Use the best DIY speaker drivers.
The best crossovers.
The best and most inert speaker cabinets.
All the parts of a speaker are very important.
Building a DIY-speaker system is one of the most rewarding projects you are ever likely to take on.
The savings are huge by going DIY…
The return on your investment of time, energy and knowledge will pay you back tenfold over the coming years.
A good speaker system will do this if built using the right parts and materials. Your new speakers should easily last that long while also being highly musical and involving.
All of this while costing a fraction of what a high quality loudspeaker would normally demand for the price.
Build your speakers like a Bridge:
Overbuild them as much as possible!
Speaker building is a great place for wretched excess…
Here are some basic information needed to build a bridge
1. How long does the bridge need to be?
Seems simple enough; but a bridge is often quite a bit longer than just reaching from one end of a chasm to the other. You have to tie into the ground sufficiently to secure both sides.
2. How high? What clearance issues are at hand… or what objects need to move under the bridge?
3. What is the maximum payload or how much weight the bridge is needed hold? Think of a traffic jam of nothing but tractor trailers and other heavy equipment.
Bridge builders will design a bridge not only to carry the weight expected to travel on them but with a substantially large margin of error.
Meaning, that a bridge should be able to carry much more weight than is expected it will need to carry at any one given time.
Failure is not acceptable. Bridges are not designed to fail after they reach their maximum payload.
Think about this for a minute while you read the rest of this article; it should make more sense.
Factors in Speaker Building Are;
I believe these are what separate the good speakers from the bad.
1. The type of loudspeaker crossover used and how it is implemented in the design.
2. The quality of the parts used such as speaker drivers, cabinet materials etc.
3. The quality and non resonance of the cabinet.
Of course there are many, many other factors. If you get those three right you can afford to make a few mistakes elsewhere.
It would be better if we made no mistakes at all in speaker design so let’s take a closer look at some solutions.
Can you build your own DIY Speaker System?
It depends! If you are willing to take some time and learn, then – yes! You can do it.
But if you plan to just throw some drivers in a cabinet and put some random parts together without researching first – you will likely fail.
But speaker building isn’t hard!
It just takes a bit of time to learn, and all of the information you need is readily available for free on the internet.
Don’t listen to any snake oil ad copy from speaker manufacturers about them having some proprietary technology. They all have proprietary technology (according to them).
The truth is; most of speaker building is an old art and the technology has not changed much in the last 20 years.
You can buy most state of the art drivers that are available on the best world class speakers from a host of online retailers such as Parts Express.
It can be beneficial if you have access to CAD and know how to use it; but it is not absolutely critical. Thousands of speakers were designed without the use of computers.
Computers just make designing DIY speaker systems easier and more efficient.
Flaws in the design are pretty quickly realized if first modeled in CAD and computers can do many difficult math functions very easily.
I use CAD for my speaker designs because it is a great tool; but you don’t have to.
Do I need an anechoic Chamber?
Only if you plan on listening in one!
Most speaker drivers are tested in an anechoic chamber so that the speaker designer can get a good idea of changes that need to be made.
The anechoic chamber takes out reflections from the floor, ceiling and other walls in a room (to a large extent) and this helps in the design process.
There can be many changes to a driver before the product will be introduced to the market. It’s good that they do this, but you don’t need to do it again because there are other tools that work better in your actual listening environment.
One of these tools is called DSP – for digital signal processing. And now DSP is very inexpensive (compared to what it cost in years past) and easy to utilize in your home theater system or stereo speakers system.
You simply make some measurements of your speakers playing test tones in your room using a software tone generator and recording software.
This tells you not only what the speaker is doing but how it is interacting with the room. There are multiple speaker and room correction programs that can use the measured data to correct the response.
This type of system is similar to what a DEQX or TACT system does but the programs can be used on most reasonably powered personal computers.
This has only become possible in the last few years because of the extraordinary processing power of the newer PC’s.
Making changes in this way offers much more accuracy than just changing the frequency response or phase response of the speaker.
You cannot be entirely sure what your room will do until you measure the response of a specific speaker system in that room. Each speaker will interact differently with a different room and/or speaker placement.
What if I don’t want to use DSP in my DIY Speaker System?
Then there are other options available for the DIY speaker builder like;
Ordering a pre-made crossover is one of your choices. These can be used with a speaker cabinet that you build.
These can even be custom ordered and built for your specific project. Madisound offers this custom built crossover solution.
There are also speaker kits available that include the speaker drivers, crossovers, and cabinets; all speaker parts that you need to assemble your own speakers.
These kits are a bit pricier than if you had built your speaker cabinets but they still offer very good value over retail speakers and they are easy to put together. Speaker Building – Build your perfect speaker with our parts and supplies from crossover components to full kits. Parts Express offers many of these kits and for a reasonable price.
DIY Speaker Crossover Options:
• Passive crossovers: these crossover networks are typically located within the speakers themselves. All you need is one amplifier channel per speaker.
• Active Crossovers: these units are usually housed in a separate box from the speaker. Here the crossover is placed between the preamplifier and the amplifier. This type of system will need a crossover leg, preamplifier leg, and amplifier leg for each ‘way’ or speaker driver type in each individual cabinet. For example; you would need 1 independent channel for each ‘way’ in a 3 way speaker.
So this means 6 independent channels for a stereo pair of 3 way speakers. This does not make the design more expensive as lesser quality amplifier and preamplifier circuits can be used to net the same or better results.
Also each channel of amplification of the six channels can be much less powerful than a simple two channel equivalent amp powering a conventional passive speaker. Companies like Marchand offer active crossover units but you can also build active crossover yourself as well.
• Digital crossovers: are thought to be quite superior to passive crossover designs but they are a bit more complex. These are often called speaker controllers in the pro industry and a speaker controller unit can also be used very effectively in the home environment. A few speaker manufacturers use speaker controllers as part of their speaker package. To see some of these models enter “digital crossover” in the search box at: Parts Express – Free Shipping Every Day on most orders over $98 (Restrictions apply).
• Digital Software Crossovers and controllers: These work just like a digital crossover but achieve their results from within the digital domain of the personal computer or HTPC. Crossover slopes, phase adjustments, driver alignment and room correction are easily achieved digitally prior to exiting through a music interface device and into the preamplifier. In my opinion this is the best way to build the DIY speaker crossover. The amount of control this gives you in loudspeaker design is second to none. Learn more about building a HTPC and how you can make one better for less.
The DIY Speaker Cabinet:
Speaker building is a lot like building a bridge. It should not be designed to fail easily with the first note played. It should perform its intended task without strain or effort. And it should allow the speaker drivers to produce an accurate sound according to the input signal.
However, most speakers are not made this way. They usually fail miserably and people are not even aware of it because lackluster sound is basically commonplace in the retail market.
Your speaker cabinets should be grossly overbuilt. Yes, grossly overbuilt!
They should be so well braced and constructed that no movement or vibrations occur other than the speaker drivers themselves.
This is not easy to do and it is cannot be done in a day. Excellent speaker cabinets take time to construct. They are complex beasts and they are usually very, very heavy. Think hundreds of pounds. If you think otherwise just look at how much some state of the art loud speakers weigh. Many top quality speakers are well over 500 pounds each!
They don’t weigh this much just so they cannot be easily stolen. Adopt the same approach to your DIY speaker project and you won’t be sorry you did.