Why DIY? (and a couple of other questions) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 02-25-2013, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Recently, I've been going mad trying to figure out what my options are for new speakers and how one actually purchases speakers these days since there are fewer B&M stores around. Endlessly reading others preferences about speakers is, to some degree in my opinion, reading forum posts to help figure out what color to pick as your favorite. Seems that everyone is going to prefer something different. However, I still spend some time reading those threads over there in the speaker forum. Tonight I ran across a suggestion from a forum member to the OP to pursue a DIY path. That got me thinking and I found this forum (didn't really know it was here).

I guess over the years I've heard of folks building a speaker or two, but never really gave it much thought. Now I am. However, I've got a couple of questions that immediately pop to mind....

Why do most DIY (budget, unique design, special purpose, etc)? My initial thoughts are that although one may save $'s, can a DIY'er (especially one with no experience) really approach and/or surpass the sound quality of a $1500+ floor speaker designed by a team of engineers? How does one handle the unknown factor of sound? I've heard a number of well-regarded (by some forum members) speakers that I didn't care too much for. I could turn around and walk out of the store with nothing lost but a 15-20 min demo. How does one choose plans and components with some assurance that there will be quality sound at the end of the project without a loss of time and money because the end product just doesn't perform as desired?

I must say the DIY path is certainly intriguing. I've got way more than enough ww'ing equipment in my workshop and I have a fair amount of ww'ing experience- not concerned about that. Also I am positive I would enjoy the build. However, as one with no experience in this arena, the whole process of selecting the speaker and the electronics, is fairly intimidating. Add in the fact that I don't want to toast any of my electronics. (Although, come to think of it, I do have a spare Sony AVR I paid about $200 way back as a cheap one for the garage - I would probably enjoy burning that thing up smile.gif ).

Thanks in advance for your input.
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post #2 of 12 Old 02-25-2013, 08:05 PM
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Well that's certainly a lot to try and explain biggrin.gif

I cant say why most DIY. I DIY because of my interest is audio, and that led me down the path of being able to create whatever kind of speaker I want. So to me it's really just a very cool hobby.

Most speakers are not designed by a team of engineers. If there is a team involved, it's committee telling them what they have to do to meet the budget/profit margin. With DIY you're paying directly for the materials, someone volunteered their time and energy to design the speaker for you, so that R&D is free. I prefer my $650 pr (to build) DIY design to my $1500 commercial speakers, but maybe that's just my own bias smile.gif There's also the benefit of peer review of posted DIY designs, where everything about the speaker is shown, and problems are criticized openly. Good luck getting that from most commercial speakers. Have you seen how bad most $$$ commercial speakers measure at Soundstage or Stereophile? A DIY design would get blasted for that.

It really just comes down to knowing what you want in a speaker, and what kind of sound character you're after. You are very unlikely to come across a speaker that has a Klipsch like effect in the DIY world.
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post #3 of 12 Old 02-25-2013, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

Have you seen how bad most $$$ commercial speakers measure at Soundstage or Stereophile?

Seen some of the charts - doesn't really mean a lot to me at this point - plus my ears are my charts smile.gif. However, I will say I've yet to hear a speaker in a store that I wanted to bring home and try. A couple of have come close, but most have not been worth the $'s to me based on what I heard. The Paradigm Studio's have been my preference so far, but still not what I am looking for.


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It really just comes down to knowing what you want in a speaker, and what kind of sound character you're after. You are very unlikely to come across a speaker that has a Klipsch like effect in the DIY world.

That's a good thing I would think? smile.gif


Thanks for your insights.
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post #4 of 12 Old 02-25-2013, 09:20 PM
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Well, I DIY because its of great interest to me and I can do it better than the commercial guys. They make to many compromises to appeal to masses and fit in 99% of rooms. I design speakers that fit my room and needs.

If you're worried about building a pair of speakers that you don't like, try build a pair with scraps and do it quick and dirty. If it doesn't pan out, sell the parts on here and move on. If you love it, build nice boxes. You'll have to try and tell us what sound you want though, before you pick a speaker design. Sometimes it's easier to say what you don't like about certain speakers than what you do like.
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post #5 of 12 Old 02-26-2013, 12:24 AM
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there is a science to audio. you are probably reading too much non-science-based sites. if you read that a speaker has good "rythym and pacing" run!

in 1937, the first two-way horn-loaded studio monitor was created. it was called the lansing iconic.

across the next 76 years, the two way system was perfected using high tech and/or exotic materials, but it still has essentially the same form.

iconic 1937:





tad 2402, circa 1983:



and with all the technology available to make whatever they want, what is the form factor of the latest from jbl/harman? the same.

jbl m2 2013:



so when you ask what to build and people say 4pi! or SEOS!, there is a reason.

4pi, 2003:



seos sentinel, 2013:



there are other form factors that can be successful too, but you won't find anything like this in a typical living room, so you won't find it at the local big buy store.

when people fire up their 4pi's or seos builds, they are happy.

here are 10 steps to good sound.

http://www.cowanaudio.com/10steps.html

the 4pi and seos builds (along with enough subwoofers) meet the criteria. that is why people are happy with them.

