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Cross-Over Guide

 

Speaker Build Capacitor Options:

 

Standard Option:   All Ostinato speakers use ClarityCSA capacitors in the Tweeter network.  Woofer/mid-range networks make use of high quality caps from Clarity and Audyn.  Nothing cheap here.

Option 1:  ClarityCSA Capacitors

With this option, we upgrade the capacitors on the woofer/mid-range netwoks to ClarityCSA models. 

Option 2:  Mundorf Capacitors

With this option the cross-overs utilize Mundorf EVO Oil and Supreme caps for all drivers.  Only exception is for the Center Channel mid-range, where we source a ClarityCSA for best configuration. 

 

Cross-Over FAQ:

 

What is a Cross-Over?

What's in the 'Standard' Cross-Over?

I heard that 'audio grade' capacitors are just snake oil?

Your just trying to make more profit with the Capacitor selections?

 

 

What is a Cross-Over?

Seasoned audiophiles are very familiar with this term and understand that the cross-over is the heart of a speaker and the most complicated part of the design.  The concept is relatively simple:  The cross-over network (full title) splits the full-range musical signal from the amplifier into frequency ranges appropriate to each of the drivers in the speaker.  Lowest for the woofer, highest for the tweeter and if the speaker has a mid-range, the middle for it.  The Ostinato Desktop model is a two-way design (woofer and tweeter) and its cross-over sends frequencies of 3500 hertz and higher to the ribbon tweeter and those lower go to the woofer.  In actuality it is more complicated as there is not a single cut-off point but rather a range - but hopefully you get the picture.  The Ostinato Monitor and Center Channel are both three-way designs that also include a mid-range driver. 

Designing a quality cross-over is a complicated affair, containing many complex variables.  These include size of cabinet, port size and tube length, driver characteristics, baffle shape, proximity of drivers to one another, dampening material and so on.  Often to get the best sound possible from a speaker, a large number of cross-over components are required.  This pushes production prices high and is why many mass market cross-over designs are optimized more for component quantity and cost rather than sonic quality.

 

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The components of a cross-over are called inductors, resistors and capacitors.  We won't go into how they work here - there are many places online that you can go to geek out as much as you want.  The main point is that for audio applications, you want to use quality versions with specific characteristics to achieve the best sound.  To reach certain price points, mass market companies must skimp on both the amount and quality of their components.  After all - the customer never sees the cross-over and a few dollars times thousands of units can put a lot of money to the bottom line. This is not an evil action - simply companies serving the price points of their customers.
 

 

What's in the 'Standard' Cross-Over?

Every Ostinato speaker is designed for sonic quality - not to hit a price point. We source only high quality components in all models:   Air core inductors are made from heavy, high-quality copper with tight tolerances.   Solid core inductors are 16 gauge copper with super low DC resistance and high power handling.  All capacitors are audio-grade metallized polypropylene.  Resistors are selected that handle high watt applications with ease.

 

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Don't worry if you don't know what all this means - just know that we use heavy, expensive components in all of our products.  The cross-overs in a pair of Desktop's weigh almost 5 lbs!  Contrast that with the few ounces you might find in an inexpensive mass market speaker.  We are proud of the quality components used in all our products.  

 

I heard that 'audio-grade' capacitors are just snake oil?

Maybe they are.. at the end of the day, regardless of measurements and specs, isn't music subjective?  Cap selection and comparisons have caused many an Internet flame war.  And the price range of Capacitors running from pennies to thousands of dollars just adds fuel the fire.  Our position?  We think of Caps along a quality/price spectrum and believe the selections we offer sit right on the line just before marginal improvements get too expensive.  We firmly believe the Caps in our Standard cross-over sound fantastic and that the additional options we offer provide choices that some customers will find important. 

 

ClarityCap line:  Since 1974, this British company have been a highly regarded name in audio.  Their entire line up of caps are considered well balanced.  We find the excellent CSA line to be both clear, smooth and never fatiguing.  They provide a neutral and civilized image that work so well with the revealing nature of all Ostinato models. 

 

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Mundorf Caps:  This Cologne, Germany based company has over a 25 year rich heritage in the audio world.  We find that the Mundorf-speced models add a bit of richness to their natural sound - especially in vocals and the mid-range.  The transparency they provide, especially in the open-backed Monitor, are fantastic on well-recorded music.  Perhaps too revealing is you listen to more modern, compressed music.

 

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Aren't you just trying to make more profit with these 'upgrades'?

Definitely - you figured out our grand plan to retire to Tahiti!  In all seriousness, if you never knew what a cross-over or capacitor was before now, or have any doubts, please go with the standard model.

Everyone at Ostinato Speakers (and we are completely unbiased of course) believe the standard cross-over build sounds amazing.  We are proud of the expensive, high quality components that go into every product.  We fall into three camps:  those that don't hear any appreciable difference between the Standard and optional cross-over configurations, those that hear the difference but don't think the price differential is worth it and those that love what to them are sonic improvements. 

 

At Ostinato Speakers, we are not interested in taking sides in what is almost a religious war.  Rather, we prefer to supply arms to both camps by providing our customers a choice.