3D Printed Nautilus HiFi Speakers

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Designer, Maker, CNC Enthusiast, Audio Lover

Intro: 3D Printed Nautilus HiFi Speakers

This has been by far one of my favorite projects to work on and so i'd like to share with you my process for making these inspired speakers!

The nautilus represents the very top of perfect audio in terms of sound and beautiful aesthetic and although I could never really compete with the original, here is my own take on it!

Please don't forget to vote for me in the audio contest and also check out my other work here on Instructables and on my website at Makealittlemore .

Step 1: Inspiration

These speakers were of course inspired by the great Nautilus Speakers from Bowers & Wilkins which I have always loved and drawn inspiration from in past projects.

I came across a few articles and a Thingiverse post about a 3D printable remix of the famous nautilus speaker. I decided that this would be my opportunity to make my own twist on the concept and produce a pair for myself. My idea was to better represent the natural shape and beauty of the nautilus shape and bring it back to a more natural look.

This project is an amalgamation of all of my fabrication skills utilising hand work along with CNC machinery and this also helped me with the creative inspiration as I was able to think of new and different ways of producing certain parts.

Step 2: Tools Used

The main tools used in this project were my digital fabrication machines which include my Shapeoko 3 and my Prusa i3 MK2-X.

The Shapeoko 3 is a capable CNC router made by Carbide 3D and is my workhorse in the workshop cutting everything from MDF through to acrylic and even aluminium and brass. It allows me to turn ideas into designs quickly, much quicker than 3D printing.

My Prusa i3 MK2-X is a modified printer from Prusa3D that has been modified with a rigid aluminium profile frame and produces excellent, reliable prints. This was the main tool used in the project as the entire body of the speakers was printed.

I use cheap filament off Amazon, mainly from AMZ3D which produce very cheap filament that I have found to be fairly reliable!

Step 3: Design: 3D Printed Parts

I downloaded the parts from Thingiverse and inspected them thoroughly. This print was going to use a lot of material and so I wanted to make sure it worked first time!

There were a few issues with the parts so I fixed them and scaled up and smoothed over some bits to make the shape a bit better. To do this I used Meshmixer as it is a powerful tool that allows you to edit STL files directly unlike with Fusion 360 where they must be converted to a T-Spline for editing. I won't go into too much detail on that as I intend to do tutorials on this in the future!

I have attached my repaired files, the differences are subtle but should increase print quality and part fit.

I intended to use Dayton Audio Reference 4" woofers for this build as they were the right size to allow a nice ring to go around the woofer and fit onto the printed parts nicely. For this I had to modify the hole pattern slightly to work better.

The parts when then processed through Slic3r to be printed on my Original Prusa i3 MK2. The total printing time took about 36 hours which consumed about 1.5 kg of filament due to a high infill being used to aid with acoustics.

Step 4: Design: Aesthetic

As I mentioned earlier I was keen for a very natural look to the speakers so wanted to avoid the smooth high gloss finish that the original nautilus speakers had. I had seen that some people had used wood-fill filament to print the part which looked interesting but didn't really match the aesthetic of the 'shell' but I liked the idea of using some oak in the design to aid the natural look.

My idea in the end was to use a stone effect spray that kind of resembles a rough granite look and has 3d texture which really makes a nice effect. The addition of wood will also complement the design I had in mind for the speaker spikes that support the speaker.

Step 5: Design: Speaker Spikes

In researching speaker spikes to buy they seemed to be pretty dull and ugly so the obvious option was to make my own.

My idea was to use some long bolts that I could sharpen to a point and the add a little oak sleave that I could machine on my CNC.

Step 6: Printing + Finishing

After the long printing time the parts were ready to be finished. I decided to keep the printing lines as I think they really add to the texture of the finished item and highlight the curve and spiral pattern.

The 3 parts for each speaker were joined with epoxy and then filled using regular wood filler and sanded smooth around the edge.

I used a special plastic etch primer in grey to give a nice layer for the stone spray to adhere too and it also acts as the base colour for the stone effect.

After a few coats for primer and some more sanding, I applied a few coats of the stone spray allowing it to dry for a few hours between coats.

