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Old 6th December 2009, 12:52 AM   #1
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Default budget musical sub

Why are there so few plans for them? I listen to music 100 percent (no HT). I actually don't enjoy music at "concert' levels.
I'm looking for a good budget 2 way with sub system to build. I like music as accurate as possible but enjoy what a good sub brings to the experience.

It's almost as if interest in subwoofers is influenced by the same sort of horsepower wars the auto industry has been engaged with. 310hp? 500watts? Sure, someone might love this once in a while. But I prefer my Civic overall. Where are the Civics in the diy subwoofer world? Highly precise and high value for what I need.

It seems a shame that the only sub plans I can find will more than triple the cost of a budget two way system.

Why are there so few projects completed and posted that come in under 150 dollars for highly accurate low spl use? There are many many high value 2 way mains projects on the web. But there are literally NO corresponding high value subwoofer designs.

Projects pretty much begin at about 300 dollars with the exception of high compromise computer system styled subs constructed with six inch drivers.

I've seen a number of 10 and 12 inch drivers in the 70 to 80 USD range and plate amps for about the same. But everyone dismisses this stuff as inadequate for reproducing the helicopter scenes in blackhawk down. Are there any well designed plans for audiophile use using budget priced drivers?

Last edited by peace brainerd; 6th December 2009 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 6th December 2009, 01:01 AM   #2
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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In that price range, it isn't always cost effective to roll your own.

Parts-Express.com:*Dayton SUB-120 HT Series 12" 150 Watt Powered Subwoofer | CYBER09 subwoofer sub powered sub SUB-120 home theater 5.1 7.1 surround bass LFE Theaters110308 gifts1117

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Old 6th December 2009, 01:38 AM   #3
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Budget subs are out there, we just don't tend to talk about them as much, they aren't as exciting and don't impress anyone.

Hi, my name is Mike, and I use cheap subwoofers.

My current subs use drivers I paid less than $20 for. For the pair, including all the materials and a 300 watt amplifier, I do not have more than $200 invested (in a pair of bass horns). Before you get too excited, they aren't that great (my fault - next time I will design my own). My other subs have been similar in cost, the most expensive was a high-dollar car audio 12 in a sealed box (it was also the most underwhelming). Even that was less than $300, counting the amp (though I recycled it then and I am still using the same amp in another project years later). My current shop sub is a 15 dollar driver in a tapped horn made of scrap plywood.

As far as budget amplifier choices go - one of Jack Hidley's surplus plate amplifiers would be an excellent choice. It is generally regarded as better than units costing more than 3 times as much. I have purchased several, but have not had a chance to use one yet.

Jack has a number of surplus drivers too, though I am not sure if they would meet your criteria. The AR 12 is a nice driver, but requires a good-sized ported enclosure. Parts Express also has a bunch of buyout drivers that might work for you.

It sounds to me as if an appropriate driver in a simple sealed box would suit you fine. Not knowing much about your room size or musical taste, I'd suggest using nothing smaller than a 10" driver, there are LOTS of choices out there. Driver price and quality vary wildly, and to be honest, are often not correlative.

I hesitate to make any sort of driver or enclosure recommendation as I do not consider myself an audiophile. While I appreciate excellent sound, I listen to music and movies, not equipment, cables, or speakers. I listen to MP3's, not vinyl. I have also been known to occasionally turn things up very loud. What works for me may be entirely inappropriate for you.

Regardless, your question is not a complicated one. Designing a sealed speaker enclosure requires nothing more than a few basic driver parameters and a pocket calculator, though there are many websites that offer design calculators online. Ported boxes are also not too bad to design. More exotic enclosures (bandpass, horns, tapped horns, transmission lines and so forth) require more measurements and are less tolerant of driver variations.
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Old 6th December 2009, 01:45 AM   #4
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Another reason you might not see a lot of write ups on builds like this is that there isn't much to doing it.

I made one, and only bothered to make a post about it - not a whole thread. See here: Low end support for single driver monitors It was basically just a question of buying the driver and a plate amp, and putting up a real simple box.

Since putting that together I have added to it a Reckhorn F-1, and it is much better than the cross in the plate amp. Reckhorn.com

Of course, the driver I used is no longer available. Seems like Reckhorn is out of their own XO, but CSS seems to still have some. I don't think the driver is real critical, as you said there are lots of 'em in the right price range. Getting a good active cross will help your musicality though.

EDIT: Oh, hey, look! I'm agreeing with LittleMike and he hadn't even posted yet when I started...!

Last edited by AdamThorne; 6th December 2009 at 01:57 AM.
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Old 6th December 2009, 01:54 AM   #5
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How big is your room? That can help determine what you need.
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Old 6th December 2009, 01:56 AM   #6
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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FWIW, if you can tolerate something big, then you can handily exceed the cheap PE stuff. Think tapped horn or big TL. With the former, you likely wouldn't need much of an amp. DIY wins at the other end of the spectrum too: if you need something with some decent output in a very small box. You can use the W8-740C or 55-2421 to do things that little premade subs of the same price can't do. But in the middle, I just don't know if it is worth it to build.

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Old 6th December 2009, 02:06 AM   #7
jbell is offline jbell  United States
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Originally Posted by littlemike View Post
Hi, my name is Mike, and I use cheap subwoofers.
Hi Mike....

