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  1. #1

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    Post An SDA Cultist Reviews The LSi9

    Why I Bought Another Pair of Speakers

    There are four pairs of bookshelf speakers sitting in my garage: Polk RT 35, Polk RT55i, Fanfare Acoustics Prelude, and Polk SDA CRS+. Unfortunately, none of them coordinate as well as I would like with the cherry furniture in my new office at work. Hence, a pair of LSi9’s, in cherry, was purchased.

    My original intent was to do an RT55i vs. SDA CRS+ vs. Lsi9 comparison. I expected the LSi9’s to only be an enhanced version of the RT55i’s. However, immediately after hooking up the LSi9’s, I realized their sonic signature was more a lineal descendant of the SDA sound than the RT line. I did hook up my RT55i’s for a quick comparison, but I quickly put them back in the garage. The RT55i was outclassed in every respect by the LSi9.

    Listening Session Notes

    I own three pairs of 1989 vintage CRS+ speakers. The first pair has modified crossover components and upgraded binding posts and is used as the center channel speaker in my home theater. The second pair is unmodified internally but was modified externally by being re-veneered in teak. The second pair is not currently in use. The third pair is used in my home office system and also has cabinets that were re-veneered in teak. Additionally, the crossovers of the third pair were modified with upgraded wire-wound resistors and polypropylene capacitors. The stock binding posts were replaced with Cardas tellurium copper posts. These modifications provide some improvements in imaging focus, midrange definition, and bass definition. The listening notes below are from a comparison of the LSi9 to the second pair of SDA CRS+’s with unmodified crossovers.

    The speakers were spaced 10 feet apart and I was seated 10 feet from the center point between the speakers. The LSi9’s were toed in slightly, which improved the imaging focus a little. The LSi9’s tended to get a little boomy in the bass when placed close to the rear wall, therefore they were brought out into the room one and a half feet. The CRS+’s on the other hand, sounded best (in the bass region) when placed only five inches from the rear wall. The listening room was 17.5 feet by 20 feet with a 10 foot ceiling and hardwood floor. Speakers were placed along the long wall.

    The gold plated binding straps of the LSi9 were replaced with 8 gauge stranded speaker wire. There is a small, but noticeable loss of high frequency information with the straps. I verified this by switching my preamp to mono mode, setting both speakers a couple of feet from each other, and playing some material with a lot of high frequency content (soprano saxophone, ride cymbals, etc.). The left speaker used the stock binding post straps. The right speaker's binding post straps were replaced with high quality stranded wire. While sitting in front of the speakers, I used the preamp remote control to shift the balance control back and forth between left and right. I do not understand why Polk continues to use these straps. They used to use stranded wire connecting straps on the SDA SRS series. I wish they would go back to those, at least for the LSi line. I will concede however, that most recordings (and a lot of electronic gear) are so rolled-off in the upper and lower registers that a difference may not be heard by some listeners.

    Equipment used:

    Adcom GFP-750 Preamp
    Adcom GFA-5802 Power Amp
    Denon DCD AR1650 CD Player
    Yamaha PF-800 Turntable w/ Yamaha MC-705 moving coil cartridge
    Monster Z2 Reference speaker cable
    Monster Z100i interconnects for CD and turntable
    Monster Z200i XLR interconnects for preamp and amp.
    O'Sullivan Model 56011 28" Speaker Stands

    The LSi9 sounded so much like the SDA CRS+ that I wondered if the sonic characteristics of the LSi9 were modeled after the CRS+ , or if it was just a (fortunate) coincidence. The LSi9 does not have the holographic imaging properties of the SDA CRS+, but it has excellent imaging properties and it is very close in timbre to the CRS+. So close, in fact, that it was difficult to tell them apart from the midrange up through the treble when I replaced one of the LSi9’s with a CRS+. Due to the LSi9's smaller, lighter drivers, I expect that their transient response and midrange detail will become noticeably better than the CRS+ as the drivers get more broken-in. Although, the LSi9's sounded so good right out of the box, I am wondering if Polk does any pre-conditioning (break-in) of the drivers prior to the speakers being packaged and shipped.

