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Are DIY speakers 'worth it'?

iMickey503

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I would say if your building speakers like Joppe? (DIY Flat panel speakers? ) WORTH IT!

Joppe Peelen is like the KING of DIY flat panel speakers. The guy's been making his own speakers from SCRATCH. Were talking his own CNC, his own Ribbons, planners, crossovers,film, you name it.

Do it if you want something that no one else can offer you. Whatever that may be.

Using Cost/Value metric is a detriment when you are looking for something that provides fulfillment. And that's what Audio is in a sense.

A simpler way to understand the DIY speaker perceptive:


--------DIY KIT Speaker------------Custom one off you built from scratch---------STORE BOUGHT------
8gBmDEiVvyhC2Eynxh4xvMfVstQjQQt7m_5sAL4WNFE.jpg


Same goes for building an electric car. Your own PF-Sense router. A custom PC. Etc.
In each case, if there is a turn key item that is already there for you? Why bother.


Car Audio is where this facet really comes into play. You just can't buy a solution that works. Everything has to be custom and a one off. Here you have no choice but to either accept compromises, or chase that Audio Cherry.

The same applies for custom restomod car builds with modern amenities, performance & creature comforts.
Having a shop do it in that case can cost you over $100,000. Or just $5,000 if you do it in your garage. But the time you take to do it on the weekends may take you 20 years to complete as is so often the case.

And in actuality? DIY costs more in my experience. You just get carried away with custom parts etc. if we're talking about speakers, it's not the drivers themselves that are expensive. it's the tools and the tooling that you need in order to put the project together that nickel and dimes you to death.

unless you can get the box shipped to you flat-pack and have it already drilled out and ready to just drop the drivers in and glue and screw? I don't see it as a great value for the average do-it-yourselfer.

it's different with electronics. Even the Cheapest Budget value Iron and some lead based solder can work to make some world class gear. I can't say the same for wood working.
try cutting 45's and making them aligned perfectly. Or butting them together without extensive sanding and rework. Let alone having perfect symmetry of the enclosure when your done.

And don't forget about Glue Runs. Lots of prep and sanding afterwards on my first attempts. And that was a Prefab sub woofer box. There is a reason why I bought 6 flat kits. Buy the 6th one, I nailed it perfect. But it took me a month to get there.


To date, I have scratch built 3 sub-woofer boxes. The last one took me about 6 months of planning. LOTS of Math. Box calculations, driver selection/availability. And fruitless emails & phone calls with a certain manufacture.

ALL to put it together, and end up with a box that uses so much Glue, you wonder if Elmer's stock price went up. Sometimes you get a bad joint, and you can never fix the leak. You just have to start all over again. Its not as easy as they make it look like when your cutting your own wood enclosures.
then you lie to yourself saying "oh it's Aperiodic membrane" It just makes this Wooshing sound.....

What I'm saying is? If you got the chops? Go for it. But the true Scratch built is not for the faint of heart.
Go with kit for the best value/Ease of construction.


Oh! I almost forget! because you thought it was a good idea to go with budget parts, now you have to deal with the added fun and bonus of trying to match those drivers and hopefully both of them actually measure and work the same. You can tell it did not go well for me.

you come up with problems like coil rub or one driver not working as good as the other or having a different sensitivity the list goes on and on. so purchase your drivers from a reputable source. And pray to the audio gods they don't get damaged in shipping.


And one day.. For no reason at all. Spending 5G's on a set of speakers seems like a Bargain. And I use to be that guy that thought if they were over $250 a pair, that was expensive. Not anymore! LOL!
 

Colonel7

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One of the difficulties with design-your-own DIY right now is crossover parts availability if you're trying passive. All-inclusive kits may be the way to go if it's a first time. I'm pondering going fully active because amp/dsp boards are available and I have a couple projects just sitting. Outside of crazy-priced "audiophile-grade" inductors and capacitors parts are hit and miss.
 
OP
N

NewbieAudiophileExpert

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One of the difficulties with design-your-own DIY right now is crossover parts availability if you're trying passive. All-inclusive kits may be the way to go if it's a first time. I'm pondering going fully active because amp/dsp boards are available and I have a couple projects just sitting. Outside of crazy-priced "audiophile-grade" inductors and capacitors parts are hit and miss.
Hmmm, do you know of any 3-way amps with dsp that can handle the tweeter, mid, and woofer? The best that i've seen is plate ams with 2.1 channels.
 

