DIY towers [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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10-01-2004, 01:19 AM
Just thought I'd start a thread posting random pics of progress. Will update as I complete and do more. It's taken me about 1.5 weeks so far. This is my 2nd go at building speakers (first was a sub).

So far I've only undercoated. Got to sand, refill some minor nicks, re undercoat, sand then spray coat black enamel, build grilles, attach feet etc....


10-01-2004, 01:20 AM
More images....

10-01-2004, 10:17 AM
Lookin' good Dave...(sigh)...I've just been too busy with the house and job to get back at mine...
Maybe later this month.
Curious, I'd love to know the measurement mods you made.
Keep us up to date...and let us know how they sound in the end. Do you have other speakers you can compare these too?

10-02-2004, 02:00 PM
The top part is more or less identical to a bookshelf. I'm not going to use the foam pads to line the walls that madisound provided with the kit. Instead I'll use some dacron and lightly stuff behind the woofer as per Ed's original recommendations. (Foam will decrease the effective volume, which I suppose the dacron will increase). In any case the enclosure is the same HxWxD dimensions internally. Front baffle is 1.5" is the only difference. I've added no internal bracing to the top half (not required).

I've only got an older pair of Wharfedales (c 1991). They are an 8" x 3/4" 2-way sealed bookshelf. Aluminium dome tweeter, poly cone woofer. They are low efficiency (86dB) similar to the AR.coms so I don't expect the AR.coms to play louder. What I hate about the wharefdales is the hot treble. Voices are sibilant and it's justway to forward for my liking. I went from Denon to Marantz amplification and that has helped noticeably, but the wharfedales are a weak link.

The reason for the DIYs was I wanted a speaker with a smoother midrange and softer treble. I feel I'm really missing out on the mids with the wharfedales.

I'll let you know how they compare. I'm also going to lend my new speaker to a friend to see how they compare with her KEFs (also older 2 way) and get an objective opinion. (Of course if she still wants to be my friend, she better like my new speakers :-)


10-02-2004, 05:33 PM
Ed's new crossover design is it lets you determine the tweeter padding through an adjustable tweeter resistor on the positive terminal. I used the standard 2ohm resistor and am very happy. Shoot, maybe I should have held off on the 2ohm and just tried it normal but I can say that the tweeter is very smooth sounding and not harsh to me. This is subjective to say the least, but after my Infinities, this is a nice change. That metal dome tweeeter on the infinities nearly drove me batty.

EFE Speakers
10-03-2004, 02:23 AM
I noticed on another posting you were going to install 2 pounds of poly-fill insulation in each DIY cabinet. You'll kill the bass with that much!

Do this! With the speaker laying on its back, crossover installed and ready to screw the drivers in, install about two (not real big) loose handfuls of insulation. Spread it all around the back surface and around the port tube. You should end up with about 3 inches of loose (not packed or pressed) fill against the back of the cabinet. Like I said, without packing or pressing it down, you should have the back half of the cabinet with a 3 inch layer of loose fill. The loose poly-fill reacts different than foam or various wall insulations, thus the reason why I chose it. Add too much and you cut the bass level down!

This method of insulation reduces the soundwaves, keeps the bass level very good and affects the cabinet volume very little! The guys that wrote DIY reviews stating they sounded great but didn't have very good bass, were all using a different insulation or added too much poly-fill. Some of those guys e-mailed me, and after recommending they remove some of the fill, the bass was much better. The right amount of insulation is as important as anything else when tuning a speaker to sound mucho good! ( ;

Your project looks very nice so far, success and I look forward to hearing the results!

Ed Frias

10-03-2004, 08:00 AM
As Ed say's, too much poly is probably dentrimental to the bass. I have always used a 1/2" polyfill batting used in baby quilts. I line all the sides (except baffle of course) with one layer using hot glue to tack it into place.
I consistently measured the bass down to about 38 hz (this is my real room response) before it drops in the db level.
I also build my regular cabs with 1" MDF wrapped in 1/4" baltic birch.
for whatever it's worth

10-03-2004, 04:06 PM
Thanks Ed / MCH,

I was actually going to use the innards of an old dacron pillow. I'm worried that fibres will "break away" and get into the drivers, so I was going to line it with the cover of the pillow. The cover is very transparent / loosely woven but seems to keep the dacron in / together.

