How do DIY speakers compare to commercial? - diyAudio
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Old 22nd September 2004, 06:59 AM   #1
nrgy is offline nrgy  United States
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Default How do DIY speakers compare to commercial?

I keep going back and forth on whether to build my own speakers. I've already purchased 6 drivers, always changing my mind, and now am wondering if I should just buy a decent commercial set. I orginally intended to build my own to achieve a superior sound to commercial speakers, plus I figured it would be a fun project. However, when I get to thinking about the finished product, I'm afraid in the end all I will have is a speaker that I'm confident will sound good, but will not have the fit and finish of a commercial speaker (aesthetics are important to me).

I am confindent in my skills to build a decent cabinet, however in the end (unless I want to spend many hours) I will still have a square box. I guess I'm wondering, would a decent pair of commercial speakers compete with a well made DIY design? I've heard people say they've built speakers for a fraction of the cost of some very high end speakers and achieved the same sound. First off, for a typical listner, someone who isn't scrutinizing every detail coming out of the speaker, is there really that much of differnce?

Secondly, with small satelites, I would assume the sound quality between DIY designs and commercial designs would not be as great?

I would probably go ahead and build my own speakers if I felt I could do it right the first time (following a proven design of course), and have a superior sounding, and aestheticaly pleasing speaker, however I'm wondering if this is simply to much to expect with someone who does not have a lot of time to spare. Perhaps I should just invest in a solid commercial speaker.

Thanks for any insight.
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Old 22nd September 2004, 09:18 AM   #2
GerryM is offline GerryM  Norway
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I built the Linkwitz Orions - probabably the best money I have ever spent on a project.
Everything has been thought of in this design, it looks superb and sounds even better.
I could go on but just look at the website, you'll find all the theory, pictures, recommendations,...
You can probably find someone in your area who has them already and will let you listen to them.
If you don't mind shifting out your amp (you need a 6 or 8 channel amp for this active design) then go for it!
Look at the website for starters: Linkwitzlab.com
Even if you dont decide to get them, there is a mountain of good information there.

Good Luck
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Old 22nd September 2004, 12:02 PM   #3
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It depends, if you know what you are doing and can design a good crossover then yes you will beat the comercials pound for pound. But if you mess up the design you will probably either be about the same level or worse or better depending on how your crossover actually works (if its guesswork etc).

Now if you were to build a kit, say zaphs SEAS L15 kit then you would be home dry.
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Old 22nd September 2004, 12:19 PM   #4
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How much do you want to spend? Yes, some commercial gear is quite good. I'd say that once you hit about $1000 apiece you're not going to likely build a better speaker than you can buy, but you won't pay $1,000 apiece to do it either. You can equal factory made for about 10-20% of factory made prices.

Below that figure DIY kills factory made. It's simple economics. A factory made speaker at $1K wholesales out for $500, and once the cost of advertising, shipping, labor, and of course profit is taken into account the total cost of the materials used to build it is about $100. You can spend $200-$1000 on materials and end up with quality absolutely unapproachable for the same price or even close to it with a factory made box.
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Old 22nd September 2004, 01:42 PM   #5
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I have commercially made speakers (130mm / 25mm) and DIY 2 x 245 litre subs. Owning ready-made speakers doesn't stop me from playing with diy ones and it also gives me a permanent reference to listen to.
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Old 22nd September 2004, 01:42 PM   #6
navin is offline navin  India
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Quote:
Originally posted by 5th element
It depends, if you know what you are doing and can design a good crossover ...Now if you were to build a kit, say zaphs SEAS L15 kit then you would be home dry.
or if you dont know zip about XOs and dont want to go fullrange


a friend of mine bought some Jordan JX92s put them in boxes recomended by Jordan and claims they are better than anything in that price range ($400/pr).
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Old 22nd September 2004, 02:59 PM   #7
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Default You've received good advice, now the pep talk.

Time to spare? That seems to be a common problem. And really the only one you've articulated. If you don't want a square box, no problem, if you DIY, you can build anything you want. I find it interesting that with too many options, "what to build" rather than "how" can be the biggest dilemma. (The battle of wants vs. needs?)

