Breathtaking DIY Loudspeaker design under $500??

Hi All.

I love Loudspeakers and HiFi in general but have little real world experience and knowledge on the subject.

This DIY forum is a treasure trove which I'll be pouring over in time.

What I've learned is that many top name brand Loudspeaker manufacturers now build compromised quality Loudspeakers to a price, resulting in musical performance well below that which could be achieved by DIY enthusiasts for a fraction of the price.

My question is: "Is there a best bang for buck Loudspeaker design out there, which is freely available and which can return killer performance for under $500 and under $1,000?

cheers

Cliff
 

schiirrn

Member
2018-11-18 9:13 pm
OB means open baffle.
I don't know what's available in Australia so I can't give specific recommandations but I would look into 8" or 10" radio chassis with phenolic spiders. A german example would be the Grundig NT series. These were designed to work in open or lossy back radios and therefor also work well in open baffles. "Drivers like that" - very generalised - should work up to let's say 5-6k, give them an inductor where they roll off anyways and a 2nd order filter for the tweeter and you have a lot going for little money.

When you do a search for open baffle speakers you will come across the baffle that was used by japanese Stereo Sound magazine to compare drivers. I played with that specific baffle and figured out that baffle size can very well be too wide. I spare you all the details but either make it 2.2 times the cone diameter or try to approach infinite. And if you have the chance collect scrap wood and try different things. I live in a part of a city with certain liberal ideas, so I can often collect discarded Ikea furniture from the side walk, build a test cabinet/baffle for the cost of glue and screws and then put the pieces back to where I found them.
 
Last edited:
A 3.5 or 4" driver on OB will not reach low enough for a sub to match.

Cliff, you didn't mention the context you want these to play.
Big room, small room, casual background music listening, death metal, home theater levels, etc....

Since its your first foray into DIY, might not be wise to spend up to $1,000 and it does not live to your expectations. Small steps are better.

A few designs around here would blow most people's mind.

The TABAQ towers are so easy to build, yet, the first time you fire them up (after driver break-in), you won't believe what you hear. They are usually the speakers I use when I want to surprise someone.

Plans are on page 9, if I remember well:
TABAQ TL for Tang Band

A bit more involved but also very rewarding are the mini karlsonators, especially in the dual driver configuration. Can be build very cheaply with foam core. Don't be fooled by how it looks, they sound marvellous:
Mini Karlsonator (0.53X) with Dual TC9FD's

X also has the RS225 and 10F top that are very nice. A bit more work and a simple XO to deal with:
10F/8424 & RS225-8 FAST / WAW Ref Monitor

Finally, if you do want to dabble with OB, do it right with a helper woofer.
The XO elements will be a bit more costly, and if you really want to get into it, they will need EQ. In that case, it is easier using a digital active XO like the miniDSP HD. You can then experiment with XO curves and frequency cutoff. A good start is the Manzanita thread:

Fast, fun, Inexpensive OB project

Good luck!
 
I think Perceval has some great recommendations - my vote is the 0.53x dual driver Karlsonator. It’s an impressive sounding speaker for not much money when built in foam core. Can be made of wood too and with proper dampening materials, can sound as good as the foam core. If you can handle 4ohm loads a parallel TC9FD works well. If you want a 16omload, dual 3FE25-16’s in parallel are the way to go.
 
OB means open baffle.
I don't know what's available in Australia so I can't give specific recommandations but I would look into 8" or 10" radio chassis with phenolic spiders. A german example would be the Grundig NT series. These were designed to work in open or lossy back radios and therefor also work well in open baffles. "Drivers like that" - very generalised - should work up to let's say 5-6k, give them an inductor where they roll off anyways and a 2nd order filter for the tweeter and you have a lot going for little money.

When you do a search for open baffle speakers you will come across the baffle that was used by japanese Stereo Sound magazine to compare drivers. I played with that specific baffle and figured out that baffle size can very well be too wide. I spare you all the details but either make it 2.2 times the cone diameter or try to approach infinite. And if you have the chance collect scrap wood and try different things. I live in a part of a city with certain liberal ideas, so I can often collect discarded Ikea furniture from the side walk, build a test cabinet/baffle for the cost of glue and screws and then put the pieces back to where I found them.

Much appreciated.

I'd like to explore OB.

It's sounds like a lot of fun and easy to construct.

Will definitely study it.

Thanks.
 
A 3.5 or 4" driver on OB will not reach low enough for a sub to match.

