September 25, 2010

List of DIY speaker designs

Most audio enthusiasts are smart enough to let someone else do the design work. It is a lot of work to get to the point where you know what you are doing, and the chances are what you want has already been done and already posted online. So if your focus is getting the best results for the least money and effort, this list is for you.

First, the usual suspects

Zaph Audio >
John Krutke has measured many drivers for distortion and published many competent designs. Few will go to the effort of learning how to design a crossover like he can. You will also find the results of various driver tests and distortion measurements. Essential reading for any diy enthusiast.

Troels Gravesen >
You'll find a vast array of designs with considerable variety, including efficient, open baffle and wide baffle designs. Certainly different to what you will typically find at a hifi store.

Tony Gee >
Well designed and documented, catering to a number of different flavours of hifi. If you are looking for some high end speakers with exotic drivers, there are some projects that might appeal.

Curt's Speaker design works
Some of these designs will appeal for their budget conscious nature, others for their novelty. Definitely worth a look.

Other sources

It's important to keep in mind that some designs are very well sorted, while others could be the work of a first-time speaker builder. There may be some designs you find in these links that could be better. A little discernment is required. >

Parts Express customer gallery >

Specific projects

Econowave >

This is one speaker to watch. The concept is an economical speaker based on a waveguide and efficient pro midbass. A waveguide with compression driver is used instead of a dome tweeter. The efficiency is very high and the sound less coloured than typical horns. Ideal for tube enthusiasts or those who like their speakers with effortless oomph. Also a very good choice for home theatre.

Aussie Hifi interviews

This coming series of interviews was inspired by the StereoNET series

StereoNET interviews >

Included are interviews with:
Over the coming months expect to see some interviews with local audio designers.

September 21, 2010

I have the drivers, now what?

So, you've picked up some drivers that you like. This is your first diy speaker. Now to get the crossover sorted. This could be the beginning of a lifelong hobby, or it could be a mistake. There is something you should decide - what kind of diy speaker builder are you?

There are two kinds:

1. Those who like to do it the easy way
2. Those who enjoy designing the whole thing from scratch


Let me guess - you've bought the drivers and you just want to get this done quick. You say: "Tell me what to do - monkey see, monkey do. It's something to do with a crossover right? How about I just buy one of those pre-made crossovers?" This is an "Oops" moment for you. You probably need to sell those drivers, then read about how to do this the easy way.

Ok, I admit I've had an oops moment, show me the easy way >

If you're really lucky, you might get to keep and use those drivers.

"Oh puh-lease, I'm smarter than that!"

You're a bit more serious - you're a process kinda guy. Ready for the learning curve, ready to give it a go like the guy tinkering away in his garage on a vintage car, or a yacht that might one day sail.

First choice - active, passive or hybrid

Passive is the choice if you want just one amp to drive them and you don't mind a bit more effort. Active can suit those who want to speed up the process a little, don't mind using multiple amps and are likely to try out a lot of different things. Hybrid is a good choice mixing the advantages of both. You might use a passive crossover between tweeter and mid, but bi-amp the bass.

With active, getting the desired filter is easier, but you still need to measure and get the filter and driver response to work together. You also have more choices with EQ and filter slopes. Don't get caught up in thinking active or passive is always better - it's more a matter of what suits you and the speaker you want to design.

If you think active is for you, then you might like to read about your options here >


You will need:
  • mic preamp and calibrated mic - see example >
  • software for measuring & crossover design (eg Speaker workshop, HolmImpulse, Arta)
  • software for box design (WinISD) - more >
  • active crossover - see active options >
  • soldering iron
  • multimeter to measure resistance, capacitance and inductance
Further reading

Elliot Sound products has some good articles on active and passive crossovers

Bi-amping >
Active vs passive >
Passive crossover design >

Audioholics have a good introduction to passive crossovers >

I'll be featuring some further articles covering more detail, but for now that should be enough to get you started.

September 15, 2010

What is the difference between an active and passive speaker?

An active speaker has an active crossover. A passive speaker has a passive crossover. A powered speaker has built-in amps, but an active speaker may have the amps built in or external. The crossover is the critical distinction.