Tell us, How long have you been clean and sober? (no subwoofer sawdust in your hair)

* Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable (just like our shops)
* Step 2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity (or at least convince us to turn it down...)
* Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God (hey, God rocks... why shouldn't we??)
* Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves (and the amount we have spent on plywood, corners, connectors, cables and the like.)
* Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs (translation -- actually telling your wife how much $$$ has been spent)
* Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character (burn the cabinets that fall short.)
* Step 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings (and replace them with danley's.)
* Step 8 - Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all (by throwing the biggest loudest block party ever)
* Step 9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others (hmm... back to that brown note thing.)
* Step 10 - Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it (yea, his system was better than mine.... time to build more !!!)
* Step 11 - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out (through the power of crown and qsc, with the tremblings of dnb, and pipe organ played at 130db.)
* Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs (and to share the plans of the subs that have taken us there...)

I personally can't get past step one... "admitting I have a subwoofer problem....."

Last edited by jbell; 6th December 2009 at 02:13 AM.
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Old 6th December 2009, 03:44 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by jbell View Post
Hi Mike....

Tell us, How long have you been clean and sober? (no subwoofer sawdust in your hair)


Seems like all I do is push pixels anymore.....

Jim, I used to think you were the one with the problem. I do not want to even count the drivers I have squirreled away in the shop just waiting for me to have some quality time with my table saw. I'd hate to tell you how many neat ideas and designs I have in the queue waiting for me to test them. I have made considerable progress on the other projects, but the end of the road on those is a long way away, and the rest of life just keeps stacking stuff up.

Yeah - like my story is any different than anyone else's.
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Old 6th December 2009, 04:24 AM   #9
Pallas is offline Pallas  Pakistan
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If you want to do a budget sub, don't do one, do three!

A really great deal out there driver-wise right now is the Peerless SLS10 closeout from Parts Express. Great motor design, pretty good suspension design. Unlike most drivers in its price range, it has a Faraday ring in the motor for greater inductance linearity, which doesn't matter if you're just trying to get synthesized explosions to shake stuff in your living room but does if you're trying to reproduce Mahler. It could be the driver in this subwoofer, and Genelec knows a thing or two about how to use Peerless woofers. (That one, I believe, uses 4x Peerless XLS12.) The SLS10 also has the advantage of clean response much higher than many drivers sold for subwoofers, good to about 1kHz. That means you can cross over your subs higher (120-150 Hz) for more effortless dynamics on upper bass peaks. Because the subs are scattered around the room, localization isn't a problem. (I run my system, which uses 1 15" sub and 2 12" subs on the floor, and one high-mounted 8" sub, up to 150 Hz. Admittedly, I also run my main full-range, because they're big enough to not need a highpass filter.)

For amps, put one of the aforementioned Foster one on each cabinet, for ~$100 total in parts per sub including shipping.

Why three? Because if you can place three subs around the room properly (look up Markus's summary of Dr. Geddes' posts on this issue) you will get much cleaner upper-bass response. And ultimately for music that's more important than anything. The three subwoofers outlined above, set up per Geddes (one in a corner, one far away, one above the room centerline) will give you better, more musical in-room bass performance than any one multi-kilobuck supersub.

Last edited by Pallas; 6th December 2009 at 04:35 AM.
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Old 6th December 2009, 04:12 PM   #10
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Thanks for all of that. I was actually going to post this originally in the full range section but worried that it would just get moved here anyway. I suspect that there are many more members in that section with similar criteria.

Pure music at moderate listening levels.

Sure I'd love to make three subs. But that tosses aside one large point of my original post. I don't want three quarters of the money spent on this project to get eaten up in the sub section.

When I was younger I had a seventies era satellite/sub system. It was made by 3dAcoustics (later bought by Dalquist). The sub was a passive driven 10" driver. Satellites were peerless six inch paper with rubber surround and 1 inch peerless dome tweeter. I loved this system. It was used for music only, and when I'd A/B the system with and without the sub I was always astonished at what it contributed. It was passive, so driven alone at low volume it was scarcely even noticeable. At that same volume bringing it into and out of that produced by the mains made an astonishing difference in the quality of the "soundstage" (much as I hate that kind of lingo". This from the "B" speakers section of a 40wpc Rotel integrated.

Perhaps everyone should begin with a passive sub to get a better feel for what it is accomplishing. Then move on to 500watt amps to augment a home theater. I really do wonder about the horsepower wars I mentioned above simply for critical music listening.

How about that Peerless sls10 for 35usd with a Dayton SA100 100W Subwoofer Amplifier for 85usd? WinISD dimensions for a good solid sealed box? Am I getting closer? I'm not yet technically accomplished enough to glance at the TS parameters of a driver and judge its appropriateness for a given use. That's why I originally went hunting for the posted design of a high quality/low cost/low spl/subwoofer. None seem to exist. Bill Fitzmaurice has the T18 and the Table Tuba which, with 15usd plans and low cost driver choices, would seem a possibility. But I know little about horns and it's difficult to get very much broad concensus on how well they'd fit the needs I'm describing because comment on them is pretty rare on these forums and on the web.

I guess the Peerless 10" (though I had sights set on a 12 at least) with the 85dollar amp and sealed box are looking best so far.

Part of this is philosophical. I've always loved "bang for the buck" diy projects. Mechanical, electronic, musical, etc. There are a few 2 way designs on the web that I'm comtemplating ordering parts for that fall within about 150usd for the pair. (all my wood and workshop time is 'free')
Take the recession destroyer kit at PE for 119usd for example. Probably not going to be the final choice, but it's a good example.
If these never saw use in HT, never saw use in a dance party, never saw use reproducing front row concert levels... If these were generally used for high quality reproduction at low levels, but I still wanted that magical layer that a good sub undergirds the proceedings with...
while staying true to the high value represented by the latest round of 2way mains projects on the web...

I'm open to more suggestions

Last edited by peace brainerd; 6th December 2009 at 04:22 PM.
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