Cliff, you didn't mention the context you want these to play.
Big room, small room, casual background music listening, death metal, home theater levels, etc....

Since its your first foray into DIY, might not be wise to spend up to $1,000 and it does not live to your expectations. Small steps are better.

A few designs around here would blow most people's mind.

The TABAQ towers are so easy to build, yet, the first time you fire them up (after driver break-in), you won't believe what you hear. They are usually the speakers I use when I want to surprise someone.

Plans are on page 9, if I remember well:
TABAQ TL for Tang Band

A bit more involved but also very rewarding are the mini karlsonators, especially in the dual driver configuration. Can be build very cheaply with foam core. Don't be fooled by how it looks, they sound marvellous:
Mini Karlsonator (0.53X) with Dual TC9FD's

X also has the RS225 and 10F top that are very nice. A bit more work and a simple XO to deal with:
10F/8424 & RS225-8 FAST / WAW Ref Monitor

Finally, if you do want to dabble with OB, do it right with a helper woofer.
The XO elements will be a bit more costly, and if you really want to get into it, they will need EQ. In that case, it is easier using a digital active XO like the miniDSP HD. You can then experiment with XO curves and frequency cutoff. A good start is the Manzanita thread:

Fast, fun, Inexpensive OB project

Good luck!

Thanks P.

Very interesting

Great advice.

I'll take the time to wrap my mind around the options you recommend.

I enjoy critical listening in a small to medium room at moderate sound levels.
I'm open to a wide range of music and soundscapes and like dynamic recordings.

A speaker guy had suggested building the Alfredo Horn Enclosure and use a quality single full range driver. The advantages he indicated are that it eliminates crossover complexity and cost, give good top and mid range, while the internal horn in the cabinet gives usable bass.

Don't know what your thoughts are regarding this option?

thanks

Cliff
 
I think Perceval has some great recommendations - my vote is the 0.53x dual driver Karlsonator. It’s an impressive sounding speaker for not much money when built in foam core. Can be made of wood too and with proper dampening materials, can sound as good as the foam core. If you can handle 4ohm loads a parallel TC9FD works well. If you want a 16omload, dual 3FE25-16’s in parallel are the way to go.

Thanks X.

Will definitely study the options suggested.

This might be a little over my head at the moment.

What is meant by foam core?

My HiFi involvement to date is scoring vintage equipment from garage sales and trash and treasure markets. Have come across moderately nice equipment for next to nothing.

Do 1970's & 1980's amps automatically supply 4 to 8 ohm speakers?
Don't know if I've come across any which would handle 16 ohms??

Also, my thoughts were to attempt to stick with a single full range driver, maybe supplementing it with a horn loaded cabinet, and or a sub, in order to keep it simple and eliminate XO issues.

I'm not really set up with testing equipment so I'd be building in the dark in terms of getting things right.

I was hoping there was a grail design with which all the technical issues were covered.

Cheers

Cliff.
 
The dual driver karlsonator is a full range speaker. It has bass gain like a back loaded horn. No crossovers.

Foam core is paper faced foam sheets used for poster backing or making RC airplanes.

More here:
Foam Core Board Speaker Enclosures?

Regarding amps, forget about thrift store amps. Just get an inexpensive Class D for $20 and it’s enough to keep you busy and happy for a while. TDA8932 is only $6 plus a 19v laptop brick.

If you want a nice looking great sounding boxed amp ready to go, this one is tops for little money. Very quiet and has BT.

Dayton Audio DTA-120BT2 Class D Mini Amplifier 60 WPC with Bluetooth
 
Last edited:
The dual driver karlsonator is a full range speaker. It has bass gain like a back loaded horn. No crossovers.

Foam core is paper faced foam sheets used for poster backing or making RC airplanes.

More here:
Foam Core Board Speaker Enclosures?

Regarding amps, forget about thrift store amps. Just get an inexpensive Class D for $20 and it’s enough to keep you busy and happy for a while. TDA8932 is only $6 plus a 19v laptop brick.

If you want a nice looking great sounding boxed amp ready to go, this one is tops for little money. Very quiet and has BT.

Dayton Audio DTA-120BT2 Class D Mini Amplifier 60 WPC with Bluetooth

Thanks X.

I didn't know these class D style Amps were that good.
The DTA-120BT2 at 60 wpc is outstanding value if it performs similarly or better than reasonable vintage amps.

How do HiFi manufacturers get away with selling Amps for $500 to $5,000 and higher?

I need to do some reading, but isn't the Karlsonator the cabinet design?

