now that my first do-it-yourself loudspeakers are finished, I’m ready to deliver my building report.
My project started the way it did for many other people – I was looking for DIY loudspeakers, and after looking at a few other pages, I ended up here. Then I spent about 2 weeks reading building reports, or rather devouring them. It was incredibly exciting to read about what some people manage to cobble together in their basements or bathrooms. Ok, so the initial decision was made: it would be a speaker from Lautsprecherbau.de. But which one? After all, it was possible that all of those sound reports were a little embellished. After some consideration, I decided on the FT9. I needed a couple of PC speakers anyway. My Logitech system, which cost me around 250 euros at one point, had given up the ghost about 6 months earlier.
One reason was that I really liked the FT9s. At the same time, I figured if they weren’t as great as the descriptions said, I wouldn’t have lost too much money. So I clicked through the shop and ordered them. Two days later, there was a package on my doorstep with a couple of cute little loudspeakers in it. Then I was off to the OBI hardware store to have some MDF cut to size. I already had a piece of pine laminate at home that I wanted to use for the front. I didn’t document the individual steps of gluing it together – I’m embarrassed to say I forgot. But they are already shown clearly enough in the magazine report.
After gluing it together, I labeled the box so I would know which side was which, and I used a belt sander with #60 grit to sand the surfaces that weren’t a 100% accurate fit. Since I saw a veneer I really liked here, I had ordered it in advance, and now I was finally able to use it. After a couple of failed attempts with glue, I decided on the adhesive method. The veneer is from Templin veneers and is called Padouk.
I did discover, though, that all this wasn’t as easy as I had expected. Since the veneer was fairly thick, I had some problems with the edges. But finally, after plenty of cursing, lots of cracks and even more patching, I managed to attach the veneer to both of the boxes.
Why hadn’t I glued on the front side right away? Hmm, there had been some reason, but what was it? Then the scales fell from my eyes and I realized I wouldn’t be able to close the door! I had forgotten the cutout where I wanted to install the pine wood! So I started up the router again. Oh well, it ought to be dry by now, it should work.
Not really! The veneer ripped and cracked in a few places where I attacked it with the router. Okay. So I gathered up the pieces and did some more patching. Finally, it worked. I recessed the pine board 1 cm. Then came the next shock. The boards had warped and I needed to use some screw clamps. Once the clamps had pushed my boards back into position, it looked like this:
Then I used a compass to cut out the holes and put in the speakers. Please forgive me, my mind was somewhere else again and I forgot to take pictures. But I’m sure everyone here has seen a cutout in the magazine at some point.
In the next step, I was a little too hasty. I oiled the cabinets after I had sanded them with #180 sandpaper. All on the same day, which wasn’t one of my better ideas, as it turned out. The oil and the glue weren’t exactly compatible. The result was that the veneer came off in a few places because the oil attacked the glue. It could also be that I was just too impatient and the glue wasn’t completely hardened yet. After some more wild cursing and plenty of patching, it was time to put together all the other strange things that had come in the box. I had found some feet at OBI, between the curtains and chair accessories. In this case, they were things you were supposed to attach to the bottom of chair legs. Well, I thought, I don’t necessarily need to slide them across a wooden floor, but they should work fine underneath my boxes.
Ok, now I could finally have a listen. I connected them to my old Marantz amplifier. Drumroll, please! Whoa, that sure sounds sh***y…! What’s going on??? Totally muffled, like there’s a curtain in front of it! I connected them to my DTA1 – same thing! Huh! Could it be that I had expected too much after all of those glowing sound reports?
I didn’t have a clue, so I wrote an email right away and described my problem. After a short time, the answer came back: “Did you try checking your frequency crossover?” A genius, that man, I should have thought of that myself. So I unscrewed the boxes and look at that, there was my mistake. On both of them!
So I re-soldered them, screwed everything back together and put some music on. Drumroll, please! Hmm! It was better, but still not great. Then I remembered what terrible acoustics the room had. My blockboards and tall ceilings really didn’t help. How were the little guys supposed to fill up this big tall room, I wondered. That’s never going to work. Why did I build them again? Oh right, for my computer. So it was up to the loft with the boxes, where I connected them to the computer with the DTA1 and look at that, there was the beautiful sound.
I don’t have the experience or the right vocabulary to write a great sound description now. But in my own words, let me just say that they’re the best PC loudspeakers I’ve ever heard. My old Logitech system can’t even hold a candle to them. It’s incredibly fun listening to music on my PC now. I even caught myself downloading a couple of instrumental songs on iTunes (normally I listen to trance, party hits and metal). The first song was Victory Celebration from Return of the Jedi. After that, it was time for The Bonny Swans from Loreena McKennitt. What can I say, just super! I’ve never heard such clear music before. You can hear every individual instrument instead of a mixed-up stew. And of course I listened to my loud party music too. Not bad, but the other music is more fun. I wouldn’t trade these loudspeakers for anything. After warming up for a couple of days, they even sound a notch better. The negative is that I like listening to loud music. When the volume’s too high, they start to squawk. But that’s a picky complaint, because when I say loud, I mean really loud. And for PC loudspeakers, they’re more than adequate.
After a couple of days, the oil had cured, too, so I was able to roll on a layer of clear varnish from Clou. Now they look like this:
Meanwhile, I finally made my way to the legendary sofa and listened to the Duettas that everyone is always talking about. What can I say? My mouth was hanging open for about an hour. Amazing! They’re not exaggerating. I really recommend that everyone go there sometime, it’s totally worthwhile. I read here once that it was a former hippie tinkering away in a hole-in-the-wall shop. No offense, Udo! It’s true, but it’s meant in a very positive way. You just feel at home there, because he has a good answer to every question and he gives you all the time in the world. I’ll definitely go there again sometime. It was my first project, but not my last, and I’m definitely never buying ready-made speakers again. I’m already thinking about my next project, the SB 240.
If anyone is still undecided about whether DIY is the right thing for you: people, do it! The FT9 is a great loudspeaker for beginners like me. Because the cabinets are small, you can try out various things to see what you like. The material costs really aren’t bad, so you could even build two or three cabinets. The ones above are my second attempt.
I hope you enjoyed my report, and maybe it made you smile a bit. Big thanks to everyone for the fast responses, and thank you for a great demonstration of the greatest sound experience I’ve ever had.
Talk to you soon!