Frugal-phile(tm)

It is relatively easy to spend big-bucks and get a reasonable sounding hifi (but not as easy as you might think, given the number of mega-buck audio-pile systems that are not very listenable).

The goal here is to spend as little as possible and get a hifi that is musically enjoyable.

To do a real bang up job requires at least a little bit of DIY and knowing what is worth while scrounging up. It usually requires giving up a little bit of the audio spectum at either end and ultimate loudness (there are always exceptions).

Start with a set of full-range speakers. The ubiquitous RS 40-1197 & 40-1354 are two candidates that were available new (the 1197 is still available in Canada), and in the US can only be found (at ridiculously low prices) buried in the backs of some stores. Often better yet (and the best are quite a bit better) are old alnico (and some ceramic) FRs that can be salvaged at your local thrift store or at garage sales -- even eBay. (i disassembled and sold hundreds of these and have hoarded a few for myself*). Most often the boxes they come in are junk (i'm having a BIG halloween fire).

*and will happily share my experience.

More on speakers, amps and sources in the next installments.

dave

attention.gif
PS: some of the posts below have been merged in from another thread because they are relevant to this topic
 
Bose(o) said:
Hey, I'm 16, and don't have the courage to sum up and buy expensive drivers. So, I build much less speakers and do my best with the drivers, wood is cheap so I TL or Voigt-pipe or something. 11.14 for the Audax TW010E1(I think that's it) and 40 some for my Audax HP130Z2s for the pair! I got them off ebay!

that should be a nice little combo. You are pushing a $100 CAD for the drivers, almost out of Frugal-phile(tm) territory.

dave
 
navin said:
speaker of budgetophile...my drivers cost me $40 per channel....it is still a kings ranson for me in India (every Rs. we ern = 2 cents American or 2.25 cents Canadian).

I sell a lot of cheap vintage drivers into Asia, and even at $4-20/ pr + post i know these represent a significant budget for many of the buyers.

My BD-Pipes have something like $45 USD in drivers in them.

dave
 
navin said:
Dave,

what do you sell to Asia? is India on that list?

Mostly alnico speakers from the 50s, 60s, 70s. An occasional field coil. India, not yet. South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore (in that order too).

might want to move this to another thread.

done.

dave
 

jag

Member
2002-08-22 4:16 pm
TX
Maybe I am somewhat out of Frugal-phile territory (as defined by $100 limit), but my experience has been that it is easy to get decent speakers relatively cheap (made by several Canadian companies). I currently own a pair of Axioms and am quite happy with them (though there is not much at the lower end:
It usually requires giving up a little bit of the audio spectum at either end and ultimate loudness (there are always exceptions).
). And they are cheap if you factor in the woodworking equipment you have to buy in order to make speakers on your own. Now good quality electronics on the hand is very expensive. And you do not need a lot of metalsmithing equipment to diy if you buy pre-built cases (a decent drill should suffice).

I am currently debating between building an IC based amp or ZenV4 (which is a simple elctronic circuit easy to implement, but at the cost of mechanical complexity - heatsinks!). If I do build a ZenV4 I am going to do that using all off-the-shelf components and no more than a metal drill.
 
I am most definitely a frugal-phile and find it amazingly coincidental that this thread started on the day I became a member. I could even be considered a dumpster-diver, especially when it comes to computer equipment. But there is no way I could build my current project (A75) for 100 clams even though low cost was a main objective. I have used almost all scrap parts, and still may go over 300. I guess my point is that 100 is awful low given the cost of good drivers, output trannys or transistors. How to measure frugality, or does that matter?
 
buglehead said:
I guess my point is that 100 is awful low given the cost of good drivers, output trannys or transistors. How to measure frugality, or does that matter?

$100 was thrown out for speakers -- and it is low, but not the cheapest class, that is reserved for the 2-buck speakers (driver cost up to $10). But the $$ limits are completely arbitrary and meaningless, it is the attitude that counts.

Amps will generally cost more, but a decent amp (like my dumpster diver SE EL84 amp) can be had and cleaned up for less than a $100.

dave
 
jag said:
it is easy to get decent speakers relatively cheap (made by several Canadian companies). I currently own a pair of Axioms and am quite happy with them (though there is not much at the lower end: ).

