Bose vs DIY set up for "invisible" second system


2009-09-17 10:27 am
I'm in two minds about what to do about "second system" speakers. The facts:

1. This is for my parents' holiday home in Greece. This means that the system will not be in use for more than 6-7 weeks a year (at a stretch). As such, I am keen to keep costs under control.
2. I want to make the system as invisible as possible.
3. Happy to make compromises in sound quality, within reason
4. Will be mostly fed by digital source like a laptop or ipod
5. Room is about 3.5 meters by 7 meters, and surfaces are generally hard

Originally I thought I should just get one of the Acoustimass woofer and two satellites sets. The smaller one, with one woofer and two cubes costs £250 here in London and I could probably pick one up on ebay for a little more than half that (maybe in need of some attention, but I can live with that). Plan would be to hide the woofer out of view and install the satellites on two top corners using brackets.

At the same time, I am wondering if I could make something at least as good and a million times more fun with more or less the same amount of money. Can anyone think of something?

I should also note here that I was planning to drive this with a cheap and cheerful SS amp. Most likely something that I will pick up from Richer Sounds or ebay or make using a kit. Any suggestions here? Really don't want to spend more than £50 on the amp.


You could use ceiling speakers (you can get some decent quality ones), powered by something small and class D. I built this, and it's brilliant, holding it's own powering some Fostex drivers (known for being unforgiving of SS amps).

£50, including case and 60w SMPS. If you hid it somewhere (in the ceiling, perhaps), you could save money on the case. If you wanted more oomph, the AMP9-b would be better, bridging the 4 outputs down to 2.

So, the typical questions:

- how loud?
- how low do you want the bass to go?
- what kind of music will they be used with?

Instead of buying commercial ceiling speakers, you could make your own, putting a small tweeter and midbass together of your choice, and adding a grill. This is up to you, but some of the ceiling speaker I've heard are pretty good.

PS - 99% of the people on this forum wouldn't touch a Bose system with a bargestick, for various reasons.


2009-09-17 10:27 am
Thanks for the link, that's exactly the kind of amp I was looking for.

Answers to the questions:

- "still able to talk" listening levels for 90% of the time, a bit louder on occasion. No more than any bog-standard mini system. In other words, pretty much any speaker system driven by the amp you suggested should be fine.
- I would be happy with weaker bass (within reason) for this application and would in fact prefer to sacrifice bass to get better sound quality overall. I would also prefer to sacrifice bass extension to avoid use of a woofer. Again, I will use the decent mini system as a minimum threshold.
- will be used with a wide variety of music so versatility is key

Unfortunately cannot do any in-wall or ceiling - I want the work to be reversible. Ideally want a pair of speakers which are not too big and are light enough to be "bracketable". Happy to make them if the design is not too complicated or buy a kit.

I was intrigued by your comment about using the kit amp to power fostex drivers - I use Lowthers for my normal system so this direction would definitely be interesting (although maybe not exactly within budget). Which drivers are you using and in what enclosure?

PS - In all other instances, I would be part of the 99% of the people who would not touch bose, but I am finding it hard to identify other suitable options.

I tried the Tripath amplifier at an audio meet-up, it was played through some Saburos (one of the designs on Dave/p10's website). For the money it's great. The main comment I got about it was that it didn't sound like a SS amp, high praise indeed from a bunch of valve fanatics.
It has its advantages over valve equipment (the main one being the bass), though the valves (pair of 300B monoblocks) were more involving (this was tested on a pair of the TB 8" W8-1772).

I'm in the process of making a pair of PC monitors, using a Fostex FE126eN, from Dave, making these. Other options would include the Fonken series, here Meet the Fonkens



2009-09-17 10:27 am
I think I'll get the amp and try to mod it to add volume control (maybe also change some of the capacitors if I feel wealthy at the time). Did you make your own chassis or found one that suits it? If latter, could you please send link?

I'll give the speakers some thought. I will most probably take the lazy option and buy something off the shelf or build those IKEA bowl speakers with some full range driver and paint them white so they blend in well with the room. Will be a bit more expensive than the Bose though and not convinced they will sound better.

Thanks for the help.
You might consider a couple of the Pioneer B20 fullrangers (with a cheap supplemental tweeter maybe) in a pair of small 1 to 1.5 cu/ft sealed cabs. You could just use the B20s alone and forgo a crossover. If you need some added bass there are a number of relatively inexpensive possibilities for the low volumes you describe.

Another possibility would be the cheap MTM kit Parts Express sells ~$200 - these would be unobtrusive floorstanders.