Listen. It's All Good.
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post #6 of 12 Old 02-26-2013, 03:48 AM
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First off - I love the screen name. I've spent hundreds of hours playing that game!

I can speak to my own experiences as to 'Why DIY.' For me it was simple - I wanted the absolute best peformance for money invested. Just a few months ago I had yet to build any speaker from scratch (components). With the tremendous amount of help from this forum I've managed to build an array of subwoofers and main speakers, all of which I'm very happy with - both in performance and looks. And more importantly, I've drastically expanded my knowledge of loudspeaker and room design tenfold in that time period. This type of work is highly rewarding and satisfying. I don't think I've seen one person who has went DIY regret it so far so give it a whirl. We are here to help and you've got nothing to lose.

BTW check out the DIY FAQ link in my signature. There are lots of great references in there as to how to choose a design and many others.

Andrew
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post #7 of 12 Old 02-26-2013, 04:53 AM
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If you don't like the sound of a DIY effort you have the ability to modify the crossover or swap out a driver.

Want rosewood or zebrawood veneer? Good luck if you aren't going DIY (or spending big $).

You can have it your way.
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post #8 of 12 Old 02-26-2013, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgeOfEmpires View Post

Why do most DIY (budget, unique design, special purpose, etc)? My initial thoughts are that although one may save $'s, can a DIY'er (especially one with no experience) really approach and/or surpass the sound quality of a $1500+ floor speaker designed by a team of engineers? How does one handle the unknown factor of sound? I've heard a number of well-regarded (by some forum members) speakers that I didn't care too much for. I could turn around and walk out of the store with nothing lost but a 15-20 min demo. How does one choose plans and components with some assurance that there will be quality sound at the end of the project without a loss of time and money because the end product just doesn't perform as desired?

I think you kind of misunderstand how much commercial speakers are developed. $1500 speaker might be an exception, but cheaper speakers often don't even have full crossovers! It's been pointed out by industry professionals, but commercial speakers are developed with certain criteria in mind. 1) cost 2) appearance 3) shipping weight/size 4) performance. There is a lot more to commercial speaker design than just "what performs the best". Cost and size are generally some of the biggest considerations (smaller/lighter is easier to ship over from China)

When you DIY, you can choose your own design criteria. Subwoofers are a great example. Most commercial subs are undersized and tuned too high. Most have high pass filters between 25-45 Hz built into the amplifier. You can make your own design decisions.

You also have access to much of the same technology and information as the professionals do, outside of an anechoic chamber.

As far as your ears being your measurement, you can't always trust your ears alone, since psychology influences what you percieve. I remember reading a study where people thought that one Washer got their clothes cleaner than another washer, but the only actual difference between the two was percieved cost of the 2 machines (they were fundamentally identical).
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post #9 of 12 Old 02-26-2013, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgeOfEmpires View Post

My initial thoughts are that although one may save $'s, can a DIY'er (especially one with no experience) really approach and/or surpass the sound quality of a $1500+ floor speaker designed by a team of engineers?
Being one of those engineers I can unequivocally state yes. If you don't have the design skills you just build something designed by someone who does.
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How does one handle the unknown factor of sound?
There are no unknown factors. The science of audio is well over 100 years old, and DIY has always been in the forefront of audio innovation and expertise.

Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design

The Laws of Physics aren't swayed by opinion.
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post #10 of 12 Old 02-26-2013, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgeOfEmpires View Post

My initial thoughts are that although one may save $'s, can a DIY'er (especially one with no experience) really approach and/or surpass the sound quality of a $1500+ floor speaker designed by a team of engineers?

Wait, there are commercial speakers designed by engineers? All the commercial speakers I've seen are designed by marketing, operations, industrial design and accounting people (lots of well paid acountants) with a junior engineer used to fetch coffee...bad coffee.

All joking aside (I wasn't really joking), different DIY designs offer different levels of value. A DIY kit that costs $100 isn't going to wipe the floor with some $1500 speakers. Performance wise though, there are $500/speaker kits that will destroy retail $1500 speakers. They may not look as nice though. It also takes time to build.
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post #11 of 12 Old 02-26-2013, 06:19 PM - Thread Starter
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First off - I love the screen name. I've spent hundreds of hours playing that game!

Thanks - Best game of all time smile.gif Yeah, I lost many, many hours of sleep thanks to AOE.




Great input from everyone so far. I do appreciate each response. I guess I've moved from curious to excited. You all offer compelling enough arguments that I'm going to do a fair amount of more research. Of course, that means I have to live with my current speakers for a while longer.

Again, thanks to everyone. You've all been helpful and don't be surprised if I ask a few more questions here an there!
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post #12 of 12 Old 02-26-2013, 08:36 PM
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Hey great. We usually scare away new guys biggrin.gif
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