Please bring me up to speed on current thoughts about DIY subs - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 35 Old 08-13-2013, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi guys,

I know that this is a pretty broad topic, but I have been out of the loop with speaker/subwoofer building for quite a few years and I would like to get a feel for which way things are going these days.

A little history:

I started building subwoofers about 12 or 13 years ago when the Sonotube designs first started coming out - you remember them, the ported designs with Adire Audio's Tempest drivers (and there was an earlier driver- the Shiva maybe?). They were ok, but when you really pushed them up to reference level you could bottom them out pretty easily.

Then along cam John Janowicz and Stryke Audio (I think it is now called Audio Elegance) and the first truly massive high excursion drivers called the HE-15, and soon after that there were drivers from Blueprint with very similar specs. To make a long story short, I eventually settled on a dual HE-15 setup which used 6 passive radiators and weighed in about 350 pounds...smile.gif I loved this subwoofer and never had any reason to upgrade since building it. But about 2 years ago I finally blew out one of the PRs, tracked John down, and then sent it for repair, but for whatever reason it never got done. During the time that I was waiting, I built a pair of Sonotube ported enclosures to use with my Blueprint 1503 drivers that had been just sitting in their boxes doing nothing for the last 8 years or so. Now these subs sound very nice also, maybe even better than my old dual HE-15.

But now I finally decided that since I still have the pair of HE-15s hanging around, I would like to try something new, and after poking around on the net, it seems like sealed enclosures have gained a lot of popularity since 2008. I have even noticed that Mark Seaton's Submersive subwoofer has been hailed as one of the best, if not the best subwoofers on the planet. This does not surprise me, as Mark is a really passionate, intelligent, knowledgeable, and helpful person. He played a big role in helping me learn about subs and speakers, and to this day I am still using a 7.1 setup featuring Lambda drivers and the Unity horns, a setup that Mark helped me tweak.

So what I would like to know is, what is the current trend in high end DIY subwoofers? Are people still leaning towards sealed designs (like Mark's dual opposing sealed Submersive and SVS's SB13 Ultra), or has something else come into favor? I know, I know, you are going to ask me what the sub will be used for, but I am not asking for specific information...YET. I just want to know in what direction current thinking is going in the high end of subwoofers.

Later I plan on asking what you think I should do with the pair of HE-15s I still have hanging around...wink.gif
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post #2 of 35 Old 08-13-2013, 04:30 PM
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To the knowledgeable DIY crowd I don't think there is a trend towards one specific design or other. Enclosure design is chosen based on the criteria that needs to be addressed. As you probably already know, sealed = smaller and deeper potential output, but requires more power. Vented = larger enclosure, but more efficient design at the cost of output below tuning. Then you've got the massive horn loaded designs which are absolutely massive relative to the other two designs, but give insane output for modest cost and power requirements.
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post #3 of 35 Old 08-13-2013, 04:39 PM
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The trend is folks are spending more money.

Since a person can use only so many dB's, the trend is to start getting deeper and deeper output. That means many 15's or 18's with many kilowatts on tap. I'm still a ported fan myself, but if your goal is output into single digits, ported won't work.

YID DIY
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post #4 of 35 Old 08-13-2013, 05:31 PM
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A TC LMS-18 in a 8cuft box is the best subwoofer design I've heard to date.
Others had success with RE XXX-18's in an IB.

Those are at the top of the heap.

Other designs with double the number of cheaper drivers, such as SI-18's or HO-18's are popular,
for those that wanting to save money by using up more space.

For amps, most people look at the nu6000DSP or miniDSP with traditional big-iron such as: EP4000, CV-5000, XLS-5000 or MA-5050.
The more adventurous folks go for the Sanway FP14000, (and the rich go for the real Gruppen's).

You can't go wrong with any of those...
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post #5 of 35 Old 08-13-2013, 05:53 PM
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Another trend is multiple boxes. A potential benefit is the ability to place them in your room in such a way that different room modes are stimulated, potentially gaining you smoother overall response at various listening positions.

