Shake the room – the Visaton Clou Speakers are finished!

Visaton Clou Speakers

Finally after many sheets of sandpaper, several coats of paint & 7 coats of varnish – the Visaton Clou speakers are able to do their thing!

Last week I made time to make progress with the speaker project, and the final push on Friday saw them finished.

With the finish of the speakers, I decided that I wasn’t going to achieve perfection – it was never going to happen, so I made a decision & deliberately kept some texture on the surface. The paint I was using was normal Dulux interior wall paint (Gooseberry Fool 3 or 4 I think, the darker of the two) applied with a small roll er normally used for gloss paint…the result is a pleasing, very even slightly textured finished. My thinking was that when I started to apply the varnish over the top, the texture would soften a little as the varnish would smooth it over – I was right & with each coat that I applied, the surface became smoother and smoother.

I decided that 7 coats of varnish were enough – this was the best part of a litre of gloss floor varnish….enough protection there I think! I have to say that I’m very happy with the finish. You can still see the textured paint surface under the varnish – this almost looks flecked. the varnish top coat is subtly & softly dimpled given a nice shine, but not an over the top gloss….a good balance.

Next the scary part – I had to cut the recesses for the speakers & connection panel into the nicely finished units….out with the router & the circle cutting jig. I then discovered typically that the circular cutting attachment that came with my router wouldn’t allow me to cut holes that were small enough….so I had to make up a new jig – 10mins work, not a big deal.

A couple of hours later I had all the holes & recesses cut – everything had gone according to plan thankfully & no dramas. Then a quick soldering session saw the drivers hooked up – the crossovers & internal wiring had been installed before I finished gluing the cabinets together.

So – into the house they went!

I’m running the Visaton Clou speakers from my old Apple G4 mac with a Behringer USB guitar link audio interface (a great gizmo if you have an electric guitar & is a much better quality audio output than the built in headphone output) – this is then plugged into an old 30W Sony F170 amp that I bought in the late 1980’s which then feeds the speakers. The amp is not really up to the job (edit: the speaker output I was using seems to have given up – the remaining output is still holding fast for now!) & will be replaced in the near future with something of a higher standard.

From the first listen, I was very impressed – great bottom end & a nice, not overly pronounced top end….for my own personal preference (partly due to the amp I think) I have boosted a bit of mid on the iTunes graphic EQ at 1K & 2K as I found that lacking a little for my taste.

I’m now using the speakers as much as I can to get the drivers worn in a bit so I can re-evaluate the tone again & make some more final adjustments….the next test will be to add a set of chrome spikes to get the off the floor – I think this should further improve the bottom end even more.

After living with the speakers for a few hours, I noticed that I had some how managed to fit the tweeters at slightly di fferent heights in each unit – doh! It doesn’t seem to effect the sound & I’m so happy with them that I will forget in time anyway….if you’ve considering building a set of speakers, I’d seriously recommend it ¬†as the end reward is well worth the effort. I can now hear far more detail in music that I have previously listened to hundreds of times – big grins all round!

Edit: I have now been listening to the Visaton Clou speakers for nearly a month – I’m very, very happy with the quality of sound that these puppies give out. I know some people will suck their teeth at the thought of using MP3s & a computer as a sound source for a nice audio setup, but I can assure you that the results are stunning. The stereo image & definition is exactly what I was hoping for, and now that my ears have got a little more used to the speakers, I really like the character of the sound a lot….my only comment now (which I feel is a personal preference) is that I would like a little more punch in the upper mids – I think that a new amp will help a lot here! I have already bought a nice set of dark chrome spikes to fit the the Visaton Clou speakers – I will post a new article with a little more feedback on the changes that this simple addition makes when I find the time to fit them.

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