Top five mistakes of new speaker builders:

1. Not understanding the relationship between the driver and the box. Drivers have a set of electrical/mechanical parameters that determine the correct box size and type. One cannot put a random driver into a random box and expect good results.

2. Not understanding the relationship between the crossover and the driver in the box. These same electrical/mechanical parameters of drivers make every driver/box combination unique so crossovers must be custom designed for each speaker. There is also much more to crossovers than just the high pass and low pass filters. Many low end parts distributors want you to think these are simple devices that are interchangeable, particularly automotive part suppliers. They are not. The crossover is the hardest part in speaker building.

3. Thinking expensive drivers are going to give great results. Some drivers are easier to make into great speakers than others. Expensive drivers generally have more potential than cheaper drivers but are also harder to build into good speakers. If you are designing from scratch, the likelihood of success will go up ten fold if you choose easy to tame moderately priced drivers over expensive drivers.

4. Expecting great results from cheap drivers. There are a lot of designs on the web using cheaper drivers with long descriptions of great sound. It is often hard to parse the reality from the fantasy in these designs. There are some designs that use less expensive drivers that sound good but it is hard to know from the reviews what they really sound like. Try to actually listen to a design before you build or use the recommended designs. Keep in mind that many sites have a "gallery" of user designs. These galleries generally have no submission criteria so there is no guarantee the designs in the gallery are any good. Don't assume all gallery projects are worthwhile. The second part of this error is combing parts catalogs and convincing yourself you have discovered some jewel of a driver nobody has ever heard of. This gets even stickier if the driver touts exotic materials technology or looks really cool. This kind of exploration is for the advanced builder. Most beginners will get the best results from a proven design and paying a little extra for quality components.

5. Not knowing what good speakers sound like. This is a tough one because if you build a lousy speaker and love the sound, then who cares? But a lot of people want to learn about good sound and move toward a system that will satisfy for years. If speaker building is a one time event, then a good quality kit is really the only way to go. If speaker building is a developing hobby, then learning what sounds good is key to future successful projects. The best bet is to begin with a great sounding kit and then try to better it with your own designs.

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Copyright Peter Jay Smith 2005 Return to