cabinets. I clamped the grill and a scrap piece to the cabinets to prevent tear out by the router. Use a big rubber band to keep the 3 pieces together. (Remember those extra pieces I cut?) Next I used my roundover bit on the outside of the grills. (Definitely do this before cutting the holes!). I had to clamp the two grills together to give the bit something to ride on. After sanding the cutouts, I used the same bit on the inside of the hole. This is definitely tricky. There's nothing left for the router base to ride on. I improvised by taking a piece of 1" stock, screwing it to a base, then clamping both pieces to the base. I then routed the inside edge, using the 1" piece to steady the work. The results were pretty rough, but they sanded down OK. If you are patient, you might use a rasp and sand paper to do this. I sprayed these with cheap flat black enamel before finishing.

I obtained some Hedlock ball and socket fasteners to attach the grills. These worked OK for the Emeralds. The socket needs a 9/16" hole. I only had a spade bit this size. The hole needs to be about ½" deep, but the point of the drill bit is about 1/4" longer than the body. I drilled the socket holes a bit shallow, and cleaned the bottom with my el cheapo imitation dremel tool until the hole was deep enough. On the grills, I used a 7/16 hole all the way through. The balls have wings that needed to be sanded down to fit. Use the socket over the ball and gently hammer the ball inserts in place. Because the Encores are a sealed system with 3/4" fronts, I didn't want to drill through with the spade bit and create a leak. (This may be just paranoia on my part, the socket fits pretty tight.) I used velcro for those grills. To attach the grill cloth, I used a hot melt glue gun. It's easier to stretch the top/bottom direction first. Then the sides, finally the corners. (I suggested that ACI include these fasteners in kits, Mike said he probably will)

Stands for the Emeralds

I don't have a dedicated theater/listening room. I do have a large great room with lots of built ins. (Next project is an entertainment center!) Since I had quite a bit of MDF left, I decided to build stands for the Emeralds. I wanted the "mains" about the same height as the center of my TV. One sits atop the Titan, the other is free standing. The bottoms needed to be about 37" off the floor. I used the ½" stock to build the stands (since I had the most of it). My wife saw the sanded cabinets, and decided she liked the square edges better than the rounded edges. This allowed me to make a tower stand the same size as my Emeralds ( 7" x 8"). I cut a 13" x 14" base from the 1" stock, and two 6" x 7" spacers for the top and bottom. I also cut three more 6 x 7 spacers from some 3/4" stock. I glued up the column around the spacers using clamps, glue and finishing nails. I then took the 1" spacer, screwed & glued it to base, and carefully mounted the column on the base using clamps and glue. I drilled a hole in the back of the bottom cavity to allow for sand filling and plugged it with a piece of dowel rod. I had four more of those TIs. I installed those on the base and used 1/4" brass all thread for speaker spikes and leveling. This brought the final height to 37". Since my Titan stands 26.5" high, the little stand was only 10.5" high with a 9 x 10 base. I did the black lacquer finish on the stands. With everything black, the stands and speakers just blend nicely. (I suppose you could do these as tower speakers if you made them all one piece.) I used self adhesive velcro pads to attach the speakers to the stands, and put an old mouse pad between Titan and the small stand.

Painting and Veneering

Despite my best efforts at sanding, I was totally unprepared for the amount of lacquer these boxes sucked up! Thankfully, I practiced on two faces of the small stand. The exposed edges of the butt joints inhaled the paint. After 5 coats I could still see the texture of the MDF. I relented and bought a quart of sanding sealer for lacquer. I brushed two thick coats on, then sanded with 320 by hand. (I read that you can make your own sealer by mixing 1 part cheap wood glue & 2 parts of water. Try it at your own risk.)

With the cabinets sealed, I applied three coats of black gloss lacquer. I've got a lot more respect for anyone who is good at spray painting. I wound up having a run on just about every vertical spray. I finally relented and sprayed all surfaces horizontal. I built a spray booth out of cardboard boxes and an old floor fan. This sucked a lot of the vapors out of my way. When I finished the black, I final sanded with some 600 grit to level out all the runs, wrinkles and bug parts, then I rubbed with a tack cloth. For the final coats, I used the Deft Clear Wood finish. It's a lot easier to spray and goes farther. I used to work in a piano shop. I knew I wouldn't get that piano black without 40 or 50 coats. However, the final finish is acceptable. If you use enamels, you can get by with less paint, but you'll need a day or so between coats. Lacquer takes about 30 minutes. [ Emeralds & Encores (sorry about the quality)]

