DIY Speakers, worth the hassles?

Are DIY speaker kits as great as they claimed? I mean several places claim that thier products are as good as 5 to 10 times higher-priced brandname products. Are these true or if it's just a hype?

Say will $1500-2K DIY speaker kit are as good as 5-10K speakers? Or will the sub 1K kit be as good as 2-3K speakers?

Are there any real A/B test reports somewhere?

Also any real experiences from the real DIYers in the group would be really appreciated.


Hi Ake:
DIY speakers are NOT created equal. There is a bigger difference from speaker to speaker in all DIY stuff than even retail. That is, some of it stinks and some of it is great. That being said, I think the returns on DIY speakers are greater than your figures (Say will $1500-2K DIY speaker kit are as good as 5-10K speakers? Or will the sub 1K kit be as good as 2-3K speakers), IF*! you do a good job. You are leveraging your $$$ with your time and knowledge.

If you want to do DIY speakers the best single advice I can think of is take your time in choosing a project. Spend about a month at the speaker building forum following the discussion. Some of the people over there have their own web sites and offer DIY kits. (Dave Ellis, Dennis Murphy, John K,...and others). Take a look at their sites too. Don't try to do to much or design your own crossover the first time out. Beware of folks who talk as though a computer program is going to design a good speaker for you. When you have decided on a project post it over at the Madisound forum and ask for advice or comments. After about a month over there you will have figured out who to listen to. You have to make a couple good initial choices to have a good first attempt DIY speaker and/or trust someone else to make them for you.

If you like single drivers do the same thing at the Single driver forum(

I have had very nice results doing clones of speakers from Northcreek. That is another site I would read completely before doing DIY. They have some very nice kits too. I've worked with the "Rhythm" speaker over at Northcreek with very good results.

I'm going to mess around with a few single driver things. You might take a look at Twl's Lowther project (he posts here) if you are interested in that direction.

Good luck.

I remain,

The results you get are very good, if you have a good design, good drivers and crossovers, and execute it well. If you fall short in any of these areas, you have crap. I have designed, built, and lived with many DIY speakers for going on 30 years now. I have definitely had some pieces of crap. The ones I have now are glorious. I have even had ones where I salvaged the drivers and electronics, and burned the lousy boxes I made that sounded like crap. Then, I sold the rotten sounding drivers and hardware that someone had told me were good for my project. That was a 3-way B&W 801 clone. Probably lost about $300 on that one. Another fiasco was a horn loaded 3-way that didn't match up with driver sensitivities. A horrid mess. Then I got smart and started learning what I needed to know. Amazing how much better things started sounding. I made a nice pair of 2-ways for my mother's system that sounded alot like the old B&W DM601. Probably a little better on the bottom end. However, the Dalesford 1" dome tweeter was a little grainy, and I could't afford the ScanSpeak that I should have gotten. I had finally got my crossover and driver matching skills. I made a 12db/octave crossover on that one that was perfectly matched to the drivers and was pretty seamless sounding. That was 20 years ago. If I could give you some advice, I would say go with top quality drivers for the design you have in mind. If the drivers aren't up to the task, it won't matter how perfect you do everything else, you'll be stuck in mid-fi land. Also, keep it simple. A good 2-way mini-monitor is a good place to start. Make your own crossover networks. Don't buy some generic crossover and expect it to work like it should. Finally, if your effort sounds like crap, remember that TWL had his first few speakers sound like crap too. That might make you feel a little better. It's the first step on a long road. Good luck!
HeY Ake, in about 2 weeks i'll have a 3 way designed and built by Rick Craig, Selah Audio, a member over at Madisound. Seas W22+Accuton C79+RT8P. I choose the Seas and Philips ,Rick choose the C79. He's using superior xover parts. So i should have them up and running and will post the review. Yes kits are a good alternative to the commercials, but for lack of time and more importantly the experience, i prefer to have a designer do the work.
I should have said that I am interested in the DIY kits from various companies. Are they really that great as they claimed?


Check out this site:
If you would like to get it pretty darn close on the first try I would look closely at these. Based on what you have posted here previously you will love these with tubes. Also, if you ever want to upgrade the cabinets, such as Twl's design, the drivers would be a drop-in into new cabinets. I'm considering this myself.

Good luck,
Just wondering, Tweekerman, how much they charge more for the shipping??
Part of the DIY is the actual building. You want good results in the end, but I believe part of the reason to do DIY is so you can experience what it takes to build a good speaker and learn a lot about the building process.

