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why don't more people build high end speakers versus buying high end speakers?

post #1 of 68
Thread Starter 
Figuring you could lay down $2,000 for some scan speak illuminator drivers, pay someone who does cabinetry $1,000 for a pair of extremely well made speaker cabinets and a $1000 dollars on active crossovers and equalizers and you're beating out $50,000 speakers for $3,000-4000. I mean while YG acoustics use machined aluminum cabinets and slightly modified illuminator drivers, you could get very, very close to their $100,000+ anat line if you get really good cabinets made.

Also, amongst people who know alot about audio, it's generally accepted that active crossovers are far superior to passive crossovers, so not only would you get great speakers, the audiophiles would gain an advantage with the active crossover.

It's just surpising I don't read much on here about people going this route.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_crossover#Active
Edited by ComputerTech0903 - 6/15/13 at 11:35pm
post #2 of 68
It takes more than just putting some drivers into a cabinet. Even if one has speaker design software loaded, it still does not provide what years of experience in speaker design does.
And I'll put up my Biased passive XOs against most active XOs, if not all.

Just recently I saw online a pair of custom speakers based on the '80s JBL 250Ti. But instead of a 4-way, the guy built a 5-way.
And that causes all kinds of problems. And then there was the obvious mistake, an overlook of the original design of how the tweeter was mounted on the sloping baffle. Without the vertical wood tweeter mount, his tweeters were firing above one's head, aimed towards the ceiling. I guess, his speaker design software did not mention that situation.
So he built what I would call a completely flawed design.
post #3 of 68
If you built an impressive ultra high end sounding speaker pair for $4000, at that price range you don't have bragging rights. You would not be able to hangout with the boys with speakers costing $40,000 a piece.
post #4 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevon27 View Post

If you built an impressive ultra high end sounding speaker pair for $4000, at that price range you don't have bragging rights. You would not be able to hangout with the boys with speakers costing $40,000 a piece.

Depends, maybe so, or maybe not. The price tag of commercial speakers does not guarantee the higher priced ones are better than a set of cheaper ones. I auditioned many speakers I would take over the top o line B&W, for instance.
I would take Revel Salon2 @ $22k/pr over others costing more.

I've got speakers here, I refuse to sell, despite getting many requests to do so. And most of those requests from musicians.
And they cost me around $1000, just for materials. If I were to count my total labor....I could not afford them. Especially the Biased XOs labor.
post #5 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ComputerTech0903 View Post

Figuring you could lay down $2,000 for some scan speak illuminator drivers, pay someone who does cabinetry $1,000 for a pair of extremely well made speaker cabinets and a $1000 dollars on active crossovers and equalizers and you're beating out $50,000 speakers for $3,000-4000. I mean while YG acoustics use machined aluminum cabinets and slightly modified illuminator drivers, you could get very, very close to their $100,000+ anat line if you get really good cabinets made.

I took a run at it. Even with very good (automated) measurement and active crossover gear, in my case a DEQX unit, it proved much harder than I'd expected. Yes, you can get very good results, but, it requires a LOT of time (=experimentation) and goes a LOT faster/easier if you've done it several times before.

If you're really trying to save the money then copying a design vetted on a forum like this is likely a better course of action:

http://www.htguide.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?6-Mission-Possible-DI
post #6 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brucemck2 View Post

I took a run at it. Even with very good (automated) measurement and active crossover gear, in my case a DEQX unit, it proved much harder than I'd expected. Yes, you can get very good results, but, it requires a LOT of time (=experimentation) and goes a LOT faster/easier if you've done it several times before.

If you're really trying to save the money then copying a design vetted on a forum like this is likely a better course of action:

http://www.htguide.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?6-Mission-Possible-DI
Or take an existing design and make proven improvements to it.
post #7 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4DHD View Post

Or take an existing design and make proven improvements to it.

Good point ... or purchase finished (even bespoke) from one of the internet direct companies like GR Research, Selah, or Salk. All three offer amazing units, with great drivers and crossovers in good cabinets, at price points far below typical brands.
post #8 of 68
Some designs are so bad, there is NO upgrade path, except to gut the things and start over.
There are some good quality ID brands, but also some not worth 1/2 the price. imo
post #9 of 68
Highest and best use of a person's time comes into play. Many people realize that their talents are best invested in what they have chosen as a career, as opposed to reinventing a wheel. There is a lot of effort which goes into speaker design and some folks are really accomplished at it. Not everybody wants to be a cabinet maker or contractor for rounding up the effort to roll their own.

