Use Better Speaker Building Methods for Your Speaker Cabinets!

There have been some valiant efforts to build superb speaker cabinets…

…but you have to pay so much for those speakers -that to me, it’s a little ridiculous.

Who makes some of the best speaker cabinets?

Companies that make some really nice speaker speaker cabinets CAD drawing of Quad Miniboxes are Magico, Rockport, and Wilson.

Rockport uses two layers of carbon fiber filled with epoxy “goo” between the layers.

The level of damping that this type of cabinet results is extraordinary.

What do good speaker boxes have in common?

You may already be aware that the best performing speakers are well known in audiophile circles -as speakers that are also seriously heavy with huge efforts taken to control resonances.

This is the only way to do build a super high quality speaker…

You must build awesome speaker cabinets.

Magico and Wilson Specialties offer a mass, rigidity, and bracing to achieve low coloration and resonance.

 

As I said what I don’t like is the cost that you must pay to get this level of quality speaker cabinet.

I think that much less expensive products should offer better cabinet construction; but none exists to my knowledge.

The really nice speaker cabinets -cost a small fortune…

You want the better speaker cabinets but are either unwilling or unable to pay the exorbitant prices for these top flight speakers:

Personally, I think most of us fall into the first category of being unwilling to plunk down over 100k for a set of speakers.

Although, I couldn’t pay 100k for a set of speaker even if I wanted to; and I wouldn’t even if I could.

But most of us wouldn’t mind spending a few thousand dollars to build a cabinet that was just as good –or maybe even better quality than what those speaker manufacturers offer.

You see; if you build speakers yourself you have some advantages that the speaker building companies do not have.

1. You don’t have to ship the speaker cabinets.

2. You don’t have to pay high labor costs –or any labor costs if you wish

3. You don’t have the overhead expenses of running a speaker building business

4. You can Finish the speakers any way you like; wood veneer, paint, or whatever.

5. If they don’t turn out how you would like, you can fix them or try again.

6. You gain the Knowledge of learning -how do loud speakers work.

And a speaker cabinet company has some advantages over you building your own.

1. Research and development budget

2. Equipment

3. Manufacturing experience

There are a few ways to overcome some of these shortcomings. One way to compensate for the research and development is to do your own research.

The science of speaker building is nothing new.

The data is available through the web and in most cases there isn’t anything including parts and materials that a speaker manufacturing company has access to -that you cannot get as well.

Sure, most speaker companies claim that the speaker drivers and speaker cabinet hardware are only available to them; they might argue that their parts are not stock -but modified versions of a specific driver and or other speaker parts. Speaker Building – Build your perfect speaker with our parts and supplies from crossover components to full kits.

This may be true; but these parts suppliers also have very similar and sometimes superior parts -available for the general public. Plus, many of the design decisions and changes are only made to make the manufacturing process a little easier; such as making the crossover a little simpler to build.

In the DIY community; we don’t necessarily care about that, since building your own speaker does not include large production runs and spending a little extra time to get something right is probably justified.

Remember, parts companies try to offer the best products that they can build to the general public. It’s in their best interest to do so. There are plenty of reasons for a speaker manufacturer to request esoteric parts from their suppliers, but your speaker design project or build does not need them to be a huge success.

If you do not have the right equipment to build your own speaker project you have a few solid options.

1. Purchase the materials and have a cabinet shop cut the pieces to your needs

2. Buy the tools necessary and figure the cost into the budget.

You will still probably be saving money and you will still own the tools for the next time you want to try a new project. Plus, you will gain valuable experience of how to manufacture your own speaker projects.

What to look for in excellent Speaker cabinets:

diy speaker cabinets

They should be very heavy. How heavy is ‘heavy’? Large speakers that are between 4 and 5 feet tall should be in the range of 300 to 400 pounds.

If you really want to go crazy you could expect a heavy cabinet of this size to be well over 500 pounds. Of course some of this will depend on the other dimensions of the speaker cab and the materials you use in construction. But I have found most speakers to be seriously underweight.

Normal speaker size of say 10 inches wide, 14 inches deep and 40 inches tall should weigh about 130 to 200 pounds. The more the better; Most retail high end speaker systems don’t weigh anywhere close to this amount.

If you do a knuckle rap make sure to not only tap the top but the sides in the middle of the baffle, back and lower cavity about a foot from the floor. It should have the sound of hitting your knuckles on brick. The tuning frequency should be very high. If you hear a low thud or the sound of a wooden box my bet is that the cabinet is not very heavy and consequently not well braced.

Cabinet construction is one thing; but there is plenty else to mess up an otherwise perfectly good speaker:

The speaker crossover does an incredible amount of damage to the incoming signal from the amplifier.

