Why DIY/Kits? the philosophy, history, and trends

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  • ThomasW
    Moderator Emeritus
    • Aug 2000
    • 10934

    Why DIY/Kits? the philosophy, history, and trends

    Part I General info

    Many nonDIYer's would think the primary reason is to save money. Many times this is true. Generally speaking one can "clone" or closely copy an existing loudspeaker design for 1/3rd-1/4th of the retail cost, so for many, this is motivation alone.

    For the hobbiest, the motivation soon changes. It becomes a learning experience, and a tool for experimentation/creativity. Frequently the same raw drivers can be built into numerous configurations, all with differing sonic properities. The cost of the raw building materials is inexpensive, so experimentation generally doesn't cost much.

    In the late 1950's and early 1960's there were many "kit" manufacturers. Fisher, Scott, Eico, Knightkit, Heathkit, Dynaco, were some of the "big" names. There were also dozens of small "mom and pop" operations usually offering one or two products. Operations such as Heathkit offered everything from sophisticated computerized weather stations to FPTV kits. Believe me when I say that building a FPTV or any TV kit, is a serious undertaking

    Slowly the demand for kits began to diminish and the businesses all but disappeared by the 1980's. The age of instant gratification was upon us.

    Now with the rising popularity of HT, there has been a slow but steady increase in the availibility of new kits. This has been aided in no small part by the DIY computer "brew-masters". Leading this trend in audio has been small companies that continued to offer one or two products, then were able to expand their product lines as time and investment capital permitted.

    Marchand Electronics is a excellent example of this type of development. Begun some 8 years ago with a simple but well designed active crossover, it now offers many different active XO's. Some esoteric tube units with separate outboard power supplies. They also have power amps, specialized EQ devices, passive pre-amps., etc.

    At the other end of the spectrum is John Pomannand his neat little compact active XO kit.

    The "popular" resurgence of DIY speakers, is due in no small part to the online forums and companies like Avatar/Adire Audio. Adire's website, the plans posted there, combined with the companies exceptional customer service, have helped launch a phemenon in subwoofer building. Armed with new found confidence after building a sub, people are now again taking on the challange of building their own mains.

    So after 40 years, we've come full circle




    theAudioWorx
    Klone-Audio

    IB subwoofer FAQ page


    "Complicated equipment and light reflectors and various other items of hardware are enough, to my mind, to prevent the birdie from coming out." ...... Henri Cartier-Bresson
  • ThomasW
    Moderator Emeritus
    • Aug 2000
    • 10934

    #2
    Part II Kit-projects

    Kits are the very best solution for the "newbie".
    Especially those that don't have a local mentor.

    The reason being, you get a proven design, tech support, and usually a built-in support group, from other builders of the same kit. All these can go a long way toward decreasing the "building anxiety" when you're on your own.

    An added benefit from kits is the fact that if properly constructed, they have good resale value.

    Kit electronics, amps, active XO's, pre-amps, etc., also provide an excellent education in addition to their "value-added" cost savings. It's pretty difficult not to know all those little tiny components, once you've done a parts count, identified, and then soldered them in place.

    The cost savings with kit-electronics is usually on the order of 40-50%.

    Kit-speakers provide a different challange. For the apartment dweller or others who's abodes are "space challanged", they offer the convenience of not having to setup a wood shop, or fill the home with sawdust. This usually goes a long way with the SAF (spousal acceptance factor).

    Box options run the gammet, from completely assembled and cutout enclosures, requiring only the installation of the raw components. To assembled "blanks", these require hole cutting for the drivers, speaker inputs, etc. To "knock-downs". These require glue up and clamping, making the driver cutouts, and finally applying the finish of choice.

    A word of warning about "knockdowns". These are usually MDF (mediun density fiberboard) and are very heavy. The shipping costs for these can double the cost of the box. Frequently it's cheaper to find a local cabinetmaker, woodworker, or lumber yard and have them fabricate the pieces for you to assemble.

    To be continued............




    theAudioWorx
    Klone-Audio

    IB subwoofer FAQ page


    "Complicated equipment and light reflectors and various other items of hardware are enough, to my mind, to prevent the birdie from coming out." ...... Henri Cartier-Bresson

    Comment

    • Jehan
      Senior Member
      • Aug 2000
      • 613

      #3
      Interesting stuff, I got very interested in DIY stuff mainly from the Sonosub craze over at HTF Seeing the other stuff that can be done is most useful... thanks for the info Tom!

      Comment

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