The veneer I used for the Titan is a composite material and will not bend around small corners. It's about as thick as traditional veneer (about 1/40"). It's stout though. There are two face veneers laid perpendicular with a synthetic gluing surface. It's actually a man-made product from Italy. I used traditional contact cement. I like the waterbased stuff. No nasty vapors or unplanned explosions! DON'T use the solvent based contact cement unless you are working outside! (I had a friend who blew up his kitchen when the furnace turned on!) The 3M product I used, went on quickly with a cheap polyester brush. I did all applications on horizontal surfaces. It took about 30 minutes to dry. (You really need to finish one surface, and trim it before doing the next surface.) I cut each piece about ½" oversize using a utility knife and straight edge over an old cutting board. I put centerline marks on the underside of all sheets and on the box. I put down two pieces of wax paper, each covering about half of the box. (If the paper sticks, the cement isn't ready.) I lined everything up, pulled out half the paper and pressed down the veneer. I then slid the other half out. I used a 6" plastic taping knife to apply pressure from the center to the outside. I followed with a rubber mallet. I used my router (with a piloted trim bit) to trim the edges to the box. I did the back, both sides, the front, and finally the top. Hand sand (if necessary) using 180-220 and a sanding block. I also used a utility knife and sandpaper to final trim the edges. I applied four coats of spray gloss lacquer as a finish. (I don't like stains on maple.) Use 400 or 600 grit to level any imperfections and wipe with a tack cloth. I prefer lacquer to polyurethane because it remains flexible, is easy to repair, dries quickly and is easy to apply. We get a lot of temperature and humidity changes here. Some of my veneered polyurethane projects have cracked.

Final Assembly

For the most part this went strictly by ACI's manuals. Again, the Encores proved to be the most challenging. By the time you stuff all of the foam in the box, the woofers stick up about an inch. In order to get a bite with the screws (3/4 #6, oval head), I had to try to press down the driver and screw at the same time. The woofer frames are thicker and stick up a bit after installing. For the tweeters, I used ½" screws. They went in fine. I stole some hanger clips from the cheap surround speakers I had been using, and applied two of the rubber feet to the back of the Encores and they were ready for wall mounting.

The Emeralds went together quite easily. Since I am using banana plugs, I inverted the wire cups on the two "mains". The only concern I had here was a "dangling" solder joint on the crossovers I thought could short. I cut a small piece of the sealing foam, and wrapped it around the joint so it stuck to itself. The Titan was also pretty quick. There's not much flange on the amplifier, so I didn't have more than a 1/4" overlap on the cabinet to play with. For the amp, I used black, 1", #8 pan head screws. For the driver, I used 3/4 #10 sheet metal screws. The only trick I learned that might be useful here is applying the foam sealing tape. Since I pre-drilled the pilot holes, the tape covers them up. (Taping the driver is a pain!) So I started the tape right on a hole and followed all the way around. This allowed me to start one screw easily. I used a finishing nail to find the other holes.

I applied self stick Velcro to the bottoms of the "mains" and the tops of the stands. For the bottom of the center, I used leftover sealing foam tape. I leveled the large stand using my brass all thread and the TI's. I used Fowler Big Toe spikes on the Titan. They were easy to install and level. I set the mains about 7 feet apart, parallel to the screen, and put the center on top of the TV, tweeter down. [Final System]

First Listening Impressions

After three weeks and about 90 hours of work, I decided I would wait patiently until the speakers were broken in properly. YEAH RIGHT! I balanced all the speakers. Since my Yamaha receiver does bass management, I set all speakers to "small" (90 hz rolloff). The Titan was set to roll off at about 120 hz, and final volume was less than half! The center needed to be cut about 4db. With my favorite beverage in hand, a slathering of BenGay (from moving the Titan around!), I slipped Hunt for Red October into the DVD player. Yowsir! From the opening scenes it was apparent this was money well spent. Imaging is terrific, ships moved across the screen smoothly. Crisp dialog. Tremendous sonic detail. I picked up background ambience I didn't realize was there before. Maybe it's my ears, but my biggest complaint about many of the systems I auditioned was mangled dialog. Voices seem to disappear or get trampled when something else is going on. To compensate, I found myself constantly twiddling with the center level and volume. Not with the Emeralds. I set the levels and left them alone. The imaging holds up even well off axis. Even sitting 6 feet off center, the spatial image is centered on the screen. The Titan performs as advertised. Shakes the glasses off the opposite walls during explosions, disappears during quiet passages. James Earl Jones has a voice that must go below 90 hz, because there was a definite "roll-in" of the sub. As per the ACI manual, I tried stuffing the ports of the Emeralds with pieces of an old mouse pad. This seemed to smooth out the "roll-in".

