Generate Fully Parametric, 3D-Printable Speaker Enclosures

Having the right speaker enclosure can make a big difference to sound quality, so it’s no surprise that customizable ones are a common project for those who treat sound seriously. In that vein, [zx82net]’s Universal Speaker Box aims to give one everything they need to craft the perfect enclosure.

The parts can be 3D-printed, but the design ensures that the front and back panels are flat, so one can use wood or some other material for those depending on preference and appearance. The assembly is screwed together using six M3 bolts per side with optional heat-set inserts, but it’s entirely possible to simply glue the unit together if preferred.

One thing that makes this design a bit more broadly useful is that [zx82net] not only provides the parametric design file for Fusion360, but also includes STEP format CAD files, and a small number of pre-configured assemblies for a few commonly available speaker drivers: the Dayton Audio DMA70-4, ND91-4, and the TCP115-4. Not enough for you? Check out [zx82net]’s collection of ready-to-rock enclosures in a variety of designs and configurations; there’s bound to be something to appeal to just about anyone.

[via Reddit]

Arduino Orchestra Plays The Planets Suite

We’ve seen a great many Arduino synthesizer projects over the years. We love to see a single Arduino bleeping out some monophonic notes. From there, many hackers catch the bug and the sky is truly the limit. [Kevin] is one such hacker who now has an Arduino orchestra capable of playing all seven movements of Gustav Holst’s Planets Suite.

The performers are not human beings with expensive instruments, but simple microcontrollers running code hewn by [Kevin’s] own fingertips. The full orchestra consists of 11 Arduino Nanos, 6 Arduino Unos, 1 Arduino Pro Mini, 1 Adafruit Feather 32u4, and finally, a Raspberry Pi.

Different synths handle different parts of the performance. There are General MIDI synths on harp and bass, an FM synth handling wind and horn sections, and a bunch of relays and servos serving as the percussive section. The whole orchestra comes together to do a remarkable, yet lo-fi, rendition of the whole orchestral work.

While it’s unlikely to win any classical music awards, it’s a charming recreation of a classical piece and it’s all the more interesting coming from so many disparate parts working together. It’s an entirely different experience than simply listening to a MIDI track playing on a set of headphones.

We’d love to see some kind of hacker convention run a contest for the best hardware orchestra. It could become a kind of demoscene contest all its own. In the meantime, scope one of [Kevin’s] earlier projects on the way to this one – 12 Arduinos singing Star Wars tracks all together. Video after the break.

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A macro keypad making music.

Meet The Marvelous Macro Music Maker

Do you kind of want a macropad, but aren’t sure that you would use it? Hackaday alum [Jeremy Cook] is now making and selling the JC Pro Macro on Tindie, which is exactly what it sounds like — a Pro Micro-based macro keypad with an OLED screen and a rotary encoder. In the video below, [Jeremy] shows how he made it into a music maker by adding a speaker and a small solenoid that does percussion, all while retaining the original macro pad functionality.

[Jeremy]’s original idea for a drum was to have a servo seesawing a chopstick back and forth on the table as one might nervously twiddle a pencil. That didn’t work out so well, so he switched to the solenoid and printed a thing to hold it upright, and we absolutely love it. The drum is controlled with the rotary encoder: push to turn the beat on or off and crank it to change the BPM.

To make it easier to connect up the solenoid and speaker, [Jeremy] had a little I²C helper board fabricated. There’s one SVG connection and another with power and ground swapped in the event it is needed. If you’re interested in the JC Pro Macro, you can pick it up in various forms over on Tindie. Of course, you might want to wait for version 2, which is coming to Kickstarter in October.

There are many ways to make a macro keyboard. Here’s one that also takes gesture input.

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Know Audio: A Loudspeaker Primer

As we’ve started out on our journey through the world of Hi-Fi audio from a strictly practical and engineering viewpoint without being misled by any audiophile woo, we’ve already taken a look at the most important component in any audio system: the listener’s ear. It’s time to move down the chain to the next link; the loudspeaker.

Sound is pressure waves in the air, and the purpose of a loudspeaker is to move the air to create those waves. There are a variety of “exotic” loudspeaker technologies including piezoelectric and electrostatic designs, here we’ll be considering the garden variety moving-coil speaker. It’s most usually used for the large bass or smaller mid-range drivers in a typical speaker system. Continue reading “Know Audio: A Loudspeaker Primer”

IPod HiFi Gains New High Notes

The iPod HiFi was a stereo speaker add-on produced by Apple in the mid-2000s for their iPod range, a $300-plus speaker cabinet with twin drivers per channel, an iPod dock, aux, and TOSLINK interfaces. It’s caught the eye of [Jake], in particular one posted on Reddit that had an extra set of tweeters to improve the HiFi’s lackluster treble. The question was that it might have been an Apple prototype, but lacking his own [Jake] set out to replicate it.

