Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 13

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech - Popular Mechanics

Subscribe / Give a Gift / Customer Service / Promotions / Blogs / Video / iPad App Edition / Digital Edition SIGN IN / JOIN FREE

TRY:

Lawn Care / Tool Reviews / DIY Car Repair

Homepage / Technology / DIY Tech / How To & Tips / How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech

CONNECT WITH POPULAR MECHANICS:

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech


BY ROB SABIN

Like

53

Comments

Email

Print

July 22, 2008 12:00 AM

FEATURED VIDEO

The electronic components inside a loudspeaker are actually quite simple. The drivers and crossovers pictured here are available in a $369 kit. (Photograph by Chris Eckert)

It was back in 1924 that a couple of researchers from General Electric, Chester Rice and Edward Kellogg, patented what remains the basic design for virtually all the world's loudspeakers. In the 84 years since, engineers and enthusiasts have invested a lot of thought and energy in the refinement of Rice and Kellogg's concept, creating a valuable knowledge base for the do-it-yourself crowd.
I should know--I recently built the speakers pictured on these pages, and in the process I learned quite a bit about the art and science of a good speaker. At its core a loudspeaker is a surprisingly simple device. The key elements are the drivers, crossovers and the cabinet. The cone or dome drivers are transducers that transform the electrical signal into the physical movement of air (i.e., sound). Crossovers act as an electrical filter to split the signal and direct the portions of the audio-frequency range to the drivers best equipped to handle them. But coaxing rich and beautiful sound out of these elements requires a bit of harmonic alchemy. Every decision you make--from the combination of drivers and crossovers to the material you use to build the cabinet--influences the performance and character of your speakers.

INSIDE YOUR SPEAKER How a few well-matched components Hardcore speaker hobbyists take delight in figuring all this out for themselves, make beautiful music together. (Photo designing and building the crossovers and enclosures from scratch to see what by Chris Eckert. Illustration by Keltie + comes out. If that's your leaning, Parts Express is a well-stocked and reliable Cochran)

MORE FROM POPULAR MECHANICS


Confessions of a Car Salesman 11 Cars That Beat High Gas Prices Top 10 Must-Have Cars of 2011 12 New Cars That Are Worth Waiting For The 13 Most Dangerous Car Interiors in History

source for speaker builders and a good place to start.

But if that's too hit-or-miss, you can buy a speaker kit that comes with all the components, plus either a preconstructed cabinet or drawings to build your own. For this project, I opted for one of these hybrid kits, from North Creek Music Systems in Old Forge, N.Y. This little firm is run by George Short, a speaker engineer whose kits use his own driver

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4274625?click=pop_more[23.10.2011 10:48:15]

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech - Popular Mechanics and crossover designs but require you to buy cabinets elsewhere, or build them using the provided detailed woodworking plans. The benefit is that someone with know-how and good ears has gone through the time-consuming and costly process of "voicing" the speaker--engineering, auditioning and then re-engineering it until the desired sound is achieved. My own speaker-building ambitions were no grander than to have a little fun, learn a bit and come out with a pair of bookshelf speakers I could put in my home office. I selected North Creek's Okara II "Ikemo" kit, a ported design that delivers decent bass (down to about 60 Hz) from a small 0.25-cu.-ft. cabinet measuring 12 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 9 5/8 in. Its 5 1/2-in. woofer has a lightweight pressed-fiber cone coated with polypropylene, and the tweeter is a 1-in. silk dome. Silk is a material favored by many audiophiles for delivering superb midrange- and high-frequency detail without sounding bright or hard, the way some metal domes can. The kit costs $369 for the pair and comes with everything except lumber and wood glue: drivers, crossovers, port tubes, acoustic stuffing and gaskets, the terminal cup for hooking up the wires from your amp and miscellaneous hardware. The simple crossovers--one each for the woofer and tweeter in each speaker--come with the coils, capacitors and resistors hard-wired on perforated breadboards. That saves some work, but these still must be mounted in the cabinets and wired to the drivers. Building the cabinet was the most time-consuming part of the project, but it allowed me to customize the look of my speakers. Initially, I intended to build the cabinet from solid hardwood, but North Creek's plans recommend a combination of 3/4-in. medium-density fiberboard (MDF) backed with a layer of 3/4-in. birch plywood on the front fascia and back pieces. It turns out that MDF is not only cheaper, easier to mill and less susceptible to warping and shifting than hardwood, but the difference in densities of the MDF and plywood also reduces cabinet vibrations when you layer them together. To add rigidity, there is a plywood crossbrace running internally across the width of the box. I painted the fascia and back MDF panels matte black and veneered the top, bottom and sides to effect the look of a hardwood finish. By scouting the Web I found an outstanding Italian-made composite veneer called Alpiwood, distributed by Brookside Veneers in Cranbury, N.J. It's an environmentally responsible material made from plantationgrown poplar that's been dyed and grained to match about 30 different common and exotic hardwoods, and it even comes prefinished with a polyurethane coating. The bird's-eye maple I chose has a tough laminate substrate and ships with a plastic sheet adhered to the finish to protect it during installation. You peel off the sheet after you've cut and applied the veneer--the stunning result is hard to distinguish from real finished hardwood. One other tip: Invest in a Jasper circle-cutting jig for the driver, port and terminal-cup holes. The jig (model 400, partsexpress.com) is a legendary speaker-building tool that gets screwed to the base of the router to make perfect circle cuts that would otherwise be manually jigsawed. It costs $27 and is worth every penny. After assembling the cabinet, I used construction adhesive to mount the tweeter and woofer crossovers inside the cabinet to the back and bottom walls, respectively. There's an odd bit of business in the kit's instructions about filling the rear-firing port tube with several dozen plastic straws that confused me at first, but a call to North Creek revealed that the straws help fine-tune the speaker's low-end bass limit. Then I connected the wires from the crossovers to the drivers on one end and the terminal cup on the other. And, finally, the woofers, tweeters, terminal cup and rear-firing port tube were glued and screwed into place. After spending less than $100 for wood, on top of the cost of the kit, I ended up with a high-performance system that sounded better than most $500 speaker pairs I've heard. Though bass was limited by the speaker's size, it was wellbalanced, without the inaccurate, bloated sound you hear with cheap speakers purposely pumped up to overcompensate for their size. The midrange was musical and open, free of the harsh colorations you sometimes hear on vocals. High frequencies were nicely detailed, if a little laid back, and held together well at moderately high volumes for such a compact speaker. For me, speaker building was a rewarding mix of woodworking and electronics--beautiful and functional at the same time. When friends and family come to visit and comment on the rich, bird's-eye maple cabinets, I'll tell them, "Yeah, I built those. But just listen ..."

