Ellam XT

Small home, small audio speakers, beautiful sound

This story begins in the autumn of 2010 when my brother Michele has revealed to me its intentions to build an high-end speakers system. He has already made a choice for his home: a system based on the Ciare 3.5 project.

However I prefer small systems, so I searched extensively the www and finally I found the Troels Gravesen website, that contains many project and is a a really valuable source of informations.

Here I've found the Ellam XT, ...an interesting system for the living room...

The design

The Ellam XT box has been slightly revised. I had decided to place the crossover in the box so, to maintain the project's internal volume, the box is lightly larger.

I've drawn a dedicated fixed pedestral so the system is an on the floor one. The pedestral has been modified during the construction (compare the project below with the images above); an additional central surface has been added, it gave greater stability.

The cabinet, project and construction

The cabinet has been entirely built by my brother Michele. Without his valuable expertise and capacity, this system would never be born. The following construction notes are his. Thanks very much Michele!

I made the furniture in laminated beech with a thickness of 21 mm, very strong.
This material achieves high rigidity and avoid the necessity of jigs or other reinforcement. I only used white glue and screws for the bonding of the panels, obtaining a quick junction phase.
The beech wood provides an excellent stability for the screws that join the walls.
It is very important to drill pilot holes for the panel before the insertion of the screws to prevent swelling or difficulty in achieving the complete lock. To improve the overall strength of the joints I've also made wooden dowel.

The cabinet in beech plywood, 21mm thickness, fixed with 5x50mm screws;
in the right the rod with knurled beech dowel, 8mm diameter, 4cm length.


I've made very rounded shape on the upper and lower edges of the cabinet.
I've beginning with a deep recessed screw heads, followed by repeated passage with an electric planer; careful sanding with a rotary orbital sander (80mm paper).
I've tested them several times with a jig that reproduce the requested curve, until I've obtained the desired shape.

The curvature of the edges of the cabinet and the planer


The finish had to be very clear so I chose an ash veneer, with veins clearly visible. I proceeded to cut the panels and the subsequent bonding with more glue. In this case it is necessary an adequate pressure over the entire surface, which was obtained by weights.
I paid particular attention in the lining of the curves, performed with 5 strips of veneer cut with an appropriate angle at the junction to prevent the formation of cracks that otherwise I would have to then fill widely.

The lining of the upper and lower curves of the furniture made with veneer strips, 6x2mm wide,
glued with vinyl and held in place with adhesive tape.


I've made the openings for the speakers with a vertical laptop drill, after replacing the backing pad with a diy compass.
The interior of the cabinet was treated with two coats of high-density underbody-damping, used in automotive.

The vertical drill holes, and the portable cutter.


The cabinet has a built-in support, consisting of a vertical support and a foot. I made the vertical support of solid wood, from ash boards, 20mm thickness.
After shaping with an electric saw and a milling cutter, I built the support coupling elements with three contrasting veins to ensure the minimum deformation of the system.
The three elements are always separated by ash strips specially shaped and the whole thing was glued with white glue, following the insertion of dowel to secure adequate durability. The foot is formed by a bar of laminated beech 21 mm thick, veneered with ash (2 mm) and flanked by two side strips of solid ash (25 x 25 mm).
The face brick front (curved) and back were covered with ash veneer. I provided the foot of four M6 threaded sleeves for the optional use of metal spikes.
The fixing between the foot and the support, the support and the box, is obtained with six screws on each floor junction (5 mm diameter, 65 mm length).
Overall height is 93 cm.

Making of the the support, rounding of the corners, assembly


The finishing has been achieved with a rotary sander, card 80, then 120, and finally 400.
I also used putty nitro such as "pulp" neutral color to close small holes and flaws.
Afterwards I painted everything with two coats of high quality nitro sealer. I sanded it lightly with paper 600/800 to get a very smooth surface, suitable for the glossy finish with shellac.

Finishing and painting


I've made the mask from a layer of particle board (formica), covered on both sides (for increased strength) with ant. I created the openings and the desired profile with the vertical drill and a jigsaw. Afterwards I painted it with water-based paint; I've locked the tissue with glue on the canvas leaning against the frame. The attachment to the cabinet was obtained using dedicated plastic clips.

Making the mask


The final result
with me and Francy.

The crossover

The electronic components and the speakers have been purchased from the audioXcel site.
The crossover has been fixed on the back wall of the cabinet.

I have replicated this idea, the crossover is divided in two boards, every board contains the components for a single speaker.

How do they sound?

The Ellam XT has exceeded my expectations outperforming the Chario Cygnus that I used previously.

Last update: 16/05/2011