What is the dream DIY subwoofer? - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 27 Old 01-10-08, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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What is the dream DIY subwoofer?

I have a fairly high end home theatre (Paradigm Signature S4, C5 and ADP, Anthem Statement D2, Blue Circle power amps and a JVC RS-1 with a Stewart screen). I have looked at a number of the usual suspects for a sub including Velodyne DD line up, JLAudio new HT subs and Paradigm Servo-15's, but given that I would like to use multiple subs (either two 15 or 18" subs or four 12" subs) to more evenly load the room, the cost of two (let alone four) of the above has my pocket book running for cover. I suspect that I can get 95% or better of the performance for a lot less money if I simply build the subs myself. I have access to two great woodworkers in my father and a cousin of my wife so the I can build pretty much any cabinet type necessary. I have looked at the Aurusound dirvers, the Dayton Titanic drivers and the Peerless drivers as well as the Rhythmik Servo 15 and 12 drivers but really can't figure out what would work the best at the most reasonable cost. I also can't decide between using one of the many plate amps on the market or one of the numerous older pro amps (like a Crown, Behringer or QSC) that can be found on Ebay. I am a sound quality guy not a sound qunatity guy but it is home theatre so I guess that 20 hz at 100-105db is my minimum goal.

So my question to the forum is what would your dream DIY sub be? What kind of box (ported, sealed, passive radiator, etc)? What driver(s)? What amps? I am hoping that by hearing what others "dream" about I can organize my own thoughts about what to dream about into something that I can actually build.

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post #2 of 27 Old 01-10-08, 02:13 PM
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Re: What is the dream DIY subwoofer?

Start off with setting a few guidelines. What is the budget? What is the size limit for your enclosures? Are 2 missile silos out of the question? What is your room like? What subwoofers do you have experience with? You'll get recommendations from all over the place unless you quantify some of this stuff.
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post #3 of 27 Old 01-10-08, 03:11 PM
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Re: What is the dream DIY subwoofer?

It would also help to know how big the room is and is it open to any other area or is it sealed off from the rest of your house.
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post #4 of 27 Old 01-10-08, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: What is the dream DIY subwoofer?

While I fully expect "recomendations" that are all over the map (I am not sure recomendations is the right term but we'll use it as I lack a good other term), I will provide the information that the last posters requests to simply flush out the conversation. The room is a bit hard to describe as my residence is a bit hard to describe. I live in a 115 year old converted church (or at least I will live in such a place in a few months once it is finished). The home theatre is on the lower level but is about 90% above grade. One of the walls is traditional plaster and lath with an additional layer of urathane foam and new dry wall. Two of the walls are new drywall, traditional stick frame construction. The other wall is two and a half feet of quarried limestone, covered with plaster and lath and then a layer of drywall. There is a single window in the room and two doors. Both of the doors are solid wood. One is vintage and therefore doesn't seal that well but the other is new with complete weather stripping and a sill so that in seals quite well for sound containment. The ceiling is open to the true dimensioned 2X10 joists of the floor above. That floor is 1 and 1/2 tongue and groove pine with a mechanical crawl space above that which is then covered by a new plywood subfloor which in turn has a two inch concrete over pour for the radiant floor heating in the above level. The ceiling is slanted as the above floor was slanted to allow the early form of stadium seating in the sanctuary. The ceiling slope from side to side in the room from about 10'6" to 10' even. The rooms dimensions are not great at 14'X16' but it is having significant acoustic optomization done by ASC so hopefully that won't be too much of an issue. The floor is polished concrete.

Regarding budget, I am quite flexible. As mentioned in the original post I am looking to spend less than the $5000 that I would have to spend to get into multiples of the products that I mentioned in the post. Is this $500 or $3000 that really depends on whether the increased performance can be reconciled with the increased cost.