Colonel7

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Hmmm, do you know of any 3-way amps with dsp that can handle the tweeter, mid, and woofer? The best that i've seen is plate ams with 2.1 channels.
Definitely tradeoffs. Outlay for Hypex is high but the quality is there. With DIYers the 4-channel Shure JAB boards in Europe and the same ones branded Dayton KABD in the US and sold through Parts Express are popular and less expensive. They have amplification and ADAU 1701 DSP chip and use Sigma Studio for DSP but they have fair to lousy SINAD. I'm still mulling using them though even if its temporary. Thoughts from @Weeb Labs ?
 
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mcw

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What about using a current speaker you want to upgrade by replacing the cross-over / drivers?? I have a 30 year old
Nelson-Reed 804c with an excellent cabinet but its sound seems to be degrading at relatively hi SPL levels, don't know
why.
 

bloomdido

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What about using a current speaker you want to upgrade by replacing the cross-over / drivers?? I have a 30 year old
Nelson-Reed 804c with an excellent cabinet but its sound seems to be degrading at relatively hi SPL levels, don't know
why.
If you're ready to go active with DSP+amp solutions some of which are mentioned above it can be very much worth it because driver matching becomes sooo much easier, you can basically buy any drivers that fit your cabinets and then just adjust the active crossover to get the frequency response you want. Yes you will still need to think about directivity but at least you can easily move crossover frequencies to avoid sharp directivity changes along the frequency scale.

I'd actually say the best way to try speaker DIY thing these days is to buy some used speakers for cheap (maybe some KEF Q series towers from mid 2000s or something like that) and upgrade them with DSP+amp solutions like FusionAmp. With some basic understanding of what is "good sound" one is pretty much guaranteed to get much better sound compared to one the speakers had initially and have a tremendous learning experience.
 

Gorgonzola

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I've made only a couple of pairs plus a center channel DIY. Do I think DIY is worth while in terms of quality and cost? Heck yeah, especially versus mid-prices speakers and especially if you make your own cabinets.

One pair and the center I make were my own designs; both were designed using Harris Tech's X-Over Pro and BassBox Pro. (There are other, maybe better design tools available depending on your knowledge level). Both were satisfactory, however I've been most please with the pair based on Zaph Audio's ZRT, (Zaph Revelator Towers). The latter lead me to recommend designs from competent designers over DIY for most people; if you're in North America I recommend checking out Madisound Speaker Store for a nice selection of designs and their prescribed drivers and crossovers.

In fact I didn't make my own cabinets for the Zaph ZRT's but I bought knock-down cabinets from Parts Express, only because I don't have table saw. The speaker drivers and crossovers were from Madisound. I spend about US$1800 on the speakers, not cheap, but I'm convinced they are are comparable to commercially finished speakers costing at least 2X as much.

gi.mpl
 
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BrokenEnglishGuy

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I know a guy here in my country that is selling a 3 way accuton tower 8" woofer for the kef R7 price.. These accuton are interesting
 

dualazmak

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In my multichannel multi-driver multi-way multi-amplifier stereo project, I have been sticking, and I am sticking, to "still-amazingly-wonderful" YAMAHA NS-1000's cabinet and drivers, but now all of the woofer Be-squawker and Be-tweeter are actively driven by dedicated amplifiers; furthermore, I added L&R heavy-large sub-woofers YAMAHA YST-SW1000 and L&R metal horn super tweeters FOSTEX T925A both driven by dedicated amplifier.

The total setup, therefore, can be now called/categorized as "quasi-DIY SP setup", I believe. (please find the latest system setup in my post here on the project thread. You may also find here and here Hyperlink Index for the project.)

Consequently, I would like to suggest another possible DIY path of speakers by first having well established HiFi (highly ranked/marked vintage or old or recent) passive 3-way or 2-way speaker, and you may DIY converted it (removing all the LC network in it!) into fully active system using DSP (XO/EQ) software plus multichannel DAC plus multiple amplifiers. If needed, you can also add sub-woofers and/or super-tweeters again to be driven by dedicated amplifiers.

At least in my case, this approach guided me to much success in achieving greatly improved total sound quality through the full digital XO/EQ, high quality multichannel DAC processing, proper selection of suitable amplifiers for the SP drivers (enjoyable long journey), flexible Fq response control, perfect (0.1 msec precision) time alignment between all the SP drivers, much improved SP transient characteristics (by complete elimination of LC network and direct/dedicated drive by amplifier), etc., etc.

