Unless you are a cabinet maker, and finisher, your speakers are not going to look good when done. I have built lots of furniture so i know what I ca and can't do... Do you?
There are lots of general ideas on how to build speakers, but very few specific ideas.
Your drivers are going to have to work in the volume of your cabinets. Your cabinets are going to have to work in your room.
One of the biggest issues is you crossover design and manufacture.
There are so many critical variables you need to know, do you know them?
i think there is more to speaker design than just a well-braced cabinet and premium drivers. crossover design and implemenation is also a very intergral part of the overall package. i'm not saying you can't build something spectacular that can compete with the big boys for a fraction of the price, i just think it might be a tad more complicated than you really think. good luck though. nothing ventured...
Check out the system of member 240zracer. He has a pair of the best looking DIY speakers I've seen. They don't look homemade.
I build my own set of speakers using scan speak and the revalator tweeter.The crossover was built by madisound speaker components inc.I use one inches MDF to make my encloser cover with Brazilian Oak veeneer all I did was to read about building speaker I got a book at Radio Shack follow the instruction and you will be happy with the result.The set of speaker I built everyone who see an hear them think I paid a lot of money for them untill I tell them how much it cost me to make.Good Luck with your first built
I don't know of any "new top of the line" speakers that use readily available, out of the catalog drivers throughout. The $20k Magico Mini, eg, uses the revelator but the other driver is custom made. Top speaker manufacturers custom engineer their drivers because the off-the-shelf ones limit their design flexibility. They often have to specify their own parameters which the standard drivers usually do not have in order to produce the sound they're looking for.
Is it possible to build a great sounding speaker with standard Vifa, Peerless and ScanSpeak units? Absolutely. Their websites have cabinet and crossover suggestions and DIY forums have posted every possible combination with results. You're not going to get it right the first time but the learning experience (and fun) is another hobby in itself.
Just be forewarned: one thing DIY'ers overlook is the cost of the power and hand tools needed to make somewhat decent cabinets. A good table saw and fence, router and router table, jointer, drill press, joinery tools, jigs, workbench, clamps, and assorted hand tools could easily be a few thousand dollar hit. And then there are test instruments...
You might take a look at the Linkwitz Orion (http://www.linkwitzlab.com/index.html). Siegfried has done all the critical design work, you need to assemble parts & build the cabinets...or just order a premade set. Note that the Orion is an active speaker, though the amp he suggests isn't expensive.
There are a few tried & true DIY recipes out there if you look around. I'd avoid just buying good components & assume they'll sound good together. Much like photography, a great photo (finished speaker) doesn't necessarily require an expensive camera (pricey drivers)...it's what you do with the tools that really matters.
And then there's the resale value...well known DIY recipes may have some demand while unique designs will probably have little resale value beyond used parts.
Even those speakers that use off the shelf drivers subect those drivers to rigorous tests and reject a large number of them. Kftool (an audiogon member)makes his own speakers. He however runs his own tool and die company. There are some DYI companies like GR Reaerach. They can deliver a finsihed product at DIY prices.
I like to think we are being ripped off by expensive speakers. truth is that cabinent making is labor intensive. It reqires skilled workers. That is why planar speakers are generally less expensive. No cabinent. Matching drivers and crossovers- not easy.
My suggestion is buy a kit. They might even let you modify the kit soou can oqn a unique speaker.
Look over this site.
Browsing their catalog,you will find drivers,crossovers,individual parts and components,**books that tell you how to design speakers,and **a crossover service-tell them what you have in mind,and they will use a software program to design a proper crossover.
Also,they have a forum where many informed,helpful people post and answer questions.
Other then the right tools to make the enclosure you also should have at least an RTA. Making a balanced speaker strictly using your ears is more then difficult even for the very experienced.
You should also keep in mind that buying expensive drivers does not mean there freq. resp. will be exactly the same, typically the will not. When I worked for Legacy Audio, we used a very expensive Eton midrange driver and out of a pallet of drivers there was usually 20-25% that we couldn't use because there freq. resp. was too far out. My understanding is that John Dunlavy rejection rate was above 50%.
Also if you are going spend $400 on tweeters you don't want to lash them to a cheap crossover. You can computer model a crossover to get pretty close to the crossover component values you will need but you will need to fine tune the crossover which will mean a selection of component values which mean $$$$ if you use anything of decent quality.
