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Wanna help build the smallest home theater ever?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'm in the process of building a camper very similar to a Camp Inn Raindrop 560 and need advice on speakers. Here's a link to what their interior looks like:
http://tinycamper.com/raindrop560ultra.htm Mine will have small changes, but the cubic area and shape is about the same. 46" tall x 60" wide x 108" long with a 18" x 48" chunk of cabinets on the ceiling. I won't have the bench seat, just an angled headboard to prop up against and it will be about 12" from the front wall.

Since most of our "camping" will be at RV parks, we will have AC power and cable available. For cold nights or rainy days I'd like to build a tiny HT setup to watch movies. I'm thinking HTPC would be nice to keep all the components small, plus it gives us internet access and gaming capabilities.

I will be using a 24" Dell LCD screen (Staples rewards freebie) that will fold down from the ceiling. Because this is a computer monitor it doesn't have any built in speakers. I'm looking at these HiWaves , but I'm completely open to any ideas. I will also need advice on something to power them. I would also like to use some Aura Bass Shakers for any low end to keep from disturbing the other campers. I don't need anything very loud, just nice sound and as small as possible. I'm also not sure if I should attempt any rear speakers since they will be so close to our ears.

Any input??

post #2 of 13

I would just buy a pc speaker set and be done with it. You wouldn't need a receiver or amp to power them and they would connect straight to the HTPC.

post #3 of 13
+1 on the pc speaker set. Logitech thx setup ftw.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
And that's why it's taking me so long to build this thing, I over-think everything. I need "Keep It Simple Stupid" tattoed on the insides of my eyelids. I guess I should just stick with a 2.1 setup?
post #5 of 13
You should consider something like these at least, as they well be higher quality then cheap computer speakers

post #6 of 13
first of all.. bass doesn't need to disturb the neighbors if you are removing the sound pressure level and listening to the decibels only.
room reflections that have had zero done to them are going to help the bass be heard outside the camper.

i would go with 3-ways for the front and bass reflex 2-ways hanging from the ceiling pointed down towards the middle of the room for the surrounds.
that does say something about bumping your head on the speaker, but if you want theater instead of headphones .. i figure it is worth it.

you could tuck each front speaker in each corner under that shelving unit.
but if you want really tiny.. why not just find some small speaker cubes and mount 'em to the ceiling?

i don't think 10 or 12 inch woofers is your idea of tiny, but maybe my idea of dreamy.
are you wanting to get a bunch of main speakers with no bass and run all the bass through the bass shakers?
i didn't hear you say anything about what category of size (other than avoiding 10 or 12 inch woofers .. unless tucking them in the corners is considered tiny - and can be done with only 8-9 inches of loss from wall to center of the room, and whatever it is for the other way)

if only to get the ball rolling a bit..
what size are you talking about?
there is the floorstanding speaker that is wide from left to right for 10 or 12 inch
the smaller floorstanding speaker with an 8 inch woofer
the big bass reflex boxes of the 6.5 or 5.25 inch woofers
the smaller sealed boxes of the 6.5 or 5.25 inch woofers (maybe need to make these)
the more smaller boxes of the 3 inch woofers
and then the ever tiny cubes of 2 inch woofers (no tweeter style)

i ask because i am wondering how far away the speakers are going to be from the screen.
..and i wouldn't suggest the big floorstanding speakers without a calibrated microphone to tame the peaks .. and then since you've already got the microphone and a computer, you could grab some impulse response files to clean up the air and get your decibels up cleaner without some of the pressure (if you can find a VST host that will save the settings for multi-channel audio).
because that would really help the soundstage blend together and maybe save you some feeling of tiny in the room because of a center channel up close and personal.

i dont know what you fill the room with to know if you've got room, but those large 3-ways can help rid your need of the subwoofer from a 2.1 setup.

if you are going for absolute quiet without headphones.. don't make the mistake of running your main speakers with peaks as you try to get the low mid-bass out of 'em.. my 12x13x7.5 room showed a peak at 125hz .. and i imagine your room will also have at least one peak besides the subwoofer area.

