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Old 14th March 2011, 03:51 AM   #1
polsol is offline polsol  South Africa
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Default A few questions on loudpseakers and DIY

I have a few questions on DIY and loudpseakers which I'm posting together. Hope I haven't erred by using one thread and if I have, please accept my apologies in advance.
What is the cost benefit of making one's own loudspeakers as against buying commercial, all things being equal? (neglecting personal satisfaction etc in 'rolling one's own)
For music (pop to classical) are stand mounted or floor mounted the better way to go - 2 way, 2 1/2 way or 3 way? (I know this is subjective so more or less a 'pole' question).
Are there any web sites around that have comprehensive lists of DIY speaker projects, prefreably with (brief) comments on each design?

As a little background, I have a Marantz 7002 receiver powering Paradigm Studio 40s and whilst fine for HT (With 590 centre, 590 surrounds and a Definitive Prosub 100), I'm not happy with the upper and lower frequencies (mid range is great) with music - either fed from Marantz DV 4001 or CD 6002.
Local speaker choice is limited to Paradigm, Bose, Infinity and Yamaha so I thought I'd have a go at making my own
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Old 14th March 2011, 03:59 AM   #2
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Cabinets are the most DIY doable things . They are only passive , so no other thing requested than connect them to an amplifier . Are you sure your amplifier is capable of driving complex loads such three way designs ? Some may have low efficiency ( but large bandwidth ) or double woofers ,so you're warned !!
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Old 14th March 2011, 04:13 AM   #3
polsol is offline polsol  South Africa
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Thanks for the comments,
The Marantz amp is a 110W design and the Paradigms are 2 1/2 way but are bi-amped. Not heard that the Paradigms are difficult speakers to drive so on most counts the system, 'as is' should be OK.
No idea what the output topologu of the Marantz amp is but the tweeters are metal dome - not my favourite for a smooth top end
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Old 14th March 2011, 04:29 AM   #4
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Location: Mar del Plata, a BIG seasonal getaway city, can see the Ocean from our residence.
Is doing DIY cheaper? No.... But you would not believe how cheaply made current speakers are made. Looking up your Paradigm 40's.......they are well into the obligatory 6 1/2" camp..........everyone is making loudspeakers out of 6 1/2" drivers.........it is almost a disease. Look up the model line-up of Infinity loudspeakers from the seventies vs. Now! Even JBL has gone the 6 1/2" route........generations of excellent loudspeakers, now reduced to multiples of 6 1/2" drivers all.
With DIY you can break out of the 6 1/2" routine with excellent results! You can build your loudspeaker with the quality un-heard of in the commercial world.
It is only in the Studio and professional line-ups where you still find quality....and the pricing up to the DIY standards.....assuming you do your part of course.
The range of Pop music to Classical is an extremely wide one.....Pop music is...for lack of a better term, crap.... it is mixed & mastered poorly......tending to appeal to the non-audiphile crowd....The least-common-denominator. Classical is a wide field sound-stage, lots of dynamics from the whisper of a piccallo(sp?) to the crash of the entire symphony.
Just some thoughts & rants.

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Old 14th March 2011, 04:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Ellis View Post
With DIY you can break out of the 6 1/2" routine with excellent results! You can build your loudspeaker with the quality un-heard of in the commercial world.
It is only in the Studio and professional line-ups where you still find quality....

__________________________________________________ __Rick........
He's cheating !!
In reality , those will sound DOUBLE with the same power ,'cos they're most High Sensitivity

But a well made commercial speaker should be purchased to have a reference
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Old 14th March 2011, 01:32 PM   #6
T101 is offline T101  Bulgaria
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Hi Polsol,
You are in the right place!

DIY is something very pleasant and due to some reasons the success is almost inevitable. For instance the sole fact that you listen to something that came out of your hands is enough for most people.

There are some really pleasant commercial speakers, but they come at a price, some deserve their price more and some less.

You should start your DIY options research with a budget and space constraints if there are any such. Even if you have unlimited budget and no space constraints, it is advisable to limit your first project (if there is a first project, there is a second) both in budget and complexity.

