A - Most who build a kit don't design it, and often purchase the crossover pre-assembled
B - While active crossovers are more popular in the DIY world than in the consumer world, they are still, based on sales, the minority, and they have their own list of complications.
C - You criticize speakers a great deal, but have yet to talk to anyone about what you use. Maybe that's a good place to start.
There do exist some who can learn through reading rather than the hands-on approach. I think a textbook on speaker design would be far more informative than gluing some knock-down cabinets and soldering a couple coils and capacitors. It could be a fun project but I'm not sure how it makes one a better listener.
Now designing a cabinet and crossover from scratch, determining/performing the appropriate calculations - that's something else. And at the end of the day, if one constructs a loudspeaker that conforms to every textbook ideal, there's no guarantee it'll be enjoyable.
There do exist some who can learn through reading rather than the hands-on approach. I think a textbook on speaker design would be far more informative than gluing some knock-down cabinets and soldering a couple coils and capacitors. It could be a fun project but I’m not sure how it makes one a better listener.
No one is saying you shouldn’t. I’m saying this could be fun learning experience which gets you out of your head and gives you a hands on feel for what is described. The two are not exclusive, but complementary.
And at the end of the day, if one constructs a loudspeaker that conforms to every textbook ideal, there’s no guarantee it’ll be enjoyable.
No one said that should be a goal either.
The main goal is fun and experience in complementary, not exclusive and not duplicating ways. Sure we can learn all about rocket building in a book but putting your hands on a capsule that has orbited the earth is a whole other way to experience space flight.
I'm intrigued by the idea. Have done a bit of research.
And agree with you, it shouldn't really be about saving money because the good kits are damn expensive.
I'm a DIY sort of guy and would like to do this one day. I'm probably more interested in the cabinet/wood work. I would want the appearance to be something special. Not fancy or odd, just well done.
The thing is, most of my DIY'ing is to meet a need. And I don't need speakers right now.
Its on my list of possible 'to dos'.
Yeah, I have built an amp, transmission line, ESL, turntable, interconnects, equipment rack, and distributed bass array subwoofer system. Each time it was to fill a specific need. Same with mods- speakers, crossovers. I never just built or modded anything for the fun of it or just to be tinkering.
My experience has been so good I would highly recommend DIY. About the only thing I would add is to carefully consider and understand your reasons for DIY. There’s a million reasons, all pretty much equally valid. But there’s great wisdom in the phrase, Know thyself. If your reason is to save money you can do that. Totally. Guaranteed. No problem. If your reason is to make something to fit your particular requirements- whether size, color, shape, or whatever- perfect, go for it. Just be clear and honest and don’t go kidding yourself. Be realistic.
About the only DIY yellow flag I would throw is if you think you’re gonna make something like an interconnect, power cord or speaker cable. For some reason people think this is easy. Well, its easy in terms of assembling and soldering. Getting the signal from A to B is just not that hard. Winding up with something that sounds better than what you could have bought for your parts money, that I’m here to tell you just ain’t happening.
Everything else, go for it. Time well spent. Even if you ignore me and try and build some cables, you will learn something. About how hard it is to beat the pro’s. But still, something.
@n80, GR Research sounds perfect for you. Danny Richie supplies the drivers, x/o parts, enclosure damping material, connectors, hardware, etc. He leaves the enclosure to the customer, providing he or she (yeah sure ;-) the internal cu.ft. volume required for the speaker design you order.
As you are content with your speakers (for now ;-), take a look at his subwoofer designs. He developed them in partnership with Brian Ding of Rythmik Audio, and they are something special. Sealed and OB/Dipole, both with Rythmik’s Servo-Feedback circuitry, and Danny’s paper-cone version of the Rythmik 12" aluminum cone-woofer. He provides the plans for his 2 cu.ft. enclosure design for the woofer, both a normal sealed version, and one with double walls, the space between them intended to be filled with sand, for damping of the enclosure walls. Advanced subwoofers designed not for home-theater use, but for music.
I have enjoyed building several speakers over the years. Most of these were kits that I was able to tweak a bit with improved crossover parts, cabinet mods, etc.
