Loudspeaker drivers for DIY..THE FACTS [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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04-25-2005, 06:22 AM
Recently I read a post on a popular forum that only rejects from vifa and scanspeak are availiable for the DIY enthusiast in the market. How far is this true ?
I am posting a part of the post I read:
"As speakers drivers are entirely built by hand, each driver varies from 1% to a 100% from the Thiele Small parameters. Because of the economies of scale the best drivers go only to companies who can buy large volumes and the rejects go to the DIY market. So it beats me how a DIY enthusiast can match up to the large scale manufacturers as to performance...it is difficult if not impossible to achieve the performance of branded products. If you are thinking that a local Vifa distributor will give you matched pairs...I wish you the very best. Even if he wanted to help you he couldn't because he himself would be getting the leftovers of the world market. Even in the left overs there are A B & C varieties something which I don't wish to get in right now....perhaps later on..... I have heard things first hand from Dyanudio, Focal & Peerless about their policies as to gradation.

The full post is here

Any thoughts

04-25-2005, 07:35 AM
This is the biggest pile of garbage I have ever heard. The truth is, most DIY drivers aren't factory rejects from the commercial manufacturer's line..Many manufactures don't use the aftermarket drivers available to the DIY community, but rather customized variations of these (usually cosmetic, or tweaked a bit). Similarly, some manufacturers just by bulk loads of DIY drivers or have them produced with a few mods...

The drivers aren't all built by hand either, maybe assembled, but that's it. The OEM and aftermarket drivers share many of the same components. Some drivers use a lot of machine processing, and in some cases, only basic soldering which wouldn't contribute to variance, is all that's done by hand.
Not only that, but most of us DIY-ers own measurment equipment, and measure the T/S parameters...pretty easy to do. The variance is what you'd expect with anything mass produced in life...cheaper drivers have less tolerance, I've seen them be off as much as 10-15% for a $15-$20 vifa. Measure some commercial speakers in the $500 dollar range and below that use $15-$20 drivers and you'll find the same degree of tolerance...I measured the Vifa's in an older pair of $620 Paradigm's 7se's I helped repair for a friend (before Paradigm went in house). They were off quite a bit too, most people wouldn't notice anyway..in this case we elected not to buy new tweeters. (Side note: The Paradigm dealer would freely give us the Vifa tweeter number, the part they stocked came in a Vifa box with no Paradigm logo whatsoever, but Paradigm would charge $65 for a tweeter, whereas Madisound wanted $19 for the same tweeter - just an example of the rediculous mark-ups on some of these speakers). They don't use matched pairs at lower price points usually, it'd be too expensive to put in the time usually. Many of the variances between drivers are neutralized by the crossover or design anyway, and others don't come into play as far sound at all.

Drivers in the $30 or $40's, can see this cut down to under 10% and usually lower depending on the make, which is quite good. You can usually pay a nominal fee of $10-$30 to buy matched pairs too if you so desire. More expensive drivers get even better, but none are ever perfectly matched...if you think commercial drivers are perfectly matched, you're kidding yourself...very close at best, and that level of detail is what you pay for in the higher end B&W's,

The drivers aren't the only things that need to be matched in a speaker...everything is off by a tolerance %...capacitors, inductors, resistors in the crossover etc...the more care you put in, the better a speaker should sound in theory...in practice, these variances don't always come into play.

And just because everything isn't matched to within 1% of it's counterpart (which isn't all that hard to achieve if you have time and few extra bucks) doesn't meant he speaker won't sound excellent.

Does this guy think that DST hires a bunch of people to sit on an assembly line, test every driver, and sort into two piles? Much easier and cheaper to impose stricter tolerances in the production phase.
I don't trust this guy...in that thread he asks some very simple, basic newbie questions, and then later on claims he's been at this for 15 years....almost like 2 different people are using the same nickname. Whatever.

I don't know if this guy is just looking to start a flame war, or believes everything he hears from any idiot on the street. Sounds to me as though he has an agenda though. The notion that DIY drivers are commercial driver rejects is just too stupid to comment on much further...what of the dozens of driver manufacturers that exist ONLY in the DIY market and don't sell to commercial speaker manufacturers...they couldn't be rejects in this case.

Most DIY-ers started with commercial speakers, and still own commercial speakers (I'm keeping my Studio 40's as a reference speaker). Common sense would dictate these guys wouldn't be wasting their time and money if they weren't getting the results they wanted. We've all find better things to build if it was just for the sake of woodworking or something. It's pretty easy to listen to a speaker to tell if it sounds better than a commercial speaker...sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. You can save a ton of money and achieve better performance up to a certain point. I'm sure there's $100,000 speakers out there that would just be so rediculously expensive for the average DIY-er to match in terms of performance, that nobody bothers, and sooner or later your only choice left is to buy commercial again...I haven't heard of many DIY projects with more than $3000 invested in parts...except for a few fancy line arrays and weird molded plastic, custom built cabinetry. Diminishing returns and all tends to act as a barrier.

Glad to see the forum people put this goof in his place later...good for a laugh though.

04-25-2005, 01:59 PM
Most of the commercial speakers avaliable can be build by oneself. The DIY drivers are the exact same, which is why my friend in Belgium can build 100% Avalon and JmLab Utobia models. There are very very few companys that build there own drivers like Thiel does. You pay such a high price for a fnished product because of the assembly, warranty, customer service, stock, marketing etc... If you are a good DIYer than its awsome unless you want a planar speaker like a maggie, apogee or electrostat which i dont think is that easy to build :-)


04-25-2005, 02:04 PM
I would love to see a few planar or electrostat DIY designs...I'm told they're out there but I've not seen'em. Even if you don't like the sound flavour much, they'd be fun as hell to build and definitely have the cool factor going...
A few years back there were some plasma tweeter DIY designs of some crazy fangled technology...guess the explosive volatility put an end to that though.

04-25-2005, 02:07 PM
I once read an articale on how to build a Maggie, but it was way over my head I guess, i just have to save money and buy a pair. But then again the Scintilla's are comming on friday and a complete room kit with 6ft bass traps are comming next week. This hobby killed my bank acount and i trying to sell some stuff, but ebay is too much.