Is it feasible to cannibalize cheap speakers for their enclosures? - diyAudio
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Old 14th December 2011, 11:12 PM   #1
hberg32 is offline hberg32  United States
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Default Is it feasible to cannibalize cheap speakers for their enclosures?

This is probably a dumb question but has anyone had any luck taking a pair of unremarkable speakers and upgrading the guts? I have the speakers from an Aiwa NSX-800 that recently decided 22 years was enough. Now, I know what you're thinking. Aiwa? This was before the company took a dive and these speakers have some decent heft to them but they produce a rather flat/lifeless sound. So I guess this is a bit of a theoretical question - is it worthwhile to try to upgrade speakers or are the bones usually not good enough to bother with?

I ask because I can't do much woodworking in my one bedroom apartment and I'd like to save as much money as possible.

Here's a picture of ye olde stereoe: HIFI OLD

Thanks,
Henry
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Old 14th December 2011, 11:33 PM   #2
sreten is offline sreten  United Kingdom
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Hi,

Adding internal braces wall to wall can help a lot, but cheap vented
boxes hardly ever suit modern quality drivers. Having said that just
adding a new front baffle to existing decent boxes and possibly
revised port tuning can massively reduce the woodworking and
cabinet finishing involved, old boxes cab be used intelligently.

But ... whilst you can add new drivers to old boxes, just buying
better good used speakers, moving the old ones on, will work out
far cheaper in my experience. Used speakers can be great value.

rgds, sreten.
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Old 15th December 2011, 12:17 AM   #3
pski is offline pski  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hberg32 View Post
This is probably a dumb question but has anyone had any luck taking a pair of unremarkable speakers and upgrading the guts? I have the speakers from an Aiwa NSX-800 that recently decided 22 years was enough. Now, I know what you're thinking. Aiwa? This was before the company took a dive and these speakers have some decent heft to them but they produce a rather flat/lifeless sound. So I guess this is a bit of a theoretical question - is it worthwhile to try to upgrade speakers or are the bones usually not good enough to bother with?

I ask because I can't do much woodworking in my one bedroom apartment and I'd like to save as much money as possible.

Here's a picture of ye olde stereoe: HIFI OLD

Thanks,
Henry
The sort of things that make speakers cheap is the particle board as much as the paper cones. In light of that, the best boxes to rework are larger.

Large drivers are not necessary: improving the drivers mean they start and stop faster (or for tweeters are just better.)

The drawback is that you have to find drivers that fit the holes.

Also, you will need additional damping material.

I think for the time and effort, it would be better to buy a kit that includes everything. Assembly is apartment friendly AND you don't have to wonder if it will sound OK or spend tons of time trying to improve the sound.

P

That said, I used Radio Shack drivers to upgrade some Smaller Advents and it worked really well.

Last edited by pski; 15th December 2011 at 12:20 AM.
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Old 15th December 2011, 08:49 PM   #4
tvrgeek is offline tvrgeek  United States
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I put modern drivers in a walnut old AR-4. Not worth it IMHO. Second vote to just buy better used speakers.

You may not have noticed on other threads, actually designing and build successful speakers is not trivial or cheap. DIY will not save you any money. Speaker building is a bottomless pit. Only in a basic sub can you get better performance for less money by DIY. You can't beat the economy of scale from a Paradigm, Warfdale or others even if you had an existing design. We build speakers not to save money, but because we are crazy or have different ideas.
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Old 17th December 2011, 02:21 AM   #5
hberg32 is offline hberg32  United States
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Thanks for the feedback, guys, much appreciated. The last post really hit the nail on the head, I was hoping it might be possible to build something good on the cheap by putting in a little sweat equity.

Apropos of nothing, but I supposed everyone here has had a moment like this: What's gotten me going down this road is that I recently had The Epiphany. What I'm mainly after in a system is a good clear hookup for the TV so I've been pursuing multichannel (your know, 'all the dialog is in the center channel', blah, blah, blah) for years. My own speakers are some Boston Acoustics that I'm quite satisfied with. When my new Denon 3311 blew its HDMI board (again!) and went back to the shop I borrowed my sister's 20+ year old NAD 7225 to fill in so I wouldn't be listening to just TV speakers. I didn't expect much, I certainly never expected an amp from the late 80's to stomp all over a modern home theater amp. But it did more with 2 channels than the Denon does with 5 and didn't need to be programmed. I realize now that A) to hell with multichannel, all I need for myself is a good old fashioned stereo and a kick-*** DAC and B) since I've never thought her NAD was terribly special before we must have been making criminally bad speaker decisions for her setup.

Maybe I'll get lucky and someone who doesn't really know what they have will put some good speakers up on Craigslist or something.

