Skip to main content
Topic: DIY Speakers (Read 1923 times) previous topic - next topic
0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.

DIY Speakers

I'd like hear some experiences from those that have done it, found the design, made the cabinets assembled it all and were pleased with the outcome or better more than pleased. I don't have the expertise to design my own x-overs so would want a proven design, but in saying all of that because of the economies of scale can it be done for a competitive price. Are there any pre-loved units where the gear can be salvaged and better cabinets made?
I still have my ageing second hand ML Aeons which are still going well which must be 30+ years old or more. Big subject I know and I have searched here and looked at quite a few DIY forums but you spend weeks going around in circles.

Re: DIY Speakers

Reply #1
I'm a fan of the speakers designed by the late S. Linkwitz:
http://linkwitzlab.com/

I have the older Linkwitz Plutos, which are similar in concept to the current LX-Mini. Linkwitz mostly used active crossovers, feeling that the only reason to use passive crossovers was to save money. Much emphasis was placed not only on the speaker's on-axis performance, but off-axis as well. And as a result, the sound is good even as I move about the room. Am also tempted to try a Linkwitz open-baffle subwoofer in my cinema sound system.

Haven't heard them, but these also intrigue:
https://www.parts-express.com/cbt36k-line-array-speaker-pair-kit--301-980

Definitely also some interesting active pro monitors out there from the likes of Genelec, Grimm Audio and JBL.

If I needed something more conventional (passive box speaker), I might want to look at JBL, BIC America, Klipsch and Hsu Research, all of which offer models incorporating some sort of wave guides. The coaxial Seas Loki also intrigues. KEF also offers a couple of coaxial models.

Re: DIY Speakers

Reply #2
Quote
Are there any pre-loved units where the gear can be salvaged and better cabinets made?
it's generally best to find out the Thiele Small parameters for the woofer.  Then, you can use WinISD or similar software to design the cabinet. 

Parts Express sells a driver tester if you can't research the woofer parameters.    Parts Express also sells crossovers and parts for crossovers.  

Re: DIY Speakers

Reply #3
Thank you 4Season and Doug, will follow it all up, paul

Re: DIY Speakers

Reply #4
I've been building DIY speakers since 2005. Some observations from my journey:

- On the lower end of the price spectrum you are fucked. It's hard to build a good speaker for 50€, it's hard to do it for 100€, but for 150€ you can acutally build something that is better than retail stuff.
- Once you break the lower price threshold, I feel that sound quality wise DIY speakers are often on par with retail speakers 2-3x the price
- Much of this depends on your demands regarding finishing. A cheap DIY speaker with a proper carpenter finish can be much more expensive than you think. If you're happy with medium-density fibreboard on the other hand...

- Generally I feel the quest for neutrality and "no bullshit" is much stronger in the DIY community. Some expensive brands sell you sounded speakers on purpose (B&W)
- It can be a rewarding experience but also very frustrating. Cheap tools are hell. Either buy proper tools or let somebody else do the work. I spent a lot of money on router bits, still have a cheap router.
- Nowadays you can get CNC precut wood that you only need to assemble, this makes life much easier. My speaker cutouts are still not on par with CNC work.
- Don't be scared of soldering, I found it much easier than the woodworking, but that might just be me.


- I've been using KEF LS50 for the last couple of years. They deliver things, that I cannot do with DIY. Mostly because of the KEF coax speaker and the special enclosure design. Would be very hard to do DIY. If I ever went back to floorstanders with reasonable listening distances, I see no reason not to return to the DIY path. That said, I really like KEF.

- Don't ever start with painting things yourself. It's a PITA and it'll never be as good as a professional. I spent to much time trying to paint things. Stick with rough finishes that hide faults.

- Subwoofers are probably the area where you can save the most money. A subwoofer is entirely defined by its TSP parameters and can be easily simulated. You don't even need measuring equipment to design from scratch, you don't need to buy a kit.

- If you want to develop a speaker from scratch, you need proper measuring equipment, the know-how to interpret your measurments and a big box full of resistors, capacitors and coils. It's not worth it until you make it a regular hobby. Stick with kits. Except for subwoofers.