After the movie, my wife returned to the living room and demanded equal time. She chose some tear jerker (in Dolby Surround) on digital cable. Though I'm not a fan of anything "cute" or "heart warming", I hung out. Even at very moderate listening levels, the system imaging, balance, and dynamic range held up. My previous systems seemed to "go mono" when the volume was turned down - the image lost breadth and depth. Again, the ACI's proved a dramatic improvement. One of my dogs went nuts looking for a barking dog in the background. Ruby (an extremely verbal cocker spaniel) was certain that the TV mutt was to the right of the screen and through the door!

So what about music? I grabbed my audition disks. (I'm no snobby audiophile, so no apologies for my choices!) First, Santana's Moonflower. With both studio and live cuts, this is a great audition album. On "Transcendence", the wide dynamic range was cleanly represented. Greg Walker's vocals were crisp, clear, with no slurring or "spitting". On "Europa" (a live instrumental, perhaps my favorite all time cut) Carlos' sustained notes cut to the inside of my head. Sharp, but not shrill, it put my teeth on edge. Next, Alan Parsons On Air. The system handled the wide range, special effects, and mixture of strings and synthetics with out a whimper - filling my 25 x 35 great room effortlessly. The Titan is every bit as quick, tight, and precise as advertised. No "tubby" bass here. Just for yucks, I tried some of the surround modes on my receiver. I liked "Sports" the best. The image literally filled the room in all directions! (Wait till the next party!). These seem to be more pleasing on newer CDs. Older analog masters sound a bit boomy with these effects. Next, Linda Ronstadt's Hasten Down the Wind (an older analog master). On "Try Me Again", I detected a bit of rasp on high notes. But "Crazy" was spectacular. This rasp was also present on her newer digital disks. Not acutely aggravating, but a small nitpick none the less. (I suppose that's why ACI sells Sapphires and Jaguars). If, like me, you're an old fart, and you listen to a lot of older remastered CD's, you may find these speakers almost too real. Compared to my 17 year old SpeakerLab 30's, (with Nestorovic woofers, state of the art in '84) this setup is definitely less forgiving of poorly mastered CD's.

Living With The System for a Month

Suspecting a combination of break-in time and subpar speaker wire, over the next couple of weeks, I rediscovered my music collection and decided to build three new speaker cables based on a design I found on the net. I used three trunk lines on each cable. Each trunk line is Category 5, 10 Base 100, 4-pair, solid core, network cable. It makes sense that this would be top notch wire. Network communication is very demanding and the quality control is quite tight. Each small conductor is 24 gauge. Using one trunk each for + and -, (plus half each of the third), the resulting cable is about 13 gauge with 12 strands on each side. I loosely braided the three trunk lines, terminated with soldered banana plugs and jacketed with 3/4" heat shrink tubing. Since I had the network cable already (you can buy it for about 15 cents/foot) and the banana plugs from my old 16 gauge wires, my total investment was about $12 and 6 hours. (If you build these cables, you can easily bi-wire should your speakers demand it.) Since my Emeralds are rolled off at 90 Hz, the cables are probably overkill.

I revisited Linda Ronstadt and was pleasantly surprised to find the rasp was gone. I had a much broader and spacious sound stage and much improved imaging. I can't say whether the break-in time, or my new "anaconda" cable, was the reason. I went out and bought some newer CD's to test my "analog master" theory. The difference is astounding. I can really hear the difference in dynamic range, even the hiss of the older analog tape masters. If anything, the system develops more detail with age.

Since I got Lost In Space as a freebie with my DVD player, I tried it for my tweaking. (Lousy movie, great soundtrack!) This AC3 DVD showed a much wider sound stage. (So did Hunt for Red October). The Encores don't betray their locations. Since I still have 16 gauge running to them, I found that boosting the Encores by 3db improved the effects. But this flick is a showcase for the Titan! Ship launches, battle scenes, and an almost inaudible - but very tactile - rumble from the ship can be felt through the couch. The Titan definitely benefits from a break-in period. It gets smoother, deeper and warmer.