Step 7: Making Speaker Spikes

Cam for these parts was simple and I used a block of endgrain oak so I could machine a scalop down to produce the conical shape. Boring the central hole was tricky due to the thin top part of the cone.

Once the parts were machined, I cut the ends off the bolts and sharpened them on the belt sander. The sides were scored with a file to allow the glue to hold the wood parts on better.

After the parts were glued together with epoxy I sanded everything smooth by hand. The use of the bolts makes attachment to the main body of the speaker easy and they can be replaced if needed.

The fit was then tested on the speakers to ensure a snug fit and they stand correctly.

Step 8: Speaker Faces

Again this was a simple part to CAM although the only oak I have is 20mm and I have no thickness planer to bring the material down to 10mm which is what I designed to keep the oak ring more subtle. It would have stuch out quite oddly if I had used 20mm thickness for the speaker ring.

To overcome this I simply pocketed a large area of the material down to 10mm before cutting the rest of the shape out.

Some sanding and a clear coat of lacquer and the part was done!

Step 9: Sound Quality

I haven't really focused on audio quality as I am more keen at the moment to focus on design. I have learnt a lot from feedback on previous projects from the community about how to produce a better sound and this is something to focus on more in the future.

Some stuffing was added to the speakers which has certainly improved the sound quality but the large volume doesn't complement the drivers very well and it is noticeable.

I hope to add some sound samples to this instructable soon!

Step 10: Finished Product + Improvements

I am actually surprised with myself as to how well this project turned out. From the outset I was keen to be meticulous and pay more attention to the details and it seems to have paid off. This definitely paves a way from my future projects as I can build on my improved attention to detail to produce more refined and clean projects.

If I were to do this project again (I have had a few requests from people to buy a pair of these speakers!) I might experiment with an aluminium or brass ring around the speaker instead of oak. I like the natural look of the oak but it would be cool to add a nice juxtaposition with some polished metal in the design.

Audio quality needs to play a greater role in the design, I did no calculations and this has definitely harmed the acoustics. A bigger driver with perhaps an integrated tweeter and some determination on how big to make the internal volume would produce a better sound.

I would also like to attempt to make a bigger version but this would require me to outsource the printing as this was the biggest size I could print with my printer!

As mentioned before, if you liked this project please check out my other work here on Instructables and at my website: makealittlemore.com

Thank you for reading :)

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Audio Contest 2018

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    60 Discussions

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    oz5es

    2 hours ago

    Wow, this is great looking, hope the sound makes it worth.

    I have a couple of Coral flat 5" that I'd like to make the same design, but it's way above my skills.

    10 thumbs up for this one ;-)

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    attosa

    15 days ago

    Just great! You've absolutely got my vote!

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    jimmilt

    17 days ago

    There are high-end speaker manufacturers who place tweeters concentrically with the woofer; these are products that sell for many thousands of dollars and garner rave reviews (Zu Audio and Thiel) from the audiophile press. I'm not sure about whether or not there are HQ 4" drivers, however. There are those sold for in wall mounting for home theater applications; not sure how well they'd work in this enclosure.

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    ccrome

    21 days ago

    Very cool! Now, you just need to add a tweeter somewhere (and a crossover and EQ) and they'll really sound fantastic. You can see those speakers' directivity starts going wonky at about 3-4kHz (which is as good as you can hope for in a 4" speaker), so a tweeter would make all the difference. Get the tweeter to operate at 3kHz to 20kHz, and it'll be a truly fine speaker. Of cource, the question is.... where to put it in this design...

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    Nickolaeccrome

    Reply 21 days ago

    They have a quite a rich sound, a bit bassy due to the large volume but i'm happy so far! something to work on in the future for sure!

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    jimmiltNickolae

    Reply 21 days ago

    There are speakers available with concentrically mounted tweeters.

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    ccromejimmilt

    Reply 21 days ago

    There are precious few that don’t stink. The automotive ones that mount the tweeter in front of the woofer are pretty horrid. Thiel makes really good ones with the tweeter literally coplanar with the woofer.