Regarding size of the subs, I accept that without expending hundreds of thousands of dollars on R&D the ultra compact sizes of Sunfire or even the relatively compact size of the JL Audios isn't going to happen. Ultra long throw drivers with 3000 watt amps are not really the relavent to the DIY sub world. I don't think actual dimensions are instructive in this exercise, but I will say that a coffee table sized to bar fridge sized sub if I was going with two subs or a end table sized sub if going with three subs would not be out of the question. I am not a huge fan of the aesthetic of the sonusub style but if someone out there has built one that fits into a mid-century modern/sputnik/atomik style room I am open to that idea as well.

As mentioned in the original post I have extensively auditioned the JLAudi F113, the Velodyne DD18 and the various Paradigms at my local high fi dealers. I have also listened to much smaller Sunfire and Totem subs at friends home theatres. The only subs I have actually lived with my self are the old ULD line from Velodyne, specifically the 12 and the 15 inch models.

This room is purely for HT as I have a separate two channel system using vintage Altec Lansing's and tube gear in the sanctuary area of the church (that is a whole other story for another post on another forum).

Hope this helps people formulate their "dream" recomendations and does not intimidate people from commenting either. All opinions are welcome.

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post #5 of 27 Old 01-10-08, 06:00 PM
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Re: What is the dream DIY subwoofer?

If your a sound quality guy then its a nice big ib for you.

Just have to find a nice place for it.

Edit: Also I would take a look at treating your room. That affects low frequence as well.

Last edited by titch--; 01-10-08 at 06:13 PM.
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post #6 of 27 Old 01-10-08, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: What is the dream DIY subwoofer?

Thanks for the suggestion on treating the room but that is already being done by the team at Acoustic Sciences (the makers of the famous tube traps). They are doing a custom designed acoustic treatment plan for the room. I don't have the specs yet but I suspect a number of tube traps, some diffusion/absorption panels and perhaps a sub trap to sit the sub on (as well as some soundproofing for the walls). I heartily agree that the room is a very important and often underappreciated component of any hifi or home theatre room.

Dan Eickmeier
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post #7 of 27 Old 01-10-08, 08:03 PM
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Re: What is the dream DIY subwoofer?

Personally no cast limit i would literally fill the room with TC sounds LMS drivers, with a few 10K watts going to them.

In reality a few LLT subs throughout the room would do it just fine. But thats not small at all. 4 would only cost like $2500 tops.
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post #8 of 27 Old 01-11-08, 08:51 AM
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Re: What is the dream DIY subwoofer?

Subs are simple.... the commercial ones follow the same rules as the DIY ones and the engineering isn't rocket science. I've worked with OEMs and most of them don't have anything like hundreds of thousands of $$$ of development. In fact, most don't even have a fraction of that number in developing a single product. I'd say the man hours is the main cost and for someone who knows what they are doing, it shouldn't be much more than a couple hundred hours. The exception is for complex signal processing DSPs like Velodyne uses. That cost money to develop. Driver & box designs are super easy though.

The key to getting good bass is pretty simple. The size of the subs are critical. Small subs have serious design limitations so keep that in mind. The room--subwoofer interface is critical so your plan to use room treatments is a wise one. Plan on equalization & room measurement capabilities too so you can dial-in the final response.
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post #9 of 27 Old 01-11-08, 11:14 PM
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Re: What is the dream DIY subwoofer?

With the driver options currently available, I'd set your sights on using 18" drivers - no need to go smaller. Your size limitations, if I understand them correctly, are to go no bigger than a large coffee table? The smaller the size, the more the compromise, or the more money that will need to be spent. Any area in the room in which you could use something like a long, short box - like say under your display? That way you can gets lots of volume while staying visually unobtrusive, resulting in subs that can dig ultra low while still providing tons of clean headroom, and that's the ultimate goal.
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post #10 of 27 Old 01-13-08, 04:16 PM
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Re: What is the dream DIY subwoofer?

SteveCallas wrote: View Post
With the driver options currently available, I'd set your sights on using 18" drivers - no need to go smaller.
Yes, but which 18's?

I was thinking four SDX-15's. That plus gratuitous wattage would be ~$2350 + enclosure costs.
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