I am somewhere around where you are, only have experimented a little, done one ready published project with some alterations, done some experimental projects with almost no aim, but trying and fun, some modifications such as damping and crossovers to my commercial speakers and etc. But I am more of a listener and music lover. I go to live music clubs and concerts, try to listen to as many systems as possible, listen to recordings critically and etc.

So if you accept an advice from a fellow newbie it would be: Simplicity of design, and two main aims, good bass in all aspects (that's the sugar in your coffee) and the most important aim is the good stereo imaging.
Everything else you can deal with, some uneven SPL across the audible range, some flaws in the high frequencies, some lack of detail and etc. - not a pain to die of. If you have good stereo imaging, you'll be happy - that is the most entertaining feature of a good stereo pair of speakers - the positioning and the good bass.

Since I made my first project, for about a year I read this forum in search of the most forgiving designs of the different component of a speaker, the crossover, the enclosure (box), the number of ways and etc.

I have come to the conclusion that the sealed/aperiodic enclosure would be most forgiving but on the price of big boxes, the first order series crossover would be most forgiving as it is self aligning, so the exact impedance vs frequency of the drivers is not very critical for components values, because you can escape errors with only adjusting the capacitor values. And last, but not least, you get a good imaging from a point source - this would be a full range driver, but a full range can't give you satisfactory bass in simple enclosure, so you add a woofer - the bigger the better.
Full range+woofer is called F.A.S.T.
But the first order series crossover comes at the price of either making the crossover point higher (above 400-500-600 hz) and thus demanding for a woofer that can go higher or a full range that is big enough to work in the lower frequencies.
As you see all is a matter of trade offs.

So the choices for an inexperienced candidate DIY-er are, ready tested, well documented and explained project, or some sort of forum assisted FAST project.

That is about all wisdom that I can share with you, hope it helps.

Last edited by T101; 14th March 2011 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 14th March 2011, 02:26 PM   #7
polsol is offline polsol  South Africa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Ellis View Post
Looking up your Paradigm 40's.......they are well into the obligatory 6 1/2" camp..........everyone is making loudspeakers out of 6 1/2" drivers.........it is almost a disease. Look up the model line-up of Infinity loudspeakers from the seventies vs. Now! Even JBL has gone the 6 1/2" route........generations of excellent loudspeakers, now reduced to multiples of 6 1/2" drivers all.
With DIY you can break out of the 6 1/2" routine with excellent results! You can build your loudspeaker with the quality un-heard of in the commercial world.____________________________________________ ________Rick........
Yes, my feelings to a degree. It seems that 6 1/2" is the largest one can go without affecting the aesthetics of the design and how it fits into the suburban (or is that appartment?) lifestyle. Then add the exagerated 'throw of the smaller speaker' to reach the lower frequencies plus loss of slam due to lower cone area.
So add multiple 6 1/2 inch units to increase the dynamic range and I'd think that one loses imaging (a guess but correct?) at lower frequencies.

Sound doesn't seem to matter any more.
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Old 14th March 2011, 03:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
the most important aim is the good stereo imaging.
Sorry, what?

The most important aim of speakers is realistic in-room tonal accuracy and speech clarity at realistic listening volumes at realistic seating positions.

Imaging is overated to all but "audiophiles"... as long as you can hear the difference between speakers and they can center an image between them, you've got good enough imaging. The above on the other hand should be first priority. I mean, good speakers image well regardless, but you shouldn't say it's the most important aim.

Quote:
As a little background, I have a Marantz 7002 receiver powering Paradigm Studio 40s
Yikes, boom and tizz speakers like that, now there's your problem. Overresonant high Q bass, and a hot metal dome tweeter that's apparently already in breakup before 10khz.

Now you have many choices, infinitely many, with DIY. For starters you might want to start with someone else's designs, as it may get you a frame of reference for a great speaker. You may also want to consider an active loudspeaker. The most central question is, what is your budget?

