3D Printed Nautilus HiFi Speakers

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Introduction: 3D Printed Nautilus HiFi Speakers

About: Designer, Maker, CNC Enthusiast, Audio Lover

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 Instagram .

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 would like to make it clear that this is not my original design but I did make some tweaks to the files before printing, all credit of course goes to the original designers!

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2790097

commercially available on www.deeptime.limited

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 but from what I understand, the design of the Nautilus speaker was intended to attenuate the energy from the back of the driver down to nothing as the sound wave move through the spiral. I think these speakers sound great!

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: nickcharltondesign

Thank you for reading :)

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    78 Discussions

    0
    ser.novikov
    ser.novikov

    Question 1 year ago

    Good day!
    Do you have a model for this subwoofer?

    DEEPTIME_ISS-17-e1550661327620.jpgDEEPTIME_ISS-14.jpg
    0
    Nickolae
    Nickolae

    Answer 3 months ago

    Afraid not :(

    1
    TokyoTurtle
    TokyoTurtle

    3 months ago

    Just curious about the amount of filament that you used.You said that you used 1.5kg - was that per speaker or for the pair?

    With 2mm wall thickness and ~50% infill, Cura is saying around 1.2kg per speaker... I was wondering if you remember what wall thickness (number of perimeters, layer height / line width) you used?

    Oddly, I settled on getting the 4" Dayton Audio reference speaker before noticing that you used this exact model!

    0
    Nickolae
    Nickolae

    Reply 3 months ago

    Yes sorry, it is about 1.5kg per speaker!

    1
    attfumar
    attfumar

    4 months ago

    Salve le misure da considerare nei file sono espresse il mm o inch ?
    grazie

    0
    Nickolae
    Nickolae

    Reply 4 months ago

    Mm

    0
    jonathanlundstrom
    jonathanlundstrom

    1 year ago

    Really great work! Would you care to share the STEP file for the oak ring? I would love to use the model to machine it out of brass. Same goes for the pegs, would love to model to use for inspiration. Thanks!

    0
    Nickolae
    Nickolae

    Best Answer 1 year ago

    Unfortunately not, I have linked to the thingiverse page I believe

    3
    gevans13
    gevans13

    1 year ago

    I've just completed this lovely project - thanks for the files. I 3-D printed some tapered conical legs and a suitable bezel for the speakers I used which were cheap units with built in tweeters. https://cpc.farnell.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?urlRequestType=Base&catalogId=10001&langId=69&storeId=10180&partNumber=LS01670 and they sound really great. Good solid bass with plenty of treble for me. I couldn't find any rolls of cotton wool in my local shops so for the time being the tubes are empty. Lots of filler and primer to get a nice smooth surface, then added the weird spray stone effect, very effective. Thanks again.

    2019-01-15 09.55.52.jpg
    0
    JohnLake
    JohnLake

    1 year ago on Step 10

    Hello Nickolae
    The nautilus speaker is an interesting looking project - well done. I note your comment on the sound quality. You could perhaps attribute that to mainly three issues: 1. Each driver works best if the enclosure volume is at its optimum value and that volume will depend on whether or not the enclosure is vented ( I seem to recall the volume of my enclosures when I used 4" drivers was about 9 litres.) 2. The enclosure walls are perhaps a bit thin and are resonating. I understand the restrictions with the manufacturing process but it might be an idea to re-visit that. 3. The angle of the driver pointing upwards likely won't improve the listening experience.
    Having said that, I love the funky design. I wonder if a person could fabricate them from laminated wood on a CNC router? It would be difficult to get down to the fine detail that is within the shell, but it could still look good. I think perhaps the inside volume would be done first with some reference holes so that when it's turned over the the outside shape can be referenced to the inside. In fact the inside only needs to be a volume it doesn't necessarily have to have the same shape as the outside.
    You have my brain cells operating. I wonder if the shell was inverted so the driver is at the top?...just a thought.
    Regards John L.

    0
    CJnyc3
    CJnyc3

    Question 1 year ago

    I saw this when you published this.. Just got my hands on a 3D printer, So I'm definitely making this very soon. Thank you for your modified files. Just wondering what were the dimensions of the wooden ring to mount the speakers?