Because of this I only use active and digital crossovers for my speakers. I am not saying that it is impossible to build a good passive crossover. The speaker companies that I mention above do make some very nice speakers.

But I would really love to hear what their speakers could do if they were all active. My bet is that they would be even better than they are now. But, boutique speaker manufacturers are not likely to start building active speakers; why not?

Why don’t most of the speaker manufacturers use active speakers?

1. The market share is too small. This is true probably because of item#2 below.

2. There are too many existing customers that are using stereo speakers system that are based on the passive speaker technology.

3. Consumers would not want to replace their entire music or home theater system just so they could take a risk on active speakers. This is also part of 1 and 2 above. They all work together to limit the marketability of active speakers.

4. Many consumers are not aware of the difference between passive and active speakers. One speaker company that does make active speakers for retail sale is ATC; And they almost always are given awesome speaker reviews. But again, the market share for ATC is very small in comparison to passives.

Deciding on the right speaker box configuration for you:I personally like sealed box speakers. But some prefer the more open sound of a ported design; which you prefer is really not the point.

This is more a matter of taste than a matter of right or wrong. There are lots of different types of speakers like dipole, bipolar, sealed box, ported box, line source, or whatever. What you think is best may have more to do with the environment that you listen in than it has anything to do with your actual ‘tastes’. Some speaker system types just work better in some rooms than others.

My preference for sealed box speakers began with Magico. I heard a set of Minis in Chicago not long after they first came out. I think the stores name was Glen Poors. The accuracy of the minis was what impressed me the most. The pitch definition was just too good and I missed it with other speakers that I heard afterward that were based on other designs like ported speaker boxes. I just find the sealed box speaker to sound more real, more held together and more ‘real’ sounding.

I also really like the sound of dipole speakers. Even though they are totally different, I think in some rooms they are the best option. They also have a distinct sound that no other speaker can match as far as I am concerned.

My listening biases are probably bent toward these two speaker cabinets and configurations more than others. It’s not as if I don’t like ported designs, these are just my favorites. Your tastes may vary and that is fine. That’ the beauty of DIY; you can build whatever you want.

If you decide to build a set of ported speaker cabinets just make sure to optimize your cabinet volume and ports specifically to the drivers you are using. You don’t want to be fighting with port overhand, port noise and bad transient response. This is not hard to do; often the speaker driver manufacturer will offer the cabinet volume, and port tuning. See the section at the bottom of this page.

Build Passive Speakers:

You can still build some great passive speakers. I don’t mean to imply that all passive speakers are terrible. Like I said; I really like Rockport, Magico, and Wilson speakers.

And you can take a great speaker cabinets design and make some wonderful passive speakers yourself too. I am just saying that I think it is actually easier to build an active speaker of higher quality with the same input of data, labor, and materials.

I think your ability to arrive at a highly successful design will be simpler and more successful using active speaker crossovers –that’s all I am saying. If you still want to build passive crossover speakers –go for it. I am sure you can create a highly musical stereo speakers set or home theater speakers using passive technology; I just think you’ll have a harder time doing it. And, the results would probably be much higher quality with an active or digital crossover topology.

I do not at this time offer passive crossover diagrams as these seem to be so dependent on the speaker drivers, cabinet, slopes, and filters necessary for each specific design. I don’t do this because it is so easy to build a digital speaker crossover that can be adjusted and changed on the fly. Making small or large changes to a digital crossover is a piece of cake –in my opinion.

Making changes to a passive crossover is easy enough, but every change you make will affect something else; and this drives me a bit crazy, so I abandoned passive crossover design a long time ago.

I also couldn’t stand what passives’ did to the signal. The phase shift, transient response degradation, crossover shift when heat builds up in the caps, and time smear just to name a few.

It’s true that even digital crossovers with their filter taps can change the phase behavior of the speaker output, but this can be measured and easily compensated for. Most of the time digital filters do very little damage to the signal. In my experience the differences between the signal pre and post digital crossover is not even worth talking about; especially in direct comparison to an analog passive crossovers.

To see some kits go to; Speaker Building – Build your perfect speaker with our parts and supplies from crossover components to full kits.

How to calculate for a sealed box, ported box, and other types of speakers:

If you need to calculate your enclosure volume and ports go to from home speaker.net speaker cabinet calculator.

 

Other Related Articles that Will Help You plan Out Your Speaker Design Program:

Speaker box Design

Learn to Measure your Speakers Using Room EQ Wizard

Speaker Box Plans

Build the Best Speaker Box

Speaker-Cabinet Hardware

Speaker-Cabinet Design

DIY speaker Cables

DIY Speaker Projects

Speaker Driver Recommendations

Best Speaker Wire and Speaker Cables

Hiding Speaker Wire and Speaker Cable

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