Also inexpensive pro-audio amplifiers from folks like Behringer are getting used a lot, a lot of watts for your dollar there (and optional DSP) if you can make the form-factor work in your room. Be prepared to put these in a closet, or swap out the fan for one that runs quieter but is still perfectly suitable for the demands of home use.

edit: beaten by Hz, that'll teach me to answer my phone mad.gif
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post #6 of 35 Old 08-13-2013, 06:30 PM
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The best design is simple, Good drivers with lots of power (box type depends on goals) The top tier drivers such as the LMS, UXL are a great place to start and work in boxes anywhere from 3 to 8 CF with great success.
BassHz already pointed out some great amps and I'd like to add the Peavy 7500 to that list. Excellent amp with lots of power for under $800. A contender to the sanway's with a full warranty.

Minidsp, DCX2496 as well as many others are popular. a narrowed down list of wants would be a good idea to really start to tailor the sub to suit your needs.

Blasting brown notes for 10 years and counting!

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post #7 of 35 Old 08-13-2013, 07:03 PM
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"So what I would like to know is, what is the current trend in high end DIY subwoofers?"

lots going on.

many movies have more sub-sonic content, so more folks are shooting for those frequencies <16hz or so.
that is one reason why sealed, in large numbers, are a solution. they combine with room gain to get down to single digits.

horns and the efficiency gains there have also become more popular thank to mcbean and his program called hornresp. so lots of horn loaded subs.

mid-bass modules have been a trend, but are starting to be replaced by folks just going with more capable, high sensitivity, mains and letting the subs do their thing on the low end. so while not directly a subwoofer development, high sensitivity mains is a big trend.

work by toole, geddes, and some others has focused on creating bass in small rooms and there are several strategies to even out bass response using multiple subwoofers and multiple locations. there are advantages and disadvantages to it all of course.

class d amps are a big thing. crown, behringer, peavey have amps with thousands of watts that don't cost much money, don't waste much power, and don't weigh or cost very much. 4-5000 watts with dsp for $500 or so.

cerwin vega is the big iron amp value leader right now. cv5000, kind of a crest ca18 copy, $800 street or less, 5000 watts into 4 ohms.

upper bass performance and inductance management has been a trend. normalized inductance (le/re), impedance locus, and current through the driver can result in better or worse transient response, which matters at the upper end of the frequency response range. shorting rings, copper sleeves, differential drive and other approaches are employed to keep the top end super clean and less muddy.

flat packs. erich, a member, found a cnc company and designed some flat packs for several popular drivers. this has opened up diy to more of the assemble it yourself crowd. the sealed 4 cubic footers with the 18" drivers from dayton or stereo integrity are the two bang for the buck setups right now and trump the submersive for value if you are willing to do a little work, so there are lots of those builds or similar.

josh ricci (member) started a website called data-bass.com. embarrassed, but i forget the name of the guy he was working with on the website. lots of great measurements there.

there has also been an increase in the number of get togethers, so that is another good trend.

that is some of what is going on....

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post #8 of 35 Old 08-13-2013, 07:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies, guys.
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To the knowledgeable DIY crowd I don't think there is a trend towards one specific design or other. Enclosure design is chosen based on the criteria that needs to be addressed. As you probably already know, sealed = smaller and deeper potential output, but requires more power. Vented = larger enclosure, but more efficient design at the cost of output below tuning. Then you've got the massive horn loaded designs which are absolutely massive relative to the other two designs, but give insane output for modest cost and power requirements.
Yup, that's always been the case, but "back in the days" certain driver/enclosure combinations would find favor with certain crowds. When I first starting building, amplifier power was expensive and Sonotube was cheap, easy to work with, and delivered a lot of bass when paired with something like the Tempest, so they were very popular. IBs were big with the crowd that had the room and could accommodate them, so they were never something that EVERYBODY could use. When the high excursion drivers finally became reality, there were a lot of opinions as to what design sounded best. I really liked my PR design, but others hated it. Some insisted that ported was the way to go, but not too many people considered sealed cabs for them.