Do Overs

No project like this is complete without the "would haves" and "should haves". If I hadn't done the stands, I would have veneered the Emeralds. The work and money to sand, seal, re-sand, paint and repaint are just not worth it. The gloss black shows every fingerprint, run and drip. They ding pretty easily too. (I might just spray them with a satin finish clear lacquer someday.) The veneer I used on the Titan was such a delight, I wish I had bought another sheet. (I did the veneering and finishing in one afternoon!) Though quite capable, the Encores are a lot of work for an inexpensive speaker. I probably would go with Encore IIs or Emeralds. (Although, you might have to do something different with the Emerald port location for wall mounting). I would also test fit every driver on every hole. The woofers on the Encores are about 1/16" proud. Since I know now that sealing the Emeralds seems like a better match with the Titan, I might have just sealed them in construction. (I'd talk to ACI before I did this though!) For painting, I would also use three coats of sanding sealer to get rid of the seams completely. It definitely took longer than I thought. (As an educated amateur wood worker, I put in about 60 hours spread over 4 weeks)

Is It Worth It?

If you like this kind of project, and money is tight, definitely! You could even buy the assembled system (with MC2s for surrounds). It would still be a hell of a deal. If you like the idea of having something unique, and are tired of oak, the kits are the only way to go. This system beats anything I heard from Def Tech, Cambridge, Polk or Phase Tech. At a bit over $1300 for materials (not including tools!) it SMOKES! (See Table 3 & 4 for Material Costs). I couldn't imagine anything much better for twice the price! Everything performed as advertised, and exceeded all of my performance expectations. It was a lot of fun too.

If you have the patience, and access to a table saw and router, you can do these kits. If you don't have the time or patience, buy them assembled. If you have any questions during the building, call ACI. They're pretty patient, and really helpful.

If you have any doubts about ACI, -- don't. These people are the real deal. if I can just find another sheet of that Birdseye Maple veneer, I might just do a couple of Sapphire's...maybe a couple of Jaguars...or some Spirits for Christmas presents...

Table 1 MDF Cut List (all dimensions are inches)
Qty Length Width Thick Used For
2 23 15 1 Titan front / back
2 23 13 1 Titan sides
4 13 13 1 Titan top, bottom, braces
1 15 15 1 Titan stand, top slab
1 16 16 1 Titan base, bottom slab
2 13 2 1 Titan braces
3 11.75 7 1 Emerald (EM) fronts
6 6.25 11.75 3/4 EM sides
6 6.25 5.25 3/4 EM top/bottom
3 11.75 7 3/4 EM backs
3 5.5 1 3/4 EM brace
4 10.5 6 3/4 Encore (ENC) front/back
4 10.5 3.75 3/4 ENC sides
4 4.5 3.75 3/4 ENC top/bottom
3 11.75 7 l/2 EM grilles
2 10.5 6 l/2 ENC grilles
3 4.125 4 l/2 EM port bottom
6 4.125 .625 l/2 EM port spacer

Table 2 Titan Volume Calculations
Item Length Width Depth Volume Cum Vol
Inside Box 13 13 21 3549 3549
Square Braces 13 13 2 -338 3211
Extra Brace 1 13 1 -13 3198
Top Braces 2 13 2 -52 3146
Brace Holes 9 9 2 162 3308
Amp Cut Out 6 2 1 12 3320

Table 3 - Cabinet Materials
$40 1" MDF $8 Speaker cloth
$30 3/4" MDF $4 Hedlok Grill Fasteners
$19 ½" MDF $15 Speaker Spikes
$5 Screws/Nails $6 #20 Biscuits (100)
$45 2 x 8 Birdseye Maple Veneer $15 Contact Cement (3M water base)
$28 8 cans Gloss Black Spray Lacquer $25 5 cans Deft Wood Finish (Gloss)
$5 Titebond II Wood Glue (pint) $4 Silicone Caulk
$3 Silver/Tin Solder $12 Sandpaper (60,120,320,600)
$3 Threaded Inserts (8) $2 1 ft Brass All Thread
$5 1-1/4" Birch wood dowel $1 1 can Flat Black enamel (grills)
$10 1 Qt Deft Lacquer Sanding Sealer $2 Four 3" x 1/4" bolts, washers, nuts

Table 4 - Tools, Supplies and Safety Gear (recommended)
$12 ½ x 1½ Carbide Router Bit $8 40 watt soldering pencil
$6 10 Disposable Dust Masks $5 Forceps for soldering
$4 Bag of Acid brushes $5 Goggles/Safety Glasses
$3 Foam or Vinyl ear plugs $4 4 Tack Cloths