- On the other hand, when I see speakers like the Neumann KH120. Don't even start. From a technical standpoint there are as perfect as speakers can be, especially at the price point. But that's not what this is about, is it?
Blubb

Re: DIY Speakers

Reply #5
I still have my ageing second hand ML Aeons which are still going well
That suggests you have the tastes and sufficient room for a dipole. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Stating your location on earth may be helpful with suggestions also.
How are your woodworking skills, or would this have to be a full kit?

cheers,

AJ

p.s. I'm a former DIYer turned pseudo-manufacturer
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Re: DIY Speakers

Reply #6
Thanks again for more replies Hodyr and ajinfla,

I live in Sydney, Australia so it's like being on night shift as far access to the forum is concerned. I have plenty of tools with which I'm reasonably adept with and I have quite a bit of workshop equipment. Soldering, routing etc is not a problem, parts for all things tend to be a bit expensive here as we don't have the competition and varied diy outlets that are in the UK (which is where I'm from originally years ago) nor the population for it to change in the near future. As for finish, matt black spray from a can gives a respectable finish if the surface is prepared well.

I don't have a dedicated listening area but its about 4.5 x 5m with a kitchen space off to the right so not ideal for SQ and our house is semi-detached so we share a long common wall and out of respect for my neighbour I only go loud occasionally.

My taste in speakers is not restricted to di-poles and when I got these I'm not sure I fully understood that they were, they sounded better than my previous ones and the price was reasonable.

Following is a link to Gumtree a sort of local ebay and it gives you an idea what second hand gear costs $1 US = approx $1.4 Aus, as a guide at present.

https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-speakers/floorstanding+speakers/k0c21102












Re: DIY Speakers

Reply #7
I live in Sydney, Australia
I have quite a bit of workshop equipment. Soldering, routing etc
Well that certainly impacts kit/drivers recommendations from Madisound, et al, availability, shipping/etc.
Pretty sure there are DIY shops there though.
Basic woodworking skills/tools are obviously needed for DIY, so good that you can.

I don't have a dedicated listening area but its about 4.5 x 5m with a kitchen space off to the right so not ideal for SQ
That is plenty big enough for good SQ...depending on how the speakers are place relative to seating/furnishings.

My taste in speakers is not restricted to di-poles and when I got these I'm not sure I fully understood that they were, they sounded better than my previous ones and the price was reasonable.
That begs the question, how are they currently set up relative to the room/seating? What powers them? Dipoles need at least 3' from wall behind them, aka "front" wall relative to seats. they should sound a bit different from typical cone n dome box (commercial) speakers as you linked - of which plenty seem available there, not unreasonably priced. It seemed you wanted to DIY though...

cheers,

AJ
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Re: DIY Speakers

Reply #8
Quote
where the gear can be salvaged and better cabinets made?
A couple of "good things"...  Drivers can last a long time as long as they aren't "fried" and as long as they don't have some kind surround that deteriorates.      And, basic speaker design hasn't changed that much.   Most speakers are still 2-way or 3-way designs made with traditional voice coil/magnet/cone (or dome) drivers, and an LC (or LCR) crossover.

----------------------------------------------------------
My finishing "tricks" - 

I've never don a "nice" solid hardwood or veneer finish.   And, I've never used "regular paint".

My current "trick" is to cover the speaker with leather-look upholstery vinyl.   You used to see vinyl-covered PA speakers (in black) and although that doesn't seem to be as common now, they still make guitar amps/cabinets that way.    To me, it looks good enough for the living room (or anywhere else).  And it's cheap, easy, and rugged.  I've used this method more than once, and one time is used white vinyl with black grill cloth.   That was very dramatic "modern" look!    I don't remember if white was the 1st color or the 2nd color, but I remember changing the color at least once on the same speaker.    "Normally", I use brown that looks more like leather (but I'm not trying to fool anybody I just think it looks nice).

A long time ago I used "woodgrain kit" similar to this.  It's a simple 2-color paint process where you apply an even 1st coat (light brown), then you brush-on a "thin" top (darker brown) coat, and you make the woodgrain with brush strokes or other techniques.  (Maybe there were 3 colors). Then, you can put on a clear coat.      I was pleased with the results.  You don't have to buy the kit, you can use regular paints and look-up online how to do it.

I think I used Contact Paper once, but it's very-easily damaged and just a cheap low-quality solution..  Some cheap commercial speakers use a heavier-duty version of something similar.

Re: DIY Speakers

Reply #9
I've gotten pleasing results with painted finishes using little more than a paint roller. But surface preparation is 90% of the work! If you've ever done auto body work, this is similar, where you lay down a coat of primer, and if you see any gaps, scratches or other irregularities, fill and sand them, lay down another light coat of primer and repeat as many times as needed until the surface looks perfect. Only then do I apply the color coats. Even my so-so cabinets look surprisingly good when finished with care.


 
SimplePortal 1.0.0 RC1 © 2008-2019