Introduction: DIY HiFi Bookshelf Speakers (Studio Reference)

Picture of 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"

The Misconception:
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

Picture of 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
- Jigsaw 
- Screwdriver Set
- Marker Set
- 48 Inch Ruler

Step 2: Choosing Your Parts & Drivers

Picture of 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.

Speaker Drivers:
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.

The Crossover:
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

Picture of 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 (
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

Picture of 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.

Step 5:

Picture of

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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!

Picture of 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. 


neilf31 (author)2017-09-18

I would truly amazed at those straight cuts if done by a jigsaw or those perfect circles

brenoemanuel (author)2017-02-21

Is this monitor active or passive?

pfred2 (author)2013-11-12

Your speaker holes came out pretty good for cutting them out with a jig saw. I make a pin jig for a router in order to cut out perfect circles. Making the jig, and using it is a bit more time consuming, but I get much better holes as a result. I guess to use the router hole cutting method you need a wood router too. But having a wood router can be handy making little wooden boxes because you can use them to trim up the edges of the box too.

I can't even imagine using a jig saw to do the straight cuts either. I'd use a table saw, or maybe a circular saw with a straight edge for that. Your speakers came out great considering you only used a jig saw. Better than I could do just using a jig saw. I use my jig saws for free form curves. Stuff like rounding corners. Not much else really. Nothing that requires any precision, I can tell you that.

ASCAS (author)pfred22013-11-14

The thin blades helped a lot in cutting round shapes. I've always dreamed of having a table saw and a router cutter. I wish I had one but I'm stuck with my jigsaw for now. I kept asking my dad to buy me one but he says "why not use the jigsaw?", I told him I need to make perfect cuts, he kept making reasons not to buy me one :)) It was impractical for him, wanting to save money :/// Maybe I can ask him again as a Christmas gift, hehehehe.

stib (author)ASCAS2016-01-17

Tell your dad that table saws are safer than portable power cutting tools - you always know where the blade is going to be. Great 'ible BTW.

pfred2 (author)ASCAS2013-11-15

If you get a router try to get a 1/2" plunge router. They seem the handiest to me. They can cost more, but I think those features are worth it. I have 1/4" fixed base routers too, and I hardly ever use them. So for me at least, a 1/4" fixed base router is almost a complete waste of money. Although if I didn't have one I'd probably always wonder what I was missing out on, and why I spent so much for my 1/2" plunge, and bits for it too.

I know now that I'd mostly be missing out on bits that slip in the collet, and a tool that is hard to adjust.

I inherited one of my table saws from my grandfather, and bought my other one at a yard sale. They're similar, same brand, different models, but the one I got at a yard sale is a little nicer. I got it for $20, and put about $32 more into it to fix it up. The saw didn't have a motor on it when I bought it. I got one of those at a flea market for $20. I also made a rip fence for that saw, an out feed table, and put a magnetic starter on it too. It is the table saw I always wanted now. Although my grandfather's old saw is OK too.

He'd have been gaga over the saw I built.

ASCAS (author)pfred22013-11-15

I just wrote the 1/2" plunge router on my Christmas wishlist. Hey I have a Dremel tool, would you advise me to buy a plunge router adapter for the rotary tool. It seems there are existing products in the net.

I'l ask my grandpa if he has a table saw, they owned a hardware store before and offered lumber cutting services, so I guess they still have one in storage. Thanks for reminding me :))

pfred2 (author)ASCAS2013-11-16

Get the plunge router and see if it can't do everything you need to do. The only time a 1/2" plunge is a bit of trouble is when its size becomes an issue. But that doesn't come up as much as you might think it does. Even when it does come up some setups can mitigate the fact. One thing I can think of is if I'm rebating a hinge into the edge of a thin board. But sometimes for that I'll cheat and use my milling machine. You can use a scrap waster board to give more edge to hang onto too.

With your plunge router you'll be able to cut speaker holes, enlarge existing holes (you can do that precisely with a bearing bit following the existing hole, then go back with another straight bit and remove the step), edge trim boxes, put a step into a speaker hole (if you want to make a speaker flange flush with the cabinet face), cutout for terminal connectors, dado & rabbet, trim laminates (a 1/2" plunge isn't a laminate trimmer but it'd do the job), round edges. Perhaps even some other things I'm not thinking about now too.

I think a router would fully expand your range of capabilities when it comes to building speakers. You could completely build speakers with just a router if you wanted to be a wise guy about it. Routers are that versatile a tool.

If you can't get a table saw a circular saw and a straight edge can break down sheet goods pretty well too. A lot of people do that even when they have table saws. Because running a full sheet on a table saw can be a little hairy if you don't have a big out feed table, or someone to hold up one side of the sheet as it comes off the saw. I just know lots of folks still break down with circular saws. Sometimes I even do too if I need to cut a sheet the wide way. My fence only goes out about 3 feet so there are some wide cuts I can't perform. What I'm saying is if you set it up carefully a circular saw and a straight edge do the job. It is not only acceptable, it is commonly done. Using a circular saw takes a bit longer, and it is hard to be completely repeatable like a locked fence is. Of course there are methods that can be used to overcome that situation though. Cut some things over sized, then trim with the router on the box for instance. Perfect fit! I'll often trim to fit woodworking for the perfect fit myself. The saw dust on the floor never gives the fact away.

