The Tools of the Trade
Below you can find what I use for my setup. It's not necessary to copy this exactly. There are cheaper options out there, but using my setup will make it easier to follow along in the tutorials. Some of the cheaper options also involve more effort to get setup and get to a point where you can be confident in your measurements. You can measure everything on a Mac, but I have yet to find any modeling software. If you want to design your own crossovers, you'll need a Windows based laptop or PC or you can install Windows with Bootcamp or Parallels on your Mac. I started with Bootcamp and then ended up just buying cheap laptop for less than $300 so that my wife would have one as well.
The Dayton Audio OmniMic measurement system is what I use for my frequency response and distortion measurements. I upgraded to this system from a simple Behringer ECM8000 and free HolmImpulse software due to the added functionality of the system and ease of use. It can be used for not only speaker design, but home theater and room setup.
The Dayton Audio DATS system is what I use to take T/S parameter and Impedance measurements. Again, there are cheaper options, such as building your own LIMP jig, but this is fast and easy to get set up and working correctly. You can also measure inductors, capacitors, and resistors with this.
Obviously you'll need parts to build your DIY projects. Below are some of the places I buy parts from.
- Parts-Exrpess: This is probably my main source of parts. The Dayton Audio house brand (especially the RS series) offer great value for the money. Their site is also easy to navigate and they have excellent customer service. All Dayton Audio parts also come with a 5 year warranty, something I personally found very useful recently when my DATS died after 2 years of operation. They replaced it with the upgraded V2 at no charge.
- Madisound Speaker Store: This is a smaller retailer out of Wisconsin. They carry a lot of higher end stuff that PE doesn't. If you want Scandinavian drivers in North America, this is where I would go.
- Meniscus Audio: A small reseller out of Grand Rapids, MI. This is the only place I've seen that carries Transducer Lab tweeters. They also have a house brand, Eclipse, which has good value offerings. Their biggest draw though, has been kit sales of well-known DIY designs.
- Solen: Solen is based in Canada, so shipping can be pretty pricey to the U.S. However, they often have really great sales and with the current exchange rate, can provide some better deals. They also carry a few lines, like Motus, that you can't get at one of the U.S. based dealers.
- Erse Audio: Erse makes crossover parts and you can get them cheap from their website. Shipping is expensive, so you need to be ordering a decent amount to make the purchase worth it.
- Parts Connexion: If you are looking for high-end (read high-dollar) crossover components, this is the place to shop. The y have a large selection of expensive brands for capacitors and inductors. They also stock a lot of components centered around amp building.
Below are some links to sites that have some of the software you might need as well as further reading on DIY speaker design principles. You can also find other free builds on a lot of these sites.
- Liberty Instruments: Bill Walso created both the OmniMic software suite and Xsim crossover modeling software. You can download Xsim for free on his site.
- Charlie's Audio Page: Charlie Laub has made some great contributions to DIY and host his FRD Response Blender tool as well as all of Jeff Bagby's Excel sheets on his page. He also has some of his projects up you can take a look at.
- David Ralph's Speaker Page: David Ralph is another person who has contributed a lot to the DIY community. He developed an alternate version of Jeff Bagby's PCD that runs in a .exe format instead of in Excel. It's called WinPCD. Over the past couple of years, he has added quite a bit of functionality to the program.
- Zaph Audio: Zaph doesn't update his site anymore and many of the drivers have been discontinued, but it is still a useful source for anechoic measurements and distortion data on a wide variety of drivers. In addition, there is a lot of technical knowledge to dig into on his site. A lot of this information is above beginner level, so if you don't understand it now, try an go back and read it again after you get a better handle on things.