New hobby project - DIY speakers

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So I started a project that I've always wanted to try: Building my own speakers. Being my first go round, I chose a kit based on a tried and true design that has been well received by the DIY audio community, both in terms of audio quality and ease of construction. This speaker design details are here: https://sites.google.com/site/undefinition/diy-overnightsensations The actual kit I purchased (x2) is here: http://www.diysoundgroup.com/speaker-kits/os-speaker-kit.html This was all spurred by the upcoming re-release of The Beatles mono recordings on vinyl. I always wanted to truly start a vinyl collection (I have a few I've picked up here and there) and figured this was as good a time as any. I've chosen a Rega RP1 for my first turntable and these DIY speakers will likely be connected through an inexpensive phono pre-amp and a 60 watt class D amp. Going forward, I plan to substitute Marantz components and a pair of Bowers & Wilkins speakers (a bucket list purchase for me) to complete a proper hi-fi system. Depending on how the DIY speaker project(s?) go, the speaker plans may change. So far, I have one of the speaker cabinets assembled (baffle hasn't been attached). Some medical concerns have limited the use of my hands (on a holiday weekend no less!), so I'm kinda stuck where I'm at for the next week or so. I did order up new tips for my soldering iron and some small parts for the crossover, so I'll be ready to go once I can manipulate a soldering iron. The kit uses baltic birch plywood instead of MDF, which I assume if fine since the cabinet is so small. Typically, plywood is a poor choice for cabinet construction. However, unlike MDF, hardwood plywood can be finished without having to veneer or resort to paint. It comes as a flat pack, all CNC cut but completely disassembled. The CNC cuts and rabbet joints make for easy and tight assembly. The veneering part is what is turing me off from a larger speaker project. I know it's likely not difficult, but I've never done it before and am reluctant to invest the time and money into a larger speaker, only to muck it all up on the last steps. I am thinking of constructing a set of speaker stands for these small speakers from MDF and trying my veneering skills there, before committing to something larger. Pics will be coming as the project continues. Right now it's a bunch of parts and a partially completed box.
 

Y_K

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Great therapy. Just don't expect to surpass Dynaudio quality for the price. Try time-aligned speakers, may happen you won't go back to 'conventionals'. Used Vandersteens can be scored locally via Craigslist. Green Mountain only if you are in a city.
 
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First off, hope you feel better soon! Thanks for the links. Very nice little affordable spks. Been invovled w/audio for quite awhile and haven't built any spks. yet but I love to do modifications to used audio components. (Upgrading RCA jacks, spk. binding posts, power cords and internal wire routing etc., etc.) Be sure to sure quality solder. As far as phono pre-amps (which I'm using w/an entry level Music Hall TT), is my modified $10 Ebay Radio Shack phono/pre-amp. Not kidding, bested a used mid-price Creek phono pre-amp which I was using previously! All my systems are very musical and I spent so little on each. Marantz just came out w/their new series of int.amps. The PM-5005 looks very sweet. May not have enough juice for your 83dB/1w spks. If you really value musical spks., I highly recommend the older PSB Century 300i bookshelf b/c they used the superb D19 3/4" Vifa tweeter. Used $100-150. Recently picked up the newer PSB Image B4's on close-out. Oh my, what a beautifully voiced spk. Hope your spks., when finished, meet all your expectations! Let's us know how they turn out. Good listening and enjoy the music. Bill.
 
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Building home stereo speakers is a lot of fun!! I built mine over the summer back in the mid-80s and really took my time. Friend of my dad's had a computerized table saw and he cut all the wood for me. I used 2x2's for the frames,and solid stock walnut for the cabinets themselves. I put liquid nails on every part to be joined,then used wood screws to hold it all together. Stained with dark walnut Minwax and then lacquered with Liquid Plastic. For the internals,I wired them with heavy gauge wire,crossover networks,and L-pads to adjust the SPL coming from the tweeter and midrange horns. Drivers I used were Frazier 15 inch woofers,Electro Voice 1824M midrange drivers w/metal horns,and Electro Voice T350 tweeter horns. Cabinets are acoustic suspension,and between 5-6 ft tall. They'll rattle the foundation!! :^)
 
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If you're going to do your own crossovers, remember to use film capacitors over electrolytic, and air-core inductor coils over iron core.
 

