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DIY Monitors

Discussion in 'Monitoring & Headphones' started by Jeremy Sicely, Mar 18, 2004.

  1. Hello ,

    I am in the process of buying some small monitors for my studio and I have a budget I am working with but...... I am steering clear of the cheaper monitors and I don't want anything used. This is were I found a few places were you can build your own high quality speakers kits for a fairly reasonable price. The problem I have found is that the the best company(northcreekmusic.com ) I could find does not make the speaker(Okara II) for specifically for a "referance" monitor however, the quality and specs on these designs are awsome and they seem to be far better than most stuff out there. My question is there any companies out these that make a DIY high end monitor and has anybody heard these speakers..
    Jeremy In VT
  2. BTW I have read " general statement on great monitors" so I hope i am not beating a dead horse. I do advise checking this site out northcreekmusic.com to see what I am looking at. For comparison the components and materials are going to run about 400$ us and I'll be out 50-70 hours but there is nothing else I would like to do than build a pair of killer speakers..
  3. JeffreyMajeau

    JeffreyMajeau Active Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Not to burst your bubble, but it's really quite an involved process to design and build a pair of speakers that I'd trust as monitors in my mix room. I studied up on speaker design and have built a few systems, and it really takes mechanical and electrical engineering degrees to do it right. You've not only got the electrical interactions of your speakers with your amp, but you've got issues with your crossover network, etc. Add to that the physics of a cone moving air - it can get quite complex very fast. I'm not trying to discourage you, just suggesting that you keep in mind that you should always take ANY pair of speakers with a grain of salt. There's no one pair of monitors that I'd call an "absolute" reference.

    Why the aversion to used speakers? You can get them reconditioned for a fraction of the cost of buying/building a new setup.

    If you're still interested in building your own speakers, or even assembling someone else's design from a kit, you should check out these two books. They're easy to understand and they'll help you understand why a speaker is designed the way it's designed:

    1. Speakers for your home and automobile, McComb Evans and Evans - published by Prompt Publications ISBN 0-7906-1025-6

    2. Great Sound Stereo Speaker Manual - David B. Weems Published by Tab Books/McGraw Hill - ISBN 0-8306-3274-3

    Some resources for parts (drivers, crossover parts, kits) are MCM Electronics and Parts Express.

    Dan Roth
    Otitis Media
  4. bgavin

    bgavin Guest

    I have to disagree here somewhat.

    It takes "knowledge" to do it right, not blind possession of a degree. I have a few friends with their Masters in computer science, that can't code their way out of a paper bag. We also have numerous folks here with medical degrees that kill people and cut off the wrong limb, because they are STUPID, but still have the paper that says "Dad had enough money to send me to medical school."

    If the guy above really has the knowledge, or is willing to gain that knowledge, he can roll his own. In the commercial electric bass cab arena, most cabs are marekting compromises. If one is willing to not compromise to obtain price point competition, etc, one can build their own very successfully.

    My spread sheet is publicly available, and contains more than a thousand bass drivers with the math already worked out. My education is in computer science, but I have the knowledge required to engineer my own cabs.

    David Weems is well respected, and I have several of his publications. However, if you want a better understanding of it all, read Vance Dickason's "Loudspeaker Design Cookbook". After that, purchase Robert Bullock's engineering papers, where he treats you to the math and theory that makes it all work. Bullock is remarkable, but deep.

    As for crossovers, I wouldn't even think of using a passive crossover for a high end system. An active crossover of the L-R type is far superior to passive types, and is immune to impedance variations at the crossover frequencies. I am a bi-amp'er now for my electric bass amps, and would not hesitate a moment to tri-amp a high end monitor system.
  5. JeffreyMajeau

    JeffreyMajeau Active Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Perhaps I came off a bit too negative. I love sorting things out and building my own systems. It's very satisfying to translate your goals from a paper design to an actual piece of gear.

    The speaker design cookbook is certainly another great book - slipped my mind.

    You're right on about the compromises that commercial manufacturers make. I was mainly trying to get across the idea that you should know why all the parts are there if you're assembling someone else's design from a kit, and if you want to roll your own, do a bit of research.

    Have you built any transmission line setups?

    Definitely take the bull by the horns and give it a shot, you don't have anything to lose. Even if you screw it up, you've gained education, and that to me is invaluable.
  6. bgavin

    bgavin Guest

    TL and exponential bass horns are probably the most formidible engineering projects.

    I've built neither, and have not educated myself on TL at all. I did a small bit of research on TL and was not convinced it was suitable for my needs, so I dropped it.

    Horns fascinated me ever since I saw a 40 foot one in an old movie theatre in Boise, ID in the early 1960s. I educated myself on horn theory, and found they cannot be made smaller without compromising bass response.

    Monitors are the perfect target for a no-holds-barred engineering effort. They don't have to produce concert level intensity, so they can be relatively small and still produce the low end. Time aligned drivers seem to be somewhat out of vogue these days, but the technique is still valid.

    The DIY builder can easily assemble a premium monitor system from the vast array of quality drivers available today. IMO the more difficult part is not choosing quality matching drivers, but determining the driver coloration without buying all of them.
  7. Bgavin,

    Where is your spread sheet? I would like to check it out. Did anybody check out the Okara speaker at northcreekmusic.com I would be interested in your feedback. Also wanted to know if anyone had plans for studio monitors. I really do like these designs but they are not specifically designed for this application. I have found a few other sites with kits but they are fair to mid in quality. :?:
  8. bgavin

    bgavin Guest

    My spread sheet is in my signature. I suggest you download it in the ZIP file, as it is much smaller.

    Windows is required, no Excel viewer exists for the Mac, that I know of.

    I have an Excel viewer in the same directory on my site, if you do not have Excel installed on your machine.
  9. Consul

    Consul Guest

    I just tested your spreadsheet with OpenOffice 1.0 on a Macintosh running OS X 10.3, and it opened just fine. OO1.0 requires X11 to operate, but that's not a big deal, since Apple provides it.
  10. bgavin

    bgavin Guest

    Thanks, I'm not a Mac guy at all. I'm in the computer business, but not with Macs.
  11. Consul

    Consul Guest

    No worries. I just don't want to know how much work it was to create that spreadsheet! :shock: It's a very impressive piece of work!

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