What I'll do now is put approx 3 inches lining the backwall (with speaker on it's back) then cover the dacron with the pillowcase. The good thing about your suggestion is that it won't interfere with the driver nor cover the xover (which I was always concerned about - covering electrical components with combustable material :-). They could become the Ed "Frier's" DIYs :-)

I don't know where to get acoustical grade dacron here in NZ. I was also a little skeptical of this stuff (is it really any different, or just safer for Voice coils / drivers by not breaking away?) It's a bit like getting me started on fancy interconnect or speaker cables.... (when some people spend 1/4 of their component cost on cables....)

I'm exciting about completing the project (I still haven't got the surface good enough for spray painting, a bit of a perfectionist). But, I've also had so much fun doing it, I don't want it to end (but want to see what they sound like).

I should have them finished in 2 weeks.


10-04-2004, 05:51 AM
Just go to your local hobby shop and pick up a package of polyfill. It really cheap. When I built mine, I grabbed a handfull and pulled it apart from the main piece. I then fluffed this up very loosely, I then made a hole in the top part and put that through the port tube. The rest was hanging down. I used the tweeter wires and woofer wires to keep the stuffing place. It worked out great and I have no problem with bass extension. Just a recommendation. Paul

10-17-2004, 03:03 PM
Hi all,

Well - I've finished the towers and started listening to them. I've wired them A/B with my older Wharfedales (which they will replace). I need to listen to them a bit longer on all my favourite and well known tracks to really form a solid opinion. I'm most disappointed with the quality of the work I did on the cabinets and a mistake with the grilles. I rushed this project and didn't sand properly - now it shows! I might refinish them later butthe main thing is the cabinet is airtight and nothing resonates so at least it doesn't affect the music.

Here is my initial impressions - compared with the Wharfedales (Ws):
-> DIYs (As) have a much more balanced sound. I can now use source direct on the amp, which was far too bright with the Ws. The Ws were also lacking in the frequency range that does male voices. The As add "weight" to male voices without making them muddy. The only concern I have is the soundstage seems to have narrowed but that is probably more due to placement which is odd. I found moving them away from the wall and once speaker into the open really helped. I actually just swapped places with the wharfedales and they sounded more closed in - so am sure speaker placement is key here.

-> The Ws sound "hollow" compared to the As in the midrange. Here are some examples of instruments I've listened too that sound more real on the As
- Cello (I used to play for 5 years). The Ws had the string "bite" of the bow as it starts across the string, but missed the "body" of the note being played. The As sound far more real in this area. Not lifelike - but much closer
- Saxophone. The Ws made this forward and way too bright. The As take the top end back a bit and fill in the bottom resonances of the instrument nicely. Far more balanced
- Lead guitar. This was piercing on the Ws. The As fill make the lead guitar more solid but lose none of the attack / waveform that defines a lead guitar.

The only thing the Ws do better is the top end (14kHz+?). I think however the Ws are a bit over the top. The As are overall better on percussion. The best way to discribe is that cymbals on the Ws tend to sizzle, whereas As tend to shimmer.

Both the As and Ws could do with a little better instrument separation. I couldn't picture localise (image) instruments and singers well. I found the soundstaging on the As better than the imaging. Again this may be due to low end source and amplification rather than the speakers.

I will post a proper review, but only after I've positioned the speakers well (I'll search how other people have positioned), allowed breakin, and more importantly had some time to get used to them.

Overall I'm pleased with the approx NZD$500 spend on these speakers (including cabinets, manufacturer costs in error :-) and extra tools needed). I know in NZ you couldn't spend that money and get a better speaker from a dealer or even DIY.

(PS Equipment used was Denon 5 disc CD changer (12 years old), Marantz SR-6300 receiver and standard 14awg OFC speaker cable with standard RCA interconnects. I'd like to be able to borrow a proper and higher end source/pre/power HiFi to see what the As are like. I have a friend with some old nakamichi separates which should be better so may ask to try the ARs on them. I also have an old 70s Pioneer receiver which I like the sound of - so will try them on that as well).