MrHorspwer

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Thanks for the get well. My kids gave me hand, foot, and mouth disease. Don't believe their doctor or WebMD when they say that contraction in adults is uncommon and usually mild if it does happen. I have hundreds of angry blisters who'll disagree. Music Hall and Pro-Ject are both on my list for turntables, along with Rega. All have good reviews in the entry level price range. The Marantz PM6005 and CD6005 are where I'd like to lay the foundation, then add a pair of B&W 685s. If you look through some of Paul Carmody's other speaker projects, you'll see that he's fond of Vifa tweeters as well. A number of his bookshelf and tower designs are built around Vifa tweeters.
 
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Originally Posted By: jrustles
If you're going to do your own crossovers, remember to use film capacitors over electrolytic, and air-core inductor coils over iron core.
I'm even thinking of going to an active crossover network system.
 
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Originally Posted By: MrHorspwer
Thanks for the get well. My kids gave me hand, foot, and mouth disease. Don't believe their doctor or WebMD when they say that contraction in adults is uncommon and usually mild if it does happen. I have hundreds of angry blisters who'll disagree.
Ahh yes. I went through the exact same thing two years ago. It was a painful experience to say the least. Mine was more mild than my kid's, but there were a couple days were I couldn't grip anything with my hands. The blisters hurt too bad. Back on topic - I just finished up building a set of Volt 10 surrounds from that site. Erich is top notch to deal with. Now I'm eying my LCR speakers. The 1099's on that site are all the rage right now, I'm just not sure if they are the right speaker for me ... And beware - this is sort of addictive. About a year ago, I think it was aquariuscsm that pointed out to me that the DIY world actually existed. In that span of time I've built surrounds, am working on my subs, and am dreaming about some front speakers... blush
 
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You're very fortunate to have Madisound in the same town! The candy store for us DIY speakerbuilders. Down here it's just a desert....
 
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The people at Madisound are top notch. I've stopped by over lunch to pick up some things before, and ended up talking shop for 30 minutes. very friendly and accomidating. What I have yet to reconcile is Madisound with the folks on AVS/DIY Sound Group. I'd like to cross compare, but it seems like there are two different design philosophies at work. DIY Sound group has the added benefit of the AVS forums being big supporters of it, and the people on the forum can answer all sorts of questions. And Erich is an active member on AVS. I've yet to find that place for Madisound.
 
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MrHorspwer, One of my favorite hobbies. I've designed and upgraded a lot of quality speaker systems over the years, from custom setups to tweaking some very expensive Thiels (if you can believe that, and Jim Thiel did not cut corners), and everything in between. It's half science and half art. The X-over layout and parts selection and amp electronics matching play as much a role as the driver and cabinet type, design and electrical characteristics. Music and room factors are also factors. Even a great speaker system can be made to sound lousy with the wrong supporting choices. Conversely, you can have even a marginal speaker system sound very good with optimized supporting choices. It's all a huge balancing act with the entire audio system. My advice is to cut your teeth on an upgrading an existing system or design, or building from an existing design (like the kit you picked out) before setting out on a from-scratch system you design yourself. The learning curve is easier, and the mistakes are much cheaper that way. Most manufacturers cut the biggest corners on X-overs and cabinet resonance control and bracing on an otherwise correctly designed system. OTOH, some of the best speakers have spent enormous effort matching out every last crossover cap in extended listening tests. Like you have, I'd also start with a more traditional two enclosure system over a multi-point or subwoofer-equipped system. The kit you picked out is a good starting point with a fairly standard smaller two-way bookshelf design. Much less to mess up on those. Interestingly, the old Minimus 7 is talked about. Years ago, audio enthusiasts would mod out the X overs in these to elevate them to amazing results, especially with single-ended electronics. If I recall, they were a tinkering favorite of Dennis Had, who founded Cary Audio way back when. Marantz and B&W . . . tread carefully. Are we talking about old Saul's classics, the core Superscope era, or the newer gear? I'm listening to an old 2230 right now. The Rega's a good first deck, but a little pricy new. If you want to save some coin for similar performance, look for a good condition older Thorens, either a "heavy" 12x series or the junior TD-160s are still very good sounding decks with the right supporting cast. Invest the savings in a better cartridge and/or phono stage. Rule One of better audio: buy USED, save a ton. Also with vinyl, invest in a quality cleaning system if you are really diving into it. Before diving in, you might want to consider whether to take the classic/vintage path. An old Fisher or Scott tubed integrated is still an exceptional audio experience when set up right, and fits along well with the DIY/vinyl community hobby thing. It's where a lot of audiophiles wind up once they grow up and realize that more money doesn't always buy better music. If you want to PM me, I may be able to dig up some additional resources to help guide you along the way or otherwise share some experience.
 