I am not saying that you cant make something that sounds decent but that does not appear to be what you are going for. Sounding decent IMO is a long way from really good/great which take a lot of time/money/effort. Much more so in my experience then buying something well engineered used ie Revel, Dynaudio, B&W
I have Maggie 1.6s,but I have almost ordered this kit.
These speakers seem similar to the North Creek kits-which have been discontinued.
I've built a set of Edgarhorns in kit form this past year. Even though the cabinets are finished for the most part and I'm using the crossover designed by Bruce Edgar I still find many parameters to tweak, adjust, experiment with. I knew going into this project that there are many things that Bruce knows that I don't know so I'm sure that the performance I'm getting is only about 80-90% of what it would be if I'd just bought an Edgarhorn system from Bruce. But I've saved close to 1/2 the cost.
Some of the kits from GR Research have also caught my eye. Danny has done all of the work with driver selection and component matching so you just supply the sweat and lumber. Many have reported that his open baffle kits rival planars in dynamics. I'd like to have a listen for myself before diving in.
I think you can learn a lot by DIY and a speaker kit may be one of the easier projects in this hobby to take on. This does depend on your skill level and tool chest. However, the quality of sound has little to do with how good the cabinets look. You can still get very good results. There are suppliers that will help you match components, just like buying tubes. I believe it is possible to DIY a speaker that will compete with many speakers costing around $10-12K, maybe more. It may take a good deal of effort, both physical and mental. If you like to tinker this should be a project right up your alley. You will probably make a few mistakes, but you won't be learning much if you don't.
Don't expect to get much of your money back if you build speakers and then want to sell them to buy something else. Even if the cabinets are gorgeous, they may still be a one-off speaker.
You can get an decent RTA for free. Just Google RoomEQ Wizard. It will work with most currently available sound cards. TrueRTA is also a great product but will cost about $100 or so. I would suggest using a good Behringer test mic. Parts Express has an ECM8000 for a decent price. The source for the RoomEq will also have a calibration file for this mic that will be close enough to do what you need. There is also software to help design cabinets if you want to go all out from the ground up.
Visit AudioCircle, DIYaudio, AudioKarma.org, and AudioAsylum. There is tons of info out there on DIY speakers.
I admire your ambition. Most of the topics you should be concerned about have been identified already. I presume you have the knowledge and tools to build the cabinet.
Building properly sized (tuned) cabinets and avoiding interior standing wave frequencies takes some knowledge and experience. Building a crossover that hands the frequencys off to the proper drivers, controls excess peak energy at specific frequencys, and manages the ohm load placed on the amplifier, is also a skill requiring a great deal of knowledge and experience.
Tools for this element would include various books, crossover and box software, and output measuring/graphing software.
If you wish to proceed with the learning experience, I would recommend diving in and enjoying it. You will undoubtedly experience many trial and errors as you refine your speakers. If you want the enjoyment of building it yourself, with reasonable chance of success, and cost savings, I would recommend this path:
Complete kit with drivers and crossover, and cabinet plans: http://www.selahaudio.com/id141.html
If you want to do it all with plans for the complete project: http://www.partsexpress.com/projectshowcase/projects.cfm
Here is a site from Seas drivers, with recommended DIY projects: http://www.seas.no/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=28&Itemid=38 This project is available from the Madisonsound catalog.
Scanspeak may provide similar help.
These options would put you in charge of building the quality cabinet, and reduce the amount of engineering you would have to do for the crossover and cabinet design elements.
You have just discovered one of the surprises in high end audio. Typical high end $5000+ speakers that use $50 woofers and tweeters. Most of what you pay for is woodwork, exotic veneer/finish, shipping and packaging and of course some markup (manufacturers need to live!).
If you care only about sound quality then go either DIY (no resale value) or better to go for pro designs in a low cost finish (limited resale value because of low WAF but you got more high quality sound instead of high quality finish).
I would say that the lowest cost option to ultra high end sound is to buy a high quality pro grade two way active second hand monitor of your choice and build your own subwoofer using this LMS 5400 driver
. You can probably achieve similar to $50K sound for around $5K. Of course it won't look anything like $50K but if that concerned you then you probably would not be thinking DIY.
Building your own subwoofer is easy but a speaker is tricky...so definitely go for kit/clones if you want to build a speaker - but even DIY is hard to compete with the cheap speaker imports from China. Many boutique high end speakers are now made in China (Quad etc.)