The problem with the high excursion drivers was that they required a lot of power (I assume that is because of the stiff suspension and high xmax), and they really needed to be EQ'd in order to flatten the response. Personally speaking, I don't know why they picked on the HE drivers for that reason, as I have always felt that ANY and EVERY subwoofer needs to be EQ'd in order to flatten out the in room response. It really doesn't matter how flat the sub is in an anechoic chamber...rooms are so different from one another that the room will play a more important part than the flatness of response of the sub, or at least that is my belief.
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Since a person can use only so many dB's, the trend is to start getting deeper and deeper output. That means many 15's or 18's with many kilowatts on tap. I'm still a ported fan myself, but if your goal is output into single digits, ported won't work.
Yeah, the ported cabs I have now go pretty deep, but not as deep as my old PR design. The bass sounds tighter, though, but when things get loud the sub chuffs a bit despite the fact that I flared the ports. I guess no one design is perfect.
Quote:
For amps, most people look at the nu6000DSP or miniDSP with traditional big-iron such as: EP4000, CV-5000, XLS-5000 or MA-5050.
The more adventurous folks go for the Sanway FP14000, (and the rich go for the real Gruppen's).
I am using a Crown K2 right now, and it is a great amp - no fans, puts out 1250 wpc into 2 ohms (the impedance of the HE-15 with the dual coils in parallel). I couldn't believe it when I went out on the web and found the Behringer iNuke series...that's a lot of power for very few bucks, and the DSP models have, well, built in DSP, for just about $100 more. Are the Behringer fans that loud?

I have never built a sealed sub - maybe I will do so now. I am not really good at designing boxes...I played around with Bassbox Pro for awhile, but most of the time I simply built tested and proven designs by others. At first I was thinking of putting a single HE-15 in a 22" cube, but then after reading about the Submersive Sub from Mark I thought that maybe I would mount both drivers into the same box, opposing each other front and back, and wired *in phase* so that the resultant force on the box itself is zero. Then add DSP and power the box with an iNuke NU6000 with the driver coils wired in series (or an iNuke NU3000 with the drivers wired in parallel). Would this be a reasonable copy of the Submersive, or is Mark doing something more magical with the design? And do you think I would be happy with the low end extension from such a box? As lang as it could reproduce 20 hz at reference level I would be happy...smile.gif
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post #9 of 35 Old 08-13-2013, 07:11 PM - Thread Starter
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LDT02, we posted at almost the exact same time. Thanks for the update!
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many movies have more sub-sonic content, so more folks are shooting for those frequencies <16hz or so.
that is one reason why sealed, in large numbers, are a solution. they combine with room gain to get down to single digits.

That answers my question...sealed units do indeed go deep...smile.gif
Quote:
the sealed 4 cubic footers with the 18" drivers from dayton or stereo integrity are the two bang for the buck setups right now and trump the submersive for value if you are willing to do a little work, so there are lots of those builds or similar.

Hmmm...sounds interesting!
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post #10 of 35 Old 08-13-2013, 07:12 PM
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" Are the Behringer fans that loud?"

yes. but easily replaced with something less loud. several threads on that.

also, here is a fun read: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1387178/archaeas-kansas-city-blind-subwoofer-shootout-2012

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post #11 of 35 Old 08-13-2013, 07:24 PM
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'not (member) has one of the more capable systems right now: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1314884/8x-18-lms-ultra-5400s-in-4-sealed-enclosures

another lms-u build: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1175273/the-quasar-array-8-lms-5400-in-4-dual-opposed-sealed-cabinets

popalock went crazy and got 16 18" drivers: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1463064/16-x-18s-in-a-1500ft-3-space-popalocks-sub-build

warp had funk audio build him some lms cabs and put crest power on them: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1313021/warpdrvs-funky-waves-18-0-lms-build

carp's nice build pics of the flat pack 18's: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1461175/first-build-octo-si-18s-with-flat-packs#post_23031061

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post #12 of 35 Old 08-13-2013, 09:43 PM
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18 is the new 15 and that was last year smile.gif now there are a couple of 21 and even 24 inch drivers from SI

Rythmik subwoofers kits with servo control is available to the DIY crowd
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post #13 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 06:15 AM
 
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I'd have to say multiple sealed 18's with a ton of power is the current trend. And miniDSP.
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post #14 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Sorel View Post

Are the Behringer fans that loud?

Yes, like a hair dryer. They blow backwards too (out the front). It's an easy swap to make them practically silent though.
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post #15 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 08:39 AM
 
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Yes, like a hair dryer. They blow backwards too (out the front). It's an easy swap to make them practically silent though.

Maybe mines different, but my ep4000 is just slightly louder than a laptop. I do not find the fan annoying at all, however it is in a living room and not a dedicated theater. If it was in a silent theater with the only ambient noises being the fans, I would probably find it annoying and do a fan mod.
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post #16 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by JWagstaff View Post

Maybe mines different, but my ep4000 is just slightly louder than a laptop. I do not find the fan annoying at all, however it is in a living room and not a dedicated theater. If it was in a silent theater with the only ambient noises being the fans, I would probably find it annoying and do a fan mod.

