View Full Version : How do I get started?

17th February 2010, 09:36 AM
Having downloaded a movie last week and realised how pathetic my TV's sound is, even compared to the $70 speaker boxes that I have connected to my laptop, I would like to get a good sound system to use with the TV.

The problem is though that most of the commercially available ones seem to have been designed for the freaky dark spaces in a TV control room not as furniture items that I would like to place in my living room.

So I am tempted to build my own speakers but don't know where to start to get the expertise on speaker box design and associated topics.

Any recommendations, please? Is there a good book or website or magazine or something that will take me from almost zero knowledge to the stage of having speaker box designs that work.

It would be a terrible situation to have built nice looking boxes but which resonate all over the place. :)

All advice gratefully received.


18th February 2010, 07:13 AM
Your best option is to locate a local design and modify it to your needs. Silicon Chip have published some reasonable designs. WES Components (in Sydney) also publish some VERY well-sorted designs and they also supply components necessary to build them.

http://www.d-s-t.com.au/speakerkits/ (These would be my choice)

Silicon Chip Electronics Magazine for Hobby Electronics, Computing, Kits and Projects. (http://www.siliconchip.com.au/)

Here's a few tips worth considering:

* Build the box from MDF (as a general rule, this should be at least 19mm - thicker is better). Cover in whatever timber (or any other material) you like.
* Ensure that the overall internal volume does not deviate from the published design.
* If your design includes unusually long panels, compared the original design, add more bracing to ensure that panel flex is minimised. Of course, the extra volume incured by the bracing must be accounted for.
* Watch out for traps like sharp edges and protruding parts, that can affect imaging. Smooth, rounded edges work best.

Here's a rather wild idea, you may wish to consider:

Look for a pair of second hand speakers that have drivers in good condition. CAREFULLY measure the internal dimensions and calculate the volume. You should also measure the dimensions of ports, if fitted. Remove the drivers and crossovers (taking careful note of how they are wired up). Rebuild into your own design. Might be worth a shot as a practice run.

18th February 2010, 07:20 AM
Many thanks, Zaphod.

I really appreciate the depth of your advice. It sure does give me some good starting options.

Muchly appreciated. :)


18th February 2010, 12:43 PM
Many thanks, Zaphod.

I really appreciate the depth of your advice. It sure does give me some good starting options.

Muchly appreciated. :)


My pleasure. If you have further questions, feel free to ask.

27th March 2010, 11:53 PM
Check out the Planet-10 hifi site. Google to find it.


3rd April 2010, 05:08 PM
If you have an acceptable (to you) stereo in the room, you could start with a simple cable from TV (audio out or headphone socket) to an auxilliary input on the stereo.

No audio out or hp socket, move down to DVD/set top box to source audio.

Virually all TVs have ghastly audio power amp(s) so there is little value in swapping stock TV speakers for something custom or aftermarket. The speakers might be better, but the amp driving them is still crap and probably way under powered for upgraded speakers, say 2W at 10% distortion as a typical example.

3rd April 2010, 05:53 PM
Thanks Malb and Brisso 57 for your advice.

Muchly appreciated.



4th April 2010, 07:14 PM
Good Morning Charleville

Between Zaphod, Malb and Brisso 57 you have received some excellent advice. Your task is to prioritise.

Simplest is to plug the TV into a reasonable stereo and the sound will improve massively. Its basically a waste of time to connect decent speakers to a crap TV amp - all TV amps are crap compared to stereos - so you also have to upgrade the amp at the same time.

If you do not have a reasonable stereo I'd suggest that you visit your local audio store and do some listening - see how much better sound can sound per $ spend. You need to spend time on this. With experience you will notice subtleties that you missed earlier. Then talk to the store about what they do with trade-ins. Lots of people are upgrading from stereos to home theatre so some really excellent stereos get traded in for quite low prices. Apart from surround sound and DVD's, most of the developments in the last twenty years have been to make the gear cheaper, not better. Good old stuff, IMHO, is better that new lower quality stuff.

Standard definition digital TV broadcasts in stereo, HD is in surround, so for most situations stereo is perfectly acceptable: always much better than the TV speakers.

Then as you appreciate the difference, and get hooked, you can proceed down Zaphods road. It is never ending.



4th April 2010, 07:24 PM
Thanks Graeme.

I watched a download of "Westside Story" a couple of nights ago on my TV and immediately said to my wife, "We gotta do something about getting that sound system!" :rolleyes:

[Mind you, whilst the music in Westside Story was awesome, the quality of the singing and dancing reminded me why I only ever watch that movie once every twenty years. I have been spoilt watching amazing Aussie kids strut their stuff on "So You Think You Can Dance" and it puts the dancing on WS Story to shame]

I shall get off my backside soon and do what you suggest.

Many thanks.

My main concern is that the sound systems that I see advertised are all built to be ugly but we shall see what is out there before I commit to building anything.


Mr Brush
4th April 2010, 08:34 PM
I'll second the kit approach suggested by Zaphod......

There are some excellent sounding kit speakers out there, and they still leave you some scope to customise the outside with some nice selected veneers to give that personalised look. Its nice to put the time and effort into getting a nice appearance, secure in the knowledge that the speakers will sound great thanks to the original design and components being acoustically correct in the first place.

20th April 2010, 04:09 AM
Several points to consider are if you plan to use your speakers as only home theater or if you do critical music listening (not just background music). An advantage of box speakers is them can be positioned closer to a back wall than dipole speakers such as Magnapan or Orion speakers. The latter will provide a more open sound than what is usually achieved from a box speaker. As mentioned, when making a box speaker one has to consider the resonance of the box which will affect the sound. Dipole speakers emit the sound front and back, so do not have resonant boxes. There is a lot of information on speaker design and DIY designs at Linkwitz Lab - Loudspeaker Design (http://www.linkwitzlab.com). This is the site of Siegfried Linkwitz who was also part of the Linkwitz Riley crossover design. His Pluto (self powered) speakers are really amazing. I must disclose I make the Orion speakers and kits for customers who do not have time, equipment, interest in making them themselves. There are a number of Orion speakers systems we have shipped to Australia. All that said, the speaker information is available for those who want to make their own. If you have not heard the Orion speakers, they are worth considering. I only got involved with them after hearing them. I immediately replaced my quite expensive (my wife thought they looked like black trash cans) speakers that were manyr times more expensive. For smaller spaces, the Pluto speakers are excellent. Some people don't care for the contemporary look of the Pluto speakers, but I have made these with all black tubes and Bubinga wood and they look quite nice. For another customer I applied Maple veneer. We the amplification built in, all that is needed is a sound source. This could even be from a computer or I use a Myine (internet radio with a volume control). I hope this provides more ideas for your speaker project. As an additional note for anyone building speakers, Siegfried also has a section related to a paper he has given at a number of AES conventions. It deals with the Audio Scene (when you close your eyes and picture how accurately the sound seems when compared to a live performance). There is a chart listing different listening parameters and some sound files that can be downloaded to see what you think of the speakers to which you are listening. Lots of good information for any speaker builder.