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Building speakers?

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by russianboy, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. russianboy New Member

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    Right, so I'm one of those people that is obsessed with music. I love it to death, but I hate listening to Dark Side of the Moon on FLAC through $30 computer speakers.

    I'm a traditional guy, I prefer vinyl to Mp3, tube to solid state, and simple, musical speakers to 7.1 systems with acousti-ass processing to deliver the most dynamic sound that will blast your nuts off.

    So I'm looking around for stuff online. Active monitors seemed ok, but they are just so damn expensive! $500 may not seem much for a nice pair of speakers (say, KRKs). But I just don't have that money, too young to work. Parents provide me with enough already.

    Then I decided, "why do I need super accurate monitors anyway?" I mean, I'm not mixing or mastering, I don't need perfect audio in a room full of baffles and bass traps. Heck, I'm going the opposite way, sacrificing bleak accuracy for warmth, richness and feel. No need to examine the fret buzz from Jimi Hendrix's solo, or Keith Moon missing a note amirite?

    But those are also to expensive, some Pioneers were like $150 each, not bad, but too much for a kid. Then there were the ultimate speakers, looking like Da Vinci designed them and costing more than my house. No need for that.

    Today I went to the flea market, speakers everywhere, woofers, car tweeters, those large, wooden 3 way speakers that came with record players back in the 70's. All of them pretty darn cheap. Later I read about how the majority of the speakers on the market are poor quality because they emphasize form over function, use plastic and particle board housing, and overall are built not based on sound, but for the "wow" factor. Like Bose, who needs all that 3D sound processing stuff when you can have a nice, natural book shelf speaker?

    Anyways, I want to build my own speakers, two way, a silk/soft dome tweeter, and a 6-8 in. woofer. Prolly with a kevlar cone, looks nicer, and I think it will sound nicer too (compared to a paper cone). My friend will help cut the enclosure, a simple box made out of wood, most likely maple, cherry, or ash. Then I'll stain it.

    There is a thrift store near my house that sells used speakers, that might just work.

    Thoughts? Suggestions? Advice? General speaker knowledge?

    Thanks.
  2. Error 404

    Error 404

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    If you're going to do a stereo system, then I'd recommend looking for a set of 25 - 50 watt drivers and matched tweeters; you wont need any more power than that unless you want to shake the house down.
    As for amp circuits, I'm sure there are some nice valve-based amp schematics on the web, such as this: http://diyaudioprojects.com/Tubes/6T9-Tube-Amp-Kit/
    However, I've found that even a nice $90 2.1 sound system from Harvey Normans (aussie electronics store) can REALLY make a difference compared to a crappy $30 stereo system; the subwoofer makes all the difference...
    Oh, and Pink Floyd FTW! :rockout:
  3. DR.Death

    DR.Death New Member

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    if u are making your own speakers u need a hard wood and then u need to separate them from one another and then u need to insulate the back so u don't get weird sounds coming from the back and then u want 3 speakers a tweeter a mid range and a woofer it give better sound
  4. russianboy New Member

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    Yes, I will be using a hard wood, maple is extremely hard and often has a beautiful figure. Cherry looks nice and is more acoustically neutral than maple.I'll leave them un-insulated but if they do in fact, ring, I'll use some foam, or perhaps experiment with neoprene. My aim is to in fact, incorporate the wood into the tone. Let it resonate and all.

    I'm actually using 2.1s right now. They claim 30 watts, well, it's certainly a weak 30 watts. There is no mid range, really. The satellites are so thin sounding that they are practically absent. Highs are highs...nothing good about them, kinda harsh though. The 4 inch woofer isn't a woofer at all, it compensates somewhat for the mid's thin-ness. But anything with a significant amount of bass in it (Daft Punk's Alive 2007 is a perfect example) makes the woofer into a wooly thud machine. Not good. Actual speakers aside, the overall sound just sounds...like something you'd expect from computer speakers, digital. There is no warmth in it.

