Dear Loudspeakerbuilding community,
I don’t really know where to start. I didn’t actually know anything about building loudspeakers until just a few months ago. It’s funny that I ended up at this website a little later by coincidence, but there I was, a mechanical engineer excitedly devouring articles about electrical engineering, vibrations and basic acoustic principles.
Soon it was clear to me – I needed to try it out for myself. Looking at the subject from the practical side was probably what I found so exciting. I had caught the bug, and I was gripped by “loudspeaker-building mania.”.
The first question that came up was which box to build. I would have loved to listen to a few of the boxes first and chosen the right one for my needs. But the journey of almost 400 km was just too far for me. So I decided to start small, and I started looking for an affordable, not-too-complicated pair of speakers for my home office because the 2.1 Creative system hooked up to my computer simply wasn’t doing it anymore. Much too bass-heavy! I was having to reset the subwoofer on every third song. After a few days of careful thought and devouring more articles on your page, I noticed the Dayton Needle. Countless positive reader comments and a fairly simple assembly solidified my decision: THOSE WOULD BE MY NEW BOXES.
So, what am I going to need? Let me skip over that part, because other than a cordless screwdriver and a couple of manual screwdrivers, I didn’t own any tools at all… ;-)
Anyway, I ordered the Needle assembly kit, and two days later it was there. Too bad, it was much too early – my vacation didn’t start for another week. But when I unpacked it, there was good news in terms of time management. It was a stroke of luck that the electrolytic capacitors were missing. Otherwise I think nothing could have stopped me from diving right in. A short phone call to Intertechnik, and the problem was soon solved. I want to thank Intertechnik again here for the friendly hotline service and for making it extremely simple to resolve the small shipping error.
Planning the appearance of the loudspeakers was an ongoing process, and I kept starting over. Inspired by many of the reader reports and after playing around with SketchUp for a while, I came up with the following design. Much to the satisfaction of my girlfriend, it all matched the colors of our living-room décor.
For the material, I wanted to use birch multiplex; that would save me the trouble of veneering it later. In addition, I thought it would require me to paint the front white otherwise. Getting a nice sophisticated shine with clear varnish sounded more like a plan.
Once the plan was set, I started on the practical implementation. For some reason I began with the frequency crossover – why on earth? I had always had trouble with electrical engineering in college. But I should give a little more background here. Weeks earlier, I had forced a work colleague to listen to my constant speeches about the wonderful world of DIY loudspeaker building. He was the one who convinced me to use a circuit board for the crossover. “I have one at home,” he said, “I’ll bring it for you tomorrow.” Long story short, I cobbled everything together and finally attached the electrolytic capacitor and the coil to the board with a little bit of hot glue.
The next day, my garage was repurposed as a box workshop. I had already had the boards cut to size at a lumber store. Since I was a little afraid of messing up my whole cabinet with a bad router cut, I started by cutting out the chassis openings on the two front panels. At the top left, in the background, you can see my completely improvised routing template. I was actually planning to build the routing template shown on this website in the workshop practice section, but the hardware store just couldn’t manage to get that stupid aluminum bar within 3 weeks (argh!) and I couldn’t wait any longer (loudspeaker-building fever).
Next, I started busily gluing. I had bought the express glue from Ponal. It wasn’t really that hard. To make sure everything held firmly, I also improvised a little here and weighed down the glued cabinet with a bag of Ytong mortar left over from a renovation project.
After I let the cabinets dry for half a day, I had to do the last cutouts. This time the cabinets were already assembled, but by now I had practiced, and everything went well. The connection terminal was larger than the back wall, so the cutouts could only be done when the cabinet was assembled, and I still wanted to add a couple of curves, which are hard to do separately on the individual pieces. I decided on the screw-in version of the cabinet base. I still wasn’t confident in my ability to solder on a crossover without any mistakes, so that would let me access everything easily.
Sanding was the next item on the agenda. It did end up taking a while, but I think the results speak for themselves.
The last two project days were spent on painting. First I used painter’s tape to block off the parts of the boxes that weren’t supposed to be white. After two layers of paint, I decided the coverage was good. The hot summer days were perfect, because at 35° C I was able to start on the second coat after just two hours of drying time. To be safe, I did wait 12 hours before putting on the clear coat because that was a little touchier.
Finally came the assembly. I used hot glue to attach the crossover to the back wall, just above the connection terminal opening. The clamps already attached to the wiring were used to connect the chassis, and I ended up using the soldering iron again to do the terminal. Finally, I added a little Sonofil to the cabinet. I followed Udo’s instructions precisely, and I paid careful attention to the width of 10 cm. What can I say, I just couldn’t manage it – on two pieces, the width was less than 10 cm. As a result, the strips could slide back and forth. I think that’s exactly why it came with two packages of Sonofil even though you only need one. Oh well, I thought, I’ll just use roughly the full width of a mat (total width of about 35 cm) and try to get three equal strips out of it. The second try worked better, and I was able to clamp the Sonofil between the side walls so nothing slid around anymore. I tightened the last screws, and it was done!!
I used a Dayton DTA-1 to connect the two speakers to my PC. I’m not a pro by any means when it comes to testing loudspeakers, but I would like to share a couple of my impressions. I did the first listening test with a CD that happened to be lying on my desk: the “Tarantino Experience” sampler. The first song was Bang Bang by Nancy Sinatra; goosebumps is probably the best word to describe it. Her voice was clear as glass, and I couldn’t suppress a grin. It was just amazing how good the distorted electric guitar sounded. What a great sound for such little money (if we generously overlook my investments in the tools). The second CD I put on was from Aerosmith – Pump. When I listened to “Janie’s Got a Gun” a bit louder, I really startled myself at the beginning. I didn’t realize how lifelike the synthesizer sound could be. But that wasn’t all – after all, a PC offers many options beyond just putting in a CD. Recently, I ran across a website where you can put together your own playlists and then listen to them. I thought of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, especially the middle part that switches off between a soloist and a chorus and then ends with a one-of-a-kind percussion and guitar section. I have to say I missed the pressure in the bass range a little bit here. Still, the Needle did a great job when you consider the small diameter of the chassis. It may still get a little better once it’s broken in. I wasn’t quite finished listening to the song when my girlfriend came into the room. “Turn it down, you know I don’t like Freddie Mercury’s voice that much. Why don’t you put on Rihanna’s “Te Amo,” she said. I had heard the song plenty of times on the radio, but I had never noticed the great sound of the drums and the fantastic acoustic guitar. You could hear someone clapping, too; suddenly I liked the song.
In summary, all I can say is that I don’t regret my blind purchase. The Needle is exactly what I needed in my office.
If you would like to build this assembly kit, you can purchase all parts from Intertechnik.