(Topic ID: 39529)

Williams system 11: Cabinet and Backbox speaker upgrading

By nosro

7 years ago

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  • Latest reply 5 years ago by Curbfeeler
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#1 7 years ago

I need to replace both speakers on a High Speed that I just got. I have two questions that I can't seem to get a straight answer for these early system 11 machines:
1) What is the size of the cabinet speaker? The speaker cutout measures 5.5". The distance from mounting hole to mounting hole is 6 1/8" diameter. So which standard car speaker size does this equate to?
2) Do the backbox speaker and cabinet speaker each have their own amplifier? Best info I found was http://www.pinballsound.com/ which implied two amps.

1 week later
#2 6 years ago

I am reporting back with my findings after experimenting with some parts. As far as I know, these findings apply to High Speed, Grand Lizard, Road Kings, and Pinbot.

The backbox speaker is a standard 4"x10" speaker that is commonly found in automotive. The only trick is finding one that is flush with the mounting surface - most speakers have a midrange/tweeter section that sticks out above the frame. Since the 4x10 speaker mounting surface is a wood piece with slot holes cut through it to act as the "grill", your options are:
1) Find a flush-mount 4"x10" speaker (Pyle PLX4102 verified by badpenny61 to be flush mount)
2) Find a regular 4"x10" and cut out the wooden "grill" area. Apply new speaker grill cloth (such as amazon.com link ») if you butchered the existing speaker cloth by accident.

The cabinet woofer is a standard 6.5" speaker so there are many options. The main constraint is to buy a speaker with a mounting depth no more than approximately 2 3/4", at which point the speaker would rub against the playfield top edge in its raised position. One could also buy a full-range speaker rather than a woofer although the higher frequencies would certainly be pointless. Also, all else equal, a speaker optimized for bass will put out better low frequency performance than a speaker built to handle bass and mid-range frequencies such as in a typical full-range coaxial. I used a Pyramid WX65X and it just barely rubs against the top of the playfield in its raised position.

I recommend using crimp-on tab connectors to mate the wire to the terminals on the speaker (such as http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=095-282). The reason is that, although any polarity will work, it is worth experimenting with the polarity on the cabinet speaker. Swap the two wires and listen - the set up with the most bass (when working in conjunction with the cabinet speaker) is the "correct" hook up.

A high-pass filter ("bass blocker") is probably a good idea for the backbox speaker as it will never make good bass with an unsealed backglass as part of the speaker cabinet. Low frequencies will only distort the backbox speaker. I used Radio Shack 220µF 35V 20% Axial-Lead Electrolytic Capacitor Model: 272-1017 (https://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2102485) which for a 4 ohm speaker should result in a high pass frequency of 180 Hz. (See calculator here: http://www.apicsllc.com/apics/Misc/filter2.html) Keep in mind that this is a very mild filter - only 6dB of attenuation per octave. But since 3dB is a doubling of power to a speaker, this is a real benefit.

A low-pass filter for the cabinet speaker is strictly optional if you think it lends a better sound blend - high frequencies will not significantly distort a woofer.

Although the setup can handle 4ohm speakers for both locations, it is best to make sure both the backbox and the cabinet are rated for the same impedance. The reason is that, without separate volume controls, the speaker with high impedance is more likely to have a more muted volume. You may use this to your advantage, though - if you can find an 8ohm 4x10 speaker and a 4ohm 6.5 woofer, the setup could be a bit heavier in bass.

I highly recommend a volume control (really an attenuator) for the backbox speaker. Because most people like more bass, reducing the volume on the backbox speaker is a good way to increase the relative volume of the cabinet speaker that has been presumably upgraded to a bass-capable speaker. Key words are "L pad attenuator". I purchased this one: amazon.com link »

Use the following wiring diagram (taken from http://techtalk.parts-express.com/showthread.php?205712-L-pad-wiring ). Don't worry too much about the polarity. As long as 1 and 3 go to the amplifier somehow and 1 and 2 go to the speaker somehow, you are fine.

If you want to be "correct", use the pin-out below.
// Error: Image 76547 not found //

If you combine a high-pass with the L-pad, my preference has been to insert the high pass capacitor between the L-pad and the speaker. Again, the primary value in a 1st order low pass (as you would get with a single in-line capacitor) is hypothetical more than audible to my ears. I put it between pin 2 of the L-pad and the speaker.

#3 6 years ago

Someone pointed out that you can get a pre-fab kit: http://pinballpro.net/shop/williams-system-11-games-w-4x10-speaker/

That's certainly the way to go. My objective, however, was to improve the sound for less than $50. It's not too difficult a task given that the stock speakers were junk when new and can be more than 25 years old assuming they were never replaced.

