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Does DIY really pay off?

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  • Does DIY really pay off?

    Hi, guys!

    I'm currently having a "discussion" with some friends.

    I want to build a speaker, but the more I think about it, the more I get second thoughts...

    On my current "project", it looks as if I'm getting to spend at least $700 on drivers, materials, shipping and customs, before I have two finished speakers looking the way I want. Also, I have to spend hours planning the thing, before building and then tweaking to get an end result that is perhaps better than what I find in the stores - and there's always a chance I get stuck with a piece of expensive crap when I'm done! :D

    On top of that, the resell value of DIY projects has to be next to nothing? Who wants to pay a lot of cash for an unknown product? It looks like people tend to be sceptical buying new $50 drivers unheard, so who'll pay, say $250-$300 for a set of unheard - used - DIY speakers?

    While I realize the end product is a result of planning skills, working skills and tweaking skills, it doesn't change the fact that you can get pretty good sounding speakers for less and less money every year, as engineering and production efficiency gets better.

    For example, in Scandinavia, we can buy the Swedish designed "Dynavoice M-65 EX" speakers, who have been awarded "speaker of the year" and different other "awards"... WITH a complete set of surround speakers that should sound OK also... and the total price is $650 for the whole package...



    So, for the question... do you honestly think you can build better speakers for the same price, or is this all about having audio as a hobby?

    I'm used to car audio environments, where you have build, mod or at least DO something no matter what you install, and there's so much easier - cheaper - ways to get active crossovers etc... I just don't see the same DIY potencial in home audio applications.

    Am I all wrong?
    Any contributions to the DIY forum at http://ultimateDIY.org are highly appreciated!

  • #2
    Re: Does DIY really pay off?

    For me it's not really about parts and material costs, resale value, etc...

    It's primarily about your jaw dropping when you hear and see speakers that you build with your bare hands... speakers that have a unique look, and maybe even a unique sound if you design the electronics yourself.

    And yes, there is lots of money to be saved up front. No question. You can absolutely spank pre-made speakers for a fraction of the cost, if you consider the labor to be enjoyable with no dollar amount associated.

    Resale value? I think you're in it for the wrong reasons if you're concerned about resale.

    There are no other speakers on earth that look exactly like this... this bit of knowledge makes me happy:

    Form does not follow function
    Form is simultaneous to function

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Does DIY really pay off?

      if you've already got the tools and equipment and you enjoy building things so much that you don't consider the time spent as money lost, then yes there is some savings building your own. It's hard to say how much you save though. A purchased pair of speakers costing $600 may sound a lot better than a DIY speaker that cost $100 in drivers and crossover components and $500 in exotic hardwood veneer and dozen coats of varnish, but the DIY speaker will look a lot nicer. On the other hand a plain MDF box spray painted flat black might cost $40 to build and the $560 you'd spend on drivers would probably sound better than any speaker you could buy for the same price. It really depends on where you're putting the money when you build your speakers.

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      • #4
        Re: Does DIY really pay off?

        Originally posted by Dr. K View Post
        On my current "project", it looks as if I'm getting to spend at least $700 on drivers, materials, shipping and customs, before I have two finished speakers looking the way I want. Also, I have to spend hours planning the thing, before building and then tweaking to get an end result that is perhaps better than what I find in the stores - and there's always a chance I get stuck with a piece of expensive crap when I'm done! :D
        Yeah, that's a lot of money on a crapshoot, unless you've got a lot of skill at speaker design. This is why it's always recommended to do a "proven" design... pretty much guaranteed good results for the money.

        On top of that, the resell value of DIY projects has to be next to nothing? Who wants to pay a lot of cash for an unknown product? It looks like people tend to be sceptical buying new $50 drivers unheard, so who'll pay, say $250-$300 for a set of unheard - used - DIY speakers?
        You're right about that.

        So, for the question... do you honestly think you can build better speakers for the same price, or is this all about having audio as a hobby?
        Well, it's fun. And it is true that a good DIY project will cost 20-50% the price of an equivalent speaker. DIY speakers are far beyond the sound quality of the stuff at "big box stores," and are on-par with boutique mid-fi and hi-fi, such speakers usually start at $1000, entry level. So yeah, us audiophile music lovers are saving ourselves some money over the boutique brands, and we get to build them to look however we want. But yeah, the resale value is pretty much nil.