    [edit: Oh! I didn't know speakers like https://www.parts-express.com/dayton-audio-cx120-8-4-coaxial-driver-with-3-4-silk-dome-tweeter-8-ohm--295-384 exist at a reasonable price! This is a $35 speaker that has a coplanar tweeter! That should actually sound really good!] Thanks for the pointer.

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    deankosmacccrome

    Reply 20 days ago

    This kind of speakers (caoxial) plays music really shitty and Dayton's are far from a quality driver. Far better option would be to add a tweeter just above this design and keep a full-range driver as it is (even better if he could add mid as well).

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    ccromedeankosmac

    Reply 20 days ago

    I agree, every coax speaker I've seen before have been really truly horrible. But the Dayton coax/coplanar design at least tries to do it right (putting the tweeter coplanar & coaxial with the woofer) I haven't listened or measured them though, so I'll reserve judgement. Of course, the final sound quality is highly dependent on crossover and EQ design, and traditional 2-way speakers definitely sound good with a good crossover & EQ.

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    deankosmacccrome

    Reply 18 days ago

    Every coax speaker is made just like this - > putting tweeter in area where sub's dust caps would be. That makes sound go bad for two reasons: sub shape is more firmly if it has dust cap, and sound disperses more evenly, the second is that two different range drivers should not mix in the same area. Lows low and highs high.
    Crossovers are factory made on such drivers (coax), and EQ should not improve how they sound, since they should provide a flat linear response. But yeah in any other 2-way driver a crossover should do a trick.

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    ccromeNickolae

    Reply 21 days ago

    I haven't done the simulation, but I suspect the 'a bit bassy'-ness is due to the volume being too small, also probably some resonance due to the nautilus shape. Did you fill it with poly-fill or something? That should help dampen out any nasty resonances from the back chamber shape. [edit... I see that you did this already... good. Perhaps I should read more carefully]

    Generally, if your rear enclosure volume is too small, it will do two things: it will reduce the low bass you get, but it will also create a resonant peak that is quite undesirable. It will sound 'too bassy' because of a big boost at the low end, but then you loose all the frequencies below that. I think you're inspiring me... Maybe I'll design an acoustically very good version of these... I'll have to play around a bit and think about what makes sense. Thanks for the inspiration :-)

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    JohnC430ccrome

    Reply 21 days ago

    where did you see the response curve for the speakers? i could not even find the product name....

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    ccromeJohnC430

    Reply 21 days ago

    The response curves are right on the web site. You can buy the drivers from the google. Just look up RS100-8 and you get them on parts express: https://www.parts-express.com/dayton-audio-rs100-8... The datasheet is right there under 'specifications'. Take a look at the frequency response. This is tested in an 'infinite baffle', or close enough. This means it's equivalent to an infinitely large speaker enclosure. You can see for sure, it does *not* have any excess bass-bump. What jimmit is hearing is due to the nautilus being too small.

    You can see at around 2khz where the speaker starts getting a wiggly frequency response -- that is where the cone is going into 'breakup modes' where it's vibrating like a drum head instead of all moving in and out at the same time like a piston. That's about as high as you should use this driver if you want it to sound really great, and it's where you need to cross over to a tweeter.

    In addition to the breakup modes, you also see that the off-axis response starts diverging about about 4kHz. Again, that's bad in general, and means the speaker sounds much different when you walk to the side a bit. Again, a tweeter is the only way to fix that.

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    ThomasJ1

    18 days ago

    Really nice project. I like the stone spray finish + the wooden parts. They make a great contrast.

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    dedededanny1

    21 days ago

    If you want to make bigger ones, you could probably print it in chunks and glue it together (picturing the pieces bolted together to make a waterslide at a water park)

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    Nickolaededededanny1

    Reply 18 days ago

    Each one is already in 3 pieces, deffinitely possible but that would be a lot of assembly!

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    ArthurJ5

    Tip 19 days ago

    Rather than using a tweeter and crossover use a good quality single driver. The sound of a single driver is very clean without the phase issues introduced by adding a crossover and another driver.

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    NickolaeArthurJ5

    Reply 19 days ago

    These drivers are fairly good quality I think and I plan to make an active sub to go with them at some point, maybe with a similar design!