DIY Subwoofer Guidance

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by apn73, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. apn73

    apn73 Stunt Coordinator

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    Hello All, New to the forum and picking up a lot I didn't know. One of the things that I did not know was that you can build your own subwoofer that will outperform anything on the market, supposedly, and I'm interested in learning more about it. I currently have a stardard 5.1 surround system consisting of a Polk Audio (SW-10 I believe) sub and the rest of the speakers are Paradigm. The front channels are Titans, center chanel is a CC-170 and the surrounds are ADP-170's. The critical specs on the Titans are sensitivity = 91 dB @ 1w, F.R. = 65 hz to 20 khz and supposedly they have a low frequency extension of 40 hz. These are all driven by a Harman/Kardon AVR 300 that puts out 60 watts in stereo or 50 watts in surround, HCC is +/- 35 amps. The room is 14'-6" x 13'-8" with a pergo floor in it, so pretty small for a home theatre set up. I would love to have a subwoofer that will reach down to 25 hz, but I am more than willing to give up some floor shaking for clean and tight bass performance. I have always heard and read that you should timbre match your speakers, but the one exception is the subwoofer, but I want to be very careful to have a sub that compliments the rest of system as opposed to over powering it or having something that just doesn't sound quite right. I'm looking for guidance on where to begin with this, do I get a sub with a 10" woofer or a 12? Sealed or vented? Two 8" woofers working in tandem? Can I accomplish this for something south of $400, or am I going to have to pony up more cash than that? The Mrs. would definitely appreciate it if I kept it on the smaller side, kind of like the current sub. I've also noticed that two of the players in the DIY sub game are defunct, Adire and Acoustic Visions, who else is out there? Any help that you folks can offer will be very much appreciated. Thanks, Adam.
     
  2. apn73

    apn73 Stunt Coordinator

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    I guess I should have also specified that this is a 50/50 music and HT system. Thanks, Adam.
     
  3. Mr645

    Mr645 Stunt Coordinator

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    Basically, sealed boxes typically sound tighter, more controlled, but don't have as much output or reach as low. Ported boxes reach lower, are louder but often don't sounds as refined. The key is to select a driver and build a box of the correct style and internal size to make the driver work properly. Many years ago I built a pair of subs for a house. I selected two 10" drivers designed for cars. The drivers required a sealed box with 2.25 to 2.75 cubic feet. I used 3/4 MDF that was screwed at glued together and everything worked really well. Today's receivers should have a decent crossover so all you need is an amp, one with a lot of headroom. The amp is the expensive part, you need something that can handle huge peaks, deal with a possibly unusual resistance curve, since there is no higher frequency drivers. Oh, most car audio subs are very, very well made, very durable, but are 4 ohm and some even 2 ohm. Again, choose the amp carefully.
     
  4. Mike Thomass

    Mike Thomass Stunt Coordinator

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    the building part is fairly easy, even if you dont know what youre doing figuring out cabinet size and what speaker and such is beyond my ability robert j has guided me along on my current dual 15" sub build, and i would imagine he just might be willing to give you the advice/guidance you need you know you will need some tools: pencil plunge router some type of router circle cutting jig 1/4" spiral upcut bit jigsaw tape measure long straight edge speed square power drill with a bit power sander titebond II glue clamps. lots of clamps. 90 degree clamps bondo flush trim bit round over bit (optional, for looks only) laquer sanding sealer various grits of sandpaper (hand/block sanding) primer spray paint 12awg speaker wire soldering iron small piece of 1/4" plywood or something else to hold crossover parts wire cutter/stripper glue gun and/or plastic zip ties screwdriver(s) some type of acoustic stuffing weatherstripping (or something else to make a seal) this list is from my tower speaker build, so you wont need the tools for the crossover (soldering iron, plywood, glue gun, screwdriver) heres some pics of my subs to motivate if you need it as far as $400 goes, sounds doable with my limited knowledge. i think rob will suggest something like Behringer A500 amp and then a couple of these those parts would come to about $320, then you need a sheet or two of MDF ($30 a sheet), some wire, terminals, paint, etc. should be right about where you want to be. now, the above amp/driver combo is just a guess. you will get precise guidance soon, im sure. please do not take my amp/driver suggestion without any other input form others.:D
     