It was nice when Parts Express offered cabinets. They looked quite nice and cut out the most time consuming part of the build.
I would suggest that first timers go with a nice predesigned kit from a reputable designer. Tweak things if you will. It's too hard and total guess work for most of us to design a speaker from the ground up without a lot of resources for measurements, etc.
Of my builds,the speaker that least impressed me used top shelf drivers. I was impressed by the design and specs. But it just did not involve me emotionally. Go figure. My two favorites included a full range driver in a 0.5 cf enclosure, the other used a pair of inexpensive Vifa drivers with a series crossover. Both of these were models of simplicity that truly were satisfying builds and very involving speakers. And I would suggest these did outperform commercial products at there price points.
If you add up all the time you'll spend, don't fool yourself into thinking you'll save a bundle. This is something you do as a labor of love, a learning experience. My time is valuable and I have no regrets.
I have to agree the DIY is a lot of fun and very rewarding sound wise. I just got into this maybe a year ago. I owned a pair of LSA standard monitors in a second system long ago and always thought they were very nice for there $1000 price, I replaced them with the LSA tower version in a trade. Less than a year ago I ran across an online $1000 monitor speaker shootout and noticed the GR Research Sking Ninja modded (alpha inductors, mills resistors and sonicaps) speaker won against the LSA. While reading about the shoot out i noticed a eBay listing for a the modded GR Research monitor than won the shootout for $120 in pieces. My curiosity got the best of me so I bought it. Had no idea what I was doing called Danny at GR and he walked me through putting it back together. He always answers the phone and is a hell of a nice guy. To my amazement the $120 GR monitor was better in every way to the $2500 LSA tower except tower went lower but not better quality bass. Now my focus went to improving the LSA tower. Since LSA's are not my main speakers I took a chance and started replacing parts. I combined Clarity CMR and Jantzen Alumen in tweeter section, removed soft dome tweeter and replaced it with Peerless ring radiator( had to decrease resistor to match new tweeter) put in Path resistor in tweeter section and mills everywhere else. The rest of the parts are still stock. Made crossover outboard and soldered speaker wire directly to crossover( no binding post). Now the Modded LSA is in totally different league than the GR monitor. For $300 bucks in parts you can't beat it. Anyone on the fence, buy a good $100 solder station and learn to solder, I couldn't solder worth a damn when I started this, now it's second nature.
Good choice @N80! The stand mounted version, or the floor stander? Both are made with the same parts, just a different enclosure (plans for both monitor and transmission-line enclosures are provided with the kit). Great Neo 3 pdr tweeter, Danny Richie-designed and custom-made woofer/midrange driver, and audiophile quality x/o parts (caps, resistors, etc).
Danny is well known in the loudspeaker industry, doing x/o consulting work for other companies. He also offers mods for mass-market speakers built to a price point (and therefore compromised), such as the Elac's. His mods "correct" some engineering choices with which he disagrees.
This is a bit expensive, but it is a true audiophile bargain. They keep inching up the pricing, but it is still a steal. The parts are worth more than the kit. It was designed by Jeff Bagby one of the best known DIY guys out there. Look carefully at the reviews and what they have been compared against. All very nice Morel Parts.
The challenge is to make a speaker as good as or better than a Wilson or Magico for less than a fraction of the money. The best drivers can still be plenty expensive. I liked the comment above about making plate speakers and wholeheartedly agree. No enclosure is better than any enclosure. Simple is always best. I made a system for a friend who has muscular dystrophy using Focal drivers back when they still sold them to the public. They used plates of laminated MDF and solid surface material. No painting required. Focal had a midrange/upper bass 6" driver that made it nicely down to 150 Hz allowing me to jump down to subwoofers. They were two way and used a very simple 2nd order crossover. I still get comments about the system 20 years later.
Just pick your drivers carefully Don't worry about sensitivity. Initially wire the drivers with Pots and adjust them till you get what you want then read the resistance off the pot and get good resistors the same value. Just be careful how this interacts with the crossover. There is a bit of trial end error here.