    Also, how did you keep it from lifting off the print bed?

    0
    btma
    btma

    1 year ago

    That's great and artistic I like it.

    1
    jbrusco79
    jbrusco79

    1 year ago

    These look great. I've made more than my fair share of loudspeakers in my day and actually used to work in the industry. I've sold and setup the actual B&W Nautilus speakers, and was one of a handful of people that B&W flew to England to tour the factory and meet with engineers about their products. If you ever wanted to build a more scaled down attempt at these, I'd be happy to assist in the project and give you some pointers as to their design. The big deal with the Nautilus was that it was a full active system and the shape was such that the entire backwave of the speaker was supposedly not reflected due to the nautilus shape. They are actually quite large in person and stand about 4' tall. They also need to be placed way out into the room. You could probably do an attempt at an active 2-way or even 3 way system of this in the future.

    0
    Nickolae
    Nickolae

    Reply 1 year ago

    I'm very jealous that you have been up close and personal with the Nautilus, I have only been able to listen to them a few times. Perhaps when I finish University I will have a crack at a larger scale replica of the Nautilus and I will definitely seek your advice!

    0
    jbrusco79
    jbrusco79

    Reply 1 year ago

    Few people have even been able to listen to them, so there's that. They are notoriously hard to position, need a tremendously large room, and obscene amounts of amplification. Since they are an active 4-way system this means 4 stereo amplifiers or 8 individual mono-block amplifiers. The install I did back in the day used 8 Linn Climax Monoblock amplifiers. These were $10,000 each, so the combined cost of amplification and speakers was $120,000. I spent about 7 years in the high end audio business and also built speakers on my own for quite some time, still do. I got to hear, sell, and setup pretty much all of the best systems in the world. If you want my top speakers of all time, here's the list.

    1. Sonus Faber Guarneri Homage - The one speaker I should have bought when I had accommodation pricing. The most magical 2-way on planet earth.
    2. Dynaudio Special 25 - Should have bought a pair of these as well, although I do have a few sets of other awesome Dynaudio speakers.
    3. Dynadio Evidence Master - Sold a pair of these at $85,000/pair. Downright amazing
    4. Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy - Sold a few pairs of Wilsons including grand slams, but still like these better.
    5. B&W Silver Signature - Place in my heart for these 1990s gems.

    You might note that a lot of these are simpler 2-way designs. I tend to be a huge fan of this more elegant and less complex speaker type. Especially today you'll find that a well engineered 2-way speaker can dig down to 35hz or less in some instances. Trying to build a larger 3-way rarely adds any significant value. It may gain you 10-15hz on the low end, but often it just creates a much more challenging design problem, increases your volume of the enclosure, your crossover design complexity, and makes it such that if your room is too small, you've actually built something that will sound worse in your specific scenario.

    My two cents for your next Nautilus build... Passive 2-way system with a totally kick butt mid/woofer. More manageable size to build this and you'll have a speaker that will be able to adapt to a number of different rooms/scenarios.

    1
    Hack42Mack
    Hack42Mack

    1 year ago

    If you have the chance to upscale the design to a 5" speaker I can recommend the Tang Band W5-2106. It's a affordable and good broadband speaker with a range of ~60Hz to 18kHz.

    0
    wobbler
    wobbler

    1 year ago

    Great design!

    It would also make a great design for an Amazon Echo Dot holder whilst possibly also increasing the sound quality.

    The old version 2 Dot has a really odd way to throw out the sound, through a narrow slot somewhere on the bottom rim near the front. You can find the location easy enough just by running your thumb around until the sound stops. I've experimented with putting the Echo Dot on an upside down solid plastic plant pot with a 1cm hole in line with that point and the rim sealed to the plant post, which I then line with foam and placed a couple of 15mm holes in the sides for the sound to come out through. The result was a much better sound, less tinny and a bit more mellow.

    The new version 3 Dot though has a much better sound and the speaker seems to have a much bigger exit on the sides so that wouldn't work.

    0
    oz5es
    oz5es

    1 year 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 ;-)

    1
    attosa
    attosa

    1 year ago

    Just great! You've absolutely got my vote!