were you thinking about attaching some speakers on the side walls?
where would you put the center channel since it can't sit in front of the screen?
i figure if you pick a category, you might get some answer about one of the smaller 3 or 2 inch speakers.
but i think the 2 inch speakers are probably going to be too small if they are too far away .. and if you found some that are loud enough, they would be as cute as stickers.
brings the question back about how far away the speakers are from the listening position.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
I guess my thought was I could build an equivalent of a good desktop pc speaker with a 2-3" driver and have it more "built in" looking. I thought those HiWave BMR12's would be nice since they are sealed on the back and don't need a cabinet. I could mount these into the ceiling firing down right in front of the screen, about 3 feet from us. Or I could build a tiny wedge similar to what Jay posted and have them surface mounted on the wall (3/4 ply). I will be covering the walls with cork flooring to hopefully dampen some of the sound reflections, and to look nice.

Anwaypasible, I just have an image of people trying to sleep with a booming car stereo 15 feet away. You mentioned floor speakers, but there really isn't any floor space, it's wall to wall with a queen size mattress. With designing these campers every square inch is taking away from something else. There won't be room for a 10"-12" driver. I'm already being chastised by the teardrop camper community for adding these "unnecessary" items and not keeping it to basics.
post #8 of 13
Can you mount car stereo speakers in the walls or ceiling?
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
The walls are only 3/4" plywood. The construction is similar to an enclosed utility trailer. The ceiling is 2" thick, but I could build out a bit. Wouldn't that put in me in the wrong ohm range for an A/C amp?
post #10 of 13
i didn't know about the mattress taking up all the floor space .. but now that you said something about it, i feel a whole lot more confident about what to say.

i realize the plywood might seem thin.. but sometimes the metal has different amounts of pores (think a sponge) and if i were you.. i would seriously throw in whatever radio (or anything that makes loud noise) and stand outside to hear just how loud it is for yourself.
because knowing what is safe and what isnt from outside is really good rest when you are in the middle of a movie.

i'm here laughing a bit about the queen size mattress, because where i would want some big speakers.. you use that area for storage it seems (or at least a place to toss your shoes and whatever odds & ends).

since you were specific about how close the speakers are going to be.. i don't think it is irrational one single bit to shop and browse those little 2 inch speakers.
they've been adorable for quite some time (i'd say since about the year 2000 or 2002) and from what i've seen stumble onto my lap, the sound from those tiny speakers just keeps getting better and better.
(and i've been tracking them since the 1990's when bose first introduced that size to the world)
now with the iphone and mp3 players, there's been a large increase in quality audio coming from those speakers .. and if you can check the frequency response of the speaker before buying it.. you could seriously build something that already has a flat frequency response.

i setup my microphone inside my aunt & uncles house .. they've got a home theater in a box setup with the smaller 3 inch speakers.
i dont know exactly how big the room is.. i'm thinking if you put 5 recliner chairs side by side, the room is that wide, and about half as long.
the speakers didn't really need much tweaking, i had to adjust the treble one or two taps on the receiver .. and then rotate the gain knob on the subwoofer to get an averaged bass response on down the frequency chart.
so what i am saying to you is, if you go with those small speakers - looking at the frequency response, you could save yourself the time and effort of using a microphone to dial in the frequency response and still get a flat response.

since you are going to use the bass shakers, you get to be a basshead if you want to be because you can crank up the vibration much louder than the rest of the system.
but be aware.. if the vibrations from those shakers make it to the outside paneling, it might be possible for your neighbor to hear it.
i'm not saying it will be loud enough to be annoying, but as they say.. the cricket is making noise or it isnt.
and really.. i havent heard bass shakers in a long time, but i know i've felt some that were quite strong - and i know some that are beyond quite strong.

have you put any thought into how you are going to mount the bass shakers?
i can imagine something about the bass shaker providing a better response (the feeling is more detailed) when the shaker is mounted solid, compared to allowing the shaker to float in a cushion.

one person might assume the bass shaker is silent.. but in reality, it can be louder than a portable boombox .. comparable to the newer boomboxes with a subwoofer - under some teenager's volume control might i add.

