In response to numerous requests here it is - the page which details my speaker build project ! The story so far:
December 2000 - our Musical Fidelity power amp blows a channel (caused, we discovered, by a short in one of the speaker cables); we struggle to get it repaired; I scour the web for help; a very helpful guy (Geoff Husband) at an excellent hi-fi site (TNT Audio) suggests parts sources and also suggests we replace our cheap passive pre-amp with a second-hand pre-amp to match our expensive power amp (which we do); the power amp gets repaired.
May 2001 - the new pre-power combination is a great improvement but, as Geoff predicted, our existing speakers can't handle all the detail that they're now receiving and sound awful; we can't afford £3,500 for Quad electrostatic speakers so again we take his recommendation and buy a self-build kit from a one-man company in UK (IPL); ship it from UK to Bahrain; I build the cabinets; install all the electrics and drive units; veneer them in white ash using iron-on veneer; can't find a wood-stain that gives an acceptable black finish so I spray paint them (outside); re-veneer them (the veneer warped from being left outside overnight in the humidity).
Determined to avoid them warping again after the next coat of paint I lay newspaper over 3/4 of the 3rd bedroom, lay the speakers on their sides and spray a second coat on one side. I then spend 2 hours on my hands and knees removing black paint from the unpapered areas of the marble floor and the lower parts of the walls - you'd never believe paint could go so far. Liz was not happy. Needless to say the remaining 4 surfaces were sprayed outside.
I then varnished them (4 coats), moved them into the lounge with Liz's help (they were too heavy for me to lift them on my own), and with some trepidation turned on the hi-fi. We could hear the difference immediately but they improved significantly during the first 20 hours as the drive units bedded down - they now sound superb - incredible clarity and detail, but quite neutral - only now do I realise how coloured the bass was on the AR44s we had been using before.
January 2002 - I'm not happy with the appearance of the iron-on veneer so I'm buying real veneer when we're in UK on vacation in February and re-doing them. Geoff's advice has been so good we've also decided to buy a record deck. He and other hi-fi afficionados have all assured me that the sound from vinyl is vastly superior to that from CD. My one concern was that I thought buying LPs would be difficult but it's amazing how many sources there are. So far I've bought 90 LPs on the web.
March 3 2002 - the deck and LPs are now in Bahrain, along with some gorgeous kevasinga veneer to re-do the speakers. Deck set-up first.
March 25 2002 - the deck is now working. It took me 2 attempts to get the cartridge aligned but the results are worth it: a more natural and rounded sound than CD; more detail, particularly in the treble; better imaging - there's still a lot of adjustment to do over the next month or so to get it performing at its very best but it's been worth it ;-) Now for the veneer....
April 27 2002 - the speakers are finished. The results look superb - Liz said "They look like a piece of furniture now". See what you think.......