  5. apn73

    apn73 Stunt Coordinator

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    I have read through some of Robert J's other posts on the subject and he definitely sounds like the man, so I hope he chimes in. What I'm hearing (or reading I should say) is that I choose a driver and then build everything else around the driver, so the question I have is how do I go about doing that? Do I need to try and find people who have build there own sub and see how they sound? Can I accomplish clean, tight and accurate at 25 hz, or am I not going to accomplish that at $400? I need to figure out a driver that is going to get me somewhere near there, that sounds like the challenge.
     
  6. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    I suggest you find the largest enclosure you can live with and then find the driver / amp combination that works in that box while still staying in your budget. $400 is a great budget to start with for parts. If you have to buy tools with that as well then I suggest you go with a proven internet direct sub maker.
     
  7. apn73

    apn73 Stunt Coordinator

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    Who do you suggest for an internet direct sub maker? Once I figure out the size of the enclosure and then pick out a driver size, then which brand of driver do you suggest? I'm sure that can go from cheap to over the top in terms of the price, and I'm sure the performance will do likewise.
     
  8. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    Internet sub manufacturers: Elemental Designs Epik Subwoofers Lava Subs SV Sound Hsu Research Emotiva Audio Drivers: Dayton (Parts Express) TC Sounds Fi Car Audio Sundown Audio Obsidian Audio Alpine AE Speakers PSI Car Audio Not all drivers will work well in a home theater environment. Just because I mentioned a company doesn't mean that any of their drivers will work in your situation. That's just a quick list. For example, from Dayton I like the RS series but only the HF models. The Titanics work as well but aren't a good value. TC Sounds are great but very expensive. Fi has great subs but some are 3 times your budget. Sundown has some great drivers. Same with Obsidian since they are closely related to Sundown. The Alpine Type R is an overlooked home theater driver. AE Speakers has great drivers but you have to wait on them. PSI is my current favorite. You can have a driver built to your needs. I've had a few built for me.
     
  9. apn73

    apn73 Stunt Coordinator

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    After looking at a couple of those internet direct firms I'm wondering if that is the way to go. I've got most of the listed tools accept for the clamps and rotor, but some of those subs are cheap! I don't how those Lavas sound, but $250 for a sub that can reach down to 24 hz?! It seems like they have gotten pretty good reviews around this forum. Anybody here have them paired up with Paradigms? How do they sound? Seems like HSU's are getting pretty good reviews as well. This sounding like a pretty good option, unless the DIY's are really that much better????
     
  10. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    If you e-mail Lava with your HTF ID, you get a special discount coupon. At their price points, the different Lava subs are difficult to beat. DIY is better. $400 will get you performance on par with the SVS 12" Plus models. For example, the TC Sounds Epic 12 http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=293-650 is on sale for $169. Add a 500w BASH amp http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=300-752 for $189 and you have the bulk of the parts that you need. Put that in a big, ported box and you will crush the Lava subs. I'd put performance between an SVS PB12 NSD and a PB12 Plus.
     
  11. Mike Thomass

    Mike Thomass Stunt Coordinator

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    You dont absolutely need a router. that parts list was from my tower build which i needed to flush mount the speakers. you dont need to flush mount the subwoofer. you can use a compass and make the required circle and jigsaw it out. it wont be a perfect circle, but it wont need to be.if you look at my subs in the other thread, the inner circle was cut with a jigsaw. pretty good imo. the frame will rest on the mdf. just a matter if you like the look with the rim of the speaker sticking up off the face of the cabinet. i dont see how you can make a cabinet without clamps however. i bought a bunch of these clamps from harbor freight and they work great imo. i got some corner clamps like these for like a dollar each. i dont recall if these are the same ones and they were on sale or if the dollar ones are smaller. if you are going to buy clamps from harbor freight, do not, do not, do not, do not, buy the ratchet bar clamp spreader things they sell with the orange pads. they are absolute pure junk and will break almost immediately.
     