Aadieu (author)pfred22015-04-20

jig saw...a royal pain to use, but it can cut straight. using, as hinted in the name, a jig.

ancient vintage american miter boxes without a second wall can be used to cut anything less than 7-8" wide's when you're moving up to building boxes for 12" speakers that you start running out of possibilities without a table saw

pfred2 (author)Aadieu2015-04-22

Well even a circular saw with a straight edge can give you pretty accurate straight cuts. Lots of people don't like to rip full sheet goods on table saws. I've found the trick there is to have an out feed table that can support the work.

javierj9 (author)2015-12-16

hiiii first thanks for this wonderful tutorial.. after reading this i decided to start my own project but with other intentions in mind ---"a portable 2 way speaker with Bluetooth"--- but i have a question, if my woofer hit from 60 to 10 kHz and my tweeter hit from 3.5 kHz to 20 kHz, what do you guys think my crossover should do its magic ? at 3.5 kHz or at 10 kHz ??

Or maybe any point from 3.5 kHz and 10 kHz is ok?

thanks beforehand

WillS40 (author)2015-11-03

This is my first time ever attempting anything like this, so excuse my stupid questions... Where does the power come from for the speakers? If i wanted to run it out of the wall with an aux cord, could I do that with these speakers? Also, the wiring section was kind of skipped over in these instructions, are there any good existing instructions online you could send my way? Thank yOU!!!!!!!!!

consequence (author)WillS402015-11-23

Do not connect these speakers to a wall outlet.

Speakers oscillate to create vibrations in the air, which requires power. Audio signals usually come from low-power sources, such as a CD player, turntable, or digital music player that are unable of providing sufficient power to drive a pair of speakers. We use amplifiers to generate a high power version of the input signal in order to drive speakers.

Many speakers have amplifiers built in. Examples are boomboxes, wireless speakers, and powered desktop monitors. These speakers require a power source, usually in the form of a wall outlet or a battery, to power the built-in amplifier.

The speakers in this writeup are unpowered, which means that they do not have built in amplifiers. Like many speakers, these require an external amplifier. This is sometimes called component audio because the user is free to select the components (speakers, amplifiers, cables, etc.) they prefer. To make these or any other unpowered speaker produce sound, you will need a standalone amplifier. Your amplifier will be connected to the speakers by speaker wire, and will produce the power needed to produce sound. There are many, many amplifiers to choose from. Just be sure to purchase one with sufficient power to match your drivers' "program power" or "power handling".

These are 2-way speakers, which means they have two drivers per cabinet. The crossover does the job of blocking low frequency signals before they go to the tweeter and high frequency signals before they go to the woofer. This allows each of the two drivers to do what it is best at.

A four post input as shown in this writeup is not necessary at the entry level. You will take the two inputs in the back of your cabinet, positive and negative, and connect them to the positive and negative inputs on your 2-way crossover. These will be marked. The crossover will have four outputs, likely labeled High+, High- Low+, Low-. The "High" outputs are wired to the corresponding inputs on the tweeter. Likewise for the "Low" outputs and the woofer.

There is a wealth of knowledge available. If you search for 2-way speaker projects, you can quickly find detailed wiring diagrams.

Hope that helps, best of luck with your build!

jakewignall (author)2015-10-20

Anyone recommend any specific speakers, crossover models etc.?

HouyuS (author)jakewignall2015-10-28

Use this website to calculate your own values for the capacitors and coils. Also you can learn alot about other stuff on that website

StephenK17 (author)2015-10-10

very good design i have built thease and use them a nearfield monitors in my studio

StephenK17 (author)2015-10-10

very good design i have built thease and use them a nearfield monitors in my studio

GiwrgosP (author)2015-08-16

Im about to start this project, thow i will go on a higher budget, i will use a fried egg tweeter same as advents vintage, has a very high frequency responce, one mid and one low bass speakers. How can i designate the overall resistance of the speaker? i need i to peei 4 ohm or at worst case senario 8ohm. Im gonna make those floor standing speakers, any help apreciated~!

atefov (author)2015-07-14

I am planning to use U.S. Blaster drivers. Any experiance with them?

ASCAS (author)atefov2015-07-28

I don't have experience over them. Though I suggest dayton and focal.

Aadieu (author)2015-04-20

well done

ASCAS (author)Aadieu2015-07-28


red_green (author)2014-12-24

If you want to get a lot more technical, Basta! is an advanced software for calculating speaker freq response and more. See for a download.

ASCAS (author)red_green2015-07-28

Thank you! :)

IluvatarV (author)2015-02-26

So why aren't you using your "HiFi Bookshelf Speakers (Studio Reference)" in your Home theater? Why use expensive B&W ?

