First Post - and its a stupid question - of course

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Hello, this is my first post! So hi.

I'm a 49 year old audiophile. I've always bought my equipment, not afraid to admit it, and how audio and circuity works fascinates me, but I simply don't have the electrical knowledge to "build" anything of consequence.

I would like to build my own speakers, but I don't have wood shop tools so building nice enclosures are out unless I spend some money on a nice kit. I can do some minor wood work however.

I know what I want. I want a big(ish) speaker that is relatively efficient, say 92 db or higher, and I want a big sound that's not harsh on the highs. Im thinking a 3 way or maybe something like a Tannoy concentric two way.

To that end (and trust me I know this will sound crazy) I have some old Cerwin Vega 12" speakers I was thinking of gutting and reusing the box after stiffening it and stuffing it with all the right sound attenuation.

The thing is, I have no idea of how to go about selecting speakers or making crossovers. I know interior volume is important factor as well as box resonance, but lets assume what I end up with will be an experiment to learn and enjoy more than the ultimate in fit an finish.

so tell me:

1. is this possible or should I just stick with store bought?
2. what's the easiest way to figure out which speakers to buy and how to make a decent crossover for those speakers.

Ok, flame me!!!

By the way my current system is a mix of Audio Research, Balanced Audio Technology, Thiel, Vandersteen, Canton, VPI, Parasound, Decware, and Technics. So I'm all over the place.
With your equipment, I'd look for a well designed commercial speaker system.
Check some reviews that sound reasonable to you, and then try to hear some of those speaker systems locally.
Most dealers will allow you a home trial of some kind. You may be able to find your preferred system used locally.
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Maybe you're in the full range forum for a reason...

It is pretty much understood that by far the easiest speaker enclosure to construct is called the Open Baffle "OB". It has no box, just the baffle board part. With holes cut for the drivers, that means your tool arsenal can be just an electric drill and jig saw. For the long cuts, you could get the folks at Home Depot to do that or you, so you take home the "finished" baffle boards when you buy the wood.

Then, all you have to do is get it to stand up somehow, via legs, feet, toes - or chains hung from the ceiling.

Often, a Full Range "FR" driver isnt enough to deliver good bass, so a typically larger "Assistant" driver is used to augment the FR drivers capability. That just means you have to cut another hole in the board to accommodate it.

This means the speaker system is now a two-way - and a crossover is needed. Amps are cheap these days and if you can arrange a "one amp on top, one on the bottom" or "Bi-Amp", then you can use an electronic crossover, these days DSP based and cost competitive with purchasing all the bits for a passive one. Being DSP based, you can tune it using a software application - make all the mistakes necessary to learn and arrive at a good tuning at no additional expense.

You can augment the OB design by adding wood baffle sections to it - can be just more straight cuts you could again ask HD to do for you, then just screws and glue on your part.

So having only minimal tooling; i.e drill and jig saw, isnt an excuse for being unable to take on speaker building as a hobby. Sure, you wont be able to execute the more elaborate enclosure designs, but you can do OB, with a little creativity in planning how it comes together. With DSP, crossover design can be a "snap" learning experience.

Even under criticism that DSP isnt as clean as passive, you can use DSP to figure out what works - then figure out how to implement the same in an arrangement of passive components. Only if you personally feel you need to take it to that level.

Hope this helps,
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I have limited technical ability as well and have had great luck with the Tang Band W5-1611. A very easy driver that is not harsh, has decent bass (about 100 sealed in a small box or 60 ported, even open baffle you will get enough to pair with a subwoofer easily). That's all you'll need really a subwoofer with a sub amp to go with it. It is 90db. If you need 92db use two per side. There is a paper cone version that looks awesome and sounds about the same, W5-2143, both at Parts Express. A large full range will beam the treble a little. It's never bothered me. Just listen on axis or close to it. It is smooth and articulate and very easy to work with. It has the same beloved sonic signature as the Tc9 with a bit more bass and efficiency.
If the Open Baffle idea intrige you - kitchen counter tops can be bought to length, nearly 2' wide and usually about 1-1/2" thick :)
A quick google image search for "Open baffle speaker" should yield a ton of inspiration.

...but I simply don't have the electrical knowledge to "build" anything of consequence...