FROM OUR PARTNERS


Purolator AutoFilers: Be Car Care Aware Timberland PRO Helix: Anti-Fatigue Insole Science & Tech on Film at the NY Academy of Sciences

The Jasper Circle Jig: A lifesaver!

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4274625?click=pop_more[23.10.2011 10:48:15]

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech - Popular Mechanics

Drilling guide holes for the jig's pivot pin.

Left: The jig goes for a spin atop a fascia panel. Right: A milled fascia piece showing holes plus countersinks. Note the dog-ears manually rasped into the tweeter hole to account for its side-mounted terminals. This was not mentioned in the instructions, which seemed to have been written long ago, and on several occasions didn't fully account for the peculiarities of the included parts. But half the fun is wingin' it.

Gluing and clamping the fascia.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4274625?click=pop_more[23.10.2011 10:48:15]

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech - Popular Mechanics

Matte black spray paint for the fascia and black panels. In the end, getting an acceptably smooth finish required two coats of spray primer and a couple of coats of black enamel.

Prep for assembly includes dry-fitting all the pieces and tweaking panels as needed for a perfect fit.

For efficiency, assembly involves gluing and clamping the panels together with butt joints, then putting in temporary drywall screws to keep the glue joints tight while you remove the clamps and move on to the next panel. After the glue drys, the screws come out and the holes and countersinks are filled with wood putty.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4274625?click=pop_more[23.10.2011 10:48:15]

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech - Popular Mechanics

Box assembly.

Screw removal and puttying of the screw holes in preparation for veneering. The putty is sanded flat once dry.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4274625?click=pop_more[23.10.2011 10:48:15]

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech - Popular Mechanics

Top: Rough-cutting veneer and its thick laminate substrate with multiple passes of a sharp utility knife. Bottom: Contact cement is applied to both surfaces and the veneer carefully aligned and layed down. A new rolling pin with an unblemished surface was used to apply maximum pressure rather than the small rubber J-roller commonly used for veneer; the veneer's protective sheathing made it possible to do this without damaging the finish.

The veneered box, still with protective plastic sheathing on the veneer, after all sides are completed. In between panels, the overhanging edges of the veneer were carefully trimmed with a router equipped with a flush-trim bit.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4274625?click=pop_more[23.10.2011 10:48:15]

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech - Popular Mechanics

Gluing the fascia to the front inner-brace, and the finished cabinet ready for components.

Components and completed cabinet ready for final assembly.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4274625?click=pop_more[23.10.2011 10:48:15]

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech - Popular Mechanics

Dry positioning the crossovers before cementing to the cabinet walls.

Stuffing the port tube with plastic straws cut to 3-in length.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4274625?click=pop_more[23.10.2011 10:48:15]

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech - Popular Mechanics

Top: Installing the port tube: applying rubber gasket sealing tape, drilling holes in the outer flange, and mounting. Bottom: Once the tube is in, construction cement is applied to the tweeter crossover through the terminal cup hole. Once dry, the speaker is flipped over and cement is applied to the woofer crossover through the woofer hole.

Top: The crossovers cemented in final position as viewed through the woofer hole. Bottom: Crossover input wires are fed through the terminal cup hole

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4274625?click=pop_more[23.10.2011 10:48:15]

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech - Popular Mechanics

Connecting the crossover input wires to the speaker terminals with a nutdriver, then mounting the cup.

Top: Wires for the drivers are fed through the fascia holes. Bottom: Acoustic stuffing is cut and placed behind the driver holes.