My "main" listening system (based on how much time its used) is the office one - I have a pair of old Rat Shack LX4s with a small Klipsch sub powered by a Sonic Impact T-amp. I think it sounds nice.
Used speakers from charity stores, car boot sales? I collected a full surround set, not all matching, for under $40. Main speakers made in UK (Mission), rears and center in Canada (Energy). Some of them could use new grille cloth. It's difficult to beat that buying new DIY parts, particularly since these were all two ways with dome tweeters (the center is MTM). Powered subwoofer was free (found in the woods). The driver is small, but the amp appears to be over 100 real watts. I'd be tempted to spend some money on a real 12" sub, or maybe resurround a salvaged one.

If you want invisible, change grille cloth to white and paint cabinets? Old speakers may need new surrounds, or crossover caps (to satisfy your DIY need).

For a compact amp, some digital amp modules? Or for next to no money, a stereo receiver (charity stores, car boot sales, dumpsters). For somewhat more money, get a used compact sized NAD receiver or integrated amp from classified ads or eBay if you don't stumble over a bargain first.


2005-11-02 7:13 pm
I've not heard the most recent versions, but, ummmm, errrhhh, I've had very good luck with the Logitech 2.1 powered speakers. :eek: Musical out of all proportion with their price. First set, on my PC, is transparent enough that I can (usually) hear lousy CD mastering on the 30 second trial snippets. A second, more ambitious set is on my television now. I would definitely suggest them as a superior alternative to, at least, the Bose! I think they're still shielded, which may be a consideration...

I haven't shared a similar experience with the Logitech gear. I've tried the Z4 (subwoofer doesn't go loud, but with mods, can go low. Sound was thin in the 200Hz-80Hz region), and the X-230. The sub is a little better on that unit, but the problem with small satellites remained.

I can recommend Mission 760i - you can pick them up for £20 on ebay, and they sound really really good. Caps on the XO will need changing, and avoid ones with dust circles on the front fabric (usually most visible where the port is). If there's obvious circles, they've seen some heavy use, and could well be knackered.

LG HT304SU | 5.1 DVD Package System with HDMI inc. Speakers | Richer Sounds



You simply could not build it for that price. It presumably will play CD's
and probably in car CD MP3's. It presumably has a 2.1 setting. Placing
the speakers at ear level will work better than in the top corners, that
will not sound good. The laptop will plug in via USB, has an MP3 player
connection. comes with a remote. Has a radio tuner, no idea if that
will work in Greece.

Adding a flat screen TV is of course an option, setting up is going
to be awkward without a temporary TV.

I've not heard it but I've seen it, it does not look cheap and nasty.

LG HT304SU 5.1-channel DVD System review - Home Cinema reviews - TrustedReviews

rgds, sreten.

To tighten the sub bass for music, line the port with ~ 8mm porous foam,
cut it to the oprt length and 3xthe diameter and pop in in there, it will
detune the port, tightening and extending bass.
Can you get better speakers than Bose? Sure.

Can you spend less money than a Bose system would cost? Easily.

Can you slap a bunch of stuff in a room and expect it sound good out of the box? Only with Bose.

Bose is certainly not the highest fidelity, but where all their considerable research resources go is into making the most music sound as good as possible to as many people in as many rooms as they can. And this they do very well.

So really, it depends on how much time you can spend on the install. If you're going to be there a couple of weeks, then a DIY system would likely be financially and emotionally rewarding. If you'll just be there over a weekend, or fighting with a new system isn't your idea of a vacation, I'd go with Bose.


2010-01-30 9:56 am
I am currently running a pair of NOS mission 760i speakers powered by a ta2020 amp, and they sound wonderful!
The missions needed recapping, and I did some small mods to the ta2020 (MKII from arjenhelder)
They dont go very low, but the sound quality is awesome for the price. They go just over "can barely talk" levels without cranking up the source (iAudio x5l) too much.
Speakers are not that heavy, and quite small.


2009-09-17 10:27 am
OK, I am increasingly inclined to go the cheap second hand route for everything and fix whatever needs attention/change drivers where needed etc. I have found an old denon amp for a little over £10 on ebay (and it even has two speaker pair outputs, which means that later on I can add outside speakers to the set up, so I think I'll just grab that).

Speaker wise, I have found the ones in the pic attached on ebay, does anyone have any idea what they are? I am thinking about getting them and if they suck or are too weak for the use changing the driver to something full range, do you think it could work?


  • Tannoy Weird.bmp
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I am planning a similar sytem for my kitchen where size (small) and aesthetics are important.

At the moment I am leaning towards a kit 2.1 system from: Strassacker: Lautsprecher - Boxen - Selbstbau (top of home page, Seller of the month, Best price performance ratio).

Wavesat 118 and Wavesub 178.

Both designs are for small sealed units.

It is more than you plan on spending, I think. But Bose???
Speaker wise, I have found the ones in the pic attached on ebay, does anyone have any idea what they are? I am thinking about getting them and if they suck or are too weak for the use changing the driver to something full range, do you think it could work?

They look like ancient Tannoy public announcement speakers, I would avoid them for your application.