In House Manufacturing vs. OEM Sourcing

I've been away from the hobby for quite some time, and my recent search for a new pair of loudspeakers has my head spinning.  I never realized there were so many companies making loudspeakers these days.  I've never heard of 60% of them.

What I do see is that the vast majority are using drivers from OEM manufacturers.  While some claim that the drivers are "made to their specifications," the skeptic in me thinks there's a bit of smoke in the air.  I'm sure someone like Wilson Audio is an exception, but I don't believe that's the case for most of them.

I would imagine that companies that manufacture their own drivers (Focal, Dynaudio, etc.) would have a distinct advantage in developing and voicing a loudspeaker.  I'm not saying there there aren't some exceptional speakers out there that use OEM drivers, but it seems that distinction is limited to the ultra high-end.

Back in the late 70's, early 80's I worked in the audio business and back then there were over 500 loudspeaker manufacturers just in the U.S.  Back then, it was a "high profit margin" part of the audio business, I'm not sure if that's changed or not.

I suspect that most manufacturers either use "off the shelf" or "made to spec" drivers from other firms, and combine those with cabinets, crossover circuits, grills and other components they might make in house, from parts they also purchase from outside suppliers.

Automobile manufacturers have used this model for decades.

I wouldn't claim that a manufacturer who constructs all the components of a speaker is superior to one that does not, on those merits alone.
One of the examples is Totem speakers that use Dynaudio drivers.
Most Totem speakers sounding more superior to Dynaudio.
In fact Dynaudio drivers are not only used in Totems. Some companies use drivers from different companies as well.

I don't think you can draw any generalized conclusions.  Great loudspeakers or poorer quality loudspeakers can be made in-house or with out sourced drivers.  It's not so much the parts, but the expertise in utilizing them.
What makes you think that OEM drivers are of lesser quality then a driver made with manufacturer specific parameters, mostly these will just be related to various combinations of Voice coil parameters, weight of cone, compliance of suspension etc.  The various parts used to make a driver come from sub suppliers to the Driver manufacturer that assembles the driver.  

Most of the Scandinavian companies like ScanSpeak, Seas, Dynaudio etc all make parts in house and get some from sub suppliers.  

Its the sum of all the parts, Drivers, Cabinet, Crossover components and design that makes a great speaker  - if its done right.  

Good Listening


PS if you want to make your own speaker, heres a few completed designs for you, click back on the website to get more choices, theres ScanSpeak and Parts Express Drivers as well

PSS Im working on a new one for ScanSpeak, using their 13" Subwoofer, the New 7" High efficiency Midrange driver and their large Beryllium dome in a 25 Hz transmission line - this will be a fun speaker.

Should be on display at Madisound (1413) Suite at the upcoming THE Show Newport


My sentiments echo what everyone else is thinking - don't discount any speaker manufacturer just because they're using off-the-shelf drivers.  A great example, as pbnaudio mentioned before me, is ScanSpeak.  Their "Revelator" tweeter is superb, just one of those cases where they nailed it, hit a home-run, and it ended up being used in many great designs.    For many speaker designers, there would be no need to pour money into R&D to try and come up with a better mousetrap - with great components already in existence like the "Revelator", or Vifa's Ring Radiator tweeter, there's no need to reinvent the wheel (in very simplistic terms).   And fortunately for us non-oligarchs, you don't have to spend ultra-high-end money to own speakers with these components.
Whoever mentioned Scanspeak or Vifa is right to the point. I don't know any of their own house speakers at all. They mostly manufacture drivers only, but many manufacturers and DIYers using them.
Believe me, I know the challenges of building a DIY speaker system, as I attempted it myself.  Had it not been for a substantial amount of outside help, I would have ended up with a gigantic pair of clock radios!  I grossly underestimated the engineering and skill needed to produce an audiophile level system.