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I have been building my own speakers since I was fourteen. By the time I started work at Genesis I was twenty-five, and I had built a bunch of projects, constrained by a very limited budget and the difficulty of finding drivers of adequate quality. Here as best as I remember it are some brief descriptions of this crude assortment:
- My first actual "pair" of speakers were some horrible eight inch two way speakers using Radio Shack drivers and a completely "undesigned" port hole ... I built the boxes in a friend's father's workshop ... their appearance came close to matching their sound quality, since I covered them with some nasty brown cloth-backed textured vinyl! I think I handed these off to a girlfriend, and built the next pair which went with me to college.
- These were some slightly more interesting eight inch two-ways, with double tweeters and some awful crossover, built using some wood that was painted to be a basketball backboard. I had stopped getting taller. I remember aiming them at the back wall in my dorm room from about three feet away, using the reflected sound effect (the wall was hard, painted concrete block) to make the room seem several feet bigger. That silliness lasted about a week.
- I built some more ghastly speakers during my sophomore year - one pair I remember reused the drivers from the "backboard" speakers, with the addition of six midranges each, culled from some ancient PA columns I inherited at the Physics department "yard sale." The boxes created a sub enclosure for the midranges and some sort of odd labyrinthine venting for the woofers. How I got a lumber yard to cut and deliver all those odd bits of particle board, I don't know. I sold these to some unwitting fellow student and have no idea where they went from there.
- Also that year, I had some rather simple double 4.5" speakers (with no backs!) that somehow got stolen off my window ledge one sunny day.
- There was a pair of odd looking 12" three ways I built for a friend, the woofers were in a box screwed to the back of 4 foot high raindrop-shaped panels which housed the midranges and tweeters. The crossover was some generic catalog item, of course.
- At the same time I built myself a pair of 10" three ways, which weren't too bad, and had slightly cooler parts I suppose. The woofers had cast baskets and some funky deposited material on the cones, the midranges were 4 x 10 horns (and way too loud), the tweeters were some sort of dome as I recall. These were traded for a bicycle shortly after mine was stolen. I still have that red ten-speed at least!
- I will try to remember what filled this gap - like, what was I listening to in that apartment in Fulton after trading away my speakers for a bike?
- My last truly amateur project was a pair of fairly decent, interesting 10" three way speakers. The woofer was a surplus market sourced Becker unit similar to the one used in the Snell Type A, in a 16" x 16" x 24" box. Mounted to the top, there were two sealed back midranges (first Radio Shack 6" ones, then later some 5" Beckers) aimed at 45 degree angles, and the only piezoelectric tweeter that ever sounded at all decent (the little 2" x 6" one that starts around 4 kHz). The crossover was just a capacitor for the midranges. These speakers actually aroused some mild interest among "the guys" at Genesis when I brought them in once to run them past the Final Assembly test equipment. I painted them black, and later covered the sides with "faux sheepskin" from the remnant pile at a local fabric store, and added some outside corner wood trim to the vertical corners.
- Around this time I also made some car speakers for my '76 Vega station wagon. I believe they used Radio Shack eight inch woofers, some midrange I liked (perhaps the same as the Beckers in the previous project), and an incarnation of piezoelectric tweeter I have never seen since - they were designed to be surface mounted, about 3" square, with protective grilles built in. I "commissioned" the cabinets through a younger friend who had a buddy taking wood shop at high school. They were wedge shaped, with a big eye bolt on the rear to tie them down in the car for safety. These were eventually stolen when my now-dead car (all '76 Vegas died at 126,000 miles) was broken into at the service station I had it towed to.
- While I was at Genesis, I built some peculiar speakers for my car (yet another '76 Vega wagon!) using various sample and leftover drivers I managed to snag. The boxes were covered with fuschia and black striped fuzzy fabric and the grilles with some white fabric with pink "kisses" all over it. I believe an old girlfriend gained possession of those beauties a few years later.
- They were replaced in my car, long before they went away permanently, with some Genesis 33 woofers mounted in some crude boxes with Genesis tweeters mounted above with angle brackets. By this point I probably had some sort of Genesis hybrid prototype/demo speakers in my apartment, and I never looked back...
Luckily very little evidence of these many caustic acoustic endeavors remains!
At HUMAN Speakers I offer my hand made drivers to the public, so you won't have to suffer like I did. These consist of the most excellent concave dome tweeter which is fairly unique in its quality of sound and several small diameter, long throw woofers. I also suggest several appropriate ways to get great sound from a Do It Yourself project.
The principal design features of all my drivers are:
- low distortion
- wide frequency range
- wide dispersion (polar response)
- high power handling
You can build truly enjoyable speakers yourself at home using these parts.
7 Kelsey Road, Lee, New Hampshire 03861