I posted the first link twice. Here is the link I wanted to post secondly. You will find plans for most of these projects.
Go for it. I started out slow by building a subwoofer first. Despite the fact that a sub is a simple box/amp/driver, there is a whole lot more to it than slapping those components together. I learned a ton. I met many great contacts as well. By the end of the design phase I was using subwoofer computer models for calculating the box dimensions to achieve a particular "Q" rating that I wanted to achieve, pretty cool stuff.
Later, I wanted to try out a single driver speaker (the ones in my System now). After reading a TON of info on the WEB, I decided to build a pair and settled on a proven design complete with detailed plans. I learned a great deal about resonance, porting, soldering as well as the many different types of resistors, coils and capacitors that are available. Here too, I met many new folks some of who have become good friends. Even if the outcome would have not been to my liking, I would have come out ahead with the knowledge I have gained and the friendships I have made.
Several weeks ago I was plotting the frequency response of my system on a test tone CD and a SPL meter. If you would have told me I would be doing that a year ago, I would have thought you were nuts!
1. Try out a relatively simple design first.
2. Try out a proven design, don't go to the self design route first, you will be amazed the things you have taken for grated.
3. Undertsand your wood working limitations (tools and ability) don't exceed these.
4. Have patience, don't be dissapointed at your mistakes, learn from them.
5. Take the time to meet and ask people on this site and others for help. You will be amazed at what you don't know.
Granted, my single drivers are much simpler a design than multi drivers are, but start something and enjoy the ride.
My $.02 would be that while crossover design is not what gets emphasized in ad copy and is not nearly as much fun to think about as high-tech drivers and exotic materials, it's really the heart and soul of loudspeaker design.
I have a couple of Madisound Odin speakers built from kits which are the surround channels of my system. They are IDENTICAL to speakers that I saw reviewed in Stereophile a while ago, at less than half the price, even with the premium crossover option.
Check out www.madisound.com
Here is another choice. These guys will facilitate a variety of DIY speaker design/build projects. I agree with the others here, you should let an experienced professional create the design, and match drivers to the crossovers. However, you could first decide what type of sound you are looking for, how much power you have, how big you want the speakers to be, and other factors, then find the right DIY project for you.
Do you want $20K speakers for the fraction of the price? Check these: http://www.northcreekmusic.com/#LoudspeakerKits
Thanks for all the replies. I am a serious audiophile. I have 2 degree's one in advanced mathematic functions (electronics) and the other in mechanical. The speakers i en-vie are Vandersteen 5a's. Richard did his homework as in I do. Richard also is coming out with a new speaker. I did my homework as well. I am going to design and manufacture the best speaker in the world for under $20,000. I just hope Richard will be my friend.
I am going to design and manufacture the best speaker in the world for under $20,000.
There is plenty of engineering but also a lot of hands on knowledge too. If you are going to design your own "amazing" speaker from a blank piece of paper and theory then I sure hope Richard has got lots of time for you. There is a lot of hands on knowledge in speaker design.
Can I be your friend too? ;>) (especially if you DO design the best speakers)
I am kidding. I am going to save up to purchase his speaker. Happy New Year everyone !!!!!!
I have built several speakers over the years.
Good sounding speakers are not just a function of the electrical performance of the drivers and crossovers.They are a result of the acoustic performance of all the parts when acting together-and this can be something that can be very hard to asses and manipulate-even with sophisticated equipment.
Even the mainstream makers manage to get things seriously wrong with remarkable frequency.Really great speakers are the exception than the rule.
Having said all this I have friends who are using digital crossover/equalisers like the DBX Driverack and bi or triamping, who are now making some great sounding speakers-something that they never achieved with passive crossovers.
Established kits like the SEAS Odin look good in theory -with their quality parts and designer credentials-but in reality sound quite poor.Similarly priced mass produced speakers like the Monitor Audio RS6 sound much better.
You are absolutely correct. Most speaker companies do just that. Purchase pretty good drivers and "stick um" in a MDF box. I would go for some space age cabinet material like Aluminum or Carbon Fiber. These and other composite materials will be the future of good speaker design. They hopefully will do away with the unwanted storage of the resonance that come hand in hand with MDF. Violins use plys of real wood for "wanted resonance". Vanderstein is experimenting with Carbon Fiber. Wilson benesch from England, not to be confused with Wilson Audio from Utah has been building speakers from Carbon Fiber for a number of years.
