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Thread: Many DIY speaker kits ARE high end!

  1. #1

    Many DIY speaker kits ARE high end!

    For anyone interested in achieving "audiophile" level of audio reproduction, for a fraction of the price of commercially available speaker offerings, DIY speaker kits are a possible option. Many don't require any advanced electronic or woodworking skills, just some basic skills.

    Most kits come with options for the crossover to be prebuilt, some kits come with the option of buying a "flat pack' cabinet (all the wood precut and ready to glue up), step by step instructions, and online forums with the designers available for questions.

    The toughest part is not building the speaker to completion, and great sound quality. The toughest part is finishing the cabinets to look pretty. But these days, there are excellent iron on veneers and other options to make them look great.

    Many designers of DIY kits, also design for retail speaker companies, and they use some of the most advanced computer assisted design programs and test equipment.

    Some examples I've heard recently (at a DIY club meetup) are:

    Jeff Bagby's "Kairos" 2 way stand mount speakers, on an optional woofer module (also Jeff Bagby design). The total for the Kairos and the woofer module kits (without wood), is about $1300. A couple of months ago, at T.H.E. Show here in Los Angeles, I heard a 2 way stand mount speaker with the same drivers (SB Acoustics "Satori"), that retailed for about 4K, and I came away thinking it was one of the best values at the show. And the Kairos bettered it at a fifth of the price, but included a woofer module. The "Kairos" portion itself is about $800.

    kairos.jpg


    Another kit at the meetup, was Curt Campbell and Jim Holtz' "Bordeaux". This kit uses an Arum Cantus ribbon tweeter and Accuton ceramic mids, and 2 8" woofs per side. These are near state of the art drivers. The kit is about $1800-$2000, but the end results will rival speakers at about $10K, probably more.

    There's a company called speakerhardware.com that builds flat packs for many of Curt's and Jim's designs. Not cheap, but very high quality.

    bordeaux3.jpg


    Other great designers are: Paul Carmody, Troels Graveson, Dennis Murphy and a few others.

    Places to order kits are:


    Meniscus Audio.They have most Bagby designed kits, and some other designers.

    https://meniscusaudio.com/

    Madisound. Many kits from the most budget oriented, to high end.

    https://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com/index.php?p=home

    Parts Express. They only have one kit that I think is worthwhile, a Bagby kit called the "Solstice" for about $1100. But that includes the Mass Loaded Transmission Line enclosure! These will stomp commercial speakers up to about $5K. They also carry some great subwoofer kits.

    https://www.parts-express.com/

    These are Troel's sites with all his designs. Some of his many designs are available as kits, others require piecing them together. And many require some pretty advanced wood skills.

    http://www.troelsgravesen.dk/Diy_Lou...r_Projects.htm

    http://www.troelsgravesen.dk/
    And if there were a god, I think it very unlikely that he would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence - Russell

  2. #2
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Speaker design isn't black magic. It's the least high-tech of any part of a stereo. There are only a few basic rules, and if you use quality components you'll end up with a quality end product.

    I agree, the Kairos look like a good design. Butt-ugly, but a good design.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Speaker design isn't black magic. It's the least high-tech of any part of a stereo. There are only a few basic rules, and if you use quality components you'll end up with a quality end product.

    I agree, the Kairos look like a good design. Butt-ugly, but a good design.
    While I agree, it isn't black magic, it does require a lot of experience to get it right. There are a lot of things to consider with crossover design, phase, cabinet damping and resonance, driver matching, frequency response, baffle step, etc, etc, etc. It is all a matter of tradeoffs.

    Even the best rivers, if the above are not designed and "voiced" correctly, the end result will suck.

    The Kairos can look as good as one wants, with good finishing. The pair I heard were finished in piano black. If one doesn't like the angled baffle, there is a related version called the "Adelphos". Same great drivers, but designed with a flat baffle. They are not as transient perfect at the Kairos, but still a great speaker.

    I thought there would have been a bit more interest in this thread, since there is some much complaint about the cost of high end audio.
    And if there were a god, I think it very unlikely that he would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence - Russell

  4. #4
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Quality components are far from enough.
    There was much good reading and lots of good ideas about the subject at http://www.troelsgravesen.dk/Diy_Lou...r_Projects.htm - thanks !

    As an example are the old Snell loudspeakers. They had/have pretty cheap drivers, but complicated crossovers unique for each single loudspeaker compensating to make them sound like the matrix.

    http://www.troelsgravesen.dk/crossovers.htm
    Last edited by Zeuhlmate; 08-13-2019 at 01:33 PM.

  5. #5
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simon moon View Post
    While I agree, it isn't black magic, it does require a lot of experience to get it right. There are a lot of things to consider ....
    A LITTLE bit of experience, and a FEW simple rules.

    Many of the high-end designs out there are film-flam. The ones that aren’t, the ones that sound the best, all hew to simple basic concepts.

  6. #6
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    Plenty of websites dedicated to DIY speaker building. Plenty of free programs for determining crossover points, cabinet volume, desired frequency response, etc. It is a science, can be art, but no need for a lot of guess work or trial and error. Plenty of giant shoulder on which to stand.

    I recycled older cabinets myself, using Theil/Small parameters to match driver to cabinet for optimal bass response (I wasn't very good at cabinet building, or at least not cabinets with acceptable WAF). Even when I was frugal when purchasing drivers I found I couldn't skimp on crossover component quality, even for a simple first-order x-over. A lot of older cabinets still hold up well because they were double-sided veneered, high density partical board, which is fairly well protected from moisture intrusion, even some of the old Ratshack models. As much buying kits is a much less expensive alternative to retail, buying your own drivers and components is that much cheaper than many kits. Bonus if you have good woodworking skills.

  7. #7
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    A LITTLE bit of experience, and a FEW simple rules.

    Many of the high-end designs out there are film-flam. The ones that aren’t, the ones that sound the best, all hew to simple basic concepts.
    I gravitated towards simplicity myself because anyone can throw money at a hobby. Exotic, complex crossover designs and their associated compensation networks add as many problems as they're attempting to correct, IMO.

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