DIY: How to Make VERY Simple Speakers, Part 1

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Making speakers can be very tricky and so we put together this little tutorial which shows how to make a pair with no electronics and which can be finished in any way you desire. The design has been made by many DIYers and the results are always unique and special, just like all of you.

We wanted some speakers for our family room which had a natural and passive feel in the living space. They make a statement, but they dont force you to look. It is so nice to lie on the couch at the end of a hard day and just absorb the angelic vocals of NKOTB.
The box design is by David Dicks of CommonsenseAudio.com and produces a great sounding speaker when coupled with the right equipment. He also supplies the drivers, or the 'speaker part of the speaker', which we will use for this.

  • You will need a couple of things to get started:
  • 1 4x8 sheet MDF- ¾” thick Medium Density Fiberboard or plywood.
  • A phone or internet connection.
  • A quart or so of paint primer.
  • A quart or so of leftover paint from your walls.
  • A paintbrush or roller.
  • 1.5” length Sheetrock (the black type) screws: 100- 200 of ‘em.
  • Wood glue- We recommend Titebond 3 because it is specifically formulated to take longer to dry, which will allow you to make a few mistakes while putting things together.
  • The speaker drivers- 1 pair Fostex 206E.
  • Speaker terminals- 2 total.
  • 1 pair Daisy Duke cut off jean shorts with cut off tee.
  • Some speaker wire- about 8’ of it...We used computer networking cable (CATV).
  • A drill with a set of bits and a Phillips screw driving bit.
  • An electric jigsaw.
  • Safety goggles.
  • Foam carpet padding- about 2 square yards- usually free in this volume.

Before we get going let’s talk a bit about the type of speaker driver we used for the project. Fostex is a brand that has been around for thousands of years and is one of the most respected brands in the recording industry. It is not a Best Buy category of product and you will not find them in the usual places you find prebuilt home speakers. Their relative anonymity should not scare you as these actual drivers are used in some extraordinarily expensive and amazing sounding factory built speakers.
Some of you will also notice that there is only one driver per box in this design. The industry has marketed separate systems for quite some time with a tweeter, woofer and sometimes a mid range per box. More recently, subwoofers have become an addition to that formula.

Which do you think sounds better; having the sound come from one point per speaker, or from three or four different points and combining in the air to make one sound? Just think about that one, audio reproduction is a very subjective animal.

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The main reason for using one driver is that you don’t have to build electronic circuits (crossovers) in the box to distribute the sound to more than one driver. Those parts distort the sound and need to be cleverly designed to function smoothly. So at its core ours is just 3 parts: Driver, Wire and Terminal. Also, it’s [off]WHITE! Great for lighter rooms... beauty counts, people.

Let’s start building! The plans for this design are available for free at Commonsenseaudio.com when you buy the drivers from them. There are several choices available for speaker drivers but we will use the Fostex 206E shown above and below.

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Firstly; when you buy your wood at Home Depot or the equivalent, have them cut it there. The whole project can be cut at the store! Just tell them the measurements (write them down). You will still have to cut out the hole with a jigsaw -much later- but ALL other cuts can be made before you even buy the wood. This is a great alternative to trucking that huge 4x8 sheet home and the cost is minimal when you consider how much time and mess it will take to cut it at home.

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We used leftover wood so we had to cobble it all together, something we played up (Pottery Barn style- see above) when the painting was done the first time. Don’t be afraid to make it messy, its all in how you pull it off. A fun paintjob will make up for imperfections in craftsmanship and the more paint you slop on, the better the sound absorption of the whole box (good).

If you are going to cut at home, follow the plans and make your cuts with either a jigsaw (with a wood-cutting blade) or better, a table saw. We will be back next week to start building the box.

Related Links:
How To: Create a Hidden Home Theater Subwoofer
VAF Soundwall

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