  12. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    I have those clamps. I also have those clamps. I used those clamps and agree 100%.
     
  13. apn73

    apn73 Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm approaching this as a person who really doesn't know what the heck he is doing when it comes to this sort of thing. I don't have the time or the money to experiment with something that appears to involve significant engineering, in other words this is something that I am looking to do once and not have to worry about it for a long time. That being the case I'm wondering if a DIY sub is right for someone like me, even if the DIY's are better and a bigger bang for the buck over the commercially available equipment. Several of you on this forum sound like you have built (many of them in some cases) successfull DIY subs, but it also sounds like something you have had to work on to make work properly and that concerns me. Especially with sound equipment where the rule is to listen to many and see what sounds best to your ears. I am going to have no idea how this is going to sound before outlaying cash and investing a lot of time. I would hate to invest in this venture only to find out that I did not select the right equipment for the job or botch the thing during construction and have to start over. All this being said, what are your thoughts? Am I being a wuss for not wanting to spend time or money on this, or am I being realistic? Thanks, Adam.
     
  14. Mike Thomass

    Mike Thomass Stunt Coordinator

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    apn, you sound like i did i built the D8 towers without a clue about how things worked and how they would sound. im quite happy with them. do they sound good? they sound good to me. they sound as good or better to me as the $2000 a pair speakers i heard at best buy. that could be because i have an untrained ear, or it could be because the speakers at best buy were set wrong (receiver settings), or it could be that mine are simply better. not sure. however, while i didnt want to waste money, it wouldnt be a huge burden to me if i tried it and ended up not liking the results. maybe its different for you thing is, the engineering is already done if you simply choose a project that has been done and has gotten good reviews. it seems to be the same story with subs, but it appears (i say appears because im the furthest thing from an expert) theres less to worry about with subs. if you really want to try DIY but are worried about cash and results, i would say that you could build a sub based on advice here (robertj is quite knowledgeable) and be very happy with the results and for the rest of your speakers you should audition them in person and buy off the shelf. that way you know what youre getting.
     
  15. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    It all depends on your personality. $400 is a big gamble for you. It is for me also. I sure wouldn't take that to the casino and bet it because I would probably lose. On the other hand, I have no fear at all of spending that on a DIY project. I've spent much more because I have the confidence that I can solve any problem that comes up. I've taken a $1,000 of random parts and built a rifle with nothing but the guidance of You Tube and a forum. I'm in the middle of doing it again because it was so much fun the first time. Same with subs but not in the sense you are talking about. I have parts (magnets, cones, frames, voice coils, etc) to build my subs. It's fun for me. My next DIY goal is amplifier repair. To me, not much different than computer repair. And yes, I have fried a motherboard (flame & smoke fried!!!). If you go to Mike's thread, he seemed to have the same reservations as you and I stepped him through the process. Your budget is a little smaller but that shouldn't deter you. I have given you links to a driver and an amp. Here's the plans - http://www.creativesound.ca/pdf/SubDuction-plans-290307.pdf . Use the 3rd set of plans in the pdf but ignore the amp housing. Not needed here and it will give you just a little more air space. It's about $30 for a sheet of MDF and a pair of these http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=268-350 . You are set. A router won't be necessary. If you find a guy that is careful at Home Depot, they can even do the major cuts for you. No need for clamps. Glue and screw will work. Just pre-drill the holes. Take the screws out after the glue dries and use wood filler to eliminate the holes. And another satisfied "customer" - I can do more than just home audio. His goal was SPL and he designed the box. We built it in my driveway over 2 days and that included carpeting.
     
