Worlds Best Speakers (for $30)?

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Introduction: Worlds Best Speakers (for $30)?

About: I'm a social-worker, working with 12 - 23 year-olds. I used to be a printer. In 2018 I opened a small makerspace (www.imdib.nl) in my house, where I have lasercutters, 3d-printers, Arduino's, Mindstorms and ot…

I saw this video on YouTube: How To Build "The World's Best Speakers" - Are Flat Panel Speakers Really Any Good?

This YouTuber was inspired by this video: Fantastic DIY Speakers for less than $30!

You have probably seen this video already, because it has more than 1.6 million views!

So I don't only want to make those speakers, but I also want them to look good. The looking good will be my challenge.

Supplies

Materials:

  • Exciters (I have no idea what exciter is best) I bought mine at this Dutch site: https://www.soundimports.eu/en/audio-components/e...
  • Audio cloth (Any light cloth will do)
  • Foam insulation boards 2 cm thick (I used 60 x 60 cm) For some reason they are blue and not pink. It has to be the hard PIR foam.
  • MDF 4mm
  • Wood glue
  • Construction glue
  • Paint
  • Audio terminals
  • Wire
  • Dubble sided tape
  • Hot glue
  • Nuts and bolts (for the audio terminals)
  • Fishing wire

Tools:

  • Laser cutter (or makerspace with a laser cutter)
  • Scissors
  • Knife
  • Sand paper (60 to 180 grid)
  • Clamps
  • Pliers
  • Screw driver
  • Soldering stuff (or a makerspace with soldering stuff)
  • Brush
  • Drill
  • Square
  • Ruler
  • Marker
  • Something round with a diameter of 20 cm (lunch plate)

Step 1: Cut the Foam

First cut the 2 cm thick foam sheet in a square shape. My sheet is 60 cm wide so to make it into a square I also cut it 60 cm long.

I used a piece of plexiglass to draw a line square to the sides and then cut it with a hobby knife in several strokes until I am all the way through. I used a steel ruler to cut. When you use the plexiglass as a ruler to cut, you will probably cut into the plexiglass. I know that I would.

Step 2: Round the Corners

According to the research the speaker will sound better when you round off the corners. I used a small diner plate that was exactly 20 cm and marked the round corners with a marker. Again I cut with a box cutter in several passes until I was all the way through.

Step 3: Sand the Board

It also improves the sound when you sand the glossy face from the front of the foam boards. I started with 60 grid and worked my way up to 180 grid.

I also used the sandpaper to smooth of the corners and sides.

Step 4: Make the Eyelets

To suspend the panels on a wire the original instructions asked for split pins. I don't have those so I create my own eyelets bij twisting a piece of wire around the shaft of a philips head screw driver.

I turned the wire two times around the screw driver and then twisted the ends together with a pair of pliers.

Step 5: Glue the Eyelets In

To glue the eyelets in, I drilled 4 holes in every panel. Two in the top side and two in the bottom side. I used construction glue to glue the wires in, but the original instructions used 2-component epoxy adhesive.

The holes are 12 cm from the side.

Fill the hole with as much glue as you can get in and then push the twisted wires in the hole.

Step 6: Make a Laser Test

I want to bend the MDF wood by kerving it with the laser 80% through the material.

All lasers are different and all materials are different, so you always have to make a test for this.

As you can see in the picture, my final test makes a beautiful bend.

Step 7: To the Laser Cutter

Now it is time to cut all your parts on the laser. I managed to cut my first speaker from just scrap pieces. You might see some scarred pieces because of that.

I waited with cutting the fit pieces on the sites until I glued all other pieces together so that I could measure exactly (in real life) how big they had to be.

I did cut some pieces too many because I can't count to four.

Step 8: Glue the Front

First glue the small strips on the bigger fronts. The small strips should be glued exactly 4 mm from the side of the front panel. I used the thickness of a scrap piece of wood to measure the exact distance from the edge.

Step 9: Mount the Sides

Glue two brackets on each site. The brackets should be the same distance from each other as the eyelets are from each other.

When the glue from the brackets is dry, you can glue the side panels against them. Start at the top or bottom in the middle. Bend the parts around the corner and clamp to the brackets. I used tape to hold the ends in place while the glue is drying.

Step 10: Glue the Four Corners Together

I used the corner of my work table as a template to glue the four corners square to each other.

On the sides there will be a gap between the corner pieces. You can measure the size of the gap now, to cut the fill pieces and the pieces that will hold the terminal in exactly the right size.

Use the extra pieces of wood to glue behind the fill piece, the terminal piece and the top and bottom to make the connection much stronger. Put a weight on the front glue connections to make the front flush.

Step 11: Mount the Exciters

The exciters are best mounted on 2/5 from the top and 2/5 from the side. In my case with 60 cm panels, this is 24 cm from the site and top.

The exciters already have 3M tape applied so they are very easy to mount.

Step 12: Paint

Now it is time to sand and paint and sand and paint and sand and paint and.....

