Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Budget Challenge, Part 1

Recently, I've blown a massive amount of cash on speaker drivers. (When I try something, I always seem to go overboard. It's a fault of mine.)

However, most high-school students (let alone grad students), interns, and thrifty individuals cannot afford the price of even the cheapest of DIY speakers. While a $120-a-pair design might outperform $200-a-pair commercial speakers, there's not much in the $60-a-pair bracket.

While Zaph's single-driver B3S design is an excellent design with a sub-$50 pricetag, the low maximum output and lack of bass make it less than appropriate for "rocking out", as also applies to many other small single-driver designs. And buying "buyout" parts is also impractical- good as they might be, they're not going to be very useful if there are no pre-existing examples to work off of.

As a result, I'm starting a competition of sorts for a reliable, easy-to-build, and cheap speaker design. The catch is that they must have a total driver cost of less than $50 total, and that the drivers must be commercially availible - NSBs don't count. The winner wins a yet-to-be-disclosed grand prize, while the 2nd place winner wins a Linksys WUSB11 wirless adapter. (I have a spare.) 3rd place winner wins a collection of singles on CDs that I have laying around.

So, the rules are as follows:

1. Total driver cost of $50 or less. (A little more than $50 is okay.)
2. Simple crossovers. No more than 2nd order, if possible - this helps keep the cost down.
3. No single-driver speakers, unless they're usable down to 60hz.
4. Reasonably high output level - preferably at least 100 db/1m before clipping.

Ideally, I'd like to see some transmission lines or towers - good bass is priority.

And now, for a few reccomended drivers:

1. Silver Flute W14RC25($17)
This woofer was featured by Zaph in one of his low-end designs, and while I can't tell you much other than that it was a transmission line, I recall that it's been used successfully in another design with the Hi-Vi K1 tweeter ($9).

2. Peerless 830392 5.25" woofer ($10)
Madisound's had these in stock for ages. Peerless is a good brand - for $10, how can you lose?

3. Hi-Vi W4-654 woofer ($18)
While this might be more appropriate for a smaller speaker, its large frequency range means a simple crossover.

4. Dayton DA175 ($18)
This driver offers good performance - and good bass - at a very reasonable price. Far, far better than the dayton "classic" woofer.


1. Hi-Vi K1 ($9)
An all-around decent performer - and cheap, too!

2.Aurasound NT1-204-8D titanium-dome tweeter($8.50)
This seems to require a somewhat high crossover point (~3khz), but is supposed to perform well.

3. Vifa D19TD05 3/4" soft dome ($15)
I think that this is similar to the tweeter used in the Paradigm Atoms.

4. Vifa D20TD05 3/4" soft dome ($16.50)

5. "Shielded Soft Dome Tweeters" (A.K.A. Meiloon tweeters) ($7.50)
These were used to great effect on the PE board - they're supposed to be quite good.

6. Dayton ND20FB 3/4" soft-dome tweeter ($5)
This driver tweeter offers nice performance at a very low pricetag...above 5khz.

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