Markup is what you are avoiding when doing DIY. There is no dealer, no advertising, no shipping fees. Except of course for the parts you need. But over all you aren't going to pay near as much for a DIY as you will a brand name speaker.

What it boils down to for me is, is it fun or not. If not, I wouldn't bother.
It's going to be hard to beat the GR Research Offerings.

The web site is

If you go to Audioasylum and do a search you'll find tons of information and some good reviews.
The Madisound kit that is known as "Thor" and based on Seas drivers in an MTM array loaded into a transmission line and designed by Joe D'Appolito looks to be phenomenally good. There was a review with laboratory test results of this "kit" in Audio Express and the results were phenomenal to say the least. However, some crucial spec's were left out of the test results as far as i am concerned.

I contacted Audio Express about this and asked them what the deal was. I was told that they also thought those specs were important and they don't know how they were initially overlooked. They were working on obtaining the info and told me that they hoped to publish it in the next issue or two.

If those results are anything like the rest of the testing showed, this speaker will be VERY hard to beat for anywhere near the money. I think that the basic kits run about $1500 or so. Sean
Ake , i'm not sure what you mean about shipping??? Well yes i'm paying the $100 shipping fee. But this 3 way, what price tag can you put on it, if sold in your local "hi-fi" shop??? Something like $10-$15K, maybe. The big commercials may be bigger and weigh more than these Selah3's, but no hype here. BTW, my choice in kits would be a EX High Edition from Germany. Its a 3 way Seas.
Sorry, tweekerman, I meant to say how much more you have to pay for having them assemble the speakers for you?

Tweekerman, I think the one you ordered is not on thier website kit list, right? I am just wondering how much they will charge more for assembling the speakers on the top of the Kit price list.

Agree with all the above posts. I am currently in love with my North Creek Rhythm Signatures. I had the cabinets built by their resident master - Lee Taylor. The quality of the the kit components, especially the crossovers, are way high end. To my ears these speakers compete with speakers in the 5k to 12k range (Verity, Dynaudio, Vienna, Audio Physics.)

This was my first "DIY" project. I admit that having someone else do the research into crossovers and driver integration as well as cabinet building made this less DIY. But from the subtext of your post I assume you may be looking more for a break in price than the challenge of design and construction. If that is the case, I would highly recommend the North Creek kits. They are more expensive than most DIY kits, but the advantage gained in time and quality make them a real value.

Have fun. -Karl
I have never tried building my own. The commercialy made speakers that I seem to enjoy all seem to be designed and built around some pretty sophisticated tesing equipment. I don't have access to a Fast Fourier, quailty microphones, etc. I am under the impression that drivers and parts come with generous tolerences and are still often way out of spec. I haven't the measurement tools or expertise to deal with what appears to be a rather complicated venture.
Ake , About the Seas EX High Edition, log onto http://www.kochaudio/ Then click home hifi then click bausatze then click on Excel (not Seas). This 3 way speaker is fully assembled i believe. Its 650 euros/each. I believe Mike can ship. A very beautiful speaker, with some very fine drivers, Seas W21+Seas W17+Seas 650 Neo tweeter. This would be my only other choice IF i could not find someone to design my speakers. Rick sold me some cabinets that he had laying around for like $200/pr! 36x12x10 The xovers cost me $275, that may be for only the parts, i'm not sure. Rick used Hovland, Eagle, Solen parts. I suggested that we use superior parts, and that whichever parts we don't need, i pay he keeps. I wanted him to "tweak" as best he could. He asked $400 for the installing the drivers and for the xover design. That was fair for me.
Like i said i believe and am confident that the Excel High Edition is the best speaker for the money, well worth the hassel to import from Germany. Alot less than most commercials, so well worth the gamble.
DIY is the only way to go in speakers!!! Even if you have someone else to everything, you still save 70% over retail. And if you have any kind of skill with a screwdriver or soldering iron, you can save 90% over retail.
Start simple and use premium parts, especially in the crossover. Many people and companies do designs that are as good, or superior, as commercial speaker products.
Another thing is just the learning experience of what goes into a speaker, and the ability to sort through the marketing crap that the commercial companies use to describe their products. (info and projects) (parts and kits) (parts and kits) (lots of designs) (kits) (kits and parts) (kits and parts; ribbon freak) (kits and parts)