That was in reference to the iNuke series. I edited out too much of the context in the quote.
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post #17 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 10:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow, lots of good links here...thanks!!

I took a look at Dayton and Stereo Integrity drivers. The Daytons look kind of cheesy to me, but maybe they perform better than they look. The SI HT line looks a little more like I am used to, but even they look a bit "lightweight" compared to the HE-15s and Blueprint 1503s, but then again, at a cost of $170 for a 15" driver, they appear to be an incredible bargain for a driver with such specs! Anyone know if the SIs can be bottomed out, or are they basically "bottomless". I ask this because driver bottoming was the most irritating thing to me in some of my early subwoofer attempts. The Tempest and Shivas, for example, would bottom if you just looked at them wrong...smile.gif The high excursion drivers are the only ones I will ever consider for my particular taste and needs.

BTW, I figured out that SI = Stereo Integrity, but what do LMS, UXL, and HO stand for?

Another question, when manufacturers recommend a box size, is that gross or net? For example, in my proposed 22" cube we get 22 X 22 X 22 = 10648" = 6.16 feet gross, but since the walls are going to be 1.5" thick, the inner dimensions are 19 X 19 X 19 = 6859" = 3.97 feet, and then there is the space occupied by the bracing and speaker itself. Would you call my cabinet a 6 cubic foot enclosure, a 4 cubic foot enclosure, or would I need to calculate all of the remaining space before determining the size? Like I said, I am not a techie, just an old DIY'er that follows tried and tested plans of others.

As far as considering a horn loaded enclosure, that is definitely out for me. I have owned folded horns in the past and I don't particularly like the sound of them...they sound loose and sloppy to me, but maybe the designs have improved over the years. At any rate, they are difficult to build (at best) and are too large for my tastes.

I have learned from the posts here that many people are opting for 18" designs these days. I am an electric bass player, and for years I have tried out all kinds of speakers/cabinets, and I never liked the sound of 18" speakers, even the good ones like JBL, EV, etc. I know that home theater and full range music are completely different animals than bass playing, but using 18" speakers will be a tough sell to me based on my experience. I will have to go and listen to good 18" sub some day...maybe I will change my mind.

So I think I will try out a sealed design next. Since I have 2 drivers, do you recommend two separate enclosures or a single enclosure with opposing drivers, like the Submersive sub? By sheer coincidence, using the outer dimensions of the Submersive, the *gross* volume of the Submersive is very close to my proposed box, and I will assume that Mark used a wall thickness of 1.5" as well.
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post #18 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 11:14 AM
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HO is the Dayton reference HO 18. Ulx is Mach5 and LMS is a TC sounds.

1.5" wall is a waste of wood. We use internal bracing instead.

Driver sizes don't have a sound. Speaker designs do. I play bass and have designed bass cabs using 12's and 15's that sound like I designed them to. Many players like the sound of muliple 10's, but that is because of the "tone" (distortion) that such an acoustically poor design imparts on the original signal. There are few 18's suitable to bass guitar though, and even if there were it would require a 3 way design to make them sound good off axis, if that were a goal of the design.

All of this is moot with subs. Subs are all about displacement and bigger cones displace more air.
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post #19 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 11:27 AM
 
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The 18" subwoofers drivers are NOTHING like a typical PA type 18". An 18" sub driver has only advantages over smaller drivers.

LMS = TC SOUNDS LMS ULTRA 5400, 18" subwoofers, one of the best, or possibly the best, driver you can buy, expensive though, 900 each
UXL = Mach 5 UXL 18" subwoofer, nearly as good as the LMS ULTRA, 400 bucks cheaper.

You use 1.5" FRONT WALL thickness for subs, but you use 0.75" for the top, bottom, sides and back. The volume is the volume of air inside the enclosure, so you don't count walls, driver space, bracing space etc.
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post #20 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 12:04 PM
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"Subs are all about displacement and bigger cones displace more air."

on the low end. the upper end is different.

"Another question, when manufacturers recommend a box size, is that gross or net?"

net. after everything.

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post #21 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LTD02 View Post

"Subs are all about displacement and bigger cones displace more air."

on the low end. the upper end is different.

True, but the upper end still isn't directly related to cone diameter. There are 12's that roll off at 80hz.
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post #22 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 12:25 PM
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yeah...i was simply referring to the fact that there are some other things going on there beyond just excursion. wasn't commenting on anything related to cone diameter.