Henry
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Old 17th December 2011, 05:21 AM   #6
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Having built 3 pairs of speakers in the last 12 months, I can tell you that most of the cost in a normal good quality speaker is in the box and not the driver. (I know some drivers are very expensive and they would be the exception). Building a good box and making it look good takes a lot of time and labor.
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Old 17th December 2011, 06:26 AM   #7
benb is offline benb  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hberg32 View Post
...
Maybe I'll get lucky and someone who doesn't really know what they have will put some good speakers up on Craigslist or something.

Henry
That's certainly possible. I've got a few pair of "good" speakers at thrift stores and refoamed the woofers (that's usually why they're there, the foam surround of the woofers is going out), and once they're fixed they sound just fine. Even the smallest Infinity's sound good to me, or at least a lot better than cheapies. You can get refoam kits on ebay, or if you're really into mass refoaming (I've got even more pairs sitting around waiting for me to do them), there's MAT Electronics that sells speaker foams cheap. Doing this you get a known good design (if you get decent speakers) cheap, and also, you're recycling!

For cabinets (if you wonder if what's in front of you is a "good quality" speaker), here's an interesting test: put your hand on top of a cabinet near the middle so you can feel it vibrate, and rap it with the knuckles of your other hand. A good, thick cabinet (the AR someone mentioned, JBL's and Infinities) will be solid, and you can barely feel the difference between knocking on the middle and on the edge where there's a vertical panel underneath. With cheap cabinets it feels like hitting a drum. A lot of "nice looking" floorstanding speakers expose how cheap they are with this test.
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Old 21st December 2011, 02:59 AM   #8
pski is offline pski  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malibujeff View Post
Having built 3 pairs of speakers in the last 12 months, I can tell you that most of the cost in a normal good quality speaker is in the box and not the driver. (I know some drivers are very expensive and they would be the exception). Building a good box and making it look good takes a lot of time and labor.
NOT! I've built a couple of pair this year and the cabinets have been ridiculous cheap. If you want expensive wood, your argument might fly but each of the 1" MDF pairs I've built have been USD 60 per pair including the cutting of the parts by a professional cabinet shop. <The first pair took the most time with a hole saw cutting the apertures in the internal braces.>

This to compare to USD 600 on the first pair and USD 1599 on the second pair for the guts/etc.

Making it look good is immaterial. Finishing and/or real wood means bumpkus to the sound. Though you may have a wife, density and connection is more important.

Building a good box means solid construction. In my recent experience the boxes are similar to single pieces of material when it comes to vibration. By this I mean no screws are used and biscuits are plentiful. Dense MDF <63 lbs/cu ft> is also present.

P

P
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Old 21st December 2011, 03:04 AM   #9
pski is offline pski  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benb View Post
That's certainly possible. I've got a few pair of "good" speakers at thrift stores and refoamed the woofers (that's usually why they're there, the foam surround of the woofers is going out), and once they're fixed they sound just fine. Even the smallest Infinity's sound good to me, or at least a lot better than cheapies. You can get refoam kits on ebay, or if you're really into mass refoaming (I've got even more pairs sitting around waiting for me to do them), there's MAT Electronics that sells speaker foams cheap. Doing this you get a known good design (if you get decent speakers) cheap, and also, you're recycling!

For cabinets (if you wonder if what's in front of you is a "good quality" speaker), here's an interesting test: put your hand on top of a cabinet near the middle so you can feel it vibrate, and rap it with the knuckles of your other hand. A good, thick cabinet (the AR someone mentioned, JBL's and Infinities) will be solid, and you can barely feel the difference between knocking on the middle and on the edge where there's a vertical panel underneath. With cheap cabinets it feels like hitting a drum. A lot of "nice looking" floorstanding speakers expose how cheap they are with this test.
+1
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Old 22nd December 2011, 04:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pski View Post
NOT! I've built a couple of pair this year and the cabinets have been ridiculous cheap. If you want expensive wood, your argument might fly but each of the 1" MDF pairs I've built have been USD 60 per pair including the cutting of the parts by a professional cabinet shop. <The first pair took the most time with a hole saw cutting the apertures in the internal braces.>

This to compare to USD 600 on the first pair and USD 1599 on the second pair for the guts/etc.

Making it look good is immaterial. Finishing and/or real wood means bumpkus to the sound. Though you may have a wife, density and connection is more important.

Building a good box means solid construction. In my recent experience the boxes are similar to single pieces of material when it comes to vibration. By this I mean no screws are used and biscuits are plentiful. Dense MDF <63 lbs/cu ft> is also present.
You totally missed my point. The parts are cheap for a DIY, so we agree on that point. As I said in my last sentence, building a good box and making it look good takes a lot of time and labor. The time and labor required to build high quality cabinets are a major factor in the cost of a completed speaker. Also, some of us take pride in building speakers that not only sound good, but also look good.
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