    The bass of the CRS+ is more accurate, punchy, articulate and defined. The LSi9 has more impact (kick) and volume in the bass region. Much more than I expected, considering its size. I did not experience any imaging outside of the outer speaker sides with the LSi9. Depending on source recording, I was able to place instruments about one foot out from the front plane of the speakers. Depth was limited to about 4 feet behind the front plane of the speakers. In contrast, the CRS+ floated a soundstage that extended (depending on source recordings) up to 3 feet beyond the outer side edges of the speakers, 2 feet out from the front plane of the speakers, and 4 to 6 feet behind the front plane of the speakers.

    There was no image height restriction with either the LSi9 or the CRS+. In other words, some sounds, particularly those mixed to be in the center, could be heard to apparently come from a well-defined point above the top plane of the speakers. For example, vocals seemed to come from where a person’s head would have been had they been standing in front of me. When standing in front of the LSi9’s and listening to Paul Desmond’s alto saxophone solo on “Take Five” (Dave Brubeck Quartet-“Time Out” CD), it sounded like Paul was standing in front of me playing his horn.

    Some of the source material included in my listening session were (1) The Dave Brubeck Quartet, “Time Out”, track #3-Take Five, (2) Herbie Hancock, “Headhunters”, track #1-Chaeleon, (3) Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue”, track #1-So What, and (4) Sonny Rollins, “Saxophone Colossus”, track #2-You Don’t Know What Love Is.

    The fit and finish of my pair was excellent. The gloss black piano finish on the top and bottom was smooth, deep, and without blemish. Same for the beveled wood side panels. I understand that Polk is discontinuing the beveled side panels for the LSi9. It’s a shame, I think the beveled panels have a more “high end” and contemporary look. Binding posts were the heaviest I’ve ever seen on a Polk speaker. The grille cloth was a very thin lightweight fabric, which saved me the time and cost of replacing it. I did remove the chintzy looking plastic “polkaudio” label from the bottom of the grille. It easily peeled off the dark gray oval disk it was attatched to. I thought that little plastic sticker was totally out of place on a speaker of this quality. ;)

    It's a vicious cycle. Now I have to upgrade the electronics in my system at work.
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    Last edited by DarqueKnight; 08-21-2005 at 09:26 PM.

  2. #2

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    Nice review, just one question....why not re-veneer the CRS+'s in cherry? Maybe I missed something, but you seem to think the CRS+'s are the better speaker.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  3. #3

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    The second pair is unmodified internally but was modified externally by being re-veneered in teak. The second pair is not currently in use.
    raife1,

    Not currently in use... I want them, give them to me.
    Anyway that was a nice Review between the CRS+ vs. LSi9's.



    Har

  4. #4

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    Question LSi9 or CRS+: Which is Better?

    Originally posted by F1nut
    Nice review, just one question....why not re-veneer the CRS+'s in cherry?
    I thought about re-veneering the CRS+'s in cherry. However, my office arrangement does not permit positioning the speakers for optimum imaging. Therefore, I would not be able to take full advantage of all that wonderful SDA imaging. Also, the LSi9 presents a less bulkier appearance. It does matter to me how a speaker looks.;)

    Originally posted by F1nut
    Maybe I missed something, but you seem to think the CRS+'s are the better speaker.
    To me, which speaker is "better" depends on your listening preferences and the intended use of the speakers. For this particular application, in my office at work, the LSi9 is the better speaker. The CRS+'s beat the LSi9's in terms of soundstage presentation, imaging, and bass definition. However, I cannot take full advantage of that at work. I think a lot of people would find the CRS+ too "lean" in the bass and would prefer the sound of the LSi9.

    For home use in a music-only system, I prefer the sound of the CRS+. For a home theater application, I think the LSi9 gives a more impressive presentation. For that reason, I am seriously considering replacing the SDA's in my home theater with LSi speakers (LSi9's for center, LSi15's for front and rear). If I do decide to do this, I will not be selling any surplus SDA's!
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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  5. #5

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    Wink Never Hurts To Ask

    Originally posted by har_navalta
    raife1, Not currently in use... I want them, give them to me. Har

    Sorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeee. All unused SDA's go back into "inventory storage" for future use.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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  6. #6

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    Default

    raife1
    Thanks for clearing that up. Makes sense, enjoy!
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  7. #7

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    raife1,

    You don't let any of your SDA's go, me too...






