Paul Carmody "Hitmaker" Studio Monitor as Best Bookshelf Speaker Under $500

Soundsgud

Soundsgud

Audiophyte
I think Carmody's "Hitmaker" deserves a place, or at least consideration, as Best Bookshelf Speaker Under $500!

I didn't see a post on Carmody's "Hitmaker" Studio Monitors from Parts Express. I built five of these for a prototype we were working on at a family-owned business under the design concept "ultimate Bluetooth Speaker." We gave one to a customer in a mono version and a handle on the top that sounded amazing (L+R input via Bluetooth with Mono output) although not a sensitive speaker and the only complaint about the prototype was that it could not play loud enough when he set it by the pool where he tested the prototype and used it all the time. Paul Carmody says it's not a sensitive speaker on his website so no surprise: https://sites.google.com/site/undefinition/bookshelf-speakers/hitmakers.

Since our family business is a Ham Radio company (www.palstar.com) it was decided that making a Studio Monitor Bluetooth speaker was too far away from our core business competency. Two stereo prototypes were also made, left and right speaker. One set with twin MiniDSP amps mounted on the back panel of the Hitmakers and calibrated by Paul Carmody himself. The other set with a cheap Bluetooth plate amp from Parts Express that I set up in a bedroom test site. That was back in 2018. The project shelved and the prototype in the bedroom faithfully playing music when needed.

Then a month ago I had an extra amp after upgrading my home theater and put it to work with the Hitmaker Prototypes. Our prototypes had Paul Carmody's speaker crossover professionally built and a 1/8" aluminium front panel added more for aesthetics than anything else, although it might add some rigidity if needed. It was added to the original prototypes we built for looks and bolted onto the front panel from the kit with 8 bolts as pictured here. Otherwise exactly the same finished in black.

The short of it is these SOUND AWESOME! I had never tested them with a more robust stereo amp and a nice bluetooth DAC. At one point we had bought a KEF LS50 to test the mono bluetooth speaker and I didn't like it. The Hitmakers sounded more like what I expected with a"full, balanced, and effortless sound" and deep bass with no subwoofer needed.

This speaker kit is advertised as "remarkably flat response, ±3 dB from 45-20,000 Hz" and I will say...it delivers. These were designed as nearfield studio monitors, but I think they also work as the ultimate Bluetooth speakers in a bedroom that I really noticed when powering them with a Yamaha natural sound amplifier and a iFi Zen Blue ultra-affordable hi-res Bluetooth DAC.

We invested a bit of time to create detailed drawings of these in Solidworks to have custom-made cabinets manufactured for these in California to sell (and pay Paul Carmody a licensing fee obviously). Sadly the project was canned. I still would like to have these exact speakers in a nice cabinet with real wood veneer and nice finish so that the visual richness of the speakers matches the richness of the sound. Maybe one day.

If you're looking for amazing sound no matter what your budget is it is worth your while to make a pair of these just for fun and listening enjoyment. Put them in the garage or workshop and you might just find that you want them in the bedroom or even your listening room.

You can buy the kit here: https://www.parts-express.com/Hitmaker-MT-Bookshelf-Speaker-Kit-with-Knock-Down-Cabinet-300-7116

You can buy the iFi Zen Blue on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07W5RB5GN/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B07W5RB5GN&linkCode=as2&tag=bain08-20&linkId=fbb65a4ba30e6b745b907eb8ace5479e
 

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lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Ever consider sending one out for measurements to someone like James here at AH (if he can accommodate), or Erin/Erin's Audio Corner or Amir/Audiosciencereview ? I might try one of these kits except I really don't need yet another pair of speakers around here :) Carmody is a reliable designer IMO.
 
Soundsgud

Soundsgud

Audiophyte
Ever consider sending one out for measurements to someone like James here at AH (if he can accommodate), or Erin/Erin's Audio Corner or Amir/Audiosciencereview ? I might try one of these kits except I really don't need yet another pair of speakers around here :) Carmody is a reliable designer IMO.
I’m not affiliated with Dayton Audio or Paul Carmody and we did not in the end make a retail product based on the Hitmaker design so not in a position to send one in for testing although a great idea! I would have done so if we had pursued the venture.