    For the amp, I'm not sure yet, but one step at a time. AC97 preamp should be fine, for the power amp I am considering EL34s, actually. But building a tube amp has it's own challenges, most notably: the output transformers and filter caps. Where am I supposed to get them? Ideally, somebody is selling a tube poweramp from a record player, and I can just mod that to suit my needs. I'm looking for about 30 watts from the EL34 tubes, class A that would be 4. Yeah, I have big ambitions with this thing, but I'm seriously fed up. The best part is that once I'm done with the amp, 30 watts from EL34s will rip the house apart.


    As far as the three way, Dr. Death, I've been thinking. All the monitors I've seen are two way, and they are big enough as it is. I like my highs sweet and mellow, my mids warm, and my lows lush. I don't need to be awash in sheer rave woofer power....it would be nice though. Two way is simple enough, I can have a simple capacitor crossover (capacitor bleeds through the highs to the tweeter, oughta do). Three way presents all kinds of new challenges, in the construction, design, and size of the cabinets.

    But my thinking is, that a silk dome tweeter and a 8 inch woofer should be enough, that is a pretty common "layout". I've seen three way bookshelf and floor speakers, but never computer speakers (not talking about the .1 systems).

    My aim is to keep it simple and keep it cheap. The Wharfdale Diamond 9.1s are essentially what I'm aiming for, except there will be only one port (I'm thinking from the back would be better, not as boomy) and a square case. Reddish brown stain with a clear laquer, and these things will be beautiful! I hope....(one can only imagine)

    I'm not sure whether separation would make much difference, it would isolate the speakers, but it would give them less room to work with. Actually I don't know, I'm not a audiologist. That's why I came here for any information even slightly related towards the subject.

    The thrift store had some dusty old bookshelf and floor speakers. I didn't look much at them, forgot to lock my bike, but some of them had obvious visual issues, but some of them not so much, any pointers?

    [​IMG]

    The Wharfdale Diamonds that I was talking about.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  5. russianboy New Member

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    [​IMG]

    Just imagine cranking Beethoven on those, sit down and hold on to your hat!

    At least, it better knock your hat off for $290,000
  6. niko084

    niko084

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    Actually Monitors are exactly what you DON'T want... They are designed to be balanced, in other words the sound will be near perfectly perfect, but boring because the speakers lack life.

    Speakers are designed not to be perfect on purpose, they provide a different type of sound and tone to match the listeners likes.

    When listening to Rock and Trance I prefer my very high end JBL's, when listening to Classical and smooth Jazz I much more prefer my older Polks.

    Both speakers undoubtedly sound great, but have different tones to them.

    If you really want to build a set, look at partsexpress.com, some engineers design simple templates to follow and you can do them from the ground up, including the crossovers.

    They are much simpler than most think just take your time and make them nice.
  7. russianboy New Member

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    I know, I was just looking around for general info about speakers. Monitors are just that, monitors. I don't need accuracy, I want warmth and brilliance.

    But I want to spend as little as possible on it, preferably recycling parts.

    Do speaker magnets wear off in time? Say, a speaker from the 70's. My father says so, but I think otherwise. What might happen is foam cracking.

    I saw some Kenwood bookshelf speakers in that thrift store, I just want to find out whether they work or not.
  8. russianboy New Member

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    Actually, I'm having second thoughts about this.

    I once ran sound to my guitar amplifier (without altering the EQ for the strat) decided it sounded poor, and never did anything else with it.

    Now after some experimentation I'm playing Boston through it, not bad at all, actually. Only problem is that it's too damn loud. I'm running it at "0"...with a 10 db padding designed for active pickups. The preamp on the PC, and the 3 12ax7s and 4 6L6s combine together to make something ungodly.

    I'll do more in the morning, but this looks promising, I haven't even messed with the EQ on the computer. The amp has a 3 band plus presence and resonance controls, and also switches to class A. Lotta variables there .