<img src="http://members.shaw.ca/planetsofta/canada.gif"> Canadians do seem to be producing a disproportionate number of good speakers (and heavily influence some foreign manufacturers -- ie Harmon's head speaker guy is Canadian). I think it is due to the dual influences of the British and the Yanks plus access to the Canada Research Council facilities.

if you buy pre-built cases (a decent drill should suffice)

For tube amps in particular, you can shop for chassis in the aluminum pan section of your local thrift store. Besides a drill, you need some good files.

dave
 
Yeah, now that I think about it I have found a couple of amps and cleaned and re-tubed them for less that $50. I think I'm getting the point here. My brain has been trained to think only of things that will allow me to somehow upgrade/replace something I already have. This becomes more difficult as time goes by.
 
home come canada and demark seem to produce so many good speakers / drivers.

not to say that Focal (Fr), Morel (Is), Cabasse, etc dont make good drivers. Ca and Dn just seem to have a prime mover.

Ca has some guy named O'Toole I think and Dn has that Skanning/Dynaudio/Audio Tech guy.

Please excuse me, at my age I am vauge (early signs of senility).
 
Building a low cost amp isn't too difficult, if you don't mind giving up some power. I'd be curious to see what the result would be if someone took one of the more popular amps built by members here and turned it into a "low cost" version, with a $100 limit. Low power, no bells and whistles, no bulk orders to match components, no $5 resistors, but a 5 or 10 W design for driving some bookshelf speakers.

What do you all think would be a reasonable limit in price for a budget project, amp + 2-way speakers? I may have to try this if I have some free time.
 
navin said:
home come canada and demark seem to produce so many good speakers / drivers.


Good drivers are made all over the world. Our view of them is skewed by what is available for DIY.

Canadians are good at assembling others drivers into a whole. It certainly isn't brute force -- the entire population of Canada is only 50% larger them Mumbai.

During Canada's HiFi early days we were influenced equally by the British & US (and to a small degree the Japanese) schools of design. The best of these was adapted, refined & extended by designers having access to the Canada Research Council's anecoic chambers & measurement kit.

Floyd is Canadian and now head of speakers at Harmon International.

dave
 
Narcisse91 said:
Building a low cost amp isn't too difficult, if you don't mind giving up some power. I'd be curious to see what the result would be if someone took one of the more popular amps built by members here and turned it into a "low cost" version, with a $100 limit. Low power, no bells and whistles, no bulk orders to match components, no $5 resistors, but a 5 or 10 W design for driving some bookshelf speakers.

Exactly. Gain Klones, mini-As, Low-power Zens for start from scratch projects, old tubed console amps, integrated & recievers, SE & PP (most which need to be pheonixed), an old NAD, or Advent, and various other old gems are the fodder for a Frugal-Phile(tm) system.

What do you all think would be a reasonable limit in price for a budget project, amp + 2-way speakers? I may have to try this if I have some free time.

How frugal you want to be is up to you. It is more an attitude than a price. The closer to zero (your time is not considered a cost since you are having fun) you can get, the better. My current lab system which qualifies as Frugal-phile(tm) is a Yamaha CD (on extended loan from chrisB), a set of BK101s (bribe* to chrisB), a set of FE103As (pulled out of the dumpster at a 2nd hand store), a tuner that was a bonus in a swap, and a not modded enuff Calrad SE 6BM8 integrated (eBay $35 USD including post). My main system has Frugal-Phile(tm) elements - speakers & amps) but gets disqualified by the used Linn Sondek (~$1k USD -- bought when i was working for a steady wage).

*bribe in this usage is more akin to the word "favour". Around here it has taken on a life of its own, and a common form of currency is the "bribe tendered" (propaganda to mean any information on a product or service is another word that has taken on a more benign meaning)

If we want to set a semi-arbitrary maximum goal i'd throw out $500 CAD (or just over $300 USD).

dave
 
Trash And Treasure

If you can fix and improve old gear you can get classic or very good stuff virtually for free and end up with really good electronics for very little cost.
Speakers are another thing of course, but as Dave shows, the right scrounged old drivers mounted correctly can give a really great result.
'Ya can't polish a turd', but there is pleasure in turning a sows ear into a silk purse and gaining a system you can enjoy.

Eric.
 
planet10 said:

How frugal you want to be is up to you. It is more an attitude than a price. The closer to zero (your time is not considered a cost since you are having fun) you can get, the better.

dave


Well, the reason I ask isn't so much for myself, but I was curious what others think. I'm curious how inexpensively I can build a decent amp (from scratch, for DIYers who want to go through the whole process, and still keep it low cost), so I wanted to get a budget to aim for. For me, being frugal with one toy just leaves me more money for another toy (in other words, the less expensive my amp, the closer I am to replacing the turbo in my car).

So I'm looking to see what others think might be a good range to shoot for. It seems there is a lot of interest in the less expensive side of high quality audio.

Add that to some speakers mounted in ABS tubes (I've dug through your t-lines site), and you can have some inexpensive speakers, that are also very tunable, should you want to change drivers and not pay for a whole new enclosure.