  16. Mike Thomass

    Mike Thomass Stunt Coordinator

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    oh yeah, glue and screw. i forgot about that option. i guess clamps arent needed after all with regards to getting the wood cut at homedepot, thats what i do, but i give them slightly larger measurements and i use a router with a flush trim bit to cut off the excess. as indicated, if they cut the wood well, you can do without the trim bit and router. i will probably use the router and trim bit method every time however, since i have a router and a bit, and it seems to make it easier for me.
     
  17. apn73

    apn73 Stunt Coordinator

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    You guys are starting to make me really think about this. I searched around parts-express.com and couldn't find MDF sheets, where can I find that? Do I have options of exterior finish of the MDF, or am I creating my own? I would at least like the thing to look like it belongs in the living room (aka: pass the Mrs. test). Are you guys installing insulation in these?
     
  18. Mike Thomass

    Mike Thomass Stunt Coordinator

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    you get the MDF at homedepot basic finishing options i am aware of are paint, veneer, and speaker carpet. if you are talented, you can do some creative combination stuff or whatever you like. you can look at my thread and see my towers done in flat black. i like the look and think they came out well, and i have no special skills. fill, sand, primer, sand, primer, sand, paint. as far as your wife approving goes, show her the pics of my speakers. if she likes those, anything you do should be good, because you should be able to duplicate that at least. since it all seems so glamorous to you at the moment, heres the not so glamorous side: cutting mdf with a jigsaw and/or router creates lots of dust unless you have some dust collection system set up in your shop which im guessing you dont. spray paint gives off fumes. i spray in my attached garage and we can smell the fumes in the house. not overpowering, but enough to be annoying.
     
  19. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    MDF comes from Lowes, Home Depot or your local lumber yard. It is 49" x 97" x .75" and weighs about 90 pounds. MDF is like particle board but the particles are much finer. Almost like pressed wood dust. The density helps in keeping the vibrations to a minimum as does the bracing. Exterior finish is really up to you. Painting bare MDF isn't recommended. The ends will soak up paint like a sponge. I usually apply a single coat of sanding sealer all over the enclosure and then a 2nd coat on the ends of the boards that are visible. After that, paint. Others use a wood veneer. That can be cheap to $$$$ depending on the wood chosen. African Bubunga looks awesome and is priced accordingly. This guy used MDF and covered it in 1/4" oak - http://www.danmarx.org/audioinnovation/tc3000.html . Depending on the rest of the furniture, oil or stain would be easy to do after this. Here's a combination painted MDF / stained baffle. http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/rlj5242/100_0927.jpg Ignore the dust. My wife would kill me if she knew I posted dusty pictures. Ported subs don't benefit much from being stuffed. As Mike and I have discussed in the other thread and via PM, a few cheap pillows from Wal-Mart do the trick. If you go with the 4 cubic foot enclosure, try 4 to 6 pillows. Or a 5 pound box of bulk polyfil. You don't have to build a box. You can use a concrete form (sonotube) to make a cylinder enclosure like this - http://home.comcast.net/~audio-worx/page88Tube-Zilla1.html . I copied the SVS CS Plus http://web.archive.org/web/20060320200625/http://www.svsound.com/products-sub-cyl-csplus1.cfm subs. In fact, I picked up a pair of used drivers just like in the picture. I built an enclosure the same size. I used the same technique as the guy that built Tube-zilla. I covered the sub in carpet from Parts Express. Here's my base plates - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/rlj5242/100_2236.jpg I traded them to the guy in the earlier video for a custom built, 18" sub based on a TC Sounds 3HP motor structure. It is a low-end monster sub. By low, I don't mean cheap. I mean it will play deep. Here's what you want it to look like - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y78/rlj5242/DSC00326.jpg Those are MDF, covered in Wilsonart laminate. Sanded and Bondoed (can Bondo be used as a verb?). They are then sent to an auto body shop and painted with the same paint used by Porsche. Buffed and waxed they have the same finish as a car. The black ones in the background go for $55,000 / pair. The silver ones are cheap at only $12,500 / pair.
     

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