        But it is fun to use saws and routers and drills, and glue up boards, and solder up components, and in the end have something that sounds really freakin' good!

        I'm used to car audio environments, where you have build, mod or at least DO something no matter what you install, and there's so much easier - cheaper - ways to get active crossovers etc... I just don't see the same DIY potencial in home audio applications.
        If car audio has any resale, it's because the parts are always brand name, and you can resell some of the parts when you want to upgrade. But putting a souped-up stereo in place of an OEM, and then selling the car used can actually negatively affect resale of the car itself.
        Last edited by Paul Carmody; 03-19-2010, 02:20 PM.
        Isn't it about time we started answering rhetorical questions?

        Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
        Twitter: @undefinition1

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        • #5
          Re: Does DIY really pay off?

          You don't do it for money, but you can slay commercial designs if you know how.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Does DIY really pay off?

            There's also the matter of how much skill and love went into the design.

            Curt's Tritrix's, for example, have no business sounding as good as they do considering how much they cost to build.

            But they sound incredible for their price, and it's a testament to Curt's skill, experience, generosity to share the design, and love of the hobby.

            How do you put a price on that?

            Safe to say that most store-bought speakers don't get the same love in their design process.
            Form does not follow function
            Form is simultaneous to function

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Does DIY really pay off?

              I suppose the "end result" based on listening preferences is very objectionable to the individual. One can spend money on a 'cheapie' and be just as happy as another one you dropped a couple of $K's and are pleased with their purchase.

              Same in diy. Some can be punchy pleased with a $100 project while others will settle for nothing less than twice that amount. Some will swear it is the only way to go. Some will have made a go at it & then can it all because it is more effort than what they figured the end product should have brought to them.

              If you are one of those who purchase something and always wish there was 1 little thing you could change or would do differently, then I would suggest at least attempting a diy project - perhaps one that has been a proven success. Now you will get a little feel of what is involved and if you are happy or you think you could even improve on it.

              Again, take in consideration if you are one who enjoys a little work and may relish in the accomplishments of your own hands.

              If some of the 'big guns' on here respond, they may be familiar with the line of products in your example and can give their opinions on if you could do better for the money.
              If dynamite was dangerous, do you think they'd sell it to an idiot like me?

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              • #8
                Re: Does DIY really pay off?

                GOOD GRIEF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There were NO posts when I started to reply. Now I am behind & have repeated info.
                If dynamite was dangerous, do you think they'd sell it to an idiot like me?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Does DIY really pay off?

                  Originally posted by lunchmoney View Post
                  There's also the matter of how much skill and love went into the design.

                  Curt's Tritrix's, for example, have no business sounding as good as they do considering how much they cost to build.

                  But they sound incredible for their price, and it's a testament to Curt's skill, experience, generosity to share the design, and love of the hobby.

                  How do you put a price on that?

                  Safe to say that most store-bought speakers don't get the same love in their design process.
                  Curt's Speaker Design Works

                  "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
                  - Aristotle

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Does DIY really pay off?

                    If you just want to build one pair of speakers, then no, unless you already have the tools or access to the tools.

                    Table saw - ~$500 to $1000
                    Router - ~$100 to $200
                    Router bits - ~$100
                    Drivers - ~$50 to however much you want to spend
                    Crossover components - ~$20 to however much you want to spend

                    Compare that to this.

                    You either build a lot of speakers, or buy a kit, or buy prebuilt and you still can hardly compete with the Behringer which you plug into the wall and a source and they are done. For $360 bucks.

                    I do it because it is cheaper than drinking or traveling.
                    Don't listen to me - I have not sold any $150,000 speakers.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Does DIY really pay off?

                      Without reading all the other posts, I'll submit my take on the matter. There is a lot more to DIY loudspeaker building than just dollars and cents. First, it's a hobby and like most any hobby, the more you get into it the more it's going to cost you.

                      You also get a certain satisfaction having built something with your own two hands. Not to mention the constant learning that comes with the hobby, you get to cover several fields. There is a definite payoff in knowledge about acoustics, music, electronics, woodworking, you name it.

                      I however do regret wasting a lot of money on blown drivers and various other failed attempts. Anyway if I was very flush, I'd go and buy myself a pair of $20,000 electrostatics.
                      Last edited by ; 03-21-2010, 05:25 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Does DIY really pay off?