    Har

  8. #8

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    Very well written, as usual. Thanks for your insights, I'm going to print this one and keep it......

    Cheers,
    Russ
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.

  9. #9

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    Default Re: An SDA Cultist Reviews The LSi9

    Originally posted by raife1
    [B]Why I Bought Another Pair of Speakers

    The fit and finish of my pair was excellent. The gloss black piano finish on the top and bottom was smooth, deep, and without blemish. Same for the beveled wood side panels. I understand that Polk is discontinuing the beveled side panels for the LSi9. It’s a shame, I think the beveled panels have a more “high end” look. Binding posts were the heaviest I’ve ever seen on a Polk speaker. The grille cloth was a very thin lightweight fabric, which saved me the time and cost of replacing it. I did peal off the chintzy looking plastic “polkaudio” label from the bottom of the grille, though.;)
    I agree completely with Raife. I haven't seen the LSi-9s; but the same comments apply to my cherry LSi-15s, especially regarding quality of fit. The word "incomparable" comes to mind, although that's a little unfair to other high-end speaker manufacturers.

    I oiled the panels for the first time last weekend. While doing that, I was tempted to slide paper behind the panels (to keep from oiling the lacquer). It was then I noticed just how precise the fit is. There is only a sliver of open space between the panels and lacquer. The beautiful thing is it's CONSISTENT, all the way around, on both sides, on both speakers (and the serial numbers are 109 digits apart). That's great QC! I'd compare it to the seams on a quality automobile...when they're "right," you can feel them.

    The outside woofer grills are perfectly flush with the surface of the wood. That makes it a little hard to keep the oil off the grills, so patience is needed!

    Oh! I'd like to recommend Scott's Liquid Gold wood cleaner and preservative for the panels. A light coating, wiped clean, really brings out the wood grain, in addition to darkening the light cherry "just a tad." I've used Old English as well, but it just doesn't seem to work as good.

    As for the plastic label, I left mine on although I agree they're a bit "chintzy" for speakers of this quality. After all, a Rolls-Royce should have a classic hood ornament.... ;)

    The speakers definitely look as good as they sound.

  10. #10

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    That was an excellent post my freind,
    The LSI series I feel Polk did a good job.The way you posted your feeling about the 2 speakers was classy.I respect that much.
    Good work my friend and enjoy!!!!!
    Dan
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  11. #11

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    Default Re: Re: An SDA Cultist Reviews The LSi9

    Originally posted by saganized



    Oh! I'd like to recommend Scott's Liquid Gold wood cleaner and preservative for the panels. A light coating, wiped clean, really brings out the wood grain, in addition to darkening the light cherry "just a tad." I've used Old English as well, but it just doesn't seem to work as good.

    DO NOT USE any of those products, basically it's like applying motor oil to the finish. It builds up over time, attracts dust, dirt, grime and will become a sticky mess. You really shouldn't have to put anything at all on the wood as long as the finish is in good shape. None of those products will protect or prolong the life of the finish, in fact they harm it and shorten it's life span. If you feel the need to use a polish, I recommend Guardsman Furniture Polish, it's water based. No build up, no sticky mess and no harm. Those companies are making millions selling that crap. The worst is Pledge, contains silicone, which makes it a nightmare if the piece ever needs touch up work or refinishing. Those companies talk about moisturizing a finish. Well, you can't moisturize a finish. In fact one of the purposes of a finish is to keep moisture out!
    How do I know all this....I restore/conserve period antique furniture for a living. I see way to many pieces of furniture damaged from using those products, so if you want to help me fund future upgrades then keep using that crap. Or you could save the money you'd pay someone like me to fix the mess that stuff creates and fund your own upgrades.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  12. #12

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    Concerning the Liquid Gold, I intend to follow the manufacturer's instructions by not applying the product too often.

