Introduction: Audiophile Grade Speakers for Less Than $200!
Speakers cost way too much. Speakers that sound good cost even more. But there is a way to correct this tragedy with some DIY magic!
Turns out that Full Range Single Driver Speakers are making a comeback in the audiophile world. Coupled with an efficient amplifer you can enjoy audiophile grade music for quite cheap (< $150-200).
Given that speaker enclosures can be quite complex and that I am not gifted enough with wood working tools to really make a beautiful enclosure I opted for an open baffle design. These designs are in some ways foolproof because they tend to be simple but don't be decieved, they can really sound quite amazing since they can really open up the mids and highs.
Bass is a criticism of open baffle designs and different designs reportedly have differing amounts of bass reproduction and extension. I picked JE Lab's open baffle designs because there was some consensus that these speakers can provide a surprising amount of bass. (Also the design looked very doable). Regardless of the design, make sure that you pick one that is quite wide. The wider the baffle the more bass extension you will be able to get from a fullrange driver. Also the speaker driver size must be coupled with the baffle design. The JE Lab's design is perfect for an 8" driver.
Paul from http://wildburroaudio.com is a local producer of Full Range Single Drivers and his Betsy model are not only very reasonably priced but also worked fantastically well with this speaker design. I highly recommend that you check out his drivers. He is also an outstanding guy to just ask questions to.
Materials that you need:
- Plywood ideally at least 3/4" thick. (Much better than MDF or particle board)
- Wood glue
- Wood screws
- Portable drill
- Banana Plug Female connectors (optional, for coupling to the amplifier)
- Soldering Iron and solder (optional)
- Audiophile quality wire (oxygen free copper recommended, also optional)
Step 1: Cut the Wood
Note how wide the baffles are on the design before you venture out to the hardware store. I actually was able to find some recycled plywood that was 1" thick from a local recycler (check Craigslist) that had essentially broken down shipping crates from China! I was able to source all my wood for less than $20!!
Cutting the wood turns out this is more challenging than you might think. The baffles are wide and I would not recommend having your local hardware store cut the baffles for you. I used Lowe's to cut a few of the edges down so that they were easier to deal with but their cuts are not very accurate.
The hardest part is cutting the center circle. I used a jigsaw to cut the center hole but there are many ways to do this. The jigsaw method is not very reliable in cutting a perfect circle but if you trace it out and go slow with the jigsaw you can get pretty close.
Step 2: Glue Time
Assemble the pieces with screws and wood glue. This step is pretty self explanatory since the design even includes where to put them. I would recommend long wood screws and wood glue. Any brand works well (including Elmer's wood glue).
Step 3: Mounting
Mount the speakers with screws. I opted to rear mount the speakers but you could also screw in from the front. I predrilled holes from the back by first laying the speakers down and then using a pencil to mark the sites the holes were suppose to go.
Also I would recommend against overly tightening the speaker with screws while mounting.
In the future I plan to go back with a router and create a beveled surface in the front of the speaker hole to help the diffraction of sound as it exits from the driver. Right now the edges of the sound waves have to bounce along 1" of plywood before being liberated. There's different theories on the correct beveling "function" to use to even out the hole but that's beyond the scope of this Instructable.
Step 4: Almost There!
Mount the banana plug connectors and solder the wires onto the speaker terminals.
I used hot glue to mount the connector onto the back. Solder can be of any grade though the purists will say to use silver based solder for best sound quality (I doubt it makes a lot of difference).
Step 5: Enjoy the Music!
The final picture is missing the top square pieces of wood (see last photo on previous step), but I just wanted to give you an idea of what the setup looks like at the end!
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