Building your own speakers? We have the components.

Everything you need to for DIY speakers.

Building loudspeakers on your own is a mentality in itself. You want to embark on this mission today to get that very special feeling. The feeling when the first sound comes out of your own speaker system. How the bass booms all nice and mellow when you get the chassis combination just right. And the high ranges are nice and clear and airy because the crossover network separates the signal just right. Because almost every consideration you make when building speakers affects the performance and character of your speakers. Ambitious loudspeaker “tinkerers” find it great fun to work out everything, make drafts, try out combinations, optimise. There was a time when building your own speakers was relatively common. In the 1980s and 1990s it was easier because you could find the components at your corner electronics store. At the same time, without instructions available on the Internet, it was more difficult. Experimenting went wild. Maybe that's why some of the best speakers come from that era. But what would the world be without tinkerers? Therefore: Just have fun!

From the crossover network to the sticker, from the debut work to the optimised special speaker: You will get everything you need for your DIY speakers right here.

Do you want to refresh your knowledge of pa technology? Or perhaps learn something new?

Are you a retailer, installer or specialist planner and have questions?

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DIY basics: How does a speaker actually work?

At its core, a speaker is a surprisingly simple device. The key elements are these:

  • Driver (also referred to as: Chassis) are converters. They convert the electrical signal into the physical movement of the air (i.e. sound).

  • Crossover networks act as electrical filters that split up the signal and direct the parts of the audio frequency range to the drivers best suited for it.

  • Housing:

  • Cable

In addition to a power source, you also need a few accessories for DIY:



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That's all you need to get started. Nevertheless, you do need a bit of know-how and often a few tests to elicit a rich and beautiful sound from your DIY speaker. But it's also an incredibly valuable, sustainable, and rewarding hobby: Using your own creation in the home cinema or in the music cellar is a great feeling. It's also a practical protest against the manner that music is often consumed today.

Average sound quality has declined in recent years. This is because cheap audio systems are widely available that can and should only reproduce the sound level of an MP3.

Driver or Chassis: Find the midrange between aspiration and pragmatism

Don't skimp on the materials for DIY. And above all not on the driver. Like tools, the components for your new speakers are an investment that you will (ideally) use for the rest of your life. If you love DIY, a cheap hammer is nothing more than a hindrance. Saving on the wrong end undermines the entire purpose of a DIY project: It's a result that you will be proud of in the end. And a DIY project that will be used for a long time and will bring joy. Therefore, use cellulose membranes that are reinforced with Kevlar fibres. Look for stable cast aluminium baskets. For the very first project and for beginners who want something new, we recommend a ready-made kit like the KATANA-M1. The reason: Designing your own crossover networks and calculating the dimensions of a speaker system requires a considerable amount of knowledge and work without a fully assembled kit. It's much easier to tackle your first speaker project when your back is covered by experienced audio engineers. And it's just quite simply more fun.

Crossover networks: It is important to note that

Small reminder: The crossover network ensures that high frequencies (cymbals on the drums, piccolos, soprano singers) are sent to the dedicated tweeter. The lower frequencies, on the other hand, go to the bass-midrange speakers. If you have a two-way or three-way speaker, it is important that the drivers have overlapping frequency responses. If this is not the case, they cannot cover the entire frequency spectrum. Frequency responses should never match seamlessly. Some speakers do not require crossover networks. They are equipped in such a way that they can play back the different frequencies on a more or less decent level. More or less here means: These speakers are for the most part not designed for excellent music reproduction.



If you want to build a crossover network yourself,

you need a crossover network plan.


If you want to build a crossover network yourself,

you need a crossover network plan.

Building your own crossover network? You need a crossover network plan and cables

Crossover network plans look and read like diagrams. So you should be a bit familiar with diagrams before you get started. They are made up of resistors, capacitors and other components. Solder all the connections together and glue the components to a sheet using hot-melt glue. The choke coils should already have bare copper on the ends, if in doubt you should remove the painted insulating layer. Any crossover network needs a top-quality speaker cable going to and from it. You'll need positive and negative cables going from the terminal cup to the beginning of the circuit, and positive and negative wires going from the crossover network to the speaker driver. For bass speakers that share the same crossover network, you will need to solder on two sets of leads coming from the crossover network. This is always the case when you use more than one bass speaker in a 2-way or multi-way system.

