Instructables
Picture of Glass Speakers
This set of speakers resonates glass to produce sound. While this may seem complicated, the technical explanation is actually rather simple.  Each speaker has a tactile transducer attached to the center, which is a device that vibrates the glass to produce sound waves. This simple mechanism allowed for the design of stereo speakers which are a departure from the standard bulky floor speaker. These glass speakers - by comparison - are obviously sleek, lightweight, and almost invisible. They can also be collapsed and easily moved, making them good for a nomadic lifestyle.

Of course, the big questions is, "how do they sound?" Well...These speakers sound a lot better than you would imagine, but still not as  great as your average stereo speaker. They tend to cut a little from both the high end and low end of the audio spectrum. Nonetheless, they have a very unique and somewhat warm sound to them. There is also the added bonus of truly feeling the music resonate through your feet when you crank up your stereo really high and stand near them.
 
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Step 1: Ode to Noah

Picture of Ode to Noah
Noah is a man
Who helped me build these speakers
He did all he can
To make sure this project was a keeper

We went to his shop in the East Bay
Metalwork he did teach
We worked for many a day
To make a set of speakers for both of us each

I told him I would honor him with this verse
For his ego I set out to tame
Because I knew he would get terse
That I wanted to publish this project solely under my name

So I must thank Noah for showing me how to do this
On this project he truly saved the day
I would give him a great big kiss
But I really don't swing that way

Step 2: Go get stuff

Picture of Go get stuff
You will need:
(x2) tactile transducers
(x2) 29-1/2" x 14" x 1/4" glass panel
(x1) 1-1/4" x 3/16" x 10' steel flat bar
(x1) 1/2" x 12" steel L-extrusion
(x1) 12" x 12" sheet of adhesive backed silicon rubber (or similar)

For gunmetal finish:
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jkuchera1 month ago
Tempered glass vs non tempered glass? Will it make a difference in the sound quality?
iketyles6 months ago

anyone know where to get glass that big?

Window or hobby stores.

The best possible transducer to use for this application can be found at www.invisibleStereo.com

The HAS Model 801

I personally created a pair of six foot tall X three foot wide double laminated glass speakers (1all the way back in 1979, using a rubber grommeted wood frame work on a supportive stand. The transducer I used back then was the original Rolen Star #308...a 30 watt 8 ohm unit. using four of them on each panel in a vertical array and driving them with a good old Yamaha Stereo receiver (100 wpc ) Allowed me to create an expansive on the directional sound field that had the ability to fill a 1000 square foot room. Not even a pair of Dahlquist electrostatics could accomplish that back then.

These days I use them for critical listening environments as well as home theater installation and it they can easily be designed to be as proficient and as effective when applied to a variety of services as almost anyone could hope to imagine.

The important thing to always remember is not to send a boy to do a mans job. If higher listing levels and critical listening are desired traits then you have to design and install the project with that criteria in mind

I would be more than glad to assist anyone in any type of project they could dream up, Austin the 39 years I've been involved with audio transducers I have pretty much "been there done that" along every conceivable line.

Please, everyone understand I am only making that statement because I have seen a great many posts that allude to the limitations of this application. And while there are indeed some design and performance considerations that must be taken into account, that in no way restricts the creativity, desirability, and affordability of using a product such as Audio Transducer to create something unique and special to be proud of. that is to say, when one uses the right audio transducer for the application desired.

I personally advise all branches of the US Military, government, industry, education, and the artistic community in the use of this product, so I know full well the complete range of its potential. In this instance what are hoping I can do this to simulate some creativity and productivity among do-it-your selfers.
araj36 months ago

superb may i do at any size with any panels with these same procedure without steel frames

guitarpicker76 months ago
rclingan1 year ago
Do you think it would work the same way with Plexiglass? This could be a cheaper alternative if it works.
No, plexiglass/perspex/acrylic is too elastic and would muddy the sound produced. This method of producing sound relies on glass' rigid structure - to really see the difference, take something hard like a coin and tap (gently) on a large pane of glass and note the crisp sound, while doing the same on a piece of acrylic yields only a dull thump.
What about lead crystal a flat panel or a dish seems like a good idea?