Gasket tape is applied to both cutouts before mounting the drivers

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4274625?click=pop_more[23.10.2011 10:48:15]

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech - Popular Mechanics

The crimped crossover wires are connected to the drivers and the drivers are screwed down.

Done!

First Name: Last Name: Address:

City: State: Zip: Email:

Surround Sound Sans Space-Hogging Speakers : Tech Clinic DIY Surround Sound Hi-Fi: Tech Clinic How to Install In-Wall Surround-Sound Speakers : DIY Tech Tech Clinic Expert Q & A How to Save Your Wet Cellphone: Tech Clinic Hide Your Home Theater Gear: DIY Weekend Tech Project

ADVERTISEMENT

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4274625?click=pop_more[23.10.2011 10:48:15]

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech - Popular Mechanics

Class D Audio
TI.com/TPA2028d1

3.0 W Mono With Fast Gain Ramp Delivers Louder, Clearer Audio.

Stage accompany

Producent en leverancier van professionele audio apparatuur


www.stageaccompany.com

Stdrums.e.K
www.stdrums.de

Die Nummer 1 in Sachen Drums all parts to build a drum

Lautsprecher Reparatur
www.audio-parts.de

Lautsprecher Sicken reparatur set Speaker repair kits

Post a comment
b2fe6ffddaf95b1288e5159400709785

6 comments Gert Wohlgemuth UC Davis I see another project comming up, anybody has a DW621? Reply 1
Like

Add a comment

August 31 at 1:56am

Vaibhav Diwan Rungta College of Engineering and Technology, Raipur very intresting :-) Reply 1
Like

August 31 at 10:18am

Jared Kenan Macasaet Tayabas western academy wow.. Reply


Like

September 6 at 8:10pm

Ola M Waagen Nice :) Reply 1


Like

August 27 at 5:36pm

Fendi Nursidik UNESA (UNIVERSITAS NEGERI SURABAYA) ganas.... Reply 1


Like

August 31 at 4:59am

Annissa Wulandari great Reply


Facebook social plugin

Like

September 7 at 10:11am

AUTOMOTIVE
Using Nitrogen in Car Tires Is Synthetic Oil Better? New Electric Cars Best Tire Brand Comparison

TECHNOLOGY
Best iPod FM Transmitter How to Make a Speaker Hard Drive Data Recovery Underwater Digital Cameras

SCIENCE
UFO Movies Survival Kit Checklist Bomb Shelters Wind Turbine Design

OUTDOORS
DIY Solar Panels Powerful Handguns: Smith & Wesson Barefoot Running Green Design

More

More

More

More

HOME HOW TO
How to Build a Smoker How to Build a Shed How to Install Drywall How to Build a Fence

DIY CENTRAL
Plans for Building a Pergola Bookshelf Plans How to Make Beer Suspended Ceiling

MOST POPULAR
Tennis Serve World's Largest Cruise Ship Winterize Your Boat How to Hang a Picture Frame Ab Machines That Work

FEATURES
Apple TV Reviews Painting Tips Raised Garden Beds Home Inspection Checklist Automotive News

More

More

FOR POPULAR MECHANIC'S FREE NEWSLETTER

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4274625?click=pop_more[23.10.2011 10:48:15]

How to Build Your Own Speakers: Step-by-Step DIY Tech - Popular Mechanics

POPULAR MECHANICS NEWSLETTER Don't miss out...Get our hottest stories delivered right to your inbox every week, free! You'll get the news on the latest innovations in tech, autos, home, science and more.
Your email address

TRY:

Lawn Care / Tool Reviews / DIY Car Repair

ABOUT POPULAR MECHANICS iPad App Edition Digital Edition About Us Press Room Privacy & Terms of Use Site Map Contact Us Community Guidelines Advertise Online About Our Ads

POPULARMECHANICS.COM STUFF MEN LIKE Automotive Technology Science Home How-To Outdoors DIY Central How to Build a Car Home Inspection Checklist Diesel Truck Reviews DIY Solar Panels Science Fiction Movies Fuel Injector Cleaner Hard Drive Data Recovery Synthetic Oil Review Most Fuel Efficient Cars Best Men's Watches How to Make Pancakes from Scratch

REVIEWS Mens Shoes Best Restaurants in NYC Tuxedo Styles and Reviews Upcoming Movies 2011 Zero Turn Mowers Raised Garden Beds Vizio TV Reviews Foods with Iron Mens Hairstyles Microsoft Surface Organic Foods

HOW TO How to Tie a Tie Refinish Floors How to Grow a Beard Pro Painting Tips How to Videos How to Build a Shed How to Make a Speaker Painting Kitchen Cabinets How to Make Beer How to Install Drywall How to Iron

TRENDING Mens Fashion Automotive News Super Foods Fantasy Football Team Names Japan Tsunami & Earthquake Libya No-Fly Zone Geothermal Heating Survival Kit Checklist Spring Fashion 2012 Charles P. Pierce Blog Best Halloween Costumes

Connect with Us

More Options

2011 Hearst Communication, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Being Green / Why did I get this ad?

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4274625?click=pop_more[23.10.2011 10:48:15]