Some folks do really nice work with home speaker builds. I know a few. There is also some pretty rough stuff out there.
post #10 of 68
Speakers, like everything else in life tend to fall into one of these 3: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.
But some commercial speakers I think are way over priced, for what performance they provide. While others can be considered almost a steal.
post #11 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by m Robinson View Post

Highest and best use of a person's time comes into play. Many people realize that their talents are best invested in what they have chosen as a career, as opposed to reinventing a wheel. There is a lot of effort which goes into speaker design and some folks are really accomplished at it. Not everybody wants to be a cabinet maker or contractor for rounding up the effort to roll their own.

Some folks do really nice work with home speaker builds. I know a few. There is also some pretty rough stuff out there.


So true. I saw a guy on the forum who built his own custom motorized reliners for his theater.

Arrt
post #12 of 68
One thing about commercial built speakers MOST of them, say 98%, all are built with a certain amount of compromise. And usually due to the marketing department, telling the engineering department, "We can not sell that model at that price. Therefore you need to change the design to create a lower price point." Thus the compromised finished product.

If any given person wants to take the time to build his own, or upgrade an existing pair, they can build to what ever level they choose. Which may be a much less compromised speaker.
But I've seen some diy speakers that were more compromised than a commercial speaker of the same price point.
post #13 of 68
If you are an acoustical engineer with years of experience building and evaluating well-executed, well-engineered speakers...if you have a firm grasp of all the principals and variables...you might well be able to produce a pair of speakers deserving of praise. It would not be unlike a gifted motorcycle mechanic who builds his own ride from scratch. The danger comes when one thinks he or she knows enough to pull it off when, in fact, they really don't. Hubris is costly. It only takes a few trips back to the drawing board to equal or surpass what would have been the cost of a well-executed, well-reviewed, set of speakers with a brand name that insures a modicum of resale value. Anyone can build an OK set of speakers by following one of the recipes in the Loudspeaker Cookbook. But there will always be a credibility gap, if not a performance gap. "I built them myself" is not always a badge of honor.
post #14 of 68
^^^I've read that loudspeaker cookbook, and I would say its only a starting point, at the very most.
But if one has a quality set of speakers, already, there can still be improvements added to that design...if one is aware of what improvements are most beneficial.
And doing so, one is not starting from scratch, and thus does not have to do all the engineering to produce an excellent set of speakers.
post #15 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevon27 View Post

If you built an impressive ultra high end sounding speaker pair for $4000, at that price range you don't have bragging rights. You would not be able to hangout with the boys with speakers costing $40,000 a piece.

What does price have to do with it? If somebody spent $4000 on materials and engineering and did produce speakers with the same performance as $40,000 units, what' the difference? And how much cost actually goes into a $40,000 speaker. It's probably not even $4000.

I just don't get this audiophile mentality that what you paid is the most important parameter! Keep it in the fashion industry.

This is exactly what fuels the snake oil audio cable and accessories industry.

IMO, the guy that spends $4000 in materials and can match and probably exceed the performance of $40,000 has plenty of bragging rights. Such a person obviously has some deep acoustic engineering skills. Far more impressive to me than some lucky playboy stock market gambler who buys $40,000 speakers just for the label.
Edited by Glimmie - 6/20/13 at 11:45am
post #16 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glimmie View Post

What does price have to do with it? If somebody spent $4000 on materials and engineering and did produce speakers with the same performance as $40,000 units, what' the difference? And how much cost actually goes into a $40,000 speaker. It's probably not even $4000.

I just don't get this audiophile mentality that what you paid is the most important parameter Keep it in the fashion industry..
The exact point I made earlier. Quoted price of a pair of speakers have very little to do with their performance.

If a person, like myself, builds a pair of speakers for the cost of the drivers, components for the XOs, box materials/finish that total cost will be $1000s cheaper than its commercial equivalent, who's cost has to include engineering, labor, profit for the company. All of which is not being realized by the do it yourselfer in his shop.
The speakers I built a decade ago, cost me $500/speaker. With the midrange, mid-bass drivers bought off ebay. The Ti tweeters were purchased new. The cost of the components for biased XOs were $150/speaker. And the cost of mdf, veneer, stain/finish.

I'll put those speakers up against commercial speakers costing $1000s more.
post #17 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4DHD View Post

The exact point I made earlier. Quoted price of a pair of speakers have very little to do with their performance.

If a person, like myself, builds a pair of speakers for the cost of the drivers, components for the XOs, box materials/finish that total cost will be $1000s cheaper than its commercial equivalent, who's cost has to include engineering, labor, profit for the company. All of which is not being realized by the do it yourselfer in his shop.
The speakers I built a decade ago, cost me $500/speaker. With the midrange, mid-bass drivers bought off ebay. The Ti tweeters were purchased new. The cost of the components for biased XOs were $150/speaker. And the cost of mdf, veneer, stain/finish.

I'll put those speakers up against commercial speakers costing $1000s more.