In response to what [mention]James Larson [/mention]wrote in his review of Dayton Audio speakers I think the Hitmaker design as a “Made in the USA” speaker and cabinet with real wood veneer in matte and high gloss walnut, redwood, or black or whatever market research would suggest, and with speaker components from Dayton Audio would be a prime opportunity to develop a new “American Audio” speaker to compare to the British Audio, European Audio examples and upscale to a target of “Best Bookshelf Speaker/Studio Monitor under $1000 USD” - at this level I’m thinking of speakers like fine wine although not at the high-end audiophile level:

“The [Dayton Audio budget] MK442T speakers are a great entry-way into high-fidelity. They are perfect for bedrooms, office rooms, media rooms, or any other small/medium sized room where space is at a premium. One thing I would like to see in the future is for Dayton Audio to expand on the work here to develop a loudspeaker along these lines but more powerful. What could Dayton Audio do when less restricted by costs; if they can produce a speaker this good for $228/pair, what could they cook up for $500 to $600 a pair? I would be very interested in seeing what they could do with a three-way design capable of higher SPL within this product line. Take that as a challenge, Dayton Audio!”

Source: https://www.audioholics.com/tower-speaker-reviews/dayton-mk442t/conclusion

The Frequency graph as measured by Paul Carmody/Parts Express is available here: https://www.parts-express.com/pedocs/manuals/hitmaker-speaker-kit-user-manual.pdf


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Slumlord
I've heard good things about Carmody designs. Your speaker does look sharp with the aluminum faceplate on the baffle. Got any other images?
 
Soundsgud

Soundsgud

Audiophyte
I've heard good things about Carmody designs. Your speaker does look sharp with the aluminum faceplate on the baffle. Got any other images?
This is the only other picture I have that was the prototype "Ultimate Bluetooth" speaker we made with Carmody's Hitmaker from Parts Express. The power switch, bluetooth status LEDs, and volume control knob on the front aluminium panel (another reason why we added the panel) were to operate the Bluetooth amp and receiver inside the cabinet, and professionally painted (by a local autoshop in lieu of any other option) in Matte Black over the mdf cabinet. As far as I know our customer who received the prototype is still using this as a bluetooth speaker.

This was made back in 2017 and our company did not pursue the project since the bluetooth speaker market was flooded with competitive products. The idea was to create an ultimate Bluetooth speaker for use on a work bench or garage or other nearfield context like musicians in a practice room with a student, etc. And with a handle on top still portable when needed although heavy so not for a trip to the beach necessarily.

We're looking for the pair we installed the MiniDSP plate amps (https://www.minidsp.com/products/plate-amplifiers/pwr-ice125) onto two Hitmakers. If they find them in the factory I'll post a few pics. The MiniDSP opened the possibilities to recalibrating the entire digital crossover network for any sound room or studio although Paul Carmody had calibrated to his testing and original design. I believe you can actually load different profiles via an XML file, in theory, simply uploading the XML file to a forum like this one for others to try. Opens up a lot of new possibilities for Open Source speaker design using the MiniDSP although at $400 per plate amp (you need two) plus $135 for the Hitmaker kit, assembly time, professional wood veneer and paint, then the cost for the MiniDSP option would be over $1000 USD for a pair ($535 plus shipping for each speaker), and Bluetooth DAC like iFi Zen Blue at $129 you are now at about $1200 in material costs, but no need for an external amp.

I still say this was the best sounding bluetooth speaker I ever heard as a stereo input-to-mono output. Then I finally hooked up two of these to a stereo amp with the iFi Zen Blue DAC for bluetooth conversion and even better using Carmody's physical crossover network professionally built and installed inside the cabinet (no MiniDSP). Easy listening and a really full sound that is ideal for a nearfield monitor context.

These are so good in a bedroom/nearfield context that I wish we had made the wood veneer prototypes with the cabinet maker in California who has a lot of experience making audiophile quality speakers.
 

