Building Distributed Mode Loudspeakers With Plywood

Distributed-mode loudspeakers work rather differently from the typical drivers used in 99% of applications. Instead of using piston-like motion to create sound waves, they instead rely on exciting an entire panel to vibrate and thus produce sound. [JGJMatt] decided to build a pair of bookshelf-sized units, with great results.

The build begins with a pair of 44mm DML exciters, readily available online. These had to be modified to remove their stock metal mounting plates that degraded the sound output in early tests. Instead, 3D printed pieces were used to mount the exciters to the 3mm plywood boards, which were lasercut to act as the main DML panels. Additionally, whizzer cones were fitted to the panels in an effort to further boost the high frequency response of the speakers. The speaker stands are assembled out of more 3D printed pieces and aluminium rods, giving a clean, modern look to the final product.

The performance of the speakers is admirable based on the test video, though [JGJMatt] notes that they should be paired with a subwoofer in use as the DML units do not readily produce frequencies below 100Hz. We’ve seen similar builds before on a larger scale, too. Video after the break.

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An Epic Quest For A Motorized Volume Knob

[Haris Andrianakis] likes his Logitech Z623 sound system. He likes it a lot. Which is why he was willing to hack in his own remote volume control rather than just get a new pair of speakers. But he certainly didn’t make things easy on himself. Rather than trying to tap into the electronics, he decided to take the long way around and motorize the volume knob.

The belt drive looked great, but didn’t work.

The idea seemed simple enough. Just drill a hole through the PCB behind the knob’s potentiometer, attach some kind of extension to the axle, and turn it with a small servo. Modifying the PCB and potentiometer went well enough, but the trouble came when [Haris] actually tried to turn the thing.

Attaching the servo directly to the axle worked, but it made turning the knob by hand extremely difficult. His next idea was to add a small belt into the mix so there would be some slip in the system. But after designing a 3D printed servo mount and turning custom pulleys on the lathe, it ended up having too much slip, and the knob didn’t always move when the servo turned.

He then swapped out the servo for a small stepper motor. The motor was easy enough to spin when powered down, but didn’t have quite enough torque to turn the knob. He tried with a larger stepper motor that he salvaged from an old printer, but since he could only run it at half the recommended 24 VDC, it too had a tendency to skip steps.

After experimenting with some 3D printed reduction gears, [Haris] finally stumbled upon the 28BYJ-48. This small stepper with an integrated gearbox proved to be the perfect solution, as it had enough muscle to turn the knob while at the same time not restricting its movement when powered down. The rest of the project was relatively easy; with a DRV8825, an ESP8266, and an IR receiver, he’s able to spin the stepper with his TV’s remote. A simple web page running on the ESP8266 even allows him to control volume over the network with his smartphone. Based on similar projects we’ve seen, he could probably add support for HDMI CEC as well.

[Haris] says you shouldn’t follow his example, but we’re not so sure. He kept going when others would have given up, and the engineering and thought that went into each attempt is certainly commendable. Even if he hadn’t ultimately gotten this project working, we’d still say it was a valiant hack worthy of praise.

3D Printed Speaker Uses DSP For Ultimate Performance

Speaker design used to be as much about woodwork as it was about advanced acoustic mathematics. In recent decades, technologies such as digital signal processing and 3D printing have changed the game significantly. Leaning heavily on these techniques, [ssashton] developed a design called Mr. Speaker.

The speaker contains a 3″ woofer for good bass response, and twin tweeters to deliver stereo audio. Using WinISD to help do the requisite calculations on porting and volume, [ssashton] designed a swooping 3D printed enclosure with a striking design. Sound comes into the unit through an off-the-shelf Bluetooth module, before being passed to an ADAU1401 digital signal processing unit. From there, it’s passed to a mono amp to drive the woofer and a stereo one for the tweeters.

To get the flattest frequency response possible and maintain linear phase, it’s all about DSP in this case. RePhase software was used to design a DSP filter to achieve these goals, helping the speaker to produce the desired output. The ADAU1401 DSP was then programmed using Sigma Studio, which also allows the designer to do things such as split outputs for seperate woofer and tweeter drives.

[ssashton] does a great job of explaining both DSP principles and old-school speaker design tricks, from phase plugs to reflections. The use of 3D printed parts to rapidly iterate the design is impressive, too. We’d love to see the final enclsoure get an acetone smoothing treatment to really take it over the edge.

If you’re into serious speaker design and want more, be sure to check out this advanced transmission line design. For those of you with your own builds with some nifty tricks, drop us a note on the tipline.