if it were me, i would need to know what is under the cushion of that bench.. no matter if the pad is there or not.
perhaps regardless, you could try some of the sound dampening rolls or sheets ... and i say this because it is like a gelatin (well aim for the gelatin stuff, not the hard stuff).
the gelatin could help lessen the vibration if you lay it down on the wood, then put another piece of wood on top of it .. and then just mount the bass shaker to the top wood.
the only problem, and i think it works out rather nice, is not enough gelatin to stop the vibration.. but if you dont screw down the wood with the bass shakers, you could simply lift the wood up and lay down another layer.
the one thing of fear about using the gelatin is it can actually increase the sound of the vibrations because it is functioning like a bigger speaker cone, except that the vibrations are simply moving slower.
...and in that case, it would be smarter to try and stiffen the wood to prevent it from vibrating at all.. and the sound dampening rolls (or sheets) might not be as effective as something else that dries good & hard (i'm thinking maybe truck bed liner).
whatever you use, hopefully you've got the time to air out the camper before getting in there.

and if i had to make only one choice, i would probably ... well it isnt really easy because either one could be the better choice, it all depends on how much wiggle & vibration the floor will allow.
because if you go hard, it might turn a 6 inch bass shaker into an 18 inch cone.
if you go soft, it could turn the 6 inch bass shaker into an 18 inch cone (because of the floor vibrating) .. but sometimes the vibrating can spread more, and even work it's way up the wall turning the vibration into a 32 inch cone.

see.. you remember the episode of mythbusters where they tried to destroy a bridge using a transducer piston & harmonic frequencies?
they were looking for the specific phase of the bridge, to lock onto that and use it to shake the entire bridge violently until it fell apart.
if you went with soft, and it just happened to be near that special frequency.. you might be making half the trailer vibrate, and when that happens.. usually the middle of the floor will turn to a second octave ... the vibration goes up and down, but it spreads wide.. and because of the wide, the up and down increases.. and because the up and down increases, there is enough time for the shaker to vibrate that area a second time (and that is what really makes the loud noise).

most of the time the metal will be worked to do one of two things:
1. dont let the vibration spread
2. if the vibration does spread, aim for the 2nd harmonic to literally 'ring' opposite .. because we know opposite soundwaves cancels eachother out.

so yeah.. i retracted one warning and actually suggested you look into it with high expectations, but then i gave you a new warning about how it is possible for the bass shakers to make an embarassing amount of noise that comes as a suprise.

dont make the mistake of using a speaker cone for bass, not without those impulse response files to help bring up the decibel level .. and it doesnt matter about being familiar with the make and model of the trailer, because sometimes the silent ones grow louder with age.
and that means, potentially, even the impulse response files wont help (not with their current level of potency).
if the carpet in there can be squeezed, maybe you can just lay a board on top of it and use the carpet as the gelatin.
otherwise.. for some real fun, i would lay one spring mattress down (or air) and then lay a board on top of it (the board needs to be about the full size of the bed, not some small square) and then put another mattress on top of it.
that will get you lots of solid vibration (with the potential to be rather accurate & detailed too) and because of the mattress on the bottom, you might be able to crank up those shakers without a single noise being heard from outside.
coil, foam, or air mattress.. dont make the mistake of using a piece of wood that is too small.

since the mattress is already in there taking up the space, it should seem logical to lay another one down on top of it to get the best chance of silence.
(obviously two coil mattresses would be more solid than the air mattress, and actually the foam would probably be the most solid with the best vibration isolation, yet transfering every last detail from the shaker)
it is the details from the shaker that really helps transform the thing into a silent speaker.. because it goes from stupid toy rumbles to music.

i hope that helps you seize the day .
post #11 of 13
The only thing bose does well is small. I think I'd try to score an am5 or am7 set from craig's list or ebay and just mount that in there. I never recommend bose but they would work pretty well for you.