I ended up purchasing these 4x10 speakers for $12 (customer returned unit): amazon.com link »

and this 6.5 woofer for $13: amazon.com link »

Everything sounds unbelievably better, not because these speakers are any good ($12 speakers - seriously?) but because the 25 year old stock speakers are so bad.

#6 6 years ago

I did not use any filters. Although I think I might add a high-pass (capacitor) to the backbox speaker to make sure that the bass stays out of that speaker.

For the cabinet speaker, I used the existing screws and nuts. I removed the metal speaker screen - no point in a home installation.

For the backbox, I had to buy longer screws but otherwise used the original holes. Actually, if you want to avoid doing any modifications to the machine (I'm all in favor of laziness) and you can not find any flush-mount 4x10 speakers, I would recommend getting extra long screws and using some screw spacers between the speakers and the mounting panel. You can use some thick weather stripping layered on top of the speaker's rim to create a seal between the speaker and the mounting panel. This is totally ghetto and makes for terrible bass, but as I said - your bass is going to be bad no matter what. The cabinet speaker can make up for your bass deficiencies.

#12 6 years ago
Quoted from badpenny61:

Question? is 4 ohms what came in HS? Or does it matter if you are running 4 ohms in all 3 positions?

This link ( http://www.pinballsound.com/ ) suggests that the existing amp is more than capable of driving 4 ohm speakers, regardless of what the original speakers are. I haven't cranked up the volume on mine, but the 4ohm speakers that I bought work fine.

Oh, and I think you mean two positions - there are only two speakers in total!

#13 6 years ago
Quoted from badpenny61:

Yea, I got a HS and I will be ordering the speakers tonight, the same ones, except maybe these for the backbox
amazon.com link »

If you get that, please report back on if it mounts flush. Heck, if it does, maybe I can buy the other one off you.

#14 6 years ago
Quoted from badpenny61:

... but HS doesn't warrant a pinball pro system, lame electronic music.

Exactly my thought. I've heard the PinballPro stuff (on a Jackbot and Cirqus Voltaire) and it is certainly impressive. But spending less than $30 on a speaker upgrade is a much better value proposition!

#19 6 years ago

Easiest is probably this: ebay.com link » Bass Blocker Pair 6x9 6 1 2 5x7 4x10 Large Speaker 200hz 4 Ohm 100hz 8ohm

Want to go splits on one?

Slightly harder way is to calculate what you need: http://www.carstereo.com/help/Articles.cfm?id=1 and find the actual capacitor at RadioShack or something. 200uF or 400uF looks good.

#27 6 years ago
Quoted from badpenny61:

Well with a little looking and no beer goggles (last night's fog), both the 6' & 6.5' have the same dimenisons. So, I pretty sure I'm safe.

I don't know how, but see if you can find a way to double check that. According to the manufacturer's site (http://www.pyramidcaraudio.com/sku/WH68/6-200-Watt-High-Power-Paper-Cone-8-Ohm-Subwoofer) this is a straight-up 6.0 diameter. And I have certainly purchased items only to find out that the dimensions were incorrect. In fact, I actually purchased a different speaker listed as 6.5 diameter, but it turned out to be 6.0 but with an adapter plate for 6.5. It did not fit.

Also, the one you showed is listed as 8 ohms. If your 4x10 is 4ohms, the 4x10 is likely to be a bit louder than the 8ohm 6.5 speaker. This could be fixed by adding a volume control (attenuator) to the backbox. I'm going to look into that, because I could use a little more bass punch.

BTW, I don't know if I mentioned, but the Boss Audio 4x10 I ordered does NOT flush mount.

#28 6 years ago

BTW, here's the relevant diagram on the connector from the main board to the speakers. It looks like the capacitor would go between pin 2 on the board and the speaker. I'll see if my local RadioShack has that part.


#33 6 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

If the speaker is not a flush mount, then you can use a 4x10 speaker depth ring; -or pull the speaker panel out and using a wood router, rout out the panel "fingers" until the tweeter allows a flush fit. .

I could not find a 4x10 ring - not at Crutchfield nor Ebay. Any idea where to get one?

I wanted to avoid cutting the stock panel, but that is probably the way to go - it is there for protection on location and has no place in a home machine where cloth is plenty of protection.

2 weeks later
#35 6 years ago

I updated post 2 above with speaker information from badpenny61 and added specific information on adding a high-pass filter to the 4x10. I've ordered a volume control and will add info on that later (as a way to alter the balance between the 4x10 backbox speaker and the 6.5 cabinet speaker.)

2 weeks later
#39 6 years ago

Forgot about this thread. I did try a volume attenuator. If you like bass, get a really good bass-capable speaker and add an attenuator to the backbox speaker. Dial down the backbox volume until the bass-balance is to your liking.

I edited the second post to add a volume control.