 

3D Printing Transmission Line Speakers

Anyone who has played with speakers on the workbench knows the huge difference enclosure design makes to the frequency response of an audio system. Speakerheads spend hours tinkering with designs and calculations, aiming to get the best out of a given set of drivers. [HexiBase] decided to try some experiments of his own, running into some hurdles along the way.

[Hexibase] aimed to 3D print a compact transmission line design, to suit a pair of 1 1/8″ full-range drivers. Being aware of the benefits of high-resolution resin 3D printing, he set out to print a design taking full advantage of the build volume of his Longer 3D Orange 30 printer. Unfortunately, after much fiddling with slicer settings, the printer turned out to have a fundamental fault, leading to unusable prints.

Undeterred, [Hexibase] switched to using his Longer FDM model instead. Printing out the enclosures in PLA. he noted that the different material will have a slightly altered frequency response than originally intended. Regardless, the final result sounds great, and barring some higher-frequency anomalies, the output correlates well with the mathematical model of expected performance.

3D printers make great tools for budding speaker builders, as they make constructing advanced geometries a cinch. Of course, you can even try and 3D print the drivers themselves if you’re so inclined. Video after the break.

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Swap Your Microwave For A High Voltage Stereo

When building a new project, common wisdom suggests to avoid “reinventing the wheel”, or doing something simple from scratch that’s easily available already. However, if you can build a high-voltage wheel, so to speak, it might be fun just to see what happens. [Dan] decided to reinvent not the wheel, but the speaker, and instead of any conventional build he decided to make one with parts from a microwave and over 6,000 volts.

The circuit he constructed works essentially like a Tesla coil with a modulated audio signal as an input. The build uses the high voltage transformer from the microwave too, which steps the 240 V input up to around 6 kV. To modulate that kind of voltage, [Dan] sends the audio signal through a GU81M vacuum tube with the support of a fleet of high voltage capacitors. The antenna connected to the magnetron does tend to catch on fire somewhere in the middle of each song, so it’s not the safest device around even if the high voltage can be handled properly, but it does work better than expected as a speaker.

If you want a high-voltage speaker that (probably) won’t burn your house down, though, it might be best to stick to a typical Tesla coil. No promises though, since working with high voltages typically doesn’t come with safety guarantees.

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Cheap Speakers Sound Good With Easy Open Baffle Design

If you’ve spent any time around audio gear at all, you’ll know that enclosure design is as critical as the speaker drivers themselves. [Frank Olson] demonstrates this ably, with his open baffle design for some cheap off-the-shelf speakers.

[Frank]’s aim was to do a comparison between using no enclosure, and an open baffle design, with a pair of 2″ full-range speakers. These drivers are nothing special; just a low-cost part that you’d find in any cheap set of computer speakers. [Frank] screws the drivers into a thin, flat wooden board, and then adds a supporting strut to allow the speakers to stand on their own.

The comparison makes it clear that even this basic baffle design makes a big difference to perceived sound quality. Bass is fuller, and the sound is far improved thanks to the baffle blocking out of phase sounds from the rear of the speaker.

It’s a technique that could prove useful to anyone quickly trying to rig up an audio setup for the workshop or makerspace out of leftover parts. We’ve featured similar projects before that espouse the benefit of enclosure design when using even very affordable speakers. Video after the break.

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Brass And Nickel Work Together In This Magnetostrictive Earphone

When you go by a handle like [Simplifier], you’ve made a mission statement about your projects: that you’ll take complex processes and boil them down to their essence. So tackling the rebuilding of the humble speaker, a device he himself admits is “both simplified and optimized already,” would seem a bit off-topic. But as it turns out, the principle of magnetostriction can make the lowly speaker even simpler.

Most of us are familiar with the operation of a speaker. A powerful magnet sits at the center of a coil of wire, which is attached to a thin diaphragm. Current passing through the coil builds a magnetic field that moves the diaphragm, creating sound waves. Magnetostriction, on the other hand, is the phenomenon whereby ferromagnetic materials change shape in a magnetic field. To take advantage of this, [Simplifier] wound a coil of fine copper wire around a paper form, through which a nickel TIG electrode welding filler rod is passed. The nickel rod is anchored on one end and fixed to a thin brass disc on the other. Passing a current through the coil causes the rod to change length, vibrating the disc to make sound. Give it a listen in the video below; it sounds pretty good, and we love the old-time look of the turned oak handpiece and brass accouterments.

You may recall [Simplifier]’s recent attempt at a carbon rod microphone; while that worked well enough, it was unable to drive this earphone directly. If you need to understand a little more about magnetostriction, [Ben Krasnow] explained its use in anti-theft tags a couple of years back.

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