It also sounds like a good idea to me, can multitask a set of beautiful old wall display dishes as speakers and fish the speakerwire through the walls... imma try it.

It depends... It is NOT as simple as you assume.
In a way, a plexiglass or acrylic diaphragm could sound much better, because it will tend to decouple the whole surface at higher frequencies, allowing it to reach higher frequencies. It is the same way that full range designers have achieved acceptable results from single cone speakers for many years. What you are hearing is as "crisp" sound is in reality a sharp resonance produced by a hard object colliding with a hard glass surface, which has a peak in the high frequency range. But reproducing a much wider frequency spectrum necessary for music (and even human voice) requires a much flatter and wider freq. response. Even "rigid" cones have and need some form of damping. Hard dome Tweeters have been made with Titanium, Berillium or similar materials, but better results are always obtained with better damped materials. Old fashioned "silk" in "soft-dome" tweeters are always much better because they are relatively free from hard, narrow resonances. Lets remember that a speaker is NOT a musical instrument, and therefore it needs to avoid resonances as far as possible. Amclausen.
milesel7 months ago
my daughter has a small glass comuter desk. I would like to a small unamplified pair. Could you suggest a transducer that would work? Very cool!!!!!

Inspiring.

Inexpensive.

Great.

Thank you.

Please do more.

ons7 months ago
@CIAH Yes there actually is a difference. Regular cone loudspeaker drivers need to move more while these transducers ned to bend a hard surface. That means these tactile transducers will produce higher force but less deflection.
Evan2010 made it!7 months ago

Made a hanging style! Not 100% complete yet and I still have to hang the left side but it works great! I'll be making an instructable on it soon.

IMG_1451.jpg
Evan2010 Evan20107 months ago

If any of you were interested in the instructable here it is.

bakunin Evan20107 months ago

That looks amazing!

Nice.

Easy question, maybe. Your choice of transducer - based on power handling at 20 watts, impedance or just the mounting ease of double sided tape. I have found others at 5 and 10 watts and range from 4 to 8 ohms. Thoughts/advice on using a lower watt transducer, say 5 watts at 8 ohms versus the 20 watts.

C I A H7 months ago

so is there a difference between these tactile transducer and just taking a speaker without a cone and putting some double sided tape on it in the same places??

Benjamick8 months ago

Would they soud good on a guitar amplifier ?

warehouse329 months ago
this is a great project! does the size of the glass panel have a specific purpose or can they be custom sized to fit different spaces as long as it's a flat pane? also, would making a base out of wood or some other material affect the sound quality?
randofo (author)  warehouse328 months ago
Aesthetics really. However, not sure how different sizes and materials affect the sound.
alexmays9 months ago
Can they be made smaller, like into a desk speaker?
randofo (author)  alexmays8 months ago
My friend has made a smaller desk speaker pair. So... yes.
tstafford49 months ago
If you used Magnetic glass, could set up some kind of electromagnetic suspension?
Rimwulf1 year ago
Has anyone tried using lead crystal like a flat sheet, maybe a bowl or plate?
FirstSpear1 year ago
Beautiful and novel. Nicely done. I didn't know the transducers existed, so am grateful for that alone. What about plywood, or stuck to the bottom of big steel circular buckets or waste bins - seriously, these often have concentric circles pressed into the base for strength, which would differentiate frequencies, I think; I'd like the galvanised industrial punk look. Also like the ideas given of conductive paint, and of using a mirror - my bathroom mirror is circular, 18" diameter, frameless, held by two pivoting brackets bolted through holes in the mirror, and screwed to the wall. Wonder how two transducers on a single piece would act - combined mono or cancelling? MIrrors rarely come in pairs. Also ellisgl's idea of a solid wire approach is interesting - one could create fancy patterns with the wire to decorate the glass - easier with the conductive paint and stencils. Please do all of the above, immediately.
There were flat panel styrofoam speakers in the 60's. They worked as well as regular paper cones because they were rigid. Being flat you could fit them into wierd places like the headliner of a car.
Is the sound good, how is the quality?
Monty^1 year ago
A Canadian company made a flex-membrane speaker back in the 80s with a centrally driven transducer, much like a speaker attached to a stretched Mylar. The membrane vibrated like a ripple in the pond to produce full range sound. The low frequency limit was determined by the membrane/frame size as it was a dipole subject to front/back cancellations, but the thing sounded just like large electrostatics or ribbons but without the beaming high frequency responds.
http://www.museatex.com/planar1.htm