Finished photos to be posted soon....


10-17-2004, 03:12 PM
I forgot to add..

Thanks Ed for the stuffing suggestion. I did as you said and put a couple of loose handfuls of stuffing in the back.

The As have more bass than my Ws (notecably more and it is more even across the frequency band. The Ws are bass anaemic).

I still appreciate having my subwoofer. I have had to turn it down though as the As do a better job at bass than my Ws (which are an 8" driver!). I was using the sub to compensate. Kick drums are better on the As.

What I didn't like most is my son said he preferred the Wharfedales over the DIYs (after I did a pseudo blind test with him). Ah well - each to their own!

I'll try my partner next and see what she thinks.... I am also going to double check my wiring to make sure I haven't inverted tweeter polarity by accident (as one DIYer found out).


10-18-2004, 01:32 AM
Pictures of the finished towers...

Note - the grille clothis actually black but under flash from the camera appears grey

10-18-2004, 01:35 AM
Above you can see the wharfedale on the right which I am replacing with the DIYs

I didn't take a picture of the feet (which are threaded spikes) so they can be levelled on the floor (or tilted back slightly etc...)

10-18-2004, 01:36 AM
Here's a picture with the grille attached

10-18-2004, 01:41 AM
PS: I actually ended up painting with a paint brush and a quality semi-gloss enamel paint. The spray paint I used was cheap - and cheap = bad finish.

The surface is far from perfect. Photos make it look better than it actually is. I might refinish at a later date when I get a sander....


EFE Speakers
10-18-2004, 06:44 AM
Even though you aren't happy with the finish, the speakers do look good, nice job! As for position, I recommend you angle them inward around 20 degrees. Depending on how far apart they are, try several different angles. You may even like them angled inward as to where the crossing point is a foot or two in front of you, it gives a full soundstage to everyone sitting on the left or right of center.

As for your son liking the brighter Ws, that's no surprise! "Most" young guys I know like sizzling highs and pounding lows, they haven't learned to listen to real music or instruments! (( ; Look forward to your review, thanks!

Ed Frias

10-18-2004, 06:58 AM
PS: I actually ended up painting with a paint brush and a quality semi-gloss enamel paint. The spray paint I used was cheap - and cheap = bad finish.

The surface is far from perfect. Photos make it look better than it actually is. I might refinish at a later date when I get a sander....


Dave, those look great. If you're really fussy about the finish, 10-20 bucks at Parts Express will buy you more than enough Black Ash Vinyl Veneer (like what most black commercial speakers sport) to do those up. The cherry vinyl's quite nice too.
Just sand'em down to smooth out the surfaces...quick fix.

11-23-2004, 09:05 PM
Hi all,

I know precious little about building speakers, but from what I read, DIYs have a most spectacular sound. I am considering building a set, but I too would much prefer a tower to a bookshelf. I understand the towers displayed in this thread maintain the same internal dimensions as the bookshelves, but just so I make sure : will making them towers in such a way affect the sound in any way?


11-24-2004, 04:19 AM
Provided you use the same internal dimensions in the "speaker cabinet" section as the original design, and use good, sturdy shelf bracing in the tower extension part, you should have little issues.

The only negative I can think of would be a slight baffle-step issue not accounted for in the crossover...and I mean much so that I wouldn't worry about it.

Or you could do what I did and built matching veneered stands out of MDF to fancy it up some. Dave's project here is a good place to start you might wish to start a new thead to draw more interest on this subject though. Good luck.

11-24-2004, 06:33 AM

Do you have pics of your install?

If the stands are matched in dimension to the speaker, is there no danger of the speaker falling over? =) (Shows my ignorance...) Does it not shake at all when you play at higher levels?

Also, what kind of feet did you use on the speaker?


11-24-2004, 07:07 AM
I do have pics, unfortunately, the speakers are being built 20 miles away at a cousin's garage, and I don't have the camera yet, in a few weeks, when they're finish I'll post them here and on my personal webpage, with all the steps, etc. Please be patient. I was working on these first, when I lived in Maine, back in August, and when I moved to Canada these got put on the back burner...I hope to have them finished in the next few weeks, finally.