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post #23 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
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1.5" wall is a waste of wood. We use internal bracing instead.
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You use 1.5" FRONT WALL thickness for subs, but you use 0.75" for the top, bottom, sides and back.
Wow, things HAVE changed! When I built my subs, the current thought was that 1.5" thick MDF was a *starting point*, and then you braced the crap out of it in addition. A lot of guys used 2.25" thick walls...and I do mean ALL walls - top, bottom, and 4 sides. Did you take a look at one of the links here where Health Nut describes his plans? Not only is he using 1.575" of Baltic Birch, but he is covering it with about 0.5" of Black Quartz. Now that is one solid cabinet!! And one seriously heavy mofo...smile.gif

Here is a link to ThomasW's Aerial-Stryke ported enclosure using the HE-15:

http://home.comcast.net/~klone-audio/page30AS-15-1.html

Please note the use of 1.5" thick MDF (2.25" for the front baffle) AND the use of extensive bracing. (BTW, the 2 ported Sonotube subs I am using right now are based on this design).

So now it is no longer necessary to construct the walls so solidly? Is that because of the difference in drivers or did someone figure out that it really wasn't necessary in the first place?
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The volume is the volume of air inside the enclosure, so you don't count walls, driver space, bracing space etc.
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net. after everything.
Got it. Thanks for the clarification.
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post #24 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
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LMS = TC SOUNDS LMS ULTRA 5400, 18" subwoofers, one of the best, or possibly the best, driver you can buy, expensive though, 900 each
TC Sounds...that name rings a bell. That is where the original HE-15 came from! See this thread from back in 2001:

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/swap-meet/244-sale-one-tc-sounds-he-15-cube-similar-stryke-power-15-a.html

I guess the guy who runs TC Sounds (I forgot his name) is still designing and improving drivers for the last 12 years.
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post #25 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 02:29 PM
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folded horns should NOT sound loose and sloppy unless designed wrong. I've heard several and they are VERY tight and efficient. (decently easy build too)

check out the THT, Lil mike's "F-20" and "lilwrecker" (I wanna build a lilwrecker so bad..hell a PAIR of lilwreckers)
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post #26 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 03:19 PM
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If you want to build with 1.5" then go for it. I generally use 1" mdf for boxes under 4CF and 3/4" BB for boxes over, both properly braced. 2.25" is a complete waste of time and wood but if thats what you wanna do? Then go for it, it's not "bad" in any way other than cost and time, it's just not very beneficial.

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post #27 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
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If you want to build with 1.5" then go for it. I generally use 1" mdf for boxes under 4CF and 3/4" BB for boxes over, both properly braced. 2.25" is a complete waste of time and wood but if thats what you wanna do? Then go for it, it's not "bad" in any way other than cost and time, it's just not very beneficial.
I am not trying to be argumentative, just wondering what has changed over the years to revise the thinking. The idea was that the ideal sub enclosure would be made of stone or iron so that the walls would not vibrate - the enclosure should be as solid as a rock. Now why it was supposed to be a bad thing for walls to vibrate is something that I do not know. I am simply repeating the "wisdom" of about 12 years ago. I really don't like the idea of building or moving a cabinet that weighs several hundred pounds, especially if it is now considered "not necessary".
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post #28 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 04:41 PM
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No no, I didn't mean any of that in a negative way, sorry if it came off like that, I was meaning that you can do anything and there isn't a wrong answer. If you like big heavy boxes then by all means do it! If you like what Healthnut did, theres no reason why you can't do similar.

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post #29 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob Sorel View Post

I am not trying to be argumentative, just wondering what has changed over the years to revise the thinking. The idea was that the ideal sub enclosure would be made of stone or iron so that the walls would not vibrate - ".
My electric bass cab is made of 1/4 and 1/8 inch plywood, and it does not vibrate, nor do my pro-touring subs made of 1/2 inch plywood. It's not what you make them out of that counts, it's how you make them.
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post #30 of 35 Old 08-14-2013, 07:45 PM
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It's not what you make them out of that counts, it's how you make them.

+1

Bob,

Here are some pictures of the bracing I use for my current build for a pair of 15" subs made from scrap pieces of 3/4" MDF. At close to full tilt at the limits of excursion, I can barely feel the cabinet walls vibrating while the floor and house are going nuts. My enclosure is 26" x 19" x 19" and the bracing adds only 4.5lbs.





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