Another nice feature of this approach is that you can keep the original passive system as your reference sound setup, like I did it all the way. At any point/stage of your progress, you may easily fully roll back the system into your original reference setup for intensive measurement and-or listening comparisons. Please do not change multiple factors at once, and please go forward step-by-step changing/improving only one factor in one step forward.

Keith of @Puite Audio kindly wrote here;
"You must hear equipment in your own room in your own system, compare unsighted if there isn’t an immediately apparent difference/improvement. To go further if there isn’t a significant improvement then don’t change anything, the largest gains are speakers and room. Keith"

Edit to add:

If you have nostalgia and preference for nice looking "genuine" large glass-face VU meters (IEC 60268-17 VU meter Standard/Specification), you may also add DIY multiple VU-meter array just like I did it recently as shared here.
 
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novice

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DIY at what level though?

Buying a commercial design has the advantage of being a "known" if you ever decide to sell them off. Selling off a kit or scratchbuild though means you're limited to those who acknowledge the kit or scratchbuild is "good" and agree that your building chops were acceptable. If you build a sorted kit design with measurements, recommended parts, and user satisfied reviews, a good result at a lower price than a commercial product is doable. If it's starting from scratch, selecting drivers, deciding on the alignment, then building a passive (or active) crossovers, etc. it will be a long, probably frustrating, and expensive road. So, whether or not any of the preceding is enjoyable will be totally dependent on the tool kit you start with... mentally, physically, and capability-wise. I've heard some stunning clean sheet of paper speakers as well as kit builds over the years and some total junk too.

$0.02...
 

crazycloud

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DIY active speaker systems are not so common.
I've been building actives for 30y+ starting with my own analogue xovers and moving to DSP in the early 2000s. I've done a couple of passives during that time, but maybe 10% of my designs and only if there was a specific need for passive in that application.
 

Astrozombie

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I was always hoping to try a DIYSoundgroup kit but they're never in stock, I guess I may end up checking out the CSS 1TD, though I'm not sure about them not having grilles.
 

eddantes

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As a bargain -> NO! (If you want a bargain, buy 2nd hand hifi.)
As a superior product -> NO! (Your build tolerances will likely not meet QC of most MFGs of quality gear.)

As a personal growth exercise -> YES! You'll learn a lot. You will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.
 

Prana Ferox

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I was always hoping to try a DIYSoundgroup kit but they're never in stock, I guess I may end up checking out the CSS 1TD, though I'm not sure about them not having grilles.
DIYSG news isn't very easy to follow as it tends to be in random AVSForum threads but Erich announced he found a new crossover part supplier and will be returning several kits to stock.

If you have a specific kit you're looking for I'd recommend emailing him.

Grilles aren't that hard to add if you have 'get the Home Depot to cut it for you' levels of woodworking access.
 

archerious

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I've made only a couple of pairs plus a center channel DIY. Do I think DIY is worth while in terms of quality and cost? Heck yeah, especially versus mid-prices speakers and especially if you make your own cabinets.

One pair and the center I make were my own designs; both were designed using Harris Tech's X-Over Pro and BassBox Pro. (There are other, maybe better design tools available depending on your knowledge level). Both were satisfactory, however I've been most please with the pair based on Zaph Audio's ZRT, (Zaph Revelator Towers). The latter lead me to recommend designs from competent designers over DIY for most people; if you're in North America I recommend checking out Madisound Speaker Store for a nice selection of designs and their prescribed drivers and crossovers.

In fact I didn't make my own cabinets for the Zaph ZRT's but I bought knock-down cabinets from Parts Express, only because I don't have table saw. The speaker drivers and crossovers were from Madisound. I spend about US$1800 on the speakers, not cheap, but I'm convinced they are are comparable to commercially finished speakers costing at least 2X as much.

gi.mpl
They look just like Tekton speakers. Or rather Tekton speakers look just like DIY speakers.
 

fpitas

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As a bargain -> NO! (If you want a bargain, buy 2nd hand hifi.)
As a superior product -> NO! (Your build tolerances will likely not meet QC of most MFGs of quality gear.)

As a personal growth exercise -> YES! You'll learn a lot. You will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.
Exactly. It took me years to get to the point where I'm happy with the sound, and I'm an engineer. Crossovers and voicing are not for the faint of heart. If that's your idea of a good time, go for it. Otherwise, if you're still set on DIY, you'd better look at kits.
 
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