One problem with the speaker was temperature and humidity sensitivity of the Mylar membrane causing the central suspension point within the voice coil to be prone to rubbing.

The glass speaker described here is interesting and similar in concept but the rigidity of glass won't allow it to vibrate freely except at its dimensional resonance; as an improvement one might try suspending the transducer to cross members attached to the metal frame in order to decouple it from the glass.
Yes, I remember some of those models back in the day. I had a pair of Magneplanars in the early 80's. Mylar sheets and ribbon tweeters. http://www.magnepan.com/ They were similar to the MG12's pictured on the website but were just called Magnepans. They were as tall as I was. They were really sweet sounding too. I've always thought of trying to build a pair of various sized panels that would hang from one another from the ceiling, suspended only by their audio cables, positive running down one side, negative on the other, larger panel for bass on top and smaller in the middle for, well mids and a smaller or even some sort of ribbon tweeter on the bottom for the highs.

This instructable really is pulling at my dream of over 30 years ago.
Good comment, Monty, there was another (I believe was an american company with an Italian sounding name) that produced another similar design, but using Styrofoam flat diaphragms that were large and gave some bass. Treble was obtained by mechanically decoupling the smaller, center section by using a ring of soft pliable compound, so that bass was reproduced by the whole large diaphragm, and the treble by the center part only. Theh didn't last for long, and disappeared from the market. (I guess that those styrofoam speakers were much better than any glass one, but this Instructable is for fun, and appearance is novel and nice enough! Just lets don't expect any fidelity from these! Amclaussen.
Ugifer1 year ago
This is five types of awesome!

One thought - did you consider putting the driver off-centre? Sounds mad, but you would then potentially have many different distances from the driver to the edge of the sheet, possibly helping increase the range of resonances you can get off the glass. Not tried it so I may be taking rubbish but it's a thought.

Great stuff!

Ugi

That is correct, Ugi. Centering a single driver in a glass pane will cause it to resonate in a more pronunced way than if you locate the driver off-center. An old american manufacturer did use Styrofoam diaphragms or irregular shapes in an attempt to reduce resonances and spread them in the frequency domain. But results were not that good and they went off the market soon. In order to improve the design of the glass speaker, it would need a lighter diaphragm, properly suspended, and driven in a way that lessens the unavoidable resonances of the flat glass pane, but then it would not look the way it does. Amclaussen.
To amclassem
That's right. I have built 2 metal sheet reverb units and there is a sweet spot for the audio impeller on the sheet. I don't know if that translates to glass?
crazyg Ugifer1 year ago
your probably onto something! check out utube videos on how to play the triangle
swell1 year ago
I like, like this. The family complains about the high end bleeding thru from the basement - easy to EQ of course - But this is the answer for me. Thanx for the Instructable!
onuRocker1 year ago
Can you add a video in order to hear the sound quality. thanks
Nice poetry and the first "new "poem that has rhyme in it This is an old technique and works good but the size of the glass and the thickness etc. has effect on the sound Ideal if you know that the KGB M5 FBI and CIA and RECCIES or any other spy is using an u.v. listening device to hear you secrets!! Imagine they listen and the Yea Tea or whatever pop group music blare on their headphones
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