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lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
FWIW there have been diy speakers tested before; it doesn't need to be a commercial design to be measured (altho I suppose a particular reviewer may not deem it something he wants to spend time doing; I know Amir has done some diy designs built by members, don't recall but one diy sub being measured here at AH, can't think of one Erin's done).. Did you ever do your own measurements? I'm more interested in the finished product from a typical diy'er than the specs the designer posts, too.
 
M

MrBoat

Audioholic Samurai
Carmody design fan here. Currently have the Tarkus (and all components) up on the build schedule for the next time I am motivated. Have also built the Classix2, and the Speedster for near field use. I have too many speakers (not complaining) and almost gave the Classix away to a family member, until I gave them a fair listening session, point blank-like. I ended up getting hooked and now won't part with it. It should not sound like it does. A 2-way that dips down into the mid 30hz range as a full range speaker. I would not normally ask this of a 2-way design. The Vifa tweeters have their moments as well. They light up some pretty pleasant effects on the top end. Never had a tweeter make me grin before, but that one does. It's cute. The little tweeter that could.

Carmody's designs remind me of a group of well-known session musicians, getting together for an impromptu jam session and the collective experience of what they each do well, making it something worth going to listen to. They also go well with beer, and other sacred habits.
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Ninja
Carmody design fan here. Currently have the Tarkus (and all components) up on the build schedule for the next time I am motivated. Have also built the Classix2, and the Speedster for near field use. I have too many speakers (not complaining) and almost gave the Classix away to a family member, until I gave them a fair listening session, point blank-like. I ended up getting hooked and now won't part with it. It should not sound like it does. A 2-way that dips down into the mid 30hz range as a full range speaker. I would not normally ask this of a 2-way design. The Vifa tweeters have their moments as well. They light up some pretty pleasant effects on the top end. Never had a tweeter make me grin before, but that one does. It's cute. The little tweeter that could.

Carmody's designs remind me of a group of well-known session musicians, getting together for an impromptu jam session and the collective experience of what they each do well, making it something worth going to listen to. They also go well with beer, and other sacred habits.
Several years ago, I built an MTM 2 way enclosure using two Morel CAW638 6" woofers. They performed very well with a response down to 37 Hz at -3 dB. My Avatar shows its impedance and phase angle response curves. I used impedance compensation for a rather linear impedance response up to the crossover point. The tweeter used was an Airborne AMT driver which has a very wide horizontal dispersion for an amazing sound stage.

If you have never tried either an AMT or a ribbon tweeter, I think you would probably enjoy listening to one of them. The Airborne brand is sold by Madisound and also in Canada by Solen, the excellent crossover capacitor and inductor manufacturer.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
Several years ago, I built an MTM 2 way enclosure using two Morel CAW638 6" woofers. They performed very well with a response down to 37 Hz at -3 dB. My Avatar shows its impedance and phase angle response curves. I used impedance compensation for a rather linear impedance response up to the crossover point. The tweeter used was an Airborne AMT driver which has a very wide horizontal dispersion for an amazing sound stage.

If you have never tried either an AMT or a ribbon tweeter, I think you would probably enjoy listening to one of them. The Airborne brand is sold by Madisound and also in Canada by Solen, the excellent crossover capacitor and inductor manufacturer.
What proportions did you use for the subwoofer cabinets?
 
M

MrBoat

Audioholic Samurai
Several years ago, I built an MTM 2 way enclosure using two Morel CAW638 6" woofers. They performed very well with a response down to 37 Hz at -3 dB. My Avatar shows its impedance and phase angle response curves. I used impedance compensation for a rather linear impedance response up to the crossover point. The tweeter used was an Airborne AMT driver which has a very wide horizontal dispersion for an amazing sound stage.

If you have never tried either an AMT or a ribbon tweeter, I think you would probably enjoy listening to one of them. The Airborne brand is sold by Madisound and also in Canada by Solen, the excellent crossover capacitor and inductor manufacturer.
The Speedsters I built have the NeoCD-1 Ribbon Tweeters in them. They have a nice sound to them as well.
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Ninja
What proportions did you use for the subwoofer cabinets?
If you are refering to those cabinets, the drivers are 6" woofers in a 1.5 cf cabinet. I no longer have them so I don't remember the exact dimensions. It was a floor standing enclosure close to 4 feet high.
 
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