    EDIT: As I stated, volume is as low as can be, therefore it will undoubtedly have an impact of the tonal quality, particularly in a tube amp. Having said that, I have given it more bass to compensate for the lack of "drive" for the speakers, and some treble to give it a little more clarity. The amp responds well to the EQ in the computer.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  9. niko084

    niko084

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    Magnets don't wear off.... What wears down really is the voice coils mainly become dry and brittle over time, there are plenty of speakers around that are 40+ years old and still sound amazing as the day they were purchased, it all depends on how they are taken care of.

    Any decent little speakers will work fine, but you may need a small amp.
  10. peach1971

    peach1971 New Member

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  11. russianboy New Member

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    Thanks alot guys.

    Sometimes I have the desire to work with my hands for once, make something of use. But as I said, no money, so I have to be as cheap as possible, hence getting used speakers and all. The problem is, as stated, is that some of these speakers are all dusty, and in an unknown state. If I could take them apart in the store, it would help greatly. But all I can do is bring an Mp3 player and a 3.5mm to RCA jack, and that would barely do anything, probably overload the player.


    BTW: Peach, that site you mentioned is very nice, but I see no prices.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  12. peach1971

    peach1971 New Member

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    So you really need active speakers, I see.
    Well, then look out for a pair of Philips MFB (Motional Feedback) speakers:

    Feedback Subwoofer - The goal to reduce the harmonic distortion of a subwoofer
    >> https://courses.ece.uiuc.edu/ece395/projects/fall2005/project5_final_paper.pdf

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The 532 are still my best speakers.
    Built 1974.

    To be honest: Building active speakers is automatically quite expensive.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  13. Darren

    Darren New Member

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    Two random questions: Safe to unscrew PSU? Dual display mean double GPU usage?

    Edit:

    OMG I think Tech Power Up has glitched, this was suppose to be a new thread...
  14. russianboy New Member

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    nah, I can build the amp separately, and actually that would be optimal. I can mod the amp without compromising the speakers themselves.
  15. iamajunky

    iamajunky

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    when I was in my electronics class we made speakers you can add like resistors to lower the frequency and add transistors to raise the frequency um i'm gonna try to find my project book and maybe post the schematics later, but definitely you can build speakers and higher quality than the ones you purchase in stores even buy cheaper ones and modify them
  16. russianboy New Member

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    thanks :toast:
  17. Wshlist New Member

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    For thrift store speakers the trick is picking them up, if they are heavy they are better than if they are light, the heavier the better is the rule of thumb, simple and effective.
  18. Hayder_Master

    Hayder_Master

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    cool thread , im looking for speaker mod too
  19. peach1971

    peach1971 New Member

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    My latest work:

    [​IMG]

    2x12" Woofer (symmetric serial connection) + 1" Horn
    8 Ohm, ~250W NOMINAL / 400W PEAK (limited due to low horn crossover frequency = 3.5kHz / 12db/Oct.)

    [​IMG]


    Don´t ask me about the weight.. :laugh:
    It´s just sub bass to the very edge below 35Hz plus very well shaped brilliant high tones.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2008
    MKmods says thanks.
  20. Hayder_Master

    Hayder_Master

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    very nice work , really cool idea
  21. tigger

    tigger I'm the only one

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    These are what i am using,mordaunt short ms901signature's.I love the woofers on these and they do sound great.

    [​IMG]

    I had a go at building my own some years ago,did not turn out too well as i am not a carpenter :(
  22. Arctucas

    Arctucas

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    @peach1971,

    Interesting enclosure.

    What sort of F3. Vas and Qts do those have?
  23. peach1971

    peach1971 New Member

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    Thanx for all the nice words. :)

    [​IMG]

    The most important part was to exactly calculate the bass reflex tunnel (expanse & depth).
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2008
  24. Arctucas

    Arctucas

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    @peach1971,

    Looks good! Although, it is hard to read the Vas and compliance specs.

    Any particular reason you chose slot loading?

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