Low-end small portable speakers for travel - build or buy? - diyAudio
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Old 5th December 2008, 01:29 AM   #1
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Default Low-end small portable speakers for travel - build or buy?

Hi folks, I've been lurking around in the forums for a while now, and still don't have enough credibility to post .

Fortunately, I have no shame, so here goes. I do a little bit of travelling, so I'm considering putting together something portable enough to take with me on weekend trips. Something I could fit into a suitcase would be really nice. I'd probably also use it to play some music while working in the back yard.

Now, my reading of the forums shows plenty of evidence to suggest that you can go DIY and outperform off-the-shelf gear easily for the same price in most scenarios, but does this rule stretch to the portable end of the scale?

I'm no audiophile by any stretch, so my sound quality requirements are quite modest. (I can almost hear people closing the thread as I type ) I'm pragmatic about what I'm likely to get from something small, and on a shoestring budget. I'd be happy if I could put something together for $150 Australian or less that would be the equal or better than what I could get off the shelf for $100 or less (Probably something like a JBL On Tour unit or some PC speakers or one of those iPod units from Logitech.

If I do build, my current thought is something like this:
- One of those tripath amp kits
- Full range drivers (just seems simpler to me)
- Cheapo dodgy looking garage-standard enclosures. Probably PVC, but I'm kicking around an idea where I use sealable tupperware containers. I'll expand on this if anybody thinks it's a good idea
- 2 speakers, can be separated and can somehow be packed together for protection. Some kind of collapsible speakers would be nice for travel.
- Old CD Rom from an old PC I have lying around
- iPod and portable AM/FM radio of some sort

First things first though - should I even bother, or will I get better sound (yes, albeit pretty average) from something off the shelf?

Sorry if this is the wrong forum, but there doesn't seem to be a 'portable' forum on diyAudio.com (Maybe this answers my question in a roundabout way? )

-Larry
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Old 7th December 2008, 04:16 PM   #2
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The original Sonic Impact tripath amp was sold with folding cardboard speakers. This seems the ideal solution but I don't know about availability. Also the quality was good from expert opinion. See below.

Sonic Impact has introduced other accessories to replace the cardboard and -- I think a stick on transducer-- but the original design made the cover story in AudioXpress a few years back.

My advice would be to find the cardboard design, get some of those stick on transducers and use with a Sonic Impact amp out of the box.

The stickies have been shown in other designs using cardboard baffles as well.

Just for grins I looked up the article from my collection of aX mags.

The issue is AudioXpress Vol. 37 Number 1, January 2006. "The Sound Pax Speaker System: a cardboard speaker that will astonish."

The author is Dennis Colin.
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Old 8th December 2008, 05:25 PM   #3
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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Speak of the devil:

http://www.parts-express.com/pe/show...number=309-954

It's tough to see, but the speakers are hollow cardboard pyramids that fold flat to a couple of inches thick in the included case. PE must have found a stock somewhere. I'm amazed they haven't sold out yet. I purchased that setup a couple of years back. The amp is great for the money. You can read all about it elsewhere, but it is a great partner for fullrangers. I killed mine attempting to modify it.

The speakers sound really neat. They are not flat, and they do not have much extension at either end of the frequency spectrum. However, they through a gigantic fun sound from a super light, highly portable package. My brother-in-law used to a take a pair to tennis games with friends. I used to take them when I'd travel as an orchestral musician.

$60 is a great deal. Buy the kit and use it. When you get bored, build some speakers.

pj
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Old 8th December 2008, 09:20 PM   #4
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Thanks guys, that sounds really interesting. Sounds like the audio will more than do the job for me, and I'll be able to satisfy my penchant for whacky ideas in the process. Cardboard speakers, who'da thunk it?

The PE deal starts looking worse though, with $67 shipping to Australia and a now-horrendous exchange rate taking it to almost 200 Aussie dollars. (Damn you, global financial crisis!) Still, I might be tempted to bite anyway. Maybe I should throw in a few Tang Band bamboo speakers or something to make the postage worth it and build some speakers too?
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Old 8th December 2008, 09:58 PM   #5
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This marked as a buyout.

Read carefully for inclusion of a wall wart.

The package originally sold retail at Target for about $40.

When it's marked as a closeout, I might bite on it.

I don't really know how the Gen 2 differs. Check that for a power supply too.

Also check this out:

Swans S3W 20 at Parts Express. In the world marketr where you are
there might be sellers of these.

The Swans Tri Path is for peeps that like shiny things.

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Old 9th December 2008, 05:21 AM   #6
Nanook is offline Nanook  Canada
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Default have a look at...

these

I have a set of these. I removed the amp and attached "pigtails" to the drivers. I also placed a soft foam "baffle" behind the drivers. No bass (there simply can't be) but pretty amazing with everything else. I think a very cool idea for use with a laptop that you move around.

Add any T-amp and you could be off to the races...
__________________
stew -"A sane man in an insane world appears insane."
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Old 9th December 2008, 08:32 AM   #7
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by loninappleton
This marked as a buyout.

Read carefully for inclusion of a wall wart.

The package originally sold retail at Target for about $40.


As the package is still selling for less the amp alone has been brought on Ebay (boy I wish I had bought a pallet of them back in the day), I doubt it'll get cheaper. I can't imagine that it will have a wall wart either. I think they are a bargain.

pj
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Old 9th December 2008, 12:40 PM   #8
widman is offline widman  United States
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PE also has the Gen2 T-amp with more conventional speakers for $59 and it includes the wall wart:

http://www.parts-express.com/pe/show...number=300-959


pete
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Old 9th December 2008, 07:06 PM   #9
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I have asked over in the Class D amp forum on DIY audio for
some more information on the Swans tripath amp and speakers.

For the same price, you get a tripath amp and 2 sperical speakers which were described in one source as HiVi full rangers.

I don't know more about it than that, but the HiVis give more added value than a couple of unbranded computer speakers.

No responses that I've seen yet. But I did find it odd that the Swans
tripath is not even listed in the table at Class D where Sonic Impact is.

Also no adequate pictures of how the very small (and shiny ) tripath hookups work.
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Old 9th December 2008, 08:22 PM   #10
chicks is offline chicks  United States
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Default Re: have a look at...

Quote:
Originally posted by Nanook
these

I have a set of these. I removed the amp and attached "pigtails" to the drivers. I also placed a soft foam "baffle" behind the drivers. No bass (there simply can't be) but pretty amazing with everything else. I think a very cool idea for use with a laptop that you move around.

Add any T-amp and you could be off to the races...
I picked up a pair of these at Tuesday Morning a few months back, $6.99 IIRC. Haven't hooked 'em up yet, will have to play.
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