Yes, and some people like yourself actually enjoy the design and build process. It's their Saturday golf day. I know that well because I like to build electronic hardware. In this case the cost of your time is irrelevant because it's your hobby.
post #18 of 68
Why does a really great bottle of wine cost so much more than a good bottle of wine? Why does a Ferrari cost more than a Honda 2000? Why does an expensive watch cost more than a Citizen or Timex? Why does some works of art cost more than others? What determines the value of anything? If you are convinced that $4000 is all one needs to spend on loudspeakers and $40,000 or $100,000 is ludicrous...perhaps even fraudulent...then so be it. Your values are really all that should matter to you. But you'd be wise not to push "the-emperor-has-no-clothes" theories on others, as it doesn't generally wash when it comes to highly refined, technically complex luxury goods. Skin creams and perfumes, however, are another story...
post #19 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete View Post

Why does a really great bottle of wine cost so much more than a good bottle of wine? Why does a Ferrari cost more than a Honda 2000? Why does an expensive watch cost more than a Citizen or Timex? Why does some works of art cost more than others? What determines the value of anything? If you are convinced that $4000 is all one needs to spend on loudspeakers and $40,000 or $100,000 is ludicrous...perhaps even fraudulent...then so be it. Your values are really all that should matter to you. But you'd be wise not to push "the-emperor-has-no-clothes" theories on others, as it doesn't generally wash when it comes to highly refined, technically complex luxury goods. Skin creams and perfumes, however, are another story...

I never said some high priced speakers are not worth it. I am saying that just because some speakers have a high price tag that it should not be the end all in determining their quality.
I know, for instants, that I prefer the sound of $22k/pr Revel Salon2 over other speakers I've auditioned that cost twice as much.
post #20 of 68
Yes Maybe.

Can your active crossover account for the "step response of the baffle? How about out of band driver irregularities? (let alone if their are IN band ones)

Do you own any measurement gear? You will need to measure everything with some accuracy. Can you measure the Thiel small parameters of the drivers that you are buying? ( I have found the published specs of some drivers are wishful thinking) I think that some driver vendors sell the "seconds" that the large buyers "reject" out of batches.

How good is your ear to "voice" the speaker system? Sometimes "totally flat" may not sound good. Can your electronic crossover give you anything but "ladder steps" to give you a falling high frequency response?

Have you priced quantity ONE of some of the high end tweeters, let alone woofers?

Have you priced really good electronic crossovers? A three way design will require Three stereo amplifiers as well.

Unless you Really know what you are doing I think you are kidding yourself.

I would suggest if you want to try your hand at speaker design, you start with a small scale project (a two way speaker) and work you way up.

It is not as simple as it looks.

Tim
post #21 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Sorrentino View Post

Yes Maybe.

Can your active crossover account for the "step response of the baffle? How about out of band driver irregularities? (let alone if their are IN band ones)

I'll let you in on a little secret (or rather, let the active cross-over fans in on the truth)... even if you have perfect baffle correction/response, good drivers and what not, that is not enough to squeeze out the last bit of performance distortion wise from the speakers. Combining a well engineered analogue crossover tailored to the drivers used, will yield significantly lower distortion than using the same drivers actively crossed over...It all boils down to voltage to current translation and how the driver translates from predominantly spring-dominated frequency region to a mass dominated region... With a carefully designed PASSIVE crossover you can yield several dBs in distortion compared to an active crossover...
post #22 of 68
^^^^Most certainly, and I'll go one better, a biased XO, removes all distortion from the caps two different ways.
First the biased voltage keeps the audio signal above the Cap's 0 volt line...which means the cap never turns off, which eliminates a momentary phase shift that would occur at the 0 volt line.
Second, the continuous 9vdc keeps the cap's layers tight. Instead of tighten/loosen/tighten/loosen, as the audio signal is constantly changing.
post #23 of 68
DId anyone answer, "Who has time"?
post #24 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by hevi 

I'll let you in on a little secret (or rather, let the active cross-over fans in on the truth)... even if you have perfect baffle correction/response, good drivers and what not, that is not enough to squeeze out the last bit of performance distortion wise from the speakers. Combining a well engineered analogue crossover tailored to the drivers used, will yield significantly lower distortion than using the same drivers actively crossed over...It all boils down to voltage to current translation and how the driver translates from predominantly spring-dominated frequency region to a mass dominated region... With a carefully designed PASSIVE crossover you can yield several dBs in distortion compared to an active crossover...