                        I came to this forum, a few years ago, to build a set of speakers to save money. I build the Mini Statements for $650.00. So yes, I don't think you can even get close to these for the money. I built Jeff B. Continuum's for $260. Not sure you could come close to those on the market either. The money I spend on my own design might not sound as good as a set of Bose for the money, Ouch!! But, in the process I now have a cool hobby that I can enjoy with a world full of people. I also think this is the best therapy I could have found to relax. Sit down with a drink at the end of a hard day and listen to some music on the speakers I built with my own hands.
                        Pretty cool!
                        Dave
                        http://www.pellegreneacoustics.com/

                        Trench Seam Method for MDF
                        https://picasaweb.google.com/101632266659473725850

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Does DIY really pay off?

                          Figured this would be a topic that would create discussion. :D

                          Don't get me wrong, I do see the point with DIY speakers for indoor Hi-Fi, and I think those who are building those amazing looking speakers are excellent craftsmen!

                          Agree on using proven designs, but I enjoy designing new stuff. I'm always trying to think in different directions, which is not very compatible with the thoughts of conservative speaker designers. :rolleyes:

                          I'm primarily designing furniture. Recently I started playing with the thought of a speaker to match a AV-rack I've designed to look nice with plasma-TV's. But... To trust a DIY-design enough to waste time/money on it... Well - I think I'm just missing a reference to a well-known speaker (no matter price level, as long as I have a reference of some sort), when considering the DIY projects laying around. After all, there's a lot of biased DIY'ers evaluating their own "products", and audio is so subjective to begin with. Not less when you've built your own.

                          I bought new speakers a few years ago, paying $850 a pair - and they're nothing more than "OK" to me. No output below 40hz, a huge peak around 50hz, and below average midrange. Tweeters are excellent, though. So off course I'd like to try and build something better (can't afford stepping up from $850 with commercial speakers), but as I don't know enough about acoustics, I'm hesitating... Hey - even those who do know a lot about speaker designing, gets it wrong sometimes and usually has lots and lots of drivers laying around... :o

                          I'm just saying there is a whole lot of room for error for Average Joe, and the cost/fun ratio - at least on my part - is starting to point me in the direction of buying a premade, proven well functioning 2- or 3-way speaker, and just redesign the cabinet for it (altering dimentions, not volume). Maybe I'll add an L-pad to say I've tampered with the electronics. :rolleyes:

                          Just a thought for those wanting to design their first speaker...?

                          Allthough I realize there would be no progress for mankind, if there were no pioneers (real pioneers, not "Pioneer electronics"). :D
                          Any contributions to the DIY forum at http://ultimateDIY.org are highly appreciated!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Does DIY really pay off?

                            I'd have to say I'm right there with Lunch. I'm not in this because of my budget or because I'm trying to make a dime on it. Truth be told, I'm losing my *** monetarily every time I dig in. I have a 120W amplifier project that I've sunk over $300 into and it doesn't even have a cool needle thingy on the front. I also enjoy inhaling saw dust, body filler and paint while holding a beer with a running table saw in the background just to keep things sporty.

                            My love for this hobby stems from the fact that there's not another pair of speakers in the world that look exactly like mine; what sits before me in the living room and on the desk are the product of my imagination and the imaginations of people that share the same kind of passions.

                            Let's be honest; with exceptions of course... there are cheaper alternatives out there that sound just as good or better than DIY, but I don't appreciate any of it. All things aside, pride is about the only value DIY "anything" holds to anyone.
                            ~Mark

                            Stuff I've builded http://techtalk.parts-express.com/co...lies/smile.png

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                            • #15
                              Re: Does DIY really pay off?

                              I got into DIY to save money. I built my first pair of bookshelves for $200 and they stand up nicely to $1000 speakers from the local botique shop. I had enough fun that I was willing to completely write off the cost of time. I used all the tools in the shop at work so I didn't have to spend a lot on tools. However I enjoyed it enough that I bought a pair of routers, a bunch of clamps and bummed a chop saw and table saw from a friend with the intent of buying my own sometime.

                              Now I've built myself a bigger better pair that beat about anything I've ever heard. I've built speakers for my friends. I've built subs, and... I know how to mend broken kitchen drawers, cabinets, build bookshelves, etc. It's extremely satisfying and saves a lot of money in the long run.

                              However if you don't like working with your hands and have no desire to own tools save yourself some frustration and buy some commercial speakers.

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