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post #1 of 19 Old 02-09-2020, 06:24 AM - Thread Starter
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DIY vs. Branded

Greetings! I'm going to be in the market for a new sub (or subs) in the next few months. I'm the guy who researches things probably WAY too much before an actual purchase so here we go.


I've been reading for hours here on this forum and can't really find a discussion about how well a DIY sub can perform against a branded sub. I'm also looking for a thread about some of the best DIY designs that will perform similarly to, say, a Rhythmic FV18 (which seems to be one of the best for a mix of music and HT performance in one package).



Any thoughts or threads to which I can be directed?
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post #2 of 19 Old 02-09-2020, 06:41 AM
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youtube is a valuable research tool nowadays

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post #3 of 19 Old 02-09-2020, 07:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Mertz View Post

Any thoughts or threads to which I can be directed?
Welcome to the rabbit hole--I'll be your tour guide,

As with anything that you build, be it subwoofers, speakers, amplifiers, car engines, furniture, houses etc.--the best thing you can do is educate yourself about how they work. For example, when you purchase a driver you'll get T/S parameters on a tech sheet and it is wise to know what all those numbers mean before you purchase the driver. Learn about the digits, play around with them with software, there are different software packages and they go from the rather simple (WinISD Pro) to the very complex (Horn Response or Abakak) Horn Response is generally used to design front loaded, tapped or rear loaded horns but can also be used for dead simple alignments like sealed or ported.

Play around with the software, make the box larger, make it smaller, screw around with the port length and surface area and watch factors like first resonance (very important) for the port selected vS meters per second of airflow. Note how as the box becomes larger, the port length shrinks (a good thing) and as the port(s) become larger in cross section, the meters per second of flow decline (also a good thing) Gain an understanding how they relate to each other and why the compromises exist when building such a thing.

If you built car subs back in the day, that helps quite a bit because you have an idea how the game is played. You will understand box size VS output, how to brace the box and basic EQ when dealing with subwoofers. Very easy to spot on the DIY side of things when a person creates their design if they have experience with subs.

Not to scare you away but--you need to educate yourself on the operating of subwoofers, figure out what your demands are and put them in numbers. This way you can have solid numbers to aim for in your design and the software data will make sense. Once you have those numbers, then it is time to learn about different alignments to get what you want. Consumer subwoofers have to sell so they can make a living--as with all things. For this reason, you generally won't see more fringe designs because of size, build complexity, weight, excess shipping charges because of that size/weight and finishing costs. If you do your research and want a dual 21" PA driver in push-pull mode loading a tapped horn or transmission line--you won't be able to go down to the audio shoppe' to physically listen to one because 500 pound subwoofers the size of a fridge are not big sellers.

It is a very good idea to have a strong working knowledge of various forms of EQ be they parametric EQ dynamic limiting EQ and various filters. No matter what alignment be it sealed, ported, bandpass, transmission line, infinite baffle, LLT, front or tapped horns you will require some form of EQ to make it work properly in your room. Each alignment has possitives but they also have negatives so choose wisely and get the one that works best for you and your requirements. Be aware some of those alignments get huge--I would love to have four LLT push-pull subs tuned to 9Hz with massive ports but my wife is not a fan of 80 cubic foot subs in the house. Once you find the "perfect" alignment, figure out the drivers, ports (if required) and all that jazz--give a week of "cooling down" period and attack your design critically to make sure the downsides can be lived with.

To the OP, if you want to find out about DIY--it helps to post in the DIY side of things. The defacto standard for subwoofer DIY is a guy named Ricci who builds insane levels of subwoofers to have EDM parties in giant warehouses. He tests things with amplifiers used in stadiums, builds horn loaded beast subs and has the skills, test equipment and abilities to properly test drivers, enclosures and their capabilities. THIS is the best place to start, read subwoofer myths to start--you said "musical sub" so you really need to start there! He has tests stretching back years, they can be consumer subs, DIY subs and custom builds so each to compare to each other.

https://data-bass.com/#/?_k=nsxe7a

Another good site to check is the forums over at DIY Audio--if you want to really fall down the rabbit hole, they design their own amplifiers also--you can really geek out there. Be the first on your block with a 1,000 watt subwoofer tube amp because... you can. If you want to learn Horn Response and build massive horn loaded subwoofers IMAX or stadium style, the DIY Audio people have plenty of tutorials explaining how to use that powerful software to get you there. The rabbit hole runs deep on that side of the internet.

Hope that helps, be aware you might spend far more money to save money than you ever thought possible. You might find yourself seriously thinking about full DSP stadium amps and should you run 30 or 50 amps of 220V to your living room to feed 4 to 16 channels of stadium subwoofers. Be careful, drywall does break and bad things happen to buildings once you find their resonant frequency (bad things happen then!)