If that's too much, I'll jump on the pc speaker bandwagon too.
post #12 of 13
i think you are going with simple luck hoping the bass shakers match the impedance requirements of the subwoofer amplifier.
and even if they did.. the person would need to remove the amplifier from the subwoofer box and probably cut a hole out of the cabinet hanging from the ceiling to mount the amp.
plus more, those speakers are probably outdated compared to what hi-fi can offer today.
i've heard two different tiny mp3 speakers and they both sounded like they could give the bose speaker a run for it's money.
then factor in there is two speakers per cube, something that isnt really necessary.

dell used to ship a 2.1 harmon kardon speaker set with their computers about 10 years ago and even those small 2 or 2.5 inch speakers were pouring out more slew than the bose speakers (or to the quick glance, quite the same thing).

i thought the bose speakers were more robust (dynamic) compared to the harmon kardon speakers, but it sounded like the harmon kardon speakers output more details (except the sound was thinner).

and that simply means what was the sound from the mp3 speaker?
well the first thing i noticed was how much more slew was pouring out, and the second thing i noticed was how much robust(dynamics) there was, and the third thing i noticed was how loud the speaker would play without distortion (something like 10 watts RMS when you were expecting only 2 watts)

the next step for speakers is to output more slew, as well as combining robust with dynamic as two seperate instances.
(and that basically means it sounds like two seperate sounds coming from one speaker with a gap of air between them)

because of computer modeling, they engineer the maximum limit and then just trim the limit back.
people like me know this, and that is why there is a decent reason to search for 'above average' limits in places other than $10,000 speakers (because it isnt fair to the economy).

and besides..
if the ohm rating is okay for the bass shakers, that doesnt mean the power requirements are met.. and it also doesnt mean the distortion requirements are met.
upgrading the amplifier with new pieces for lower distortion might be an option .. but then any integrated 5.1 amplifier is.. and could probably be purchased for less money than the bose amp considering most people want a high return from their investment.

to wrap this post up.. i would like to come back and read how the original poster is planning to amplify the speakers, whether it be a receiver or some amplifiers connected to the computer letting the computer do all the processing.
because they've got used receivers as an option, as well as those amplifier kits that cost anywhere from $30 - $50 for stereo (some are 2.1 too).

from what i see, the bass shakers require about 50 watts each.
there is one on ebay that is 15 watts RMS at 16 ohms .. and another one that is 50 watts RMS at 4 ohms
15 watts RMS translates to 30 watts RMS 8 ohms .. translates to 60 watts RMS 4 ohms ... but the real kicker is the true amount of electricity going to the voice coil.
15 watts is what the one says, and it also says there is 16 ohms of resistance to get that 15 watts to the coil.
15 watts might be enough .. it might not be.
more watts can amount to a more musical performance, but not always the case.. and sometimes it's even opposite when running high wattage speakers on low wattage.

funny though right?
the same amplifier used is potentially more dangerous for the 50 watt than the 15 watt if the power goes to 60 watts RMS at 4 ohms.

i would imagine the smaller speakers dont need all 100 watts RMS that the receivers claim to put out.
but i havent heard anything about the 2.1 amplifier kits on ebay, as far as how low the distortion is and how good they sound.

i'm seeing a lot of 3 inch speakers on parts express from anywhere between 5 watts RMS to 30 watts RMS .. that is a whole lot more than what the receivers put out.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
I guess if were really cranking the system I would need to worry about hitting a frequency that would make the floor resonate, but I'm really not going to be listening to it at any volume close to that level. My only experience with the bass shakers was years ago and listening to a regular can mitruck that I assumed had a high end 10" sub behind the seat. It was tight with no distortion. I flipped the seat to see what brand sub and there was no box at all. The customer at the stereo shop was concerned about hearing loss and had ordered these. I thought this would be nice/fun to add the illusion of low end since I would be using really small drivers. Here's a kit I found from Madisound:

I am starting to think that mounting the speakers in the ceiling might be the least obtrusive spot. I have ~2" depth and could build an inch or two out and possibly angle the drivers towards us a little. I found a couple that looked like the depth would be good, but I'm not sure how they would do in a smaller than ideal box.



I could do an off the shelf speaker, but I just would like to see what options I have. Ebay is loaded with Bose cubes and I guess that would be something to fall back on. I just thought I might be able to build something similar or better?
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