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Monday, May 9, 2011

Decware Zen Open Baffle Project

I have decided to build another open baffle speaker, and instead of making my own design, I am going to use the plans for the Zen Open Baffle from Decware. 

The Zen Open Baffle is the highly-touted open baffle design that Decware founder Steve Deckert claims produces percussive, deep bass down to 50 Hz.  It achieves this bass response by way of a network of two resonant chambers and a horn, incorporated behind the baffle.  This network amplifies the rear-firing energy form the Zen's single full-range driver, and can be adjusted for bass response by opening or closing a valve a the top of the chamber, underneath the back of the driver.

Deckert's original whitepapers on the Zen suggested the possibility of placing microphones in the port at the top of the largest, "main" resonant chamber, and then amplifying those signals to drive a pair of separate subwoofers.  He suggested this based on the fact that - according to him - the bass produced in the Zen's bass chambers is well balanced, and contains all of the harmonics of the original signal.  In other words, whereas the sound from the port of a typical bass-reflex cabinet contains only a few low-end frequencies, and lacks most of the low-end audio spectrum, the sound from the Zen's port contains the entire low-end frequency range.  You would never want to mic and amplify the sound from a bass-reflex port, because you'd be amplifying a terrible-sounding mush of bass tones.  Mic'ing the Zen's port, on the other hand, gives you deep, augmented bass that's perfectly matched to the single full-range driver.

Although Deckert says that the new Zen design needs no bass augmentation, I have a feeling he doesn't listen to a lot of rap or reggae, nor does he use his Zens in a home theater setup.  Since my Zens will serve as home theater mains as well as stereo speakers, and I DO listen to rap and reggae alongside the jazz, I think I may want to include the subs.

I downloaded to plans for the Zens from the Decware website, at a modest cost of $20.  I must say I am impressed and thankful that Deckert is an enthusiast's designer, and offers plans for his revolutionary products to DIYers.  Perhaps his business cries out for for an MBA re-do....but I hope he doesn't change the way he works and interacts with customers.  I am so happy to have these plans!

My one gripe: the plans are poorly laid out, and there are a few inconsistencies in the measurements and angles in the plans.  Steve Deckert himself is answering my questions related to these inconsistencies.  Wow!

For now, I have re-built the plans in Google Sketchup, in prep for my build.

I will keep posting on this project as it proceeds (I have three cabinets in production now, and won't start the Zens for a month or so).  For now, here is the Decware website: http://www.decware.com.


  1. Well? How did it turn out? I would love to know how they sound as I am also interested in building these.

  2. I would also like to know any updates on these! Please post an update. I bought the plans and I too found issues. Can you share the sketch files you made?

    I can send you a verification that I bought the plans from Decware.