Planning your DIY Speakers Project? Not sure Where to Start?

Get the hard part out of the way first;

Figuring out where to start with a DIY speakers project is often the hard part.

Settling on a design, choosing the right drivers, and working through the crossover issues can make some enthusiasts head spin.

Relax; building a DIY-speaker is not that difficult or complicated. Great results are obtainable!

According to a recent survey we conducted – These are the most sought after questions regarding DIY speakers.

1. What is the best speaker cabinet design?

2. What speaker parts should you buy?

3. What kind of speaker drivers should you use? How far apart and the best crossover point selection?

4. What type of wood should the enclosure be made of?

5. What kind of speaker crossover will be the best for your project?

DIY Speakers Enclosure type:

Acoustic suspension or sealed diy speakers cabinetdesign offers the best transient response of any cabinet configuration.

Sealed cabinets tend to have a very quick and articulate sound.

The roll off will occur at 6db per octave which results in a natural and gently descending bass curve.

Magico uses sealed cabinets in all of their speaker designs for their superior transient response characteristics. The sealed air within the cabinet acts as a spring or cushion for the speaker driver; sealed cabinets typically need more amplifier power to drive to the same levels as a ported cabinet.

The further the driver moves and the smaller the cabinet volume the higher the internal pressure will be. Sealed cabinets need speaker drivers that were designed for the sealed cabs specific use.

Ported Cabinets offer increased sensitivity closest to their resonant tuning frequency. If a box is tuned to 30Hz this cabinet will have more output near and around 30Hz than an acoustic suspension, sealed cabinet will.

Ported cabinets will roll off in the bass at 12db per octave.

This is twice as steep a roll off curve as a sealed cabinet. However, the bass will stay up longer for a given driver type and size than a sealed system. Speaker drivers need to be designed for a ported cabinet’s specific use.

Dipole speaker cabinets are open on both sides. These are basically flat panels with drivers mounted into them. There are several ways to increase the most problematic concern for a dipole speaker. (The bass) But none of them work as well as surface area. If deep bass is what you desire from a dipole type speaker you will need large panels –very large. And you will need very large drivers that move a lot of air.

Dipole speakers create a cancellation to the sides of each speaker. This creates a null at the sides which is both a benefit of the design and a detriment.

Due to the cancellations of the front and the back sound waves the baffles size must be increased larger than normal speaker systems.

The null created by the cancellation helps with internal standing waves within your room. By generating less side energy these speakers excite less room modes.

Dipole speakers are also known to sound very open and transparent. They have a crystal clear sound that can seem holographic if they are built well.

There are not many dipole speakers on the market and the ones that are available tend to be very expensive models.

Their general lack of deep bass keeps them from being recognized for their benefits by the public.

You may find a subwoofer necessary to use with the smaller designs available. Dipoles are an easy way to get started with your own DIY speaker cabinet project.

DIY Speakers – Parts:

WBT -midline fully insulated binding posts and speaker cabinet hardware

The speaker parts that you buy will depend on the type of speaker system you intend to build.

So first you need to discover what it is that you want out of you’re the DIY speaker projects. Beyond that; the parts of the speaker whether they be the cones the cabinet will sit on or the binding posts should all be in the same line of value as other components in the system.

I would probably spend the most time on the speaker cabinet as the materials for the cabinet are low. And spend the most money on the speaker drivers as these will net you the greatest rewards for every dollar spent.

Get some decent speaker cabinet hardware, connectors, internal wire, etc. and call it a day.

Where to get your parts? Try our Speaker Building – Build your perfect speaker with our parts and supplies from crossover components to full kits.

When setting your budget I would say add 20% to your final number as you are likely to miss a few things in your initial analysis.

What kind of Speaker Drivers should you use?

tang band full range driver

After you have determined what type of cabinet configuration you like best you can choose the speaker drivers for your project.

This will take a holistic approach to be successful. You will need to understand how the different drivers will interact with one another.

Choose drivers that will play nice together. How can you choose them successfully? I would encourage you to check out our recommended speaker drivers to get a feel for how these products are picked.

Here’s a hint: It has everything to do with their Thiele Small measurements and their technical measurements data. It is also a good idea to match driver types up with one another.