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Originally Posted By: jrustles
If you're going to do your own crossovers, remember to use film capacitors over electrolytic, and air-core inductor coils over iron core.
There's nothing wrong with electrolytics, provided they are of the right quality. For some values, there is no way to fit a comparable value film cap in the cabinet, or it would cost an obscene amount. It's the cheap Chinese trash 'lytics you want to avoid like the plague -- and which plague a lot of lower and mid price point products. Then there's the type of film and the anode material and method if you want to dive down that rabbit hole. Exotic audio caps are almost a religion to some. Sometimes, even an oil cap sounds the best in some designs. Here's a free speaker capacitor tip for the OP: Cover the x over caps with $1 in blu tack that you can buy in any stationary aisle. It will insulate the cap internals against standing wave and other resonances. I'll bet they didn't include THAT in the speaker kit.
 
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Originally Posted By: jrustles
If you're going to do your own crossovers, remember to use film capacitors over electrolytic, and air-core inductor coils over iron core.
There's also nothing wrong with iron-core inductors, especially when you need plenty of inductance. A large value air-core inductor can be really, really large and expensive. The rare problem comes with saturation, which indicates you need more power handling capability.
 

MrHorspwer

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Originally Posted By: sparky123
F (which I'm using w/an entry level Music Hall TT)
Funny how things work out. After a talk with the crew at Needle Doctor, I ended up with a Music Hall MMF-2.2 instead of the Rega. It should arrive on Thursday. I also ordered a Marantz PM6005 integrated amp and CD6005 CD player. Those will be here tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have the speakers done by the weekend and I'll be spinning vinyl on Sunday. The cabinets are assembled and the crossovers components are mounted and assembled, just need to be soldered. I am still up in the air about other speakers. I visited a local hifi store over the weekend and auditioned a set of B&W 685s and Paradigm Mini Monitors. It is still a toss up over whether I'd buy a set or continue down the DIY path with another set. I think I'll enjoy the set I'm building with my new equipment for a while before I decide. I did sit down in the store's vinyl showcase and had a listen to a set of B&W 803 Diamond pushed by a McIntosh MC275 tube amp. :swoon: It was pure lotto fantasy listening, but enjoyable nonetheless.
 
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Nowadays, a dedicated CD player, even a high end model, is a total waste of money. I have a CEC transport collecting dust at this point. The better way is to bit-perfect rip all your media to HDD/SSD storage (provided it is legal to do so), and then stream it on demand to a media player. As long as it is uncompressed or a lossless format, something like a Squeezebox attached to an appropriate caliber outboard DAC will better just about any CD player of similar price. Plus the advantage in convenience and collection management over a CD player is a total no-brainer.
 

MrHorspwer

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I bought a CD player because I wanted a CD player. Everything I own which I care about quality is on CD. With a few exceptions, I rip everything and let iTunes Match sort it out for mobile listening. Home quality = CD and mobile convenience = iTunes Match. I'm fine with that tradeoff. If I ever feel the need, the integrated amp has a top-shelf Cirrus CS4398 DAC. I don't know much about DACs, but considering there are higher priced outboard DACs using the same part, I'm not going to sweat it. I can always add a network player to the IA and be covered. Plus, the CD player has the same CS4398 DAC and it's own discrete headphone amp, giving me the option for higher quality headphone listening. It also has a USB input, so I can stream all my ripped stuff from my mobile device. I think I'll be happy with my listening options.
 

MrHorspwer

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So I did some work over the weekend: Both cabinets are built and awaiting a finish. One crossover is assembled and soldered up, ready to go. My solder job won't win any awards, but I think it'll function.
 
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