ASCAS (author)IluvatarV2015-07-28

I made these for my room.

jankeifer (author)2014-11-07

where did you hook up your speakers? (to a reciever or an amplifier?)

redrooster (author)2013-11-15

Great Hi Fi setup you have there.Although I would suggest a Sansui AU-xxxx series amplifier to bring out the best quality sound. an AU-555A is a good one but you couldn't go wrong with any of the old school AU series.

ASCAS (author)redrooster2013-11-15

Wow that's a great model, specially if your in for the nostalgic types of amplifiers. My grandpa used to have a Sansui amplifier. Probably, it is still have it lying around. I prefer modern types of amplifiers like the NAD. We have the Cambridge Audio 550A though.

jankeifer (author)ASCAS2014-11-07

but nothing beats Tubes :D

CreativeGeek (author)2013-12-05

Actually, solid wood would probably amount to better sound.

In addition, sealed speakers are supposedly more accurate than ported ones.

jake.lotter (author)CreativeGeek2014-08-18

depending on the volume. If the volume is calculated correctly it should be the same in theory. The only difference is that you lose some high frequency in ported speakers but are brought back with tweeters, and also give out lower hz. If you do not plan on making a quality sub or just like a clean role-off with your midrange to a sub, I recommend ported enclosures.

And you tried going 3-way or 4-way with the drivers?

ASCAS (author)CreativeGeek2013-12-06

Yup my new pair of DIY towers uses a pair of 4-way crossovers.

jake.lotter (author)CreativeGeek2014-08-18

MDF is most commonly used for speakers because of how tight the fibers are making it a better seal for speakers. Real wood tends to give an inaccurate response. I would recommend using MDF then real would and applying veneer if that's the path you want to take.

ASCAS (author)CreativeGeek2013-12-06

How about maple wood? :D

vanwixon (author)ASCAS2014-02-19

I wondered about using different wood to get a better/different sound than using MDF. I am a bass player and while going through the project wondering about different types of wood to use I had the idea of placing the speakers inside of an upright Bass body. The deep tones of the upright body are amazing and it would be neat to make two of the bodies into tower speakers but i doubt it would be practical in sound quality. :D Nevertheless, this is one of the best project presentations i have ever seen!! thank you so much for taking the time to do it!

jkhan346 (author)2014-03-18

This is going to be one of my first projects, I was wondering is it possible to use a 2.5 or 3 kHz 2 way crossover? Would be a lot of help.

ASCAS (author)jkhan3462014-03-18

Cool! Here:

Try to do more research. I bet there are cheaper ones out there

jkhan346 (author)ASCAS2014-03-19

Thanks! This should help me a lot.

Slashmaster (author)2014-02-01

If youre looking for MDF, all lumber yards should be carrying it. First of all, awesome build and great job describing it. However, as a guy who does woodworking for a living, you went real crazy on that glue, also, clamps work wonders. Although I will say your ingenuity on using duct tape did make me laugh. Again, good build and thanks for pointing out that this is a great way to make a cheap home audio system, I hadn't even considered it even though I have access to a full woodshop.

hannudiy (author)2014-01-23

Oh thanks! Ive been hunting mdf boards here in san juan and cant seem to find a local hardware store that have them. Thanks again! Keep it up! Do you have any preferred store in raon to look for? Its so many and its hard to ask all of them hehe! I hope i could start my hifi system soon!

hannudiy (author)2014-01-22

Awesome project! Can i ask where do you buy your mdf boards? Thanks kabayan! I live in the metro too

ASCAS (author)hannudiy2014-01-23

I live in Las Pinas, there's a hardware store named "Pamplona Lumber", they sell 4x8ft (1/2" thick) MDF boards for around 900 php. The easiest place to buy MDF boards is from "Wilcon Depot". Pero mas mura pa rin bumili sa mga lokal na hardware stores :D

Mabuhay kababayan!

wheelbme (author)2013-12-08

That's pretty cool! I have a question. Can I buy a home theater control box without the speakers? My home theater system control box broke and I finished it off by taking it apart and goofing with it. Now I have the speakers and the other two speaker looking things which I don't know what they are called. Will I have to buy a whole new sound system? Any suggestions? Thanks

ASCAS (author)wheelbme2013-12-10

Before starting. Is it a home theater in a box? The ones that came with the speakers (ex. Sony)? Or is it the separate type of A/V Receiver (ex. Yamaha, Onkyo).

wheelbme (author)ASCAS2013-12-10

It was in a box. RCA brand. I'm wanting to use the same speakers and install a DVD/Blue ray player, and a VCR. I'm also considering adding a Roku 3, and would perhaps want an extra opening for future expansion. May I say thank you very much for helping a "NO tech" old man. Thanks

popescu (author)2013-11-15

Hi, I would like to know if something arises as stuffing material inside the enclosure to mitigate potential distortions of pictures shows the speaker box is empty inside.

ASCAS (author)popescu2013-11-15

The final product had a nylon stuffing inside.

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi I'm Angelo! I am a 18 y/o college sophomore taking my majors in BS-ECE at the DLSU. I use my course as ... More »
More by ASCAS:DIY Motorized Fidget Spinner! (Contest Entry)DIY Motorized Fidget Spinner! Build A Bluetooth Boombox Speaker (from scratch)
Add instructable to: