My First DIY Sub (Cheap, small sonosub) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 06-03-2012, 08:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey all,

Long time lurker, first-time poster. I am doing this on behalf of all other nervous 1st-time DIYers. Over the last weekend, I just put together a subwoofer that was easy, cheap, and sounds outstanding for my mid-size room. I used the following:

1/2 sheet of 3/4" MDF--$15
1 13" tall, 18" diameter sonotube.--$5
Driver--Elemental Designs e3.8--$40
Amp--Dayton SA70--$50
Cheap wooden dowel rod, cut into sections for legs--$2
Gorilla glue.--$6
3" PVC, found at home depot--$4

Total cost--$122

I modeled the sub in WinISD. My design goals for this were to be cheap, low, and relatively small. I do not need it to go super loud, since I never listen to my home theater at reference. Nevertheless, this can reach 100db at 25Hz, if the amp is driven to the full 70 watts.

The cabinet size is between 1.45-1.5 cubic feet, and I used 22" of PVC (elbow joint within the tube), resulting in a tuning frequency of 23Hz. I highly doubt I will need anything lower than that.

My endcaps were simply glued on with the gorilla glue, which held and expanded to seal off any air. Just follow the instructions on the bottle and you will be fine. Make sure, when applying the glue, that you either clamp or use heavy objects for clamping (I used my law school textbooks)

Conclusions:

This thing is AWESOME. Even my wife, who knows very little about audio, said, "wow, that sub really clears up the low end." What's better, it doubles as an end-table. I will have pictures and the WinISD graph in my next post. All in all, it was very easy, took 2 days (including glue curing time), and was well worth the effort. I now understand why people say that DIY is the way to go.
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post #2 of 24 Old 06-03-2012, 09:15 PM
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Norm,

Sounds nice. Can't wait to see the pics and graphs.

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post #3 of 24 Old 06-03-2012, 09:33 PM
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Yes, please post some pics. I have been considering a similar build.
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post #4 of 24 Old 06-04-2012, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey everyone,

as promised, here are the pics! WinISD graphs will be in the next post, immediately following this one. I don't have any measured graphs, since I am an amateur among seasoned pros here. Either way, glad to join the DIY community!
LL
LL
LL
LL
LL
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post #5 of 24 Old 06-04-2012, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
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And here are the WinISD graphs. I included transfer magnitude and cone excursion at 70 Watts.
LL
LL
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post #6 of 24 Old 06-07-2012, 08:15 AM
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Interesting design, does the Sonotube have enough rigidity (no flex) to handle the sub wall duties?? Never saw it used in this manner before..
Do you plan on giving it a finish??

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post #7 of 24 Old 06-07-2012, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Yes to both your questions. I'm running it through it's paces right now. Make sure you get the construction-grade Sonotube though. The stuff from Home Depot, Lowes, etc is much more flimsy. For my purposes, the cabinet is much more rigid than any commercial sub I've seen, though I've yet to demo offerings from SVS. For $122 total though, I know my sub sounds better than the $3-400 offerings from Klipsch, Polk, etc.

With regard to finishing, I plan on finishing once my wife and I move. Once we buy furniture, I will either finish or cloak the sub to match.
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post #8 of 24 Old 06-07-2012, 07:02 PM
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Nice build, shows what can be accomplished with only a few tools, a laptop and $125.

A few years ago sonotube builds were perhaps the most common build type on the DIY sites, but they seem to have fallen out of favor for more elaborate builds. The physics of using sonotube are sound, a tube cannot flex like a flat panel - but the end caps are vulnerable but I am unsure of how audible it would be.

My first DIY was much more expensive (Maelstrom X 18" driver in a really nice 24" cube made from cabinet grade plywood). However, the total build cost nearly reached $800. It would be interesting to hear how 6 of these less expensive subs would sound in the same space. The advantage of multiple subs is cancellation of nulls and peaks, so i am sure the overall response would be smoother, but would loose some low end (sub 20 Hz) output (which may or may not be imprtant depending on your personal preferences). I am sure that from 30 Hz to the LPF would be higher with 6 subs.

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post #9 of 24 Old 06-07-2012, 08:25 PM
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How long is the port tube? I am concidering doing a very similar build.
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post #10 of 24 Old 06-07-2012, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Port tube is 22", 3" diameter. I simply used a 7" piece and an 8" piece, joined by an elbow which added 7" of length to the port.
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post #11 of 24 Old 06-07-2012, 08:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NWCgrad View Post

Nice build, shows what can be accomplished with only a few tools, a laptop and $125.
A few years ago sonotube builds were perhaps the most common build type on the DIY sites, but they seem to have fallen out of favor for more elaborate builds. The physics of using sonotube are sound, a tube cannot flex like a flat panel - but the end caps are vulnerable but I am unsure of how audible it would be.
My first DIY was much more expensive (Maelstrom X 18" driver in a really nice 24" cube made from cabinet grade plywood). However, the total build cost nearly reached $800. It would be interesting to hear how 6 of these less expensive subs would sound in the same space. The advantage of multiple subs is cancellation of nulls and peaks, so i am sure the overall response would be smoother, but would loose some low end (sub 20 Hz) output (which may or may not be imprtant depending on your personal preferences). I am sure that from 30 Hz to the LPF would be higher with 6 subs.

Eventually, I will get more creative when I have more room, more tools, more money, etc. This started as a result of me owning the Pioneer SW-8. By all measures, a good little sub, but the speakers (which I also own) are outstanding, and it's clear the sub was the runt of the litter. If I wanted better, my options were either to attempt DIY, or get an offering from HSU, eD, or someone like that. I wanted something that would sound good for music and movies and not be a huge burden on my wallet. DIY it was, then. So far, I can tell some dead spots, but that can be corrected by making another one of these bad boys when I have more space to put it. As a mid-size apartment sub, however, it is certainly enough to do the job.
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post #12 of 24 Old 06-07-2012, 08:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dRwOOD73 View Post

Interesting design, does the Sonotube have enough rigidity (no flex) to handle the sub wall duties?? Never saw it used in this manner before..
Do you plan on giving it a finish??

Are you saying that you've never seen sonotube subs or you haven't seen what he's done with his? If the sonotube build is new to you, do a search for it. You'll see quite a few builds here and on other sites as well. There is also software to help you design it.

Good luck,
dbl

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post #13 of 24 Old 06-08-2012, 11:57 AM
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Like someone said - I guess these designs were en vouge before I started frequenting AVS (a year or so) - I'll do some searching and see what's out there, thanks.

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post #14 of 24 Old 06-08-2012, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by normn3116 View Post

My endcaps were simply glued on with the gorilla glue, which held and expanded to seal off any air. Just follow the instructions on the bottle and you will be fine. Make sure, when applying the glue, that you either clamp or use heavy objects for clamping (I used my law school textbooks)

Best use of law school textbooks I've ever seen. LOL.

Seriously, nice build!

Ken
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post #15 of 24 Old 06-08-2012, 02:44 PM
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Where did you find that sonotube for so cheap? Only places I can find it are selling it in full 12' sections for $100 or more.

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post #16 of 24 Old 06-08-2012, 02:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, K-Wood. They probably weighed about 40 pounds or so, so they had all the clamping pressure that I needed.

kcnitro, I just called local concrete supply companies, asked if they sold sonotube, and how much. This one did a cut charge, but the young lady at the front ringing me up forgot to include the cut charge smile.gif. That would have only been 5 bucks though, so that wasn't bad.
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post #17 of 24 Old 06-08-2012, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by normn3116 View Post

Yes to both your questions. I'm running it through it's paces right now. Make sure you get the construction-grade Sonotube though. The stuff from Home Depot, Lowes, etc is much more flimsy. For my purposes, the cabinet is much more rigid than any commercial sub I've seen, though I've yet to demo offerings from SVS. For $122 total though, I know my sub sounds better than the $3-400 offerings from Klipsch, Polk, etc.

With regard to finishing, I plan on finishing once my wife and I move. Once we buy furniture, I will either finish or cloak the sub to match.

I applaud you on doing DIY, but this underlined statement is very unlikely.
Quote:
Originally Posted by normn3116 View Post

This started as a result of me owning the Pioneer SW-8. By all measures, a good little sub

Though if you are basing it off experience with this Pioneer SW-8 sub, I certaintly understand your bias negative bias towards store purchased subs.

The Pioneer SW-8 is a pretty pathetic sub in the world of stand alone subs (non HTIB subs)
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1401651/pioneer-sw-8-omnimic-frequency-response-graphs/0_50

In the end,you still have a small 8" subwoofer with 70 watts power in your DIY build and there is only so much you can do with those specs. Congrats on the first project, but keep it in perspective. There are retail subs for only a small amount more that will sound quite a bit better than the DIY project you've made and will look the part as well.

For instance:

Here is an alternative option for you to compare with your DIY option.
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1390563/klipsch-rw-12d-omnimic-frequency-response-graphs/0_50
$300 Klipsch RW-12D
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882780078&Tpk=klipsch%20rw-12d

None the less, thank you for posting your build and sharing your experiences.

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post #18 of 24 Old 06-08-2012, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea View Post

I applaud you on doing DIY, but this underlined statement is very unlikely.
Though if you are basing it off experience with this Pioneer SW-8 sub, I certaintly understand your bias negative bias towards store purchased subs.
The Pioneer SW-8 is a pretty pathetic sub in the world of stand alone (non HTIB purchased subs)
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1401651/pioneer-sw-8-omnimic-frequency-response-graphs/0_50
In the end,you still have a small 8" subwoofer with 70 watts power in your DIY build and there is only so much you can do with those specs. Congrats on the first project, but keep it in perspective. There are retail subs for only a small amount more that will sound quite a bit better than the DIY project you've made and will look the part as well.
For instance:
Here is an alternative option for you to compare with your DIY option.
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1390563/klipsch-rw-12d-omnimic-frequency-response-graphs/0_50
$300 Klipsch RW-12D
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882780078&Tpk=klipsch%20rw-12d
None the less, thank you for posting your build and sharing your experiences.

Fair enough. Obviously, there is pride in making my own coming through here. When I typed the underlined part, I was thinking more along the lines of what you pick up at Best Buy and whatnot. I have heard plenty of truly awful subs in that price range. I'm sure the Klipsch Reference sub you linked to is better than my rig. I would like to get some in-room measurements though, and see what I am doing in here. I was very surprised at how deep the little eD was able to go, but that was just my own qualitative assessment.

However, I am following the all-important rule of audio. It sounds good to me, so it will keep me happy!...for a while.
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post #19 of 24 Old 06-09-2012, 10:27 AM
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Dont let anyone get you down. It is cool and unique and it is also yours. If it works for you and your room be proud.
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Remember, this is a life long journey. That first step you have taken looks good to me. Keep rocking.
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post #21 of 24 Old 07-13-2012, 06:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello again,

Just thought I would let everyone know that in the coming couple of weeks, I will be finishing the subwoofer (meaning making it look all pretty). My wife and I are moving, and she doesn't want that eyesore in our living room. However, after watching some blu-rays, she also doesn't want me to put my old sub back in the system because, and I quote, "It sucks in comparison."

Would anyone here be interested in the photos as I paint, stain, etc.?
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post #22 of 24 Old 07-13-2012, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by normn3116 View Post

Hello again,
Just thought I would let everyone know that in the coming couple of weeks, I will be finishing the subwoofer (meaning making it look all pretty). My wife and I are moving, and she doesn't want that eyesore in our living room. However, after watching some blu-rays, she also doesn't want me to put my old sub back in the system because, and I quote, "It sucks in comparison."
Would anyone here be interested in the photos as I paint, stain, etc.?

part of the joy a lot of us get from this site, is seeking other's progress and hearing their stories along the way. So I'd say yes!

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post #23 of 24 Old 07-13-2012, 08:46 PM
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Yes!
I like to live vicariously through other people's builds.
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post #24 of 24 Old 07-18-2012, 08:21 AM
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Good job, sir. Frankly I am also suspicious of the value of store-bought subs. Of course a really good sale on a unit that represents a really good value pops up, like that Klipsch, but for the most part DIY is a much better value proposition. I've spent more than enough time in high-end audio showrooms to know full-well that often the emperor has no clothes. Once, while listening to a Martin Logan system powered by Krell amps, I mentioned that the 'bottom' was missing from a Robbie Shakespeare bass line. The store owner told me that it must be 'imaginary bass' because if his system couldn't reproduce it, it does not exist. As a fan of pro audio gear, I knew full well that the 'audiophile' segment gets pwned all the time by pro audio and even car audio (when it comes to sub drivers). Funny how many audiophiles pine for 'live' sound, when in fact 'live' sound is almost always a P.A. system i.e. amplified sound.

For years I modified store-bought subs, mostly my upgrading the amp. Then last month I decided to build my own based around a 12" Kicker CompVR, a Polk slotted sub enclosure and a Crown XTi-1000 amp. My room begins to pressurize at 16hz and at 18hz the sound is relatively flat all the way to 40 hz where I cross-over to my mains, which are dual-15" loaded-horn P.A. speakers (B-52 LX1515). The system is enough to match the dynamics of the best movie theaters and is the first sub I've heard that provoked goosebumps... in over a decade. Of course every manufacturer would love you to believe that their product is special and everything about it is somehow engineered to work together, but that really is a bunch of B.S.

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