Once you are done with data-bass, check out the DIY side of this forum and that will help you define your wants VS needs. At least you'll understand the tech and terminology of DIY once your trip through data-bass is complete. Ricci has all the cool toys so enjoy the ride--but always keep a sense of reality. ZOD Audio is just Ricci's "brand" with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor--I'm not worthy. Enjoy the read, figure out what you want/need with the numbers and start making sawdust. Good luck!
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post #4 of 19 Old 02-09-2020, 07:38 AM - Thread Starter
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First off to the Mods, certainly please move this thread since I could have more properly placed it in the DIY forum.


Secondly and interestingly enough, I did build my own car sub from an Image Dynamics 10" driver and an MTX amp. That was however probably 15 years ago but I do still remember the basics.


Thirdly, stop speaking all of those technical terms, which amount to Mandarin Chinese! Kidding, of course, I truly appreciate the information and I'll do some additional research to see if this is indeed a rabbit hole I will ultimately decide to fall into.


Finally, I had to literally chuckle when you mentioned an 80^ft sub. Not sure I want my foundation to crack!
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post #5 of 19 Old 02-09-2020, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Mertz View Post

Secondly and interestingly enough, I did build my own car sub from an Image Dynamics 10" driver and an MTX amp. That was however probably 15 years ago but I do still remember the basics.

Finally, I had to literally chuckle when you mentioned an 80^ft sub. Not sure I want my foundation to crack!
Run Gary!

Since you know the basics and were successful in car audio--you are familiar with the "rabbit hole". For some reason, I get the feeling I'm handing a bottle to a recovering alcoholic--drink up, buddy! If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!

Alas, most of the DIY junkies first found their addiction in car audio and it occures to them that home audio subs sure resemble the car subs from "back in the day". Pro sound amps have the power, parametric EQ, crossover adjustments just like car stuff did back then--I wonder. Gee, I can "save money" if I build my own subs--next thing you know Walt gets replaced with Heisenburg because a true junkie will learn how to make their own stash.

For me, I had a 12" car sub laying around, a PA amp from my pro sound days and a really nice 3.5 cubic foot PA cab with very good stout construction. Putzed around in my mind that the PA cab could be enlarged and I could cover up the ugly rat fur with additional plywood--next thing you know--a subwoofer emerged with stuff just laying around. Learned how to stain wood and the sub has a stone top to pretty the thing up so my wife would not object--the box ended up with 1.3" sidewalls and 4.1 cubic feet of airspace and that 12 inch car sub tuned to 20.5 Hz gave a smooth output.

If you can build a sub--you can build an endtable! Yeah, should build two endtables so they "match". Next thing you know, one sub turned into three of them and my wife kept count. As long as you don't keep track of such things like plywood costs, duratex, PL Premium, vaneers, input terminals, power tools, sandpaper, screws, tool bits and such--driver costs are very inexpensive! Time? I work for free!

My wife puts up with it because all those tools and increasing wood working skills are very useful around the house. She knows she is being scammed so scams me back by giving me "gifts" of power tools so I can build all sorts of things. As far as a weird hobby goes, wood working does improve your quality of life outside just audio so...worse things in life to spend your money and time it seems.

I'll be building custom surrounds this spring--stealth them out with the same paint color as the living room. My wife was very supportive ???? Oh yeah, since you need to paint those speaker boxes might as well paint the entire living room to make sure the speaker boxes match! You could call it "The DIY Tax" if you like, everybody wins as long as it is you doing the work. As far as car audio goes, if I ever wanted to put a good system in the car my wife would make it easier for me by getting a more expensive vehicle she likes to "help" in my quest.

In summation, good to hear you have some experience with DIY audio--the only downside is you have some experience with DIY Audio so be careful of the inner Heisenburg--a real creature that exists in all DIY matters. When my wife asks about certain piles of money I require, I just calm her by telling her it is for hookers and blow... at least those things don't take up space for long.

PS A good person to stay away from on the DIY side is BassThatHz--he runs over 100,000 watts of stadium amps and over 30 subwoofers. I blame him for my 80 cubic foot subwoofer ponderings--be careful out there!
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post #6 of 19 Old 02-09-2020, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Absolutely classic post! Some really great advice, thank you for sharing. Definitely some things to ponder.
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post #7 of 19 Old 02-09-2020, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Mertz View Post
Any thoughts or threads to which I can be directed?
My thought... if you want a new hobby go DIY other wise any amount of money (you may) save will more than be offset by your time, energy, resell and so on.

