The Jordan Shelf HT Setup
(First Draft 04 Aug 2001)
Lou Coraggio © 2001 All Rights Reserved
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When my best friends, Wayne and Cathy built a new house, I saw an opportunity to put together a creative HT system that fit their lifestyle and decor. Like many families with kids and dogs, cute little satellites on spindly stands don't stand much of a chance. With wires everywhere, constant moving to clean (and to find hidden treasures), the typical setup just doesn't fit an active family.

I would classify these folks as "mid-fi". Not content with your typical HT in a box, but not ready for a second mortgage for gear. They don't care to break neighboring windows with the sub, nor listen at deafening levels. We had a brain storming session to discuss options about a setup to fit the "Entertainment Alcove" they had ordered as an option in their home. After an extended debate, Cathy asked me, "Why can't we just build it into shelf or something?" Why not indeed. Thus the "Jordan Shelf" was born.

The Jordan JX92S is a fully shielded, 5", aluminum cone, "full range" driver that has always intrigued me. Though a bit pricey, it's purported to work in cabinets from 3 to 12.5 liters. For the Shelf, I chose 7.4 liters sealed (Q=0.7). This alignment gives a predicted F3 of about 79 Hz. With bass management to be provided by the receiver, this seemed like a very good compromise in response and power handling. Sealed systems are also easier to blend with subs.

Careful measurements of the alcove yielded overall length of 65" and depth of 24". Based on the box volumes, driver diameter etc., I settled on a baffle height of 6.5" with an internal depth of 5.5" and width of 12.5". I chose 3/4" MDF for the shelf, baffle and bracing. In order to make flush fitting grills, I first added 3/8" MDF behind the driver cutouts for additional stiffness. Then I routed the driver holes and insets. I next laminated 3/8" MDF to the front of the baffle.
Back of Baffle
Inside of Box

For building the box, I joined the baffle to the shelf, (and all separators) with biscuits. We planned to mount the shelf on cleats, screwed into the side walls. So the "box" portion was cut down to 61" to allow for mounting. With a 65" baffle, the ends of the cleats would be hidden. This was actually quite tricky to clamp. I wound up doing it in three passes. Baffle to shelf with end pieces. Box back and spacers to the shelf and baffle. For the bottom, I used liquid nails and screws to secure it to the back, bar clamps up front. I went to a funky little fabric store and wound up with 10 lb box of gray foam chunks for $5. (You'll see some in one of the pictures) I used these in a staggered pattern for cabinet damping.
Primed with Grill Blank

Jordan Driver and Cutout

With the shelf and box glued up, I applied Bondo to all my screw holes and dings. After sanding, I chose to use a ½" roundover on the top and bottom of the speaker baffle. I then finish sanded, did a coat of white, oil based primer, and finally rolled on a coat of flat latex to match the walls. For the grills, I used 1/4" Baltic Birch plywood with mini-hedlok fasteners. Hot melt glue and patience took care of the grill cloth.

Installation went very quickly. While the house was going up, Wayne buried some speaker wire in the walls for the surrounds, so minimal time was spent hiding wire. For mounting, we used pine 1 x 4 all around the alcove with double thickness around the box area. A couple of L braces, some cup hooks for wire handling and we were ready to go. Here are a few shots:
Mounting and screwing
Mounted in Alcove before grills

Close up of the Grills

Sub and Surrounds

I built a down-firing SV-10 sub in a 1 cu ft sealed enclosure with a PSA-1 amp. For more on the sub go to the SV-10 page.

For the surrounds, I adapted a design from Rick Craig at Selah Audio. These use a 5" MCM 55-1855 woofer and a Vifa D26NC47-06 tweeter (sale item at Madisound) in a 12h x 5d x 6d sealed box (outside dimensions). Both veneered in golden oak.
Surrounds w/out Grills
Finished Surrounds

Initial Listening Impressions

Wayne and I spent too much time setting up the receiver, wiring, etc. to do much extended listening. What we did hear was pretty positive. The Jordans set up a broad, smooth soundstage. A wee bit raspy at the very high end, but crisp, clear dialog and nice sound stage. We never really pushed them too high, but some dinking with the nintendo, suggests they will put out more than enough for real world listening. The surrounds need quite a boost to get matched. The sub had plenty of thump, even in the middle of the room. I'll report more when we've had time to get all the furniture in place and the tweaking done. (They just moved in this week and contractor SNAFUs are still in the works.)

Basic Budget

Jordan JX92S $125 each $375
MCM 55-1855 $14 each $28
Vifa D26 $16 each $32
CrossOver, Cups etc   $70
SV-10/PSA-1   $285
Veneer, Stain,Lacquer   $60
MDF, Hardware   $50
  TOTAL $900

Hey make it $1000 for all the shipping and ancillary goodies, and you still have a heck of nice little system!