13 April 2009

Simple DIY Monitor Speakers

We recently received an email asking for some clarification about the difference between line-level and speaker-level Baffle Step Correction Circuits with a reference to the DIY S.E.Xy Speaker Project over at Bottlehead.com. This message brought our attention to a very simple speaker project that we thought we would point out to our readers. A photograph of the S.E.Xy Speaker Project is shown below.

Bottlehead.com Fostex FE166E S.E.Xy Speakers
In short, the small sealed monitor speakers are comprised of inexpensive Fostex FE166E fullrange drivers and housed in prefabricated Dayton Audio 0.25 ft^3 cabinets from Parts Express. This is a very simple speaker project and the only woodworking required is a couple of holes through the front baffles for the drivers (electric drill and a hole saw should do).

What caught my attention with this project was the fact that the 6.5" Fostex drivers actually fit in the small prefabricated speaker cabinets. While I have used the great looking Dayton Audio speaker cabinets in the past, I never bothered to check if the 6.5" Fostex drivers would fit.

Fostex FE166E vs FE167E
Of course some of you may prefer to use the Fostex FE167E fullrange speaker driver in place of the FE166E and that should not pose any issues. The FE167E has the same efficiency of 94dB but with it's higher Qts it will be able to produce more bottom-end which will allow you to lower the crossover point and possibly even allow you to get away with just one subwoofer. The figure below shows the modelled frequency response of the two drivers in a 0.25 ft^3 sealed enclosure.

Fostex FE166E and FE167E in a Sealed Speaker Box
The modelled response shown above uses the T/S Parameters noted on the Fostex data sheets. However, based on our experience with measured T/S Parameters from other Fostex drivers, expect Qts to be a little larger than noted on the data sheet. This means that we can expect a little more bass than what is shown on the plot. In addition to getting more bass out of the FE167E, you may also prefer it as it does not exhibit the rising frequency response of the FE166E which some may find too shouty.

Baffle Step Compensation: Line-level vs Speaker-level
This speaker project was meant for use with the 2W Bottlehead Single Ended eXperimenter's amplifier and therefore Line-level Baffle Step Compensation is the most practical choice as it won't waste the precious power of small tube amps. If power is not a concern, you can use the Baffle Step Circuit Calculator to come up with suitable speaker-level circuit.

For those wondering about the line-level BSC I have run a couple of simulations. I did not know the input impedance of the Single Ended eXperimenter's tube amp so I assumed 100k-ohms.

Line-level Baffle Step Compensation (BSC)
Line-level Baffle Step Compensation (BSC)
It would be a good idea to try the BSC on a protoboard and adjust the values to suit your room and personal taste. I would start without the 1.2nF (0.0012uF) capacitor, especially with the FE166E.

The inexpensive Fostex drivers work well in sealed enclosures. I am still very happy with my Sealed Fostex FE127E Bipole Speakers. For those of you afraid of woodworking, the prefabricated Dayton Audio cabinets are for you. Also, for the time being PartsExpress is offering free shipping on most orders over $98 (limited to USA).

Parts Express - Free Shipping Offer


More DIY Bookshelf Speaker Projects:
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