Introduction: DIY HiFi Bookshelf Speakers (Studio Reference)
Experience studio quality speakers on a low budget! Build your own HiFi speakers from scratch and hear the difference! This is a great starter project, good enough to introduce hobbyists to the world of quality audio. My setup cost me less than a $100. HiFi isn't measured by price but by quality and purity!
It might not look fancy, but a blind test placed side-to-side with well known HiFi brands, proved its worthiness in competing on today top of the line speakers.
Introduction To HiFi:
Most of your typical speakers (ex. car speakers, boombox, etc.) are not really categorized as HiFi. HiFi - is a term used by home audio enthusiasts, a.k.a audiophiles, to refer to high-quality reproduction of sound. The goal is to achieve clarity, low rates of distortion and hear pure audio. "Hearing The Exact Sound When It Was Recorded"
Don't be fooled by the watt ratings, large speakers, rediculouse amplifiers, none of those really matter. Not because you have a Bose speaker doesn't mean you should think high of your setup. In fact ready built setups are just the tip of the iceberg. There are other classy brands out there like: Bowers & Wilkins, Dynaudio, Dali, Focal, JM, Wharfedale, Martin Logan, Hansen, PSB & etc...
My Experience & How I got Into Audio:
I've been into speakers since I was 6 y/o, it fascinates me how the sound varies by changing the enclosure size, amplifier circuits, adding crossovers and stuff. My experience drastically improved at the age of 13, when my dad established his lavishing speaker setup. We went to countless HiFi and audiophile stores, canvasing and testing for HiFi home entertainment speakers and amplifiers.
Our theater room's current has a 5.1 setup: B&W 680' series, a THX approved Onkyo Receiver, Optoma 1080p FullHD 3D projector. While our family room currently has a pair of B&W 685 and a pair of Polk Audio's LSiM703, a Cambridge Audio 550A (azur), C.A. 550A CD player, DAC Magic Plus, Onkyo ND-S1 apple dock, and the Audio Technica AT-PL120 Turntable :D
I deeply apologize for the poor photos! I was 13 back then, when I documented this project. My knowledge & experience in photography were pretty poor.
I aborted this project after I decided to make a pair of Tower speakers. That's why you will notice that the vinyl wrap isn't applied yet. Think of this as a Christmas bonus :))
Step 1: Gather Your Tools & Materials
Parts & Materials:
- 6.5" Woofer Speakers (pair)
- Dome Tweeter Speakers (pair)
- Two way Crossover (3.5kHz - pair)
- Bass Reflex Ports (pair)
- Banana Plug Binding Posts (pair)
- Guage 12 Speaker Wires (1 Meter)
- Vinyl Wallpaper (Your Choice)
- 8x10 ft. MDF Wood Material
- Plasylux Putty (Woodfiller)
- A bottle of woodglue
- Silicon Sealant (w/ Applicator)
- 1x1 Wooden Battens (1 Meter)
- 1" Deep Hex Screws (12x)
Tools & Equipment:
- 40w Soldering Iron
- Electric Sander
- Electric Drill
- Screwdriver Set
- Marker Set
- 48 Inch Ruler
Step 2: Choosing Your Parts & Drivers
Plan, Canvas And Gather Information:
Before you go crazy on shopping spree. Be sure to read more articles in the net, canvas more about their prices, read more reviews and take a lot of consideration in selecting brands. I'm a practical kid, I try to buy things worth my budget.
To start off, Parts Express (online site) is a great source for speaker sales. Brands that I recommend buying are Dayton, Focal, Fostex, Seas, Tang-Band & Zalytron.
Try to find speakers that can reach a wide range of frequency. For woofers, a frequency response of 60Hz - 6kHz are good to start with. A frequency response of 200Hz - 6kHz for midrange speakers and 4kHz - 20kHz for tweeters.
Remember that the human ear can only hear 20Hz - 20kHz of audio frequencies so don't get excited if you find speakers that can go above or below the audible frequencies, it would be a great impracticality.
Audio crossovers are a class of electronic filter used in audio applications. Most individual loudspeaker drivers are incapable of covering the entire audio spectrum from low frequencies to high frequencies with acceptable relative volume and absence of distortion so most hi-fi speaker systems use a combination of multiple loudspeakers drivers, each catering to a different frequency band. Crossovers split the audio signal into separate frequency bands that can be separately routed to loudspeakers optimized for those bands.
As much as possible go for the bessel or linkwitz type of passive crossovers. They are the most common type of crossover filters, it has been and will always be the trusted and safest.
There are two commonly used speaker enclosures, one is the ported and one is the sealed. The sealed enclosure is perfect for small speaker enclosures, it dampens the sound given off, resulting to a punchy sound rather than the woofy effect. The cons: is that this design will require a 100% airtight enclosure for it to be effective. The ported enclosure is only ideal for large speakers (+ 6.5 inch").
My Speakers/ Drivers:
Don't bother searching for my drivers, you won't find it. I have a friend who sells OEM speakers. According to the data sheets, this thing resembles the Dayton Audio classic woofer, a veteran in the section of DIY HiFi, it was able to maintain it's quality over the years. You won't believe how much I got it for :D A pair was sold to me at 1,600 php ($32), a real bargain! For the tweeters, I found mine from a local audio supplier, locally made, a brand that I trust. Again I got my pair at a cheap price of 500 php ($10).
Step 3: Planning the Blueprints
Measure your speakers using your good old vernier caliper! Then write every measurement down on a piece of paper. Take note, you don't just make speaker enclosures out of random measurements. Calculators & formulas are required in order to design the perfect box. You will need to acquire your speaker's datasheet in order to design a proper enclosure. The links below are the sites that helped me learn building DIY audio enclosures.
Full Tutorial On Making Enclosures:
- Speaker Box Design (DIYaudio.com)
- Building and Designing Enclosures
The Calculators I Used:
- DIY Speaker Enclosure Calculator
- Speaker Enclosure Output Calculator
Step 4: Marking the Soon to Be Cut Wood
After finalizing the measurements of your enclosure. Get a long ruler and compass, use pencil to mark on the wood. As you can see, I used plywood in this picture since I made a prototype before I made an MDF version.
Use your jigsaw and cut through the MDF material. Also, don't forget to drill the screws holes where you will mount your speakers.
Step 6: Gluing the MDF Panels
Apply enough woodglue to hold your MDF material in place. Bracings are added in order to reduce the amount of unwanted vibrations which may cause cracklings and distortion.Also don't forget to use battens (1x1 wood) to firmly support the 90 deg. intersection of the MDF panels.
Step 7: Installing the Binding Post, Bass Port & Crossover
1st.) Wire up your crossovers.
2nd.) Screw you binding posts in place.
3rd.) Use wood glue to mount and seal the bass port.
Step 8: Let Them Dry
If you don't have the pressing equipment, there's always the mighty duct tape! Leave them overnight to dry.
Step 9: Apply Wood Filler Then Sand
To achieve a flat and smooth surface, apply \wood filler in the gaps. Use your handy electric sander to smoothen the excess fillings.
Step 10: Choose & Apply Your Vinyl Skin
Here's the hardest part for me (lolz), choosing the best skin for my speaker's enclosure. It would only lead with two options, to apply a sheet of vinyl wallpaper or do a paint job. I prefer a wooden finish so I chose the wooden vinyl skin.
Step 11: You're Done!
Enjoy your music! Hey look it's my old kenwood automatic turntable. This is my simple room setup (@my bedroom) :D
Sorry for not showing the finished vinyl skin. This was a postponed project, actually.