Making High End Clones at Home for Fun and Savings

I recently ordered a Sonic Impact amp from parts express and I have been experimenting with speakers including a pair of Epos ELS3's and the Radio Shack Presidians to use with an iPod.

On the one hand, this really made me appreciate my ARC, Levinson, and Tympanis which was nice.

But as you know if you have tried these bargain components, they can sound surprisingly good. And experimenting with them has given me a bit of a do it yourself bug.

Can anyone please provide more links or details on how to make high end components at home?

Given the fairly easy availability of good drivers, can we also buy high quality, simple crossovers? Amplifier kits?

Composite cabinets to knock off Green Mountain Audio or Wilson monitors?

This is FUN! Please do tell.
I haven't been allowed outside links for a while.

Audionova is a listing of starting points.
Raw accoustics has some unfinished speakers.
Nelson Pass still contributes at DIYAudio occasionally.
Borbely audio has very nice kits.

You might want to start upgrading caps from 80's speakers or amps, before a 100' dive with a snorkel. There's a few reasons why these things are so expensive.

The fun part for me was not in trying to recreate big dollar components myself. The fun was in buying/building very low dollar components and enjoying the music they bring into my room.

You mention simple crossovers, which makes me think, maybe no crossover is an even better idea! Of course, the simplest crossover is just a high quality capacitor used as a high pass filter to keep the tweeter happy. But you might want to try something truely simple like a nice single driver speaker.

Here is a link to my speakers (I bought the review pair from Larry Moore). They are a very simple build. You could build them, enjoy them, then modify the plan or build your own high quality cabinets if you like the sound. If not, sell them off to a single driver enthusiast.

I've completely abondoned expensive audio equipment for now. I'm having so much fun with my "oddball system" that I've lost interest in spending big bucks or even trying to emulate high dollar sound. Here's my current system:

Vecteur D-2 Transport ($300 used on AudiogoN)
Red Wine Audio Reali-T (Scott Nixon DACkit, plus modified Sonic impact "Clari-T" integrated amp in one enclosure)
DIY HempAcoustics FR8.0DIY speakers

This is a very nice sounding system that betters my past high dollar systems in most ways. Of course, it's not pretty and it may not be great in a huge room. But for me and my current room, I think it's great!


This thread was in part inspired by an Agon friend who sent me the link for the OEM of the Red Rose speakers in China.

We were both delighted to see that these speakers, exactly as they seemed to appear in Mr Levinson's showroom, were available for about 10 cents on the dollar from the Chinese manufacturer.

On the same site, they also seemed to offer the ribbon tweeter element that the speakers used.

Now this was all well and good until I sent unanswered emails and faxes to the contact details on the website.

What was really a surprise, however, was to then find the same ribbon tweeter unit, already in the US for even less ?!?!

With this in mind, it seemed like a good idea to get out the soldering iron.

Reubent, yes I agree there is a reason some of this stuff is expensive and I am not trying to put Mr Wilson out of business.

But I continue to think that with some interest and resourcefulness, we could probably put together some very very good systems for about a 1/3 of branded comparables.

Thanks for your experiences and ideas.
Cwlondon -- rule of the thumb: the parts price of a speaker is roughly 1/5th the retail price. That's NOT counting the work involved and the development, the investment in equipm't, cost of matching components, etc.

OTOH, manufacturers get a much better price for components than us, buying off the shelf.

Understanding that speaker manufacturers need to buy groceries too, I am not so keen on funding their research and development.

Companies that provide good products and good customer service and support should be able to sustain high quality revenues which in turn help them to invest in new equipment and techology.

So it still seems like a good idea to try and build proven, now simple, high performance designs at home.
The high frequency response (say 2000 up) will be determined by the tweeter you use. You can buy the exact same tweeter used in many high end systems. Low frequency response is where matching an existing speaker system will take some work. You can buy very fine drivers at reasonable cost, but mating them to an enclosure is both an art and science. I suggest that you first play around with cheap and easily modified plywood boxes until you come up with something good. Only then begin to worry about fine furniture grade carpentry. As for crossovers, your best bet is to biamp using an electronic crossover that is easily reconfigured for frequency and slopes. You can do tests in an hour or so which would take a week if you were playing around with passive crossover design.

Finally, a shortcut is to clone an existing design instead of reinventing the wheel.
An identical box and identical drivers doesn't make one speaker a "clone" of another. In my opinion, the heart and soul of loudspeaker design is crossover design.

Audiokinesis...True, the "clone" might be slightly different. For example, the enclosure could be made of superior wood and with better craftsmanship, and the crossover could use superior parts. Crossover upgrades are a common diy project. It improved my MG1.6.
Given the fairly easy availability of good drivers, can we also buy high quality, simple crossovers? Amplifier kits?

Of course.

For example; Solen in Canada, Wilmslow in the UK, Linkwitz in the US and many many many others (sorry for not mentioning al the DIY sources).

Will it be cheaper than buying new. Probably but not always obvious. Will it be as good as the original from a high quality manufacturer - unlikely. Will it be fun - almost certainly.
your best bet is to biamp using an electronic crossover that is easily reconfigured for frequency and slopes
I couldn't agree more. I would recommend this in the strongest terms for anyone wanting to take up speakers as a hobby. For example, an investment of $~200 or so buys a Behringer 2496\ which, used as a tool, saves days of wasted efforts!
Gregm...I didn't mention the Behringer brand because people may be begining to think I work for that outfit! But your suggestion is good. Just to be clear, you are talking about the DCX2496, a crossover, not the DEQ2496 which is an equalizer. But why not do both for about $600(including mic). The DCX crossover is part of the speaker system. The DEQ measures how the system performs, and then fixes what is wrong. Life is good!
I meant the Xover, thanks for clarifying. But your suggestion for the "full system" still takes the prize!