September 21, 2010

I have the drivers, now what?

So, you've picked up some drivers that you like. This is your first diy speaker. Now to get the crossover sorted. This could be the beginning of a lifelong hobby, or it could be a mistake. There is something you should decide - what kind of diy speaker builder are you?

There are two kinds:

1. Those who like to do it the easy way
2. Those who enjoy designing the whole thing from scratch


Let me guess - you've bought the drivers and you just want to get this done quick. You say: "Tell me what to do - monkey see, monkey do. It's something to do with a crossover right? How about I just buy one of those pre-made crossovers?" This is an "Oops" moment for you. You probably need to sell those drivers, then read about how to do this the easy way.

Ok, I admit I've had an oops moment, show me the easy way >

If you're really lucky, you might get to keep and use those drivers.

"Oh puh-lease, I'm smarter than that!"

You're a bit more serious - you're a process kinda guy. Ready for the learning curve, ready to give it a go like the guy tinkering away in his garage on a vintage car, or a yacht that might one day sail.

First choice - active, passive or hybrid

Passive is the choice if you want just one amp to drive them and you don't mind a bit more effort. Active can suit those who want to speed up the process a little, don't mind using multiple amps and are likely to try out a lot of different things. Hybrid is a good choice mixing the advantages of both. You might use a passive crossover between tweeter and mid, but bi-amp the bass.

With active, getting the desired filter is easier, but you still need to measure and get the filter and driver response to work together. You also have more choices with EQ and filter slopes. Don't get caught up in thinking active or passive is always better - it's more a matter of what suits you and the speaker you want to design.

If you think active is for you, then you might like to read about your options here >


You will need:
  • mic preamp and calibrated mic - see example >
  • software for measuring & crossover design (eg Speaker workshop, HolmImpulse, Arta)
  • software for box design (WinISD) - more >
  • active crossover - see active options >
  • soldering iron
  • multimeter to measure resistance, capacitance and inductance
Further reading

Elliot Sound products has some good articles on active and passive crossovers

Bi-amping >
Active vs passive >
Passive crossover design >

Audioholics have a good introduction to passive crossovers >

I'll be featuring some further articles covering more detail, but for now that should be enough to get you started.

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