MDF Speaker Stands

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I very recently purchased a pair of Mirage OM-R2 surround speakers for my home theater. I am looking to build a set of 3 1/2 foot-tall floor stands for them using MDF, but I'm not sure exactly how I'd like to go about building them. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I should design them? Should I use a rectangular base and top-plate or triangular? Should make a prizm of some kind for the main support and fill it with sand or lead shot? Also, can anyone direct me someplace online where I can buy inexpensive spikes for the base?

A number of ideas...throw some or all in a pot and stir until you like the flavor...
If you fill the stands, the cross-section won't matter, as they won't resonate no matter what. Either sand or lead shot will do a good job of damping the stand--it will boil down to a question of how firmly you want them to stand on the floor; lead obviously providing a firmer footing, though at higher cost and not exactly environmentally friendly.
Don't overlook the possibility of something like PVC pipe. If you fill it with sand, it'll be as dead as you could wish for. Sonotube, ditto. It's up to you as to how you want your stands to look. Take a PVC pipe and fill it with concrete. Cheap, dead, and heavy.
Keep in mind that you'll want access to the sand/shot chamber to top off the level after a few weeks of playing, as the stuff will settle a bit.
Spikes are available here and there, but if you want something inexpensive, I'll let you in on a secret. Take a small piece of MDF left over after building the stands. Drill a hole in the center and press a 1" roofing nail through (roofing nails are the ones with thin, flat heads). Turn it over and bolt it, via the corners, to the bottom of your speaker (or in this case, stand). Instant spike for virtually zero money. Works like a charm. Looks like hell, but you can build a lip around the base to hide the "spikes."

speaker stand configuration

I'd go with a rectangular base, expecially with stands that tall. I have a pair of Lovan Ballet IIs (24" tall with triangular base). They hold my Atlantic Technology 350s and are a less stable that I would like. I have filled the poles with lead shot so they are quite heavy, but still tip too easy for my tastes - largely due to the triangular base.
Thanks Greg for some of those ideas. I was thinking of going with the PVC idea, but my mother has forbid me to do so for visual purposes. I like the idea of the lead shot, but my father doesnt want that inside the house, so I guess I'll be going with the sand. Also, great idea with the roofing nails for spikes. Now thats something in my price range :) Eric - Thanks for the warning. I will go with the rectangular platform. I figured the triangle would be easier to level, but would be much less stable.

Only one more question: should I route out the base and the top plate before attaching the cross section?

[Edited by Super on 05-29-2001 at 02:32 PM]
A word on PVC and bases

First, Super I suggest you get a small piece of PVC, and try painting it something like a gloss black (for a sleek look) or with one of those faux stone finishes (for a more gothic/classical look) and show your mother to see what she thinks. (Show her that you won't have the ugly white/gray/whatever plastic with writing on it in the living room, may get points) You'll learn as you get older, half of doing anything big is making sure it meets the approval of "the other half". So, by starting to think that way, you'll have a better library when you're older to work from.

As to the triangular bases, you're right in that they're easier to level, the trick is to get them properly sized for the height. A small triangle on a tall stand will be inherently unstable, but enlarge it a little bit and it becomes infinitely more stable.

Another thought would be to use several smaller PVC pipes instead of a single larger one, that may help with parental argument for PVC, much easier to disguise its plastic.

From re-reading your original post, I'd say go with three small PVC pipes (around an 1" in diameter each) in a triangular configuration with a finish that allows it to blend in with the decor. (As mentioned earlier, can give additional advice on other ideas as well)

As to routing out the two plates, why? If you're going to use an MDF pedestal style, just screw through the bottom plate to the tower, and for the top, you could do the same, the speaker should cover it. If you go with the PVC idea, you would have to come up with a different way of attaching them. (A length of all-thread with locking nuts/washers on each end come to mind.)

Sorry for the length, but I hope I've helped you out with some ideas!!!
Thanks Schaef, for that faux stone finish idea. Since I have the MDF on hand already, I think I'll go with that, but I'll try that finish on the MDF instead. My only reasons for routing out the plates would be to keep the flush look and to keep any sand from leaking out once I fill it, but I will just caulk it instead.

And as for 'You'll learn as you get older, half of doing anything big is making sure it meets the approval of "the other half"', I'm already well aware of that. Thats why I keep the door to my room shut! For some reason, most parents have a disliking for multi-colored CAT-5 speaker cables, 4 foot tall speakers, and tidbits of connectors, wire and solder strewn about...

Thanks a bunch!!!
Oh, don't worry. Thats just the speakers I have in MY room. With all of the electronics in there, I only have 12 cubic feet of floorspace left! The home theater is a different story. Its far from the best, but not bad for a 15-year-old :D

TV: Sony 36 Wega XBR (Soon to be Pioneer Elite 53")
Receiver: Denon 3301
DVD: Lame-O sony, being replaced by Pioneer progressive scan
(Using home made digital coax for the audio, and home made component cables for the video)
Center Channel: JBL 3-way
Fronts: Mirage OM-10's (Got them for a steal)
Rears: Mirage OM-R2's, soon to be accompanied by a pair of floorstanders that I'm building
Sub Woofer: Home made, soon to be replaced by a Mirage that's the size of a stinkin' coffee table (Mom will love that, and she doesnt know about the TV either)
Speaker Cables: DIY CAT 5 cables from Chris Venhaus' website (God bless you Chris, the callus was worth it)

I'd really like to build an amp one of these days, and a Meridian CD player wouldnt be too bad either. Unfortunately, I'm broke. I better hurry up and get that CCNA certification!

Progress Update

I started building the speaker stands about 20 minutes ago, and I've already finished the main column for the first one! My neighbor cut all the MDF boards to size for me, and a biscuit jointer and some yellow wood glue made quick work. I bought a fifty pound bag of sand from the Home Depot, but I don't think that it'll be enough to fill both towers, so I think I'll be taking a trip back. These are some SERIOUSLY heavy stands, and I've paid under $30 total for all materials. And $10 of that was for the paint. If anyone else attempts this project, I HIGHLY recommend using a biscuit jointer for ease of construction. I'll report back later once I've got the OM-R2's plopped on top of them.

(Note: The bases for each are 11x11, the tops 9x9, and the towers are 5in sq)

A very pleased, not frustrated,
Bryan :)

Speaker stands still coming along nicely. I decided that wood glue wasnt enough due to the lack of wood screws, so I used a compressed air nail gun for extra strength on the cross section walls. I have also decided to use a plastic bag to hold the sand, so that it is guaranteed not to leak, or to attract moisture to the MDF itself. I'll give one last report tomorrow

Mission Completed

Ahh, finally finished with these little (actually big) buggers. I picked up some spikes at a local high end audio store, despite being seriously overpriced. The trickiest part was trying to keep the top and the base from going on crooked, but a little nudge here or there straightened it out. As I'd expected, the MDF was soaking up the paint, especially on the edges. It took about 15 coats of black lacquer paint, but they have a nice sheen to them now. Theres still a few smudge marks, but I'm not going to apply a last coat until next weekend, because I will be removing the top to add a bit of sand once it settles. All in all they are VERY stable, the surrounds are at a perfect height, and I can feel a thing vibrate when I knock on the top.

I'd just like to thank all of you guys for the advice. They turned out great. This just goes to show that you dont have to have a lot of know-how to make something cheaper and better than you can buy commercially. I would suggest this project to anyone looking for a set of good, solid, attractive stands, and to those on a tight budget.

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