BTW, there are NO hassles in DIY Speakers
Making, creating, and assembling are not hassles
New speaker out, but not yet on the market, designed by Linkwitz. I'm sure its not going to be cheap, i'm guessing like $6K/pr. Seas T25 tweeter + Seas W22 (as midrange??) + DUAL!! Peerless XL 10 inch woofers. Has active xover besigned by the master himself. Looks like it may require a "special" amp. Power hungry. hummm, if you've got the bucks, look no further. Also Dennis Murphy at Murphy Masterblaster, does very nice xover work. Super guy! Email him, tell him what you're looking for. Also Rick Craig at Selahaudio is a very capable designer.
Just returned from the Summer "Chicago Horn Bash" and had the chance to spend many hours talking to Dan Wiggens of Adire Audio. [I kept the conversation on audio/speakers as much as possible through dinner without going off the "you're driving me nuts buddy" meter.] Actually, he is a nice guy and really didn't seem to mind.

But the things he emphasized were that the cost of the drivers is just not the thing to focus on and is not usually going to make or break the sound. It's the total package. Focus on the crossover & enclosure and even the room you have. Account for room (your particular room)gain in your XO. Don't rely on published specs. You have to measure your drivers in the box you are going to use. Also, don't forget the acoustic roll-off of your drivers in your enclosures when deciding on the electrical filter you want to use. He also is not concerned with phase problems of high order filteres. He thinks the problems are overemphasized and that you should go for flat frequency response and dynamics. You have to compromise somewhere in speakers and he thinks you lose a lot if you go to first order so as to minimize phase problems. There are som nice short technicl papers on speaker building at his Adire Audio site if you have't been there.

Had a chance to listen to his $300 Kit HE10.1 speaker for the first time and it is very good. He is changing it to linearize the motor strength (BL). He has a new patient so it should get better. If you are looking for a cheapee you could do lots worse.

Some of this isn't exactly late breaking news but it's fresh on my mind after yesterday and though I'd pass it on.

It was a great time. Bruce Edgar was there too and talked for a couple hours on horns. Try to make it next year of you have a chance.

I remain,
Clueless, I'm glad you had a good time at the Bash. Wish I could have been there, too.
Regarding the comments by Wiggens of Adire, on the driver quality issue, I'd take that with a large grain of salt. Remember this, the drivers are the parts that are radiating the sound for about 90% of the frequency range, with the cabinets being responsible for only the bass response tailoring, and providing rigidity for the driver. If the drivers aren't up to the task, no cabinet in the world will save them. If you have a mediocre cabinet, you will still get the quality of the drivers for most of the spectrum, but may have poor bass response. In this regard, I totally disagree with Mr. Wiggens. I also disagree with his assessment of the different order crossovers. Phase shift is a huge problem, and higher order designs have more of it, and more components to soak up power and obscure detail. The main problem with 1st order is slow roll-off associated with 6db/octave slopes. This contributes to intermod distortion, and wider overlap causes more likelihood of driver matching problems in the overlap area. Tweeters are also subjected to higher power levels than may be desireable. However, the steep filters in high order networks can be much more difficult to seamlessly match and introduce large phase problems which affect many listening parameters negatively. If I were designing a multi-way system, I would use a 2nd order cascaded network which is a good compromise in slope steepness, and remains relatively phase coherent with a 180 degree shift that can be largely overcome with polarity reversal of one driver, while using a minimum of circuitry. I believe that Mr. Wiggens point-of-view is skewed by Adire's product line of drivers that are not in the state-of-the-art category, and I'm not sure why he is of his opinion on high order vs lower order crossover networks. High order can be good for tweeter protection and intermod reductions, but IMO the negatives outweigh the benefits.
I Went to An Audio Store About 10 yrs. ago to look at any ones floor standing speakers (lot of them out there). About 50% of them sounded great to me ,The salesman asked if I had seen or heard any that I liked ,I said yes Ilike this cabnet,and this ones finish ,and I like this ones sound ect. Then I asked what he thought about DIY kits ? His resonse was that he never heard DIY speakers sound worth spit, he said it's not worth the time and effort,because they will never sound as good as the ones he sells...Long story short, Drivers ,Tweeters ,Leap crossover& cabnet plans from Madisound .My Dynaudio Twins SOUND LIKE BUTTER ,not spit
Can anyone tell me which of the speaker kits shops would be best at helping me create a new speaker design, like help design a crossover and the determine the cabinet volume. There is a speaker I recently discovered and liked very much, the bolzanos to be precise, and would like to build one similiar to it, but it is not a conventional design therefore I need professional help. Who would be best to help me?
Pedrillo Madisound does leap designs contact them be sure to have as much info about the design you want to copy. Best for them to know size of cab, port sizes etc, drivers used.