It seems like all I see in the industry is speaker companies coming out with new drivers made from all these different materials, ceramic, diamonds, titanium etc. They never really address the real problems of resonance. Planar speakers manage to eliminate lots of that because they just have a frame and not a storage box. I think that is why they
often sound so clear. I would not assume that these new drivers like the revelator are superior to the old, but tried and tested and user friendly, soft dome tweeters. Also I would start with a monitor speaker. Simple two way. Lots less cabinet to build. Someone once correctly stated "big speakers--big problems" The beauty there is you can build the monitor to sit on top of your bass drive when you get to that.
Good luck keep us informed.
My first project build will be made from MDF (many layers glued with a proprietary substance) and ordinary cement as a filler (don't ask also it is proprietary). My crossovers will be built and designed by me. Also I did extensive studies on property of wave forms at certain db levels (back lash etc.). I will keep the first modal for myself. If turns out good I will be-able to produce a set a month (due to I work full time now).
WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO SPEND ON THE BEST FLOOR STANDERS IN THE WORLD?
A friend of mine is an avid DIY speaker builder. I've seem him go to extraordinary lengths to build the "best" speakers possible - special cabinets, exotic drivers, very detailed work on crossovers, sophisticated design software, hi-tech measuring devices, etc., etc.
I've also been to a DIY speaker convention where his ilk congregate. Although the stuff they do is very interesting I haven't heard anything that sounds all that great that they've built not mention look good. Sure some of the creations sound ok even pretty good but in comparision with manufacturer speakers, I wouldn't consider DIY unless one is just interested in it from a hobby and learning standpoint. I certainly learned a lot but never saw anything that competed with various speakers I've purchased and owned.
I want mine to be a mini monitor that can fill a large room with the dynamics of a full scale symphony. I'll require 110db efficiency operating at a flat 10 ohms. Will that be a problem?
Flat 10 ohms. Yes that a big problem unless you like one speaker. Then you are still looking at plus or minus 2 ohms. And a mini monitor to fill a large room. They usually consist of two way speaker. I never heard a mini monitor that sounded great. My thought is to build a 5 speaker system in the first order. Sorry but i'm lookin at 4 ohms with a swing of plus or minus 2.6875 ohms.
Check out ellisaudio.com and the kit for the 1801's. I built those and it was reasonably easy. They are very highly rated by owners on audioreview, myself included. If you don't have woodworking tools, you can find guys who will do that for a reasonable cost. You can then install drivers and finish the cabinets any way you want. It is a way to very high quality at bargain prices.
Superior results can be acheived through DIY if you let a professional design the crossover, OR, you invest in a bunch of testing equipment. Meniscus, as Mitch2 pointed out, is a good option. Better than Madisound, as Meniscus actually measures the drivers in the cabinet (or baffle) before they design the crossover. Madisound simply plugs in assumed measurements before they design the crossover.
It doesn't take as many tools as most would think to build DIY speakers. I've done 4 pairs myself, all mdf with veneer. There are more manufacturers than people realize that actually do grab off the shelf drivers and use them in their designs.
For reference, the scan speak revelator tweeter (9900) is actually about $200, the 7000 from scan speak is the one that is $400. The one that has me most intrigued is the 6600 that sells fro $220. With the air circ design, some say it's better than the top of the line 7000.
If you have not done a DIY speaker before and want to do a "no holds barred" version, my suggestion is to start small with a two way stand mount and see if you can get that right first. It's not as fun as trying a flagship, but you will learn tons before you spend all the money on the big drivers.
htguide.com/forum has a "mission possible" section that is all talk of DIY speakers. There are a few guys there that really know what is going on and can rival some of the best designers in the world when it comes to crossover design. Read some stuff over there, and you will be a step in the right direction.
I just completed building my own loudspeakers about 2 months ago...I'm still tweaking them, but even in their current state, I like them better than anything I've heard over the past 10 years...I too tired of seeking out audio nirvana, only to find disappointment with the sound quality of most systems, and dismay at the high prices for loudspeakers, some of which used off-the-shelf components....
I built my system, based on the Great Plains 604 driver, for less than $3K, and that included having the cabinets made by a craftsman...I'd put them against anything under $20K...
It's not nearly as easy as it seems, but if done with care, the results can be spectacular...