Paper Plate Surround Sound System

With the holiday season, you might turn to paper plates to cut down on dishwashing after having family or friends over. But what do you do with the extras? If you are [TKOR] you make some speakers. The process is fairly simple and if you know how a speaker works, you won’t find any surprises, but there are some neat techniques you might pick up. You can see the video below.

A drill and a steel rod help with the coil winding duty. You can probably adapt the technique to make other kinds of coils and we’d rig up an encoder to count revolutions, too.

In addition to paper plates that act as transducers, paper bowls form the back of the speakers. They wound up with 16 speakers which would have been expensive to buy, but it might not be very attractive, depending on your sense of fashion.

In the end, they used an insulation foam board to make a giant speaker, although they used an off-the-shelf driver which, you’d imagine, has better sound than the homebrew ones they were using.

How does it sound? Hard to say since you are hearing the audio over a video, but it didn’t sound bad. We liked how they suspended the foam board over the ceiling to make a full-room audio system. A little paint and some LED effects would fit decor better than the paper plates. They even cut some of the board into decorative shapes and made a logo that plays music.

These might not suit the audiophiles, since there is a lot more to a speaker than meets the eye. You can also do some speaker magic with 3D printing.

13 thoughts on “Paper Plate Surround Sound System

  1. Surround means more than just 2 channels on one wall.

    Without all the speakers being in phase it must be a mess of canceled and buzzing sounds. If the coil form touches the magnet at all it will buzz. Maybe play a guitar or synth thru them for a distorted ambient soundscape! Not fit for vocals. It would seem that the bowl is cut down too low and the spider strips will fail with the slightest change. Set the plate centered on the bowl and let the plastic flex.

    1. There are some great resources with very specific instructions about how to build speakers like this out of foam core, and it’s easy peasy. The panels are about the size of a large kitchen cabinet door, but they sound surprisingly good when placed right. My space is weird, and proper speaker placement would require jumping over the couch to watch TV. I’ve often thought of trying the panels to solve this problem. I’m a bit of a sound snob so I don’t have high hopes, but it would be a fun experiment. I’ve often wondered if smaller panels would be sufficient for surround speakers. Maybe suspended from the ceiling. Another fun experiment

    1. I can’t tell if this is wicked funny sarcasm or a serious question. I’ll address this as a serious question. No. Despite these being awful sounding speakers, the Sonos has huge advantages In the user experience. I wouldn’t recommend the Sonos for a home theater or critical listening to your favorite classical music or whatnot, but for the kitchen or the living room, bedroom, etc, Sonos is fantastic. But try it; Maybe for you the Sonos scratches your back in just the right spot for an upgrade to your TV sound and listening habits.
      Otherwise sync that Sonos cash into a decent pair of bookshelf speakers.

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