For example: combining a ribbon tweeter with a cone midrange; because ribbons are difficult to get balanced correctly with a cone mid driver. It isn’t that it cannot be done; it’s just that it complicates the project.

Speaker Building – Build your perfect speaker with our parts and supplies from crossover components to full kits.

What type of Wood Should my DIY Speaker Box be made out of?

The cheapest acceptable wood for making high quality speaker cabinets is MDF or Medium Density Fiberboard.

This stuff is very easy to work with. It cuts nice holds shapes well. And MDF is reasonably good at damping internal cabinet energy.

The next best material is probably Birch Plywood. This stuff uses many layers of hardwood that is typically finished in a thin layer of birch veneer.

It is really nice material and makes a great cabinet.

Make sure to use metal inserts to mount your speaker drivers into both this and MDF though as they will delaminate under the pressure of small diameter screws.

If you have no shortage of money my next recommendations would be aluminum.

Very expensive and ridged, this material is close to ideal. Remember your panels will have to be machined though.

This would be a very, very expensive solution to build a speaker box; I’d probably go with the birch ply myself.

What is the Best Speaker Crossover to use?

This is going to be a subject of much debate and someone may have to burn at the stake; it will probably be me…

I believe the best crossover solution is a software crossover that is powered within a personal computer or HTPC. These crossovers are so transparent and special that it’s hard for me to compare anything else to them.

They are that good. There just isn’t any difference than the straight feed from the CD, DVD or music file or the feed that comes out of the crossover.

They are essentially benign as best I can tell. Meaning they do nothing to the signal besides split it up for the tweeters, midrange drivers, and bass drivers.

Second best would be an active crossover system. There are a number of ways to get one of these in your system. The most popular units are analog units made by Marchand Inc. They work well. There are many other companies that make active crossovers as well.

Other types of digital crossovers such as the Behringer units work pretty well and are actually used by a few high end speaker manufacturers in their digital active speaker designs.

There are many other digital crossovers that work quite well too. I don’t have an allegiance to any of the brands.

But as usual you can spend as little or as much as you like. These are often called speaker controllers in the pro industry.

Coming in a distant and pathetically last place is the old analog passive crossover. This thing is an antiquated monster that needs to die. Seriously! Passive crossover suck so bad I don’t even want to go into it here.

Are there good speakers with passive crossovers?

Yes, lots of them.

But that is mainly because of the truly incredible lengths the speaker designers have gone to in making them a practical product. Passive crossover are inefficient, power robbing, distortion introducing, and problematic.

As they heat up their values change, etc. etc. I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you the pain. Let’s just say they are not scientifically up to the task which active or digital crossovers easily achieve.

But passive crossovers are here to stay because the public will continue to do what is popular and comfortable.

However, a few of us know, have heard, and use what the superior active crossover can do; and will never go back. If you are one of us, welcome to the club! If not, I’m sorry you have to suffer through one more day with your passive speakers and not knowing any better.

Please save your hate mail for someone else! I’m just having a little fun here! No harm intended; although I meant everything I said.

By the way, I don’t sell passive, active or digital crossovers so I have no reason to promote one over the other. My only product “speaker plans” could be used with any of these three crossover configurations.

Summary:

When you have worked through these questions and have a plan for Your Own Speaker Box Plans or DIY Speakers you are ready to start your DIY journey.

Whether you plan to build some DIY home theater speakers or just some computer speakers your possibilities are nearly endless.

It may be good to pick a simple project to try first like the mini cube speakers outlined on our Products page.

Or just take the dive and go whole hog. It doesn’t matter. What is important is that you have fun with the process and learn as you go, both of which are probably unavoidable. If you need some ideas for your project use some of our speaker box design program ideas from one of our speaker box plans to spur your imagination. You can make any changes you like as you see fit.

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Other Useful Articles:

• Mini Cube Speakers – try this easy computer speaker project!

• 12 Guage Speaker Wire

• DIY-Speaker Projects

• DIY Speaker Stands

• Speaker Box Design

• Speaker Driver Recommendations

• Cheap Home Theater System -using the Mini cube Speakers

• Go to Speaker Building and speaker cabinet design

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