Building The World’s Best DML Speakers For Under $115

Flat panel speakers are heavily reliant on the material they’re mounted on for the best acoustic quality. In particular, for DML (distributed mode loudspeaker) speakers, sound is produced through the distribution of vibration modes in the panel. You can easily spend far too much on special exciter foam or optimized materials for producing the best quality sound.

[Tech Ingredients] does a deep dive into how to build high-quality and low-cost DML speakers using some interesting materials, such as acoustic ceiling tiles and styrofoam. He analyzes their frequency based on the material and shape used and demonstrates how a full setup sounds with studio microphones and stereo speakers installed. The shapes can allow the resonances for different speakers to be translated so that they don’t overlap – peaks can be matched with troughs to produce a more even sound. Squares with rounded edges work the best for translating the resonance.

Balsa wood is mainly used for low frequencies and styrofoam for high frequencies, although the ceiling tiles work as well as either material and are significantly cheaper. Rather than retrofitting into drop ceiling metal frames, he instead installs his panels vertically. He shows the process for preparing the styrofoam and ceiling tiles for hanging, including tips for creating a makeshift circular saw for punching out holes and securing cotter pins with epoxy.

[Tech Ingredients] goes through experimenting with unusual shape and material combinations in order to produce the best possible speakers. It’s a fascinating video that walks through the ins and outs of DIYing your own set of speakers, and it’s worth a watch even just to hear about the acoustic properties of materials.

[Ed Note: Yes, this video is a bit long in the tooth, but we keep getting tips for it, so it’s news to someone! And it’s cool regardless. But feel free to skip on if you’ve seen this one before.]

[Thanks Digital Corpus for the tip!]

14 thoughts on “Building The World’s Best DML Speakers For Under $115

  1. It seems like active eq to counter the panel’s frequency response would be the best way to mitigate the non-uniform response. A cheap DSP like an ADAU1701 would be an ideal choice.. Sigma Studio even has modules for auto-response correction. /shrug

    Awesome vid though. Well done research.

    1. There is also an issue of the takeoff phase of different frequencies of sound though that medium this appears to be why you carve up the panel to broaden it’s bandwidth and flatten out it’s frequency response.

    1. I assume you want to go for horrible sound then? Just kidding. Sounds like an interesting concept (no pun intended this time). I work for museums (think interactive installations) and I have used Exciters before to make panels emit sound, so I will definitely look into this further!

  2. This guy sure has a lot of vanity. Worlds best speakers! Perhaps it’s in the eye of the beholder. Certainly don’t share his opinion.

    But it’s an interesting take on messing about with audio which is always fun.

  3. You can hear the echo and standing waves when he speaks in that room. His testing is flawed from the start. He can not really tell the speakers from the room.

    Interesting thought though, and I would use pink noise instead of sweeps, but if you tried enough speakers in a room at some point in time you would start to see similar trends in all of them that would be room effects.

    1. Ha indeed, all his ‘world best speakers’ videos are so flawed (measurementwise, theorywise, electroacousticwise) it makes me cringe as an audio engineer. True DML is theoretically interesting but I never heard a good practical example that sounds better than your off the shelve cheap ass hifi speakers. Also, I built several DMLs in the far far past in aim to maximize performance for a project relying solely on portable battery powered speakers (styrofoam actually sounded optimal to me)

      1. Not that I doubt you, but could you list your gripes with the videos on speaker design? As entirely the wrong type of engineer I don’t know where to start with speaker design. I thought the videos were very accessible.

      2. I’ve build the styrofoam panel speakers he described and measured them in the room they hang in and used the measurement to calculate an eq that is imported into a miniDSP 2×4 HD. The result is a prety flat curve with really clean and wide sounding speakers. The attack on them is insane, the details you hear are awesome, escpecially in high end. Plus they really fill a room and they don’t sound a lot different when you don’t stand right in front of them. It was well worth the effort and the money.

  4. This same concept has been used on aircraft recently to hide the speakers and has resulted in surprisingly high quality audio with a relatively flat response. It does require special processing unique to the aircraft though.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.