I used 3 layers base paint and 3 layers topcoat to get a nice finish.

I choose my color because it was very cheap (it was a wrongly mixed color), but I really like the color.

Step 13: Add the Cloth

To make sure that I don't have to look at my ugly blue foam panels, I have to add some cloth in the speakers. I used 'real' audio cloth, but I am sure that any light cloth will do.

I used double sided tape to put the cloth in place and then some hot glue to make sure that it stays in place.

Then cut the access cloth away.

Step 14: Tie the Panel in the Frame

To mount the panel while it can still move freely, I tied them hovering with fishing wire.

First position the panel in the frame and then tie four loops from the eyelets to the standoffs.

The teeth in the brackets are there so you can choose how far you want the panel from the front.

Step 15: Add the Terminals

Solder the wires to te terminal. Put the wires trough the slit and bolt the terminal to the frame.

Step 16: Connect the Exciters

I first soldered the wires to the exciters, but later I decided to connect them with connectors, so I can remove them if necessary. I taped the wires to the side of the frame, so they won't touch the panel when the speakers are turned on.

Step 17: Add the Legs

For an even better sound, we need to create some distance between the frame and the wall. To create this distance, I added some legs. The top legs are also used to hang the speakers with a wire from the ceiling.

To give the legs a little more body, I glued two layers MDF on top of each other so they become 8 mm thick.

I painted the legs black to have a nice contrast with the orange frame.

Step 18: Play Music

Now it is time to play some music!

I am impressed by the sound these flat panels manage to produce with only a small wattage.

For $ 30,- they are probably the best speakers in the world. If money is no object, I am sure that you can find something better.

It would probably help to put an equalizer in the sound system to tweak the different frequenties.

I am not sure if the cloth and the border have any negative effect on the sound of the foam panels.

They definitely look much better than just a piece of foam on a string.

I am very happy with te result.

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    13 Comments

    0
    GTO3x2
    GTO3x2

    2 months ago

    Awsome. Ill be trying this when exciters are available (if they don't raise the price).

    BTW, you can use pliers on the driver's terminals as a heat sink to help protect the voice coil from heat.

    0
    JGJMatt
    JGJMatt

    2 months ago

    These look amazing!

    Always nice to meet a new DML lover, I have an entire corner of my workspace filled with test panels.

    I really like the frame you built to hide the panels.

    I see that you left the panels bare after sanding, have you tried painting them with diluted PVA/wood glue?

    Anyways great Instructable and welcome to the DML club!

    0
    JGJMatt
    JGJMatt

    Reply 2 months ago

    Here's my first set I built, used a CNC to carve some test panels.

    IMG_20200228_142002-min.jpg20191112_143443.jpg20191112_103250_1573547794304.jpg
    0
    kenyer
    kenyer

    Reply 2 months ago

    Wow, You are really into this. Very cool! Does the PVA-glue give the panels better sound?

    0
    JGJMatt
    JGJMatt

    Reply 2 months ago

    Hahaha they are quite addictive...

    There's a 400+ page forum over at diyaudio.com that discusses DML's and most agree (including myself) that a thin coat of diluted PVA glue gives a noticeable improvement in the sound.

    0
    kenyer
    kenyer

    Reply 2 months ago

    Ok, that is an easy addition that I will definitely try :)

    0
    pguncheon
    pguncheon

    2 months ago

    Neatly built. Is there some acoustic benefit to having rounded corners? There is no back?

    0
    kenyer
    kenyer

    Reply 2 months ago

    I am not an acoustic specialist at all, but it feels like round corners would be better don't you think? The same with leaving the back out. The round corners of the board do have acoustic benefits according to the research by the tech ingredients YouTube channel.

    0
    pguncheon
    pguncheon

    Reply 2 months ago

    I tend to leave my "feelings" out of such things and rely on research. I do not think rounding the corners helps but it certainly exponentially increases the difficulty in building this design. I suppose the same effect could have been achieved by building the speaker square or rectangular and making foam inserts in the corners. Did you test the cabinet design in terms of size and whether a back would improve the sound? Or different materials beside foam? It also looks like the cloth you chose was more dense than it would want to be for grill cloth.

    0
    kenyer
    kenyer

    Reply 2 months ago

    The cloth I used was 'official' audio cloth. The research about the materials was very thoroughly done by Tech Ingredients. Just see the video's I added in the beginning. I just like the look of the design with the round corners. In combination with the orange color it gives the speakers a very 70 style. I didn't really test anything, but just trusted the Tech Research YouTube channel. I would love to see your research and execution on this project.

    0
    rch
    rch

    2 months ago

    Very good looking implementation of Tech Ingredients speaker design. Kudos.
    Maybe a small subwoofer would help balance the sound out for more low frequency depth.

    0
    MikeO17
    MikeO17

    Reply 2 months ago

    Definitely. I have a couple exciters and have played with making these speakers. I doubt I'd ever replace my home theater speakers but for ambience these can create a nice sound stage.

    0
    kenyer
    kenyer

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thank you. I'm very happy with the look.