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Going Rogue with Skiing Ninja Crossovers on Ref 3s

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  • Going Rogue with Skiing Ninja Crossovers on Ref 3s

    I've done a step by step pictorial of building and installing Skiing Ninja's new crossovers for the Onix Reference 3s, so if someone is building they may have some guidance. It's got more pictures in it then needed, but I'll sort those out in time. I ordered the crossovers bare-naked so I could play a little.

    After gutting my Ref 3’s, and I never opened them up before, I would say to any Ref 3 owners even if your not inclined to put in Skiing Ninja’s crossovers, I would pull them apart and put in the NoRez. I really was not impressed with the dampening felt that came stock with the speakers. I wish I could have an opinion about the sound with just the dampening material change, but I did not do that “experiment”.


  • #2
    Congratulation Jack.


    • #3
      Well, we'll see. Remember I'm a curmudgeon.

      Currently I just have them burning in using Isotek's burn-in and conditioning CD. I came across this when I purchased my Esoteric player and it was recommended by Teak to prep their electronics for playing. Sean says 50 hours for some caps, and 500 hours for the Platinums.


      • #4
        Originally posted by TooManyToys
        Well, we'll see. Remember I'm a curmudgeon.
        Oh? ....... really?!?

        Have fun.
        There's a fine line between gardening and Madness.
        -Cliff Clavin


        • #5
          A copy of an updated post at Skiing Ninja.

          I checked off the Ninja Master option, getting the Platinum caps and full SSC wiring. Basically this is the full bore of everything you can get for the boards if your not going to get the low pass filtering. Another option for the Ref 3s is the cabinet upgrade kit, consisting of pre cut pieces of NoRez to dampen cabinet vibrations and act as the damping felt supplied OE. Since I only wanted to tear apart the Ref 3s once, the cabinet kit got checked as well.

          As mentioned, I checked the DIY option, which means that the crossovers are not assembled and wired. I’ve done a good amount of wiring and assembling over the years and really enjoy doing that. I also have my own way of doing things. Not that I consider anything wrong with Sean’s assembling of the boards, but I live within a few hundred yards away from the Navy’s Earl Weapons Depot where they will neither confirm or deny the existence of nuclear weapons on site. So I just felt it was prudent to assemble these boards to withstand any harsh conditions they may encounter. You just can’t be too careful.

          Sean supplies a schematic of the circuits, four in all as each driver/tweeter has it’s own. And he has laid out the boards in a way that minimizes the inductor coil magnetic flux fields. Here is a real good pictorial about this. To follow his wiring, I asked Sean for higher res images then those on the web site and he happily sent them out. Sean was always willing to answer any questions that I had on the hows and what’s of his boards. I marked up those images and have included them in my Webshots album that has more detailed pictures then in this thread.

          I followed most of Sean’s board layout with the exceptions being I don’t like glue and I really prefer strain relieving any wiring. I could see me dropping a soldered up woofer and pulling half of the components off the boards. I also placed the wiring from under the boards as I'm still considering at some point to have the crossovers in a clear box on the outside back of the cabinet.

          First up was figuring out the layout since I was wire tying everything, and with wires coming up through the boards I needed to move things around a little. This allowed me to mount some components differently then Sean, but still following the practice of letting inductor flux play nice with each other. Don’t need any Warp Core Breach problems you know.

          If your thinking of DIYing the boards, keep in mind this is a lot of work. The $65 that Sean charges for the board’s assembly is the cheapest $65 you will ever spend. Figuring out the layout and then drilling the hardboards took about 2.5 hrs. My mounting of the components and wiring everything up to completion took another 6 hours. Keep in mind that this type of work is not new to me, but I’m meticulous in looking at what I’m about to do and seeing if there is a better way.

          Next up was gutting the Ref 3s of its drivers and internals. My drivers came out of the cabinets without a problem, unscrewing one at a time while laying the cabinet on its side over a footstool. I have a very understanding wife who has been though 34 years of “what are your doing?”. But then again we’re still on our first date.

          The surprising thing for me during this process was the moderate amount of the felt damping material and frugality of its application. Maybe it’s ignorance on my part and with the extensive bracing within the interior, but for the price level of the speaker I was expecting more. The application of the NoRez in these cabinets gives me piece of mind that the most has been done, even if it is overkill.

          Cleaning the interior was easy using a paint scraper and a few other tools. I also scraped off the original cabinet building glue that had dripped inside so that the mass loaded layer of the NoRez would be firmly attached to the sides and lot lifted bu the runs. Disassembly and cleaning each cabinet, which included wiping the interior with an alcohol wetted rag, took 45 minutes.

