Speaker Design Tips

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Are there any good books on the design and construction of speakers?

Book Smarts

Before diving into DIY speaker enclosure design, you should pickup a few of the more well-regarded speaker design books (such as The Loudspeaker Design Cookbook by Vance Dickason, and Designing, Building, and Testing Your Own Speaker System with Projects by David Weems).

Some speaker building how-to publications are heavy on technical terms and math (it may take a couple reads before you fully understand all of the inner-workings of loudspeaker design). It is beneficial, however, to experiment with a few simple projects to get your feet wet. Mail-order/online companies such as Parts Express cater to the DIY market, and can supply the books, kits, and, materials you need to start your first project.

   
What's a good benefit of building your own speakers?

Speaker Box Freedom

One advantage to building your own speakers is the freedom to make the speaker enclosure the exact size, shape, and color you want. Not being constrained by the bottom line, you can use top quality materials to construct your speakers, and optimize the size and shape for their intended use.

*There are great sources for exotic wood veneers online and locally which will give your speaker enclosures the looks to match their sound.

   
Does a big company build better speakers than a Do-It-Yourself-er?

The Economy Of Speaker Design

When you build your own speakers, you don't have to worry about poor quality.

Large speaker manufacturers build lots of speakers and some design decisions are based on cost, not sonics. Due to this fact, building your own can deliver much better results (because you're not building 1000, or 10,000 pairs of speakers, you can be more choosy when it comes to crossover components, speaker enclosure materials, and speaker driver selection and you can put more time into assembly). As a DIY'er, you are not tied to certain suppliers (you can mix and match tweeters and woofers as you see fit, and tailor the speakers to your liking). Why not get what you want and deserve?

   
Is there a financial benefit from making your own speakers?

Cut Out The Middle Man

You'll also get more for your money if you eliminate the middle man. Spend $1000 on store bought speakers, and a portion of that money goes to the retailer (it's not uncommon to see markups of 100% to 500% on 'retail' speakers). Think how much more speaker your money will buy when you cut out the middle man.

In today's marketplace, you can buy every little piece you need to assemble a pair of world-class speakers. Some companies even sell complete kits from little bookshelf speakers to large tower speakers--all you have to do is assemble them. These kits will usually include a high-quality speaker enclosure in your choice of finishes, top shelf woofers and tweeters, and a crossover optimized for the total package.

   
How hard is it to build your own speakers?

The DIY Mentality

Why would you want to build your own speakers, when you can drive down to the mall, and walk out with an entire home theater speaker system in less than an hour?
There are many things in life that are worth purchasing pre-manufactured (as they are too complicated and in-depth to assemble without proper training)—speaker enclosures are not one of these things.

Speaker enclosure design isn't brain surgery, with a little skill and the right tools you can build you own in no time. If you do choose to build a speaker enclosure yourself there are many benefits:

• It's cheaper than buying a pre-manufactured speaker enclosure
• You can be sure that high-quality parts are used
• You can custom-tailor your speaker enclosure
• There's a certain satisfaction in building something yourself

Why buy a pre-made enclosure when building one is simple and less costly?

   
What tools do I need to build my own speakers?

Tools Of The Trade

So you've decided to try your hand at speaker enclosure design, but are unsure about which tools you will need? A modest carpentry tool kit will be a good start, but, to achieve truly professional results, you might want to look into:

• a decent table saw
• various clamps
• a router table

The table saw will ensure perfectly straight cuts (you'll be able to construct more complex, precise speaker box designs). A good selection of clamps will allow you to construct speaker cabinets with only glue, instead of screws (many audiophiles believe a glued-together speaker enclosure is better damped than one which is assembled with screws or nails). With a router table (or a common rotary tool), you'll make short work of cutting speaker mounting holes. Routers also allow you to build a speaker box with rounded edges, or dado joints. Using the perfect tools will allow you to get the job done right.

   
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