Active or passive crossover network: The difference

In simple terms, passive crossover networks are installed behind the power amplifier, while active crossovers are installed in front of it. An active crossover network is an active electronic unit. It has its own power supply. This allows you to both choke and amplify the audio signal. An active crossover network can also equalise bass signals. A passive crossover network can only choke the signal. Because active crossovers are built into the signal chain before the power amplifier, you need one power amplifier channel for each signal path.

Tips for assembly

In practical terms: Solder the crossover network together according to the crossover network plan. Most speaker kits contain such a plan. If you don't have one, you can find many best practice approaches on the Internet. You can install the crossover network using liquid glue or screws (or both) inside the housing. Put the heaviest crossover network on the bottom of the speaker housing; that increases durability. Try aligning the induction coils on the crossover network at 90 degrees to each other. This is how you avoid electromagnetic interference. Pull the cables through the terminal cup and into the area where the chassis will be mounted. Tie the speaker cables around the holes in the mounting bracket to reduce or eliminate wire tension that would be transferred to the speakers and crossover network in the event of a pull or snag.

Housing: Awaken the joiner in you

If the housing is not supplied with the kit, you'll need to buy wood at a do-it-yourself centre. Initially, your goal is a classic cuboid, depending on how large your drivers are and how many you have. Make sure that the housing has space inside for the cables and crossover network. Some do-it-yourself centres will saw the wood for you on-site according to your measurements for a surcharge. The basic rule is that the housing material should be at least (!) 0.5 centimetres thick. The wood panels should fit together perfectly. Any sound that comes out of tiny gaps in the housing massively impairs the sound quality. You can also use screws instead of wood glue, but the wood glue is rather more forgiving of small inaccuracies. Caution: We do not recommend solid wood as a material, as it can shrink and swell with seasonal humidity changes. This can cause cracks or other damage.

As a beginner, it is best to use plywood or medium-density fibreboard (MDF).

Size of the housing for a DIY speaker

The size of the housing depends on the chassis above all, or more exactly: from the specifications, also referred to as Thiele-Small parameters. It also depends on whether it should be a sealed or open (bass reflex) housing. An open bass reflex housing offers stronger bass. The exact dimensions of the optimal housing are a complicated calculation. In case of doubt, it is better to have more than less air space inside the speaker system. In many cases, if you make the housing a little larger, it becomes more efficient and ultimately offers better performance. When you increase the dimensions of the housing, the mechanical limits of the chassis, above all in the bass range, are easier to reach. If the housing is (just a bit) too small, you can also simply increase the power. There is a commonly used general rule:

Add 2 to 3 inches to the chassis size.

For example, a 10 inch subwoofer should have a front panel of at least 12 to 13 inches square.

4 things you need in addition to the chassis, crossover network and housing


    Insulation for the speaker walls: The general rule for beginners is that you should insulate most of the inner surfaces of the housing. It is key to leave enough space for the crossover networks, drivers, openings and connection shells. We recommend classic wedge moulded foam pads. It is available in different thicknesses. The thicker the foam, the stronger the insulation. There are also other materials which you can use to fill up nearly the entire free inside space of the housing. This should insulate the sound inside the speaker and prevent vibrations or echoes. Insulation is not necessary, but it can significantly improve the sound.

  2. Adhesive: If your insulation material doesn't have an adhesive backing, use hot glue or a construction adhesive to attach it to the walls of the speaker housing.

  3. Speaker cable 

  4. Wire Stripper 

One last tip: Don't use nails!

When making DIY speakers, you should definitely use wood glue and screws, but not nails. Unfortunately, nails are often suggested in instructions. Nails will easily fall out after you use the speaker. This will affect the sound quality and require regular repairs. If the speakers you're installing in the system produce a lot of bass, fill the inside edges with a foam gasket to optimise the sound. This also extends the life of the system because the forces in the system are not direct on the material.



Would you like some more know-how? Browse through our magazine which has everything about speaker technology or discover our wide range of different speakers.

Headergraphik ©: AdobeStock/tiero

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