    Even the LSi Owner's Manual states, "The side panels of your new LSi Loudspeakers are finished in natural wood veneer. Clean these panels periodically with a soft cloth and furniture polish to remove dust and fingerprints."

    I applied it liberally, once. I followed that by immediately wiping off all excess until the surface was dry.

    After that initial application, I will dust the panels once every week or so with a clean, dry cloth. I certainly didn't intend to apply polish so often that it would begin to become "a sticky mess!"

    Scott's Liquid Gold does not contain wax or silicones, which does tend to build up. Respectfully, from seeing what it's done for my parents' furniture, I believe it's a pretty darn good product.

  13. #13

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    saganized

    I'm not picking on you and of course it's your speakers/furniture, so you can do whatever you like. I was just trying to help and offer my professional opinion/experience to everyone here.
    What most of those polishes contain are petroleum distillate (PD for short), which in most cases means mineral oil. The PD can actually break down the finish over a period of time. If you had two matching pieces of wood and just cleaned one with a DAMP cloth, then the other with a polish containing PD for say five years you would be amazed at the difference. The one cleaned with a DAMP cloth will look as it did when new. The polished one will be darker and appear muddy in comparison. I say DAMP cloth, because if you use a dry one it just puts dust back into the air and then back on your furniture. Also, a dry cloth is more likely to scratch the finish (which is one reason manufacturers suggest using a polish), but in this day and age we now have water based polishes which are ok to use. As for the owners manual, it should suggest a water based polish, if at all.
    Again, this is just my educated experience, but having studied this for the past 25 years I can tell you any restorer of worth will agree on these facts.
    I do agree that if you use any kind of polish, it should only be done about once a year and not weekly as many people do. The DAMP cloth is best.

    Enjoy your Polks!
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  14. #14

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    This post just gets better and better,
    I love the tips on cleaning/polishing finishes.I have use many different types of furniture polishes including Pledge.My Polks shine with grace,looking perfect.They shine real nice with the wood grain standing out.
    The silicone thing is a good point,veryhard to get rid of and harder to repair.
    Id like to try the Guardsman furniture polish.I will look for it when I need more polish.
    I applaud you (F1nut) coming forth as a professional.Personally I like tips and are willing to try yours out.
    Dan
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  15. #15

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    Originally posted by F1nut

    Again, this is just my educated experience, but having studied this for the past 25 years I can tell you any restorer of worth will agree on these facts.
    I do agree that if you use any kind of polish, it should only be done about once a year and not weekly as many people do. The DAMP cloth is best.

    Enjoy your Polks!
    Thanks, F1nut, I appreciate your response. Oops, I did say "clean, dry cloth," didn't I? Of course you're right; the cloth should be damp (I should have said "wrung dry"). The point I was trying to make in that reply--in which I failed miserably--was just to say I wasn't going to polish weekly.

    I didn't think you were pickin' on me...unfortunately, I sometimes type faster than I think (typing fast is MY profession). ;) As you are a professional woodworker, I figured you might have a strong opinion "for" or "against" certain polishes, or even "not to polish at all."

    Like Mantis, I appreciate the tips, too. Tips coming from a "professional" do carry more weight. ;)

  16. #16

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    Default Polk sdas

    I am williing to part with my Original SDA 1's . Too big for any other placement in my house.
    (just got LSI 25'S, Center and LSI FX's.
    Anyone willing to pick them up in VaBeach , Va can have them for $300. Have manuel and cable. Paul

  17. #17

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    pvabeach

    Try posting that one in the Flea Market Forum and if you've got a picture post that too.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  18. #18

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    I am williing to part with my Original SDA 1's . Too big for any other placement in my house.
    Anyone willing to pick them up in VaBeach , Va can have them for $300. Have manuel and cable. Paul
    I'm on my way.....email me here
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  19. #19

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    Pvabeach,
    So how do you like the lsi25's??I heard nothing but good things about them.
    even from non liking powered tower people,raved about them.
    Come on man post your thoughts on the giant lsi25's.