Sounds like a pretty good marketing pitch. I'd love to see some examples/measurements/proof of this assertion. Any proof.
post #25 of 68
Time=money and if you are buying stuff that costs 20k + your time must be worth a lot of money.
post #26 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by hevi View Post

I'll let you in on a little secret (or rather, let the active cross-over fans in on the truth)... even if you have perfect baffle correction/response, good drivers and what not, that is not enough to squeeze out the last bit of performance distortion wise from the speakers. Combining a well engineered analogue crossover tailored to the drivers used, will yield significantly lower distortion than using the same drivers actively crossed over...It all boils down to voltage to current translation and how the driver translates from predominantly spring-dominated frequency region to a mass dominated region... With a carefully designed PASSIVE crossover you can yield several dBs in distortion compared to an active crossover...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigus View Post

Sounds like a pretty good marketing pitch. I'd love to see some examples/measurements/proof of this assertion. Any proof.

You really can not see the above statement is true?? Anything tailor made for a particular situation will always be better than something off the rack/shelf. I'll put my custom passive XO against any active, generic XO anytime.
post #27 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by m Robinson View PostHighest and best use of a person's time comes into play. Many people realize that their talents are best invested in what they have chosen as a career, as opposed to reinventing a wheel. There is a lot of effort which goes into speaker design and some folks are really accomplished at it. Not everybody wants to be a cabinet maker or contractor for rounding up the effort to roll their own.

Some folks do really nice work with home speaker builds. I know a few. There is also some pretty rough stuff out there.

Very well said!

post #28 of 68
Thread Starter 
Well saying there is no time is questionable when some people on here have upwards of 20,000 posts.

It just seems like there should be someone you can pay $2,500 labor who will build and set up a 5.1 system at your house.

It just seems you could get 5 3 way speakers using top of the line scan speak drivers with a subwoofer using a tc sounds driver for around $10,000 total. The loudspeaker management components, wood and drivers would all cost around $8,000.

And active crossovers in 2013 are fantastic this isn't 1983.

Scan speak drivers are considered to be some of the best drivers in the world and are used in speakers costing 6 figures. $10,000-$15,000 for a complete 5.1 system using these drivers would be a steal especially if you could pay a professional to design, build and set them up.


Would it be worth it if you could pay a professional to make these speakers?

I suppose if you think a a $5,000 amplifier is necessary for your speakers then I guess amplifying 15 channels wouldn't be fun though.

Even if I were making 7 figures a year, which I'm not, I could never bring myself to spend $50,000 on a kef/velodyne 5.1 system I'd feel dumb every time I looked at them.

But then again I know someone I could probably hire who truly is an audio genius. If I didn't know him I guess I actually would probably end up buying a kef/velodyne 5.1 system.





I probably should have asked why doesn't anyone pay a professional to build them sepakers as I would never do it myself either.
Edited by ComputerTech0903 - 7/4/13 at 12:42am
post #29 of 68
^^^^^$2,500 to build and setup??? NOT going to happen. It cost me $500/ea, just for the JBL drivers. xo components, MDF, Veneer, stain, finish. So if I were building 5 of those that would be $2,500. Plus labor to build them, plus install/setup. And the labor to build would be at least as much as the cost of all the components. Most likely more.
Of the $500/ea, only the tweeters were new from Orange County Speaker, the midrange, mid-bass drivers were purchased off ebay. And I had the 8" drivers re-coned. Had they been new the cost would have been more.

Are my speakers worth $50,000/pr...NO...but then my total cost/pr was only about $2000.
post #30 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4DHD View Post

^^^^^$2,500 to build and setup??? NOT going to happen. It cost me $500/ea, just for the JBL drivers. xo components, MDF, Veneer, stain, finish. So if I were building 5 of those that would be $2,500. Plus labor to build them, plus install/setup. And the labor to build would be at least as much as the cost of all the components. Most likely more.
Of the $500/ea, only the tweeters were new from Orange County Speaker, the midrange, mid-bass drivers were purchased off ebay. And I had the 8" drivers re-coned. Had they been new the cost would have been more.

Are my speakers worth $50,000/pr...NO...but then my total cost/pr was only about $2000.

Err if you bothered to read what I said you would have noticed I said $2,500 to pay a professional to build and set up the speakers. If it takes 50 hours to build and set up 6 extraordinary well built speakers, that'd be about $50 an hour and maybe you could get it for less.

I mentioned that the parts would probably cost about $8,000 for the 6 speakers.

I'm not talking about building speakers using JBL drivers, I'm talking about speakers using top of the line parts like Scan Speak and TC sounds.

If you get someone who knows what they're doing to build you top of the line cabinets with top of the line parts, you will save boat loads.


The point is when I step in to the high end zone in the future, I'm not going to drop $40,000 on a 5.1 kef reference and velodyne digital drive set up which is by far and away in the 1% of great audio, I'm going to pay a professional to build and set up a 5.1 system using scan speak and tc sounds drivers, dbx processors and extraordinary cabinets. Sure it might cost like $10,000, but it will dominate all. I'm just surprised more people don't go this route.

Really when you break down a speaker it's just drivers, crossovers and cabinets. Someone with a lot of knowledge in this area can pull this off much cheaper.
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