Dont let that intimidate you :)

Here is a radical idea and actually a simple build, at the time I didnt know the formulae to calculate the total system impedance..!
The side panels are made of hardwood floor, no finishing required and a lot of different styles are readily available :)

Here is what I would recommend. First of all, start small. Secondly, stay within a minor stretch of your skill set and your tool collection. Third, KISS. Don't think that you are going to build the ultimate speaker when you are starting from zero in both the electronic side and the woodworking side. You have no tools and only modest skills? How about pre-built boxes from PartsExpress or some other vendors? That still requires a cut-out and some holes drilled probably, but that sounds like it is within your skill range. Usually these are small to medium size. Crossovers? If you build a two-way you will need a crossover, but even my first speakers needed one and I managed to put it together. They aren't very complex and just need some parts glued or strapped to a board, and some soldering. Or you can go with a single driver, but believe it or not that is harder to do with pre-built boxes as they require different baffles to get decent bass from them. Usually the pre-built boxes have some driver designs to go with them. 92db? Good luck.

But I will stress my third point again: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

And one other thing, you didn't reply to the request for your geography, so ordering boxes or flat-packs may be a problem if you are not in the USA or Canada, or from a Euro vendor,
@picowallspeaker - "I know why, do you know why?". Nope. Uhh, cause he's almost 50 and most people conservative enough to listen to full range drivers are 50+ - like me?

@Halair - great photo. Did you connect them up and give them a listen out there?

I really like listening to speakers out of doors. It's something I rarely if ever get the chance to do -
Founder of XSA-Labs
Joined 2012
Paid Member
A biggish 92dB speaker: with detailed plans of the Elsinore, ask a local cabinet maker to make the box for you, solder the crossovers, install drivers and crossovers.

The "Elsinore Project" Thread

From looking at the design and the posted measurement data, I think this would be something that might live up to the likes of the stuff you have already and probably sound better even.

The OB option gives a “big sound” because it uses room reflections. But implementing an OB is not something easy for a first time speaker builder unless you have detailed plans. If you want to go big time on OB with plans spelled out (but expensive parts) go Linkwitz Orion.
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There are quite a few good kits available (google zaph audio, paul carmody speakers, Troels Gravesen).

If you don't want to buy a kit with a flat-pack cabinet (i.e. all the cabinet parts pre-cut and ready to assemble), you can build your own with a little help.

For the cabinet, it is not too hard to find a cabinet shop who will cut plywood or MDF panels to the dimensions required. For folks without a table saw, making precisely dimensioned panels is probably the biggest hurdle. A cabinet shop can do this for you for a modest cost. They could also assemble the complete cabinet for you if you wish.

For Cutting the circular holes for the drivers, buy a small router. They have gotten cheap over the years, and I have seen them for as little as $50. Then get a "Jasper circle cutting jig" which you can order through

That is the hardest part… everything else is just drilling, glueing, clamping. If you want a nice finish, you can paint them with textured paint, you can use plastic laminate (i.e. formica). you can use wood veneer with PSA (pressure sensitive adhesive) backing...

I built my first pair of speakers with a jigsaw, a drill, a screwdriver, and a T-square... I lived in an apartment at the time.... it is doable, it is fun... what are you waiting for...
@Last Lemming Alive. My advice would be based on how far you intend to go with this hobby. If you plan on this being your last pair of DIY speakers than by all means find a well regarded kit that fits your requirements and assemble. If you plan on staying with the hobby for years to come than my suggestion would be to roll your own. Maybe you can repurpose the Vega cabs that you already have as a place to begin the speaker building journey. I did this with a pair of old 70’s Pioneer CS 77 cabs. Many others have started this way. That could be a fun project.:D:

I would like to build my own speakers, but I don't have wood shop tools so building nice enclosures are out unless I spend some money on a nice kit. I can do some minor wood work however.

1) Spend a few weeks checking the newspapers and CraigsList for classic high efficiency speakers like the Klipsch Heresy.

2) Study how you can modify the old Cerwin Vega 12" speakers into a 12" EconoWave using proven designs and crossover. waveguides like SEOS12, SEOS15, QSC, B52

3) Visit the diysoundgroup website and look over their EconoWave style speakers. diysoundgroup sells CNC cut front baffles for their kits, and complete sets of CNC cut "flat pack" kits.


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