9 months later
#42 6 years ago

I also had the Pyle 4x10 and the Pyramid WX65X. However, I later swapped the Pyramid WX65X for a Pyramid W64 in the cabinet.

I installed the cabinet speaker by using one hand to hold the playfield in a partially raised position (since the speaker will not fit in while the playfield is fully raised) and using the other hand to position the speaker.

Soldering is certainly better, but I think any benefits are outweighed by the inconvenience. Put another way, there is a whole community of audiophiles out there who think a well-crimped connection is fine for their $10,000 speakers. I think crimp-ons are better if only because you may want to experiment with switching the polarity (to give the maximum bass).

#45 6 years ago
Quoted from Jeff_PHX_AZ:

Can you explain this? Do you mean the other lugs on the cab speaker?

Polarity is simply which wire goes to which lug on the speaker. There really is not a "correct" polarity for each speaker. It can depend on many things, such as where you position the machine relative to the walls in the room. Generally, however, changing the relative polarity between the backbox and the cabinet speaker can yield slightly better bass. For example, leaving the backbox wiring unchanged while swapping the two wires on the cabinet speaker may sound slightly better or worse.

Quoted from Jeff_PHX_AZ:

Also whats the difference between Pyramid WX65X and the Pyramid W64?

The W64 seems to have much more upper-bass capability where the WX65X seems to have more lower-bass capability. In my machine (High Speed) and perhaps other system 11 games, the audio doesn't seem to have much lower bass content anyway, thus I find that the W64 sounds better and there is more perceived bass due to the fact that most of the bass content is really "upper" bass on HS. The W64 also has a bit more clearance and doesn't rub the playfield in the raised position the way that the WX65X did on my machine.

I don't think you can really go wrong with either. I just enjoy experimenting.

#48 6 years ago

Use the wiring diagram from the "VOLUME CONTROL" section of the second post. (The link is http://techtalk.parts-express.com/showthread.php?205712-L-pad-wiring .) In case you need more explicit detail, the amplifier is the the wires coming from the board. You don't need to worry too much about which is "+" and which is "-" as long as you have one wire from the pin going to pin 1 of the volume control and one terminal on the speaker and the other wire from the pin going to one of the other pins on the volume control. The remaining pin on the volume control then goes to the speaker.

The advantage of having a volume control on the backbox speaker is that you can dial down the volume on the backbox. This would not affect the volume on the cabinet speaker. Since turning down the backbox speaker has the result of making the cabinet speaker relatively louder, the net result is more bass. In other words, the volume control is effectively a bass control knob.

I just used velcro to fasten the volume control to a convenient location near the speaker.

#50 6 years ago

I used that L-pad. The L-pad will effectively turn the speaker into an 8 ohm device. If you use this on the backbox speaker, turning it into an 8-ohm device will also effectively mute the speaker ever so slightly, which is what you would probably want anyway. So that part is fine.

Find some generic 18 gauge wire. Actually 20 gauge is fine for the low wattages that we are talking about here and is easier to work with.

I don't bother with solder. I just clip off the wires at the old speaker terminals and crimp on spade connectors. Specifically, a tool like this for crimping on the connectors: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Gardner-Bender-Terminal-and-Crimping-Tool-Kit-GS-67K/202518592

And connectors like these: ebay.com link » 50 Pc 22 18 Awg Male Female Spade 250 Wire Crimp Connector

You can use the female connectors to slip onto the L-pad terminals or speaker terminals. (You may have to get some pliers to squeeze the female connectors a little tighter.)

To be extra explicit, you can crimp two wires into one female connector and put that female connector on L-pad terminal 1. One of those wires goes to another female connector which slips onto a speaker terminal. The other wire can go to a male connector. The wire coming from the board can get a female connector which connects with the male connector.

The rest is just running lengths of wire using female connectors to slip onto the L-pad terminals or the speaker terminal according to the diagram.

I hope this helps, because I don't think a picture of my messy backbox wiring will make it clearer!

#54 6 years ago

20 gauge is thinner than 18 gauge. It's not a problem for such low wattage and short runs.

Sorry about the bad grammar. I continue to use an L pad on all my machines to crank up the bass!

#56 6 years ago

The 15W L-pad is fine. I think you would be lucky to peak out at 1W at ear-splitting volume. The amp is probably pushing something more like 0.1W at typical volume levels.

I wouldn't worry too much about the wire. I think the wire coming out of the connector on the machine is probably 20 gauge. Buy whatever is at your local hardware store.

1 week later
#66 6 years ago

Yes, I also have the volume dialed almost completely to min. If you set the attenuation to max and put a sound level meter right next to each speaker, you will find them to be quite comparable. The fact that the cabinet speaker doesn't point at your ears requires that it be much louder in comparison to the backbox speaker in order to be audible. It is the same way with a Judge Dredd machine I have where I also upgraded the speakers and installed an L pad.

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