When it comes to woodworking, I find the sweetness if good quality remains, long after the tedium of fussiness is forgotten. Sure, you could just buy your way out, but you've bought the drivers and you'll be giving up on the joys of the journey you've already begun.

What did you get? The Vifa P13 and D27's? If you did, then the Xover could be a pleasant surprise in it's simplicity. Planet10's single cap on the tweeter is fine and Rabbitz has a series design that's a step better.

To paraphrase some grafitti seen at the recent Olympics "Failure isn't an option, it's an opinion." You might be surprised to find how easy it is NOT to fail.
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Old 22nd September 2004, 05:28 PM   #8
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Build your own. What you get for what you pay will be much greater. You can put your money into part quality. Check here for good tips on speaker building.

http://www.highefficiencyloudspeaker...Downloads.html

For what you save, you can also bi-amp. The only way to true hi-fi!
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Old 23rd September 2004, 06:30 AM   #9
navin is offline navin  India
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Most manufactuers buy parts at prices that would surprise you. Usually the prices they pay are 20% of the prices we pay. in many cases it is less in some cases (as low as 5%) it is more (as high as 33%).

so lets assume a pair of speakers that sell for $400 a pair.

parts cost including box and XO would be about $40. However if you were to buy the same parts it would not cost you about $200.

In effect you save 50% of the retail cost but you supply the labour and sacrifice some detail that can only be done at a mass prodcution level.

example:
2 Vifa 6" TC series woofers: $60
2 Vifa 1" tweeters: $40
2 25 liter Boxes: $70
2 XOs: $30

a comprable commercial speaker would be say B&W 303 that retails for about $300/pair.
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Old 23rd September 2004, 07:16 AM   #10
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If you're not that committed, then your dollars can buy excellent fidelity with none of the headaches. I am starting to design my own full-range speakers. I am teaching myself everything from the ground up, Thiele/Small parameters, phase cohesion, x-over design and cabinet construction.

I also will want my finished product to rival that of a finely finished product from a reputable loudspeaker manufacturer. A great source for high quality veneers is http://www.oakwoodveneer.com - but they are not cheap. Nor are good drivers that offer excellent response, low distortion and competitive imaging characteristics. I've settled on the Peerless 830500XLS 12" long throw woofer for sub-bass - they are $160.00 ea and I need two.

I've also tenetively decided on the Seas W26FX001 10" woofer for mid-bass, and they are $250.00 ea times two. I haven't even found a midrange driver that suits my needs yet, I'm looking for something relaxed and flat, but with excellent imaging quality, which will probably put me in the range of $150.00 - $250.00 ea times two again.

And let's no forget to throw in some tweeters... By the time I've invested in drivers and lot's of sandwhiched HDF with more HDF for internal bracing and lead bitumen with Pritex foam, I will likely have about $2000.00 just in materials. That may not even include the cost of crossovers, binding posts, wire, etc. or the rather expensive veneer mentioned above.

Nor does that take into consideration the considerable amount of design time, if your drivers don't compliment each other in terms of sensitivity, distortion, phase coherence, etc. then you will still end up with garbage regardless of what you spend. And the cabinet needs to work with the drivers also, if it doesn't, then your finished product could be nothing short of aweful. You need to make yourself familiar with a design program like Loudspeaker Lab or something of the like. If you just build a box and stick some drivers in it, you might as well go out and buy some JBL's - they will sound better.

If I were smart, I'd grab a pair of Swan Divas that you can find on Audiogon for about $800.00. This model is no longer in production, but it's an incredible speaker for the price, and visually stunning. The only reason I don't is because I want a speaker that is flat from about 18Hz - 20kHz with pinpoint imaging. To buy speakers like this retail reaches into the $8000.00 - $15000.00 and more price range rather quickly.

You can do it, but be prepared for a prolonged and emotional committment. I can't imagine my four-way design taking less than a year or more. It all depends on what you're willing to put into it dollars and energy-wise. Or buy one of the excellent kits mentioned above which yeild proven results.
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