I'm building 6 of these in total to replace 6 Paradigm Studio speakers in my Home Theater (the DIY's are IMO quite a bit better at a far cheaper price). I'm making 2 different sized stands, shorter ones for the front mains, taller ones for the 7.1 rear channels.
The bases are made 1.5" MDF (2 X 3/4" glued) and are about 12 X 10 I think (can't remember now), routed, and rounded a bit to dress them up some. I cut 8 long strips of MDF at angles, and glued these together lengthwise to make an octagon pillar, then sealed it with siliocne so I can fill it with leadshot or sand later.
The octagon pillar (or neck of the stand) is wrapped in the same veneer and stained the same color as my speakers. Again, I don't have my plans with me, but from memory I'd say this pillar is 6" or 8" in diameter.
Then there's a smaller square shelf, say 6" X 6" that the speaker will rest on, made from 1/2" MDF. I countersunk nuts into the base of the speakers so we can screw the speakers and fix them to the small shelf of the stands. I'm using a thin, rubber plastic substance to go insulate betweent the speaker base and the shelf the speaker rests on. It gives the appearance that the speaker is floating on the pillar, instead of on a big thick shelf.

On previous stand jobs I've done, I detected no resonance, or vibration being transmitted through the rubber isolator (think of an engine mount in a car). The stands are already very heavy and sturdy (1-1/2" MDF bases will do that) but the option of clean sand fill further stabilizes.

I'm just using rubber bumpers for the base of the stand since these will rest on carpet anyway, but you can buy spiked feet from parts express or somewhere that screw into the bottoms of speakers or stands that will alow you to adjust the height somewhat...more expensive than rubber bumpers, but equally effective. Not recommended on hardwood floors though.

Ed's speaker design is about as good a first project as any suggestions I've seen and heard, you won't be disappointed.

11-27-2004, 04:32 AM
To those who have built Ed Frias DIYs :

I am a stickler for mid-bass. This is why I am quite partial to transmission line speaker designs. My current system consists of a Yamaha RX-596 with two homebuilt speakers (three-ways, with two woofers per speaker, transmission line design) and a homebuilt sub unit. I am elated with my speakers' mid-bass response but otherwise quite disappointed, and every time I've had a chance to sample a simple two-way speaker, I have loved the sound. (The best sound I have ever heard, believe it or not, was when I worked at a radio station - our two-way Yamaha studio monitors had a gorgeous sound, I thought.)

So my first question : how is the AR.Com bass response, more specifically in the mid-bass region? How do you think they would respond with the mid-bass frequencies somewhat boosted?

(My plan is to get a pro audio 31-band equalizer (I am used to working with such systems) and boost precisely those mid-bass frequencies I want to hear more, without affecting the rest of the frequency range. Audiophiles, worry not, for I plan on attenuating surrounding frequencies, not boosting the actual ones! =))

And just for discussion, my second question, which this very thread inspired : Would there be a way to design a transmission line enclosure for this speaker, all the while preserving the inherent and richness of its midrange and highs?

(This would be for much later : I still plan on building a regular set.)

Thank you very much to all!


11-28-2004, 03:45 PM
Bob Brines developed the "peerless pipe" which uses exactly the same 850122 woofer (one per side) in I believe a TQWT enclosure, so yes, I believe the driver can be used successfully. Of course, he had a different tweeter. I believe he designed a passive XO to suit. In other words, you may want to look at his design. I don't have a link at hand but google and you can find it easy enough.

As far as the DIY design in a TL - not sure. the folks at have a few TL specialists who could advise whether a "porting" (pun intended) of a vented design to a TL is possible and what sacrifices / gains / tweaking would be needed.

The DIYs have a higher Q (approx 0.9?). The enclosure is designed to provide a 3dB peak at approx 100Hz. This probably explains how they achieve some of the fullness of their mid-bass without sacrificing midrange ability.

I actually think I prefer them sealed with my sub however.... Without the sub (I still haven't got placement right) the ported version sounds reasonably balanced to my ears from bass to mid-bass frequencies and beyond. I intend to measure the in-room response to find the best positioning.