Quote:
For music (pop to classical) are stand mounted or floor mounted the better way to go - 2 way, 2 1/2 way or 3 way? (I know this is subjective so more or less a 'pole' question).
As far as I've seen, the difference between a stand mount and a floor stander is essentially aesthetic, outside of internal volume and that sort of thing. I recommend a floorstander.

2-way is most simple / easiest for a designer to get working. Some of the larger, PA style two-ways are capable of high SPLs (but cannot give deep bass and require subwoofers) while some of the smaller, bookshelf and small tower style two-ways can sometimes extend deep at the cost of SPL, and others still can't really get loud or deep but are cost-effective, high sound quality builds. If you're looking to design your own or save on component costs, 2-way may be the way to go for a first project. MTMs such as the Dennis Murphy ER18 are also going to be 2-way, although they use 3 drivers. Coaxials like the Seas Loki are also two-ways, and make good center channels. And of course TMs like the ER18DXT are 2-ways.

2.5 way is imo a superior method, as it avoids the sheer complexity of a 3-way, but will have notably higher sensitivity (and mid-bass SPL capability handling) compared to the equivalent 2-way. A subwoofer will likely still be necessary as it won't let you extend any deeper than the equivalent 2-way. The Zaph TMM is a well documented 2.5 way

3-way For starters, component cost goes up. Design becomes far more difficult to integrate. IMO center channels should normally be 3-way for optimal performance. If you're gonna go 3-way, you may find yourself well-off with an active 3-way. Still, good passive 3-ways certainly exist. If going 3-way passively, IMO you should really look for ones that use high bandwidth bass drivers that can extend down to 30hz or below (so no subwoofer is vital) to 800hz or so (so a crossover to the midrange driver near 3-400hz is possible).

Also consider some 3.5 ways... the Zaph ZDT3.5 for example

the best full range speakers i've heard are 4-ways (although those are the only 4-ways I've heard), and the worst speakers others have heard are 4-ways. So you can imagine the complexity and cost as an extension of the above.
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Old 14th March 2011, 03:55 PM   #9
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To answer your first question, absolutely! I'm fundamentally a cheapskate. It's why I got started building loudspeakers 40 years ago. I have a grand total of about US$200 in my two-way transmission-line speakers and I would put them up against anything in the $1000-$2000/pair range any day of the week.

The key is careful selection of components and coming up with a workable cabinet design. The first point is a subtle one. An awful lot of modern crossover design has to do with working around the limitations of drivers. That's fine. But if you get your driver selection right, crossover design can become embarassingly simple.

In my case, I'm very happy with 6 1/2 woofers. Mine are the venerable Vifa PW-18Js which have a low Fs and a very smooth midrange and upper midrange. Crossed over high (4khz), you have a lot of tweeter options. They actually work very well with no woofer crossover at all. 6 1/2s have a lot of advantages. Good dispersion, low mass and relatively rigid cones make for an exceptional compromise for most applications.
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Old 14th March 2011, 04:32 PM   #10
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I'll answer only on the cost diy-vs-commercial issue.

First, take in mind that a private can buy things (drivers, components, but also wood, MDF, etc), at prices that are far higher than a corporation can: if I can buy for example a Seas tweeter for 40$ I suspect that a large speaker making company can buy the same tweeter for 20-25$.

But the same company would resell that tweeter into a complete speaker at least at 4-5 times the initial cost to cover all their costs (research, manufacture, distribution, marketing and profit). So probably you'll pay that tweeter in the system in the 100-150$ range. The same apply to all components.

So if you compare a diy speaker and a new commercial one built with roughly the same items, you can save some (significant) money doing diy. But if you buy the same speaker used you won't pay far more than the diy one. If you put into the equation also tools that you don't have and need to buy in order to make the speakers, you can find that the diy route can be more expensive than buying used, especially on low cost speakers! That is even more true if you try to design from scratch your own speakers, because you need measurement devices and time to learn how to use them.

If you go higher on value, and chose to build a someone's else proven design there will be an advantage on diy on the cost site, but I think that the most important value on diy it that you can tailor the speakers to your own room and habit, something that a commercial design obviously cannot.

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