    I really want to know.
    Dan
    Dan
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  20. #20
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    WOW I am like sooo impressed with this thread. Seriously guys, Raife1 did an excellent job with his listening report, and big thanks to F1Nut about the furniture polish issue. It is great to have a real expert on hand to set us straight. But I chime in just to clear up one little point - Raife mentions that we are discontinuing the "beveled wood side panels." Not so. The side panels have not and will not change in any way. The earliest LSi had a beveled top and bottom on the high gloss portion of the cabinet that proved very hard to execute with consistent fit & finish. We simply went to a totally flat top and bottom. Personally I like the flat better but it is a moot point because it is a done deed. Here is a photo of a bevel top. I'll post a photo of a flat top (I can;t figure out how to paste in two).
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  21. #21
    Polkosaurus Rex
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    the flat top
    Attached Images  

  22. #22
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    Raife,

    How do you go about re-veneering a CRS speaker?
    Seems to me that the bottom wood panel under the
    cloth would be very difficult to do.

    I'd love to reveener my CRS's. But, I have no clue as to
    where to begin. Suggestions?

  23. #23

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    Originally posted by "Polk" Paul DiComo
    Raife mentions that we are discontinuing the "beveled wood side panels."
    Opppsss....I didn't say exactly what I meant to say. I should have said that the beveled tops of the wood side panels were being discontinued rather than the whole beveled side panels. Thanks for clarifying that Paul.

    When I read Paul's post a while back mentioning the discontinuance of the beveled panels, I understood that the bevel was going away and not the whole wood panel.

    Will the bevels still be continued on the LSi15 side panels?
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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    I can see that I need to take more revealing photos. The bevel on the wood panel stays on all models. The bevel that I refer to is on the high gloss under-cabinet. Let me grab the Nikon and take some better photos just to make sure everyone gets the point.

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    Originally posted by rskarvan
    Raife,

    How do you go about re-veneering a CRS speaker?
    Ron,

    I took mine to a cabinet shop. A 4' x 8' sheet of 1/16" thick teak veneer cost $100. That was enough to do two pairs of CRS+'s.

    The cabinet maker charged $250 for the labor involved in re-veneering, staining, and finishing both pairs of speakers. The cabinet maker made duplicates of the wood "ledges" under the grille panels from a piece of solid teak board that he already had.

    I will go back in the near future and edit my post to include pics of the speakers.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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    Post Dissheveled Bevels

    Originally posted by "Polk" Paul DiComo
    The bevel that I refer to is on the high gloss under-cabinet.
    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh ok. Now I understand. Yeah, my LSi9's have a perfectly flat top.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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    Originally posted by rskarvan
    How do you go about re-veneering a CRS speaker?
    Suggestions?
    Since I do this for a living, my advice is take it to a professional cabinetmaker/restorer. To do it right takes alot of knowledge and the right tools. BTW, the price raife1 quoted is really cheap (as in good deal) for all that work, I would charge considerably more.
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    "Polk" Paul DiComo

    Thanks for the nod. I have a question for you or your fellow Polk experts. I would like to know how to remove the top and bottom oak veneered end caps on my 2.3TL's. I would also like to remove the cloth covered side panels. My reason for asking is that I want to re-veneer the end caps in cherry and I need to replace the cloth material as it has some damage (damn cat!!!). I really don't want to do the veneer work with the end caps in place as this increases possible damage to the drivers. I would be deeply grateful for any help with this.

    Jesse
    aka F1nut
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

  29. #29
    Polk-a-dweeb
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    Try listening to the title track on the Shadowfax CD "Shadowdance" and "Brown Rice". Talk about a full sound stage and imaging, you'll be amazed. I've had this CD for about 14-15 years and was amazed that it sounded better than ever on my lsi7's. I wish the #%^^# 15's would get here!
    9/11 - WE WILL NEVER FORGET!! (<---<<click)
    2005-06 Club Polk Football Pool Champion!! :D

  30. #30

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    F1nut

    I think there are 4 screws inside the cab's that screw into the caps to hold them in place.....This is what I have heard and the side panels are glued on....
    Oh, the bottle has been to me, my closes friend, my worse enemy!

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