Most home theater enthusiasts would like to get their hands on a new set of speakers. What most don’t know is that DIY speaker projects can be built to exceed the performance of almost all high end speakers available for less than 50 percent of the cost. (Usually much less)
Furthermore, this can usually be done for substantially less than 30 percent. If a builder were to build the speakers completely it’s not uncommon to build speakers for around ten percent of a competing high end competitor. That’s pretty tempting.
How is this possible? Start by using proven plans to build speakers and then having a local cabinet shop build the cabinets or saving even more money by building them yourself.
Building speakers really is not that difficult. The part where many would be DIY enthusiast fall off the tracks is in the planning stages. The speaker box must be built specifically for the drivers that it will hold. It is true that you can take a box and tailor it to a specific driver by adjusting inner volumes, but you must also hold the box to the specific alignment that the driver needs to operate in.
For example; a ported enclosure will not work well for a driver designed to operate in a sealed chamber and vice versa. Beyond that the enclosure volumes can be pretty specific, especially with ported and passive radiator enclosures.
There is some good news though. The enclosures can be calculated easily enough, you just have to use the right tools. We use CAD to determine volumes before the project is even started. So we can know very precisely what the outcome will be.
If you start with some good plans, the rest is really just wood, glue, drivers, paint, and quite a bit of labor. All of this can be quite a bit of fun too, so don’t forget the valuable learning experience of this project.
How to begin:
- 1. Find some speaker plans that you like
- 2. Complete a materials list, including drivers, wire, binding posts, amplifiers, and any other items you may wish to include and establish a total cost.
- 3. Make sure the costs fit in your budget, then add roughly 20% as it may cost a bit more than you had calculated.
- 4. Find a parts supplier that offers good prices and excellent service
- 5. Acquire the necessary tools for the job
- 6. If you are not comfortable using wood working tools find someone that is and get them involved. Possibly offer to build two sets so you both benefit from the project by getting a set of speakers on completion. It is much cheaper to build two sets of the same speaker than to build two different types of speakers.
- 7. Develop a plan; even building an assembly table if you believe you may need one.
- 8. Research different materials for construction.
- 9. Start ordering wood working materials and begin your project.
- 10. If you want the project to look really nice consider having a local body shop paint the speakers when they are completed. This can be quite expensive, but the benefits are a high SAF (spouse acceptance factor), and a long term appreciation for your project.
Further good news from building speakers DIY are; I have found very little desire to upgrade once the speakers are built. When you experience the high performance to cost ratios involved normally the only next step is to build a better set of speakers next time. Retail speakers are very hard to pay for after you have built a set of your own for substantially less capitol.
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