The job he’s done is to a high quality. The baffle has first 3D scanned, and then recesses were milled out of it so the tweeters could be press-fit in. He’s driving them through a simple LC crossover circuit taken from the speaker drive, and reports himself happy with the result.

Unfortunately, we still don’t know whether or not the Reddit original was an Apple prototype or not. We’d be inclined to say it isn’t and praise the skills of the modder who put the tweeters in, but in case it might be we’d point to something that could deliver some clues. The iPod HiFi didn’t use a passive crossover, instead it had a DSP and active crossover, driving four class D amplifiers. If you find one with tweeters and they’re driven from the DSP through an extra pair of amplifiers then put it on eBay as a “RARE BARN FIND APPLE PROTOTYPE!” and make a fortune, otherwise simply sit back and enjoy the extra treble a previous owner gave it.

Of course, some people baulked at the price tag of the Apple speaker, and made their own.

Using Ikea Guts To Add Sonos Compatibility To A Vintage Speaker

We’re in a fortunate position when it comes to audio gear, because advances in amplifier and signal processing technology have delivered us budget devices that produce a sound that’s excellent in comparison to those of a few years ago. That said, a decent quality device is good whichever decade it was manufactured in, and a speaker from the 1960s can be coaxed into life and sound excellent with a modern amplifier. It’s something [Sebastius] has explored, as he picked up an attractive-looking set of Swedish speakers from the 1960s. Wanting to bring them into the 21st century, he’s upgraded them for Sonos compatibility by hacking in the guts of an IKEA Symfonisk bookshelf speaker.

The speakers themselves looked good enough, but on closer examination they proved to bear the scars of many decades. After testing new wiring and drivers they still had a good sound to them. Their passive crossover meant that hooking them up to a single amplifier is as straightforward as it was decades ago, but a Symfonisk has an active crossover and two amplifiers. Fortunately there’s a neat hack by which those two amplifiers can be combined as one, and this is what he’s done with the resulting Symfonisk electronic package mounted on the reverse of the speaker.

The fate of the original speaker’s broken mid-range and tweeter drivers was a common enough one back in the day as speakers were ill-matched to amplifiers. Too small an amp would need turning up in volume to get a good sound resulting in distortion that would burn out the top end drivers, while too much power would result in the bass drivers being overloaded and failing. It’s unclear whether the drivers in a vintage speaker would be well-matched to an amplifier such as the Symfonisk, but we’re guessing they are safe while run at sensible volumes. Perhaps of more interest is whatever on-board DSP a Symfonisk contains, because while vintage speakers were designed for as flat a response as possible, modern compact speakers use DSP to equalise the frequency and phase responses of otherwise not-very-good-sounding enclosures. If the Symfonisk does this then those adjustments will appear as distortion in the sound of a different cabinet, but the question remains whether that distortion will be significant enough to be detectable by ear.

If the Symfonisk catches your attention, we’ve covered a teardown of it in the past.

Lamps Double As Secret Surround Sound Speakers

Combined with today’s massive flat panel displays, a nice surround sound system can provide an extremely immersive environment for watching movies or gaming. But a stumbling block many run into is speaker placement. The front speakers generally just go on either side of the TV, but finding a spot for the rear speakers that’s both visually and acoustically pleasing can be tricky.

Which is why [Peter Waldraff] decided to take a rather unconventional approach and hide his rear surround sound speakers in a pair of functioning table lamps. This not only looks better than leaving the speakers out, but raises them up off the floor and into a better listening position. The whole thing looks very sleek thanks to some clever wiring, to the point that you’d never suspect they were anything other than ordinary lamps.

The trick here is the wooden box located at the apex of the three copper pipes that make up the body of the lamp. [Peter] mounted rows of LEDs to the sides of the box that can be controlled with a switch on the bottom, which provides light in the absence of a traditional light bulb. The unmodified speaker goes inside the box, and connects to the audio wires that were run up one of the pipes.

In the base, the speaker and power wires are bundled together so it appears to be one cable. Since running the power and audio wires together like this could potentially have resulted in an audible hum, [Peter] only ran 12 VDC up through the lamp to the LEDs and used an external “wall wart” transformer. For convenience, he also put a USB charging port in the center of the base.

When speakers or surround sound systems pass our way, it’s usually because some hacker has either made  a set from scratch, or has added some new and improved capabilities to their existing gear. This project may be a bit low-tech compared to some that have graced these pages, but it’s undoubtedly a clever and unexpected solution to the problem, and that’s a hack in our book.

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