If I go for the dual driver version, is pure parallel wiring enough and no need for crossovers?

Being fitted with 2 drivers, can there be phase issues if the drivers aren't located correctly in relation to the other?

Finally does the Kelsinator walk all over the Alfredo Horn?

Thanks

Cliff
 
I think Perceval has some great recommendations - my vote is the 0.53x dual driver Karlsonator. It’s an impressive sounding speaker for not much money when built in foam core. Can be made of wood too and with proper dampening materials, can sound as good as the foam core. If you can handle 4ohm loads a parallel TC9FD works well. If you want a 16omload, dual 3FE25-16’s in parallel are the way to go.

What should I consider when deciding to go 4 ohm or 16 ohm?

Is this the TC9FD you were recommending?

Peerless by Tymphany TC9FD18-08 3-1/2" Full Range Paper Cone Woofer

Is this the 3FE25-16 option if going 16 ohm?

FaitalPRO 3FE25 3" Professional Full-Range Woofer 16 Ohm

Will the Dayton Audio DTA-120BT2 Class D Mini Amp take care of my power requirements for the above?

thanks
 
Either TC9FD (4ohms in parallel) or 3FE25-16 (8 Ohms parallel)will work well. Probably more bass with TC9 and more top end with 3FE25-16. No phase issues as they are behind K aperture and one is dominant. Class D amps are very nice. I use them all the time. My reference system for years was a pair of $12 TPA3116 amps.

Check out recent listening session of K’s here:
Mini Karlsonator (0.53X) with Dual TC9FD's

I haven’t heard the Alfredo horn, but I do design and gave built many horns. BLH’s in general won’t beat a well implemented mini K. To be fair, an FH3 horn also sounds very good too. I made a small one for TC9 once and enjoyed it. Bigger versions probably even better with bigger driver. That’s harder to build though.
 
Btw, I have heard a PS95-8 on OB with bass assist. Super combo.

For the Karlsonators, an OB woofer with same 15in eminence would sound superb. But here is a simple $100 trick. Get a Polk 10in sub model PSW10. Adjust to taste with XO around 70Hz and be amazed at how the Karlsonators sound. Maybe a $150AUSD trick.

Here is Alfredo horn - looks like a large Lowther based horn. A substantial build that will take a lot of time. I suggest you hear one in person before committing. Lowther DX4’s run $1700/pair. They are not flat measuring drivers and are an acquired taste from what I have heard.

201603211251076030.jpg


The Karlsonators can be made on your kitchen table in an evening with razors and hot melt glue and cost under $50. :)

Sort of low risk high reward.
 
Last edited:
Either TC9FD (4ohms in parallel) or 3FE25-16 (8 Ohms parallel)will work well. Probably more bass with TC9 and more top end with 3FE25-16. No phase issues as they are behind K aperture and one is dominant. Class D amps are very nice. I use them all the time. My reference system for years was a pair of $12 TPA3116 amps.

Check out recent listening session of K’s here:
Mini Karlsonator (0.53X) with Dual TC9FD's

I haven’t heard the Alfredo horn, but I do design and gave built many horns. BLH’s in general won’t beat a well implemented mini K. To be fair, an FH3 horn also sounds very good too. I made a small one for TC9 once and enjoyed it. Bigger versions probably even better with bigger driver. That’s harder to build though.

How do you house the TPA3116 amps?

Do you run them in a PC case?

Do these need a power supply and pre amp to operate as a pair?


What do you recommend, a pair of TPA3116's or a Dayton Audio DTA-120BT Class D Bluetooth Amp?

Does the Dayton Amp come with an external power pack?

thanks

C
 
Get the Dayton - it’s much better than 3116 which was leading edge 7 years ago. Yes, it has a huge brick SMPS included.

You can get boxed 3116’s too. But they have turn on thump.
SMSL makes it. No BT, less power, and thump.

SMSL SA-36A Pro TPA3118D2DAP Stereo Amplifier 2 x 20W

To answer your question of what I run 3116’s in? Usually paper cardboard chocolate boxes. :)
 
For the Karlsonators, an OB woofer with same 15in eminence would sound superb. But here is a simple $100 trick. Get a Polk 10in sub model PSW10. Adjust to taste with XO around 70Hz and be amazed at how the Karlsonators sound. Maybe a $150AUSD trick.

It's situations like these I wish I lived in U.S..

The Polk PSW10 over here is AUD$500 shipped.

I think I'd need to track an acceptable locally available Sub which sells at a competitive price.

We get screwed for hifi in this part of the world.