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post #8 of 19 Old 02-09-2020, 02:47 PM
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DIY, any day of the week. Especially with companies like GSG Audio and DIY Sound Group making it much more accessible. Pre-built subs are far far more expensive.
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post #9 of 19 Old 02-10-2020, 08:38 AM
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id go DIY...the cost vs performance is off the charts..I will never buy commercial subs again.

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post #10 of 19 Old 02-11-2020, 10:19 PM
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DIY all the way! Unless you can’t put two pieces of wood together.

Building the room, speakers, and subs.
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post #11 of 19 Old 02-12-2020, 03:50 AM
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Branded. Love the servo technology subwoofers. (atleast i think those can be point as branded)
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post #12 of 19 Old 02-12-2020, 05:12 AM
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You can buy a servo amp for DIY, but anyone going the DIY route knows the system Q they are shooting for which makes it unnecessary.

Servo allows the user to change the Q real time. Certainly a good option for someone who is not sure what they want.
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post #13 of 19 Old 02-12-2020, 05:13 AM
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Branded has zero chance of matching a solid DIY build.

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post #14 of 19 Old 02-12-2020, 10:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kothoga View Post
Branded has zero chance of matching a solid DIY build.
Totally agree. Even the likes of JTR, Rythmik, SVS, PSA, etc, cannot remotely touch DIY for bang for buck or performance. With GSG Audio and DIY Sound Group flatpacks, you can now get just as nice looking of a sub, to boot!

Also, nothing beats Stereo Integrity drivers, and they're about to come out with enclosures, as well.

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post #15 of 19 Old 02-12-2020, 03:47 PM
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DIY subs, if designed and built properly with good deals on the parts, will generally give you between 2x and 4x the output per dollar of a branded sub.

But 'designed right' is not trivial, as other posters have said you have to learn all sorts of stuff, what kind of design is best for your room/preferences, how to interpret t/s parameters for drivers, how to match that to an enclosure, etc etc. Learning is always fun, you only need to learn something once and it will benefit you forever, I would never try to dissuade someone from learning (its my favorite hobby), and its easy to learn a ton quite quickly from the posters on this forum as you can see from this very thread. But there is another option...

Look at some of the excellent build threads on here over the years, from others that have done the learning, find one that suits and copy it or use it as a starting point for your own build. People don't just post their builds on here to get advice or discussion or show off, I like to think it's also so others can use their work for their own (non-profit) purposes. Or for even less learning (again, I encourage learning) you can buy a flatpack and still get much better value than any branded pre-built alternative.

To use an analogy, you can buy a chest of drawers from a store, you can buy a flatpacked one that you just assemble, or you can learn the carpentry trade and design and build one yourself. But if you know you'll never need to build a chest of drawers ever again and you value your time highly, is it worth it to learn the carpentry trade just for one item, vs learning a different skill that you might utilise more often?

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post #16 of 19 Old 02-12-2020, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MKtheater View Post
DIY all the way! Unless you can’t put two pieces of wood together.

Wood, now is that there the stuff from them trees? How they makin' them boards with them trees I wunner?


I'm fairly handy with basic carpentry but would more likely go with the flatpack option. I think takes a lot of the planning out of the equation and would certainly be an easier route. I do remember some of what I learned about Q and such but 18Hurts also reminded me that the rabbit hole in sub design and execution is very, very deep!



Ormy, you also make an excellent point. I too love to learn new things but there are about 1.7 gazillion things to learn about that interest me greater insofar as the "how they dunnit" aspect of things is concerned.


I think my next question would be how to match a driver and amp to an enclosure. I did look over at the GSG website but I'm certain there are better options available that aren't discussed on said website. Any other resources out there that I can look up?
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post #17 of 19 Old 02-12-2020, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by blake18 View Post
Totally agree. Even the likes of JTR, Rythmik, SVS, PSA, etc, cannot remotely touch DIY for bang for buck or performance.
Well, SVS would be at the absolute bottom of that list. JTR and PSA are hard to beat for the price, but DIY still wins.

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post #18 of 19 Old 02-12-2020, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary Mertz View Post
I think my next question would be how to match a driver and amp to an enclosure. I did look over at the GSG website but I'm certain there are better options available that aren't discussed on said website. Any other resources out there that I can look up?
There's an entire DIY forum directly under this one. Just jump into any of the Devastator or Marty threads.

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post #19 of 19 Old 02-12-2020, 08:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Kothoga View Post
There's an entire DIY forum directly under this one. Just jump into any of the Devastator or Marty threads.

Okay, super. Thank you for pointing me in that direction!
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