          The NoRez came precut with an exception. Over the years there were some build variations of the cabinets so you need to trial fit each piece to ensure it fits properly. If there is any overlap of the adhesive coated mass loaded vinyl it will not fully contact the wood body and do its job. I had to cut a few pieces with aviation shears, but it was minimal. The port section in the lower area of the cabinet cannot fir NoRez, so I took it upon myself to stuff some of the OE felt down into this area. Can’t say if it helps or not, but it’s done. Check off another 45 minutes per cabinet for NoRez installation.

          The installation of the XO into the cabinet went off smoothly. I mounted it on the right side of the cabinet rather then the left, which Sean shows in his instructions. I’m right handed and it’s just easier to reaching through the woofer opening to work this way. Also the way my board wires were laid out just made it easier, too.

          The only real hitch I had during this phase was with the binding posts. This would even have a sane man nuts after an hour of dealing with this. I’ve done many similar installations in the past and I know how critical the shaft’s threads are being clear of solder or any thread damage. Everything was done proper and I could get all the retention nuts on the ends of the post's shafts. Sometimes they would just catch a little, or go on for half a turn then come off. I pulled the post out the back and looked over the threads and wires and everything was fine. Still would not tighten down, not matter how hard I pushed from the back to compress them. De-soldered all the wires so I could look at the nuts, and they were fine. Tried putting the nuts onto the posts without the wires and they went on fine. AGAIN. Re-soldered everything back up and still the same problem. Why, why, why ……. Luckily I don’t own a cat to kick.

          After a walk to the kitchen to get something to drink and another look with fresh eyes, both the cabinet and the posts have these little locating tabs and relief’s so the posts line up their wire pass through holes. That little amount was just enough to prevent the nuts that have an inner relief chamfer from working. If I put the nuts on the wires and posts backwards away from the relief the nuts would have screwed on fine but the post's holes would have not lined up.

          Sean states to use Loctite on the retaining nuts so they don’t loosen. I’ve got 5 types of 3M Loctite in my toolbox and none of them are going to be used in this application. I fought with Loctite too many times in my past and will only use it for the most robust applications. Some touch-up car paint or finger nail polish works fine for this sort of thing, which is what I used.

          The drivers soldered in fine and before doing so I cut back the wires that were a little too long. Sean gives you plenty of wire for this application, but I have to admit I needed to use some of my own Cardas solder in addition to his. Expected since my wiring was different then what Sean laid out. Installation of XO, wiring, and re-installation of drivers: 1 hour and 45 minutes per cabinet.

          So for my total time invested for building up the boards, installing the NoRez and installing the new crossovers was 21 hours spread over a few days.

          Again, a more detail pictorial is in my Webshots album if your interested:


          • #6
            Wow, seriously 21 hours?

            No way here, plus my I can't see very well up close and there is no way w/my bifocals I can do this! Guess you answered my question. I will keep them stock for now and move on.

            Maybe one day there will be someone i can pay to come to the house and do the upgrade.


            • #7
              Don't give up, you can get the pre-built crossovers from the ninja and that will save some time (8.5 hours by Jack's account here) as well as eliminate most of the fine detail work that would be difficult to see.
              Angel City Audio
              East Street Audio

              ACA, Melody, Onix, NuForce, KR Audio


              • #8

                Your are taking the total time if you were going to DIY the crossovers in the manner I did. As I stated above:

                Originally posted by TooManyToys
                . . . . . If your thinking of DIYing the boards, keep in mind this is a lot of work. The $65 that Sean charges for the board’s assembly is the cheapest $65 you will ever spend. Figuring out the layout and then drilling the hardboards took about 2.5 hrs. My mounting of the components and wiring everything up to completion took another 6 hours. Keep in mind that this type of work is not new to me, but I’m meticulous in looking at what I’m about to do and seeing if there is a better way. . . . . .
                Following Sean's intent:

                NoRez: Stripping 45 minutes, installation 45 minutes per cabinet. Three hours total for the pair.

                Removing old crossover and installing new one: 45 minutes each, one and one half hour total time (shorter if you've already taken out the drivers to do the NoRez).

                Going to Danny Richie's crossovers is an good upgrade to the Ref 3s. The most improved upgrade for me was to the Ref 100 in comparing the Ref 1,100 and 3 versions, but the Ref 100 is also the physically hardest to do. But the 100 went IMO from a mediocre speaker to a very, very good one.

                How Hugh's LCR speakers compare to this upgrade I can't comment on.