I Built a Kickass Home Theater: You Can Too!

This page last updated 07/29/2018

Part 1: Overview and Supplies:

This is an enormous project; easily bigger than anything else I have made, and I am including my robots in this.  I suspect that more than a few of you will look at this, shake your heads, and buy your home theater pre made.  This is all to the good.



serial paralell
Serial vs. parallel wiring.

This should be obvious.  Sadly, it isn't.

speaker test
parts test fitted for an early audio test

Note that this was done when I still planned on using 2x5 piezo horn tweeters.  The test was wonderful; I nade the right decisions as to speakers and crossovers.

The goal for everyone assembling home audio projects is to be able to get spraker parts that will render the full hearable range of sound, from 20 Hz to 20 kHz,  I tried to come close.  I was on a budget, so I got what I could.  My woofers lower range goes from 25, 32, 50 to 65 Hz.  My tweeters range from 20 to 30 kHz.

Midranges should cover, well, the midrange of sound, picking up where the woofers and tweeters leave off.  Pre assembled crossovers can be adjusted, or you can buy crussover capacitorsd to cover this.

Note how the woofers and tweeters have ranges that overlap the midrange speakers.  This is a good thing.

A bit of audio trivia: low range speakers are called woofers.  High range speakers are called tweeters.  Midrange speakers are called squawkrs.

Since the amplifier puts out 100 watts for each channel, it would be ideal to get speakers that can handle that load.  But, in reality, the center and rear speakers don't get anything near that 100 watts, and I used that fact when buying speakers.

super tweeter
Pyramid TW4 4" super tweeter 150 watts, 2kHz to 20kHz (Parts Express)

The tweeter I finally decided on using.  The piezo tweeters were used for the middle, rear left and right speakers.  You will need two of these

midrange
Pyle 6 1/2" midrange 150 watts, 200Hz to 5kHz (Newark Electronics)

This is not the same speaker as the one I used in my system.  Those are no longer available.  You will need two of these.


passive radiator
Dayton 10" passive radiator SD270-PR (Parts Express)

I bought these used.  In truth, I just wanted to make my speakers look even bigger.  The sound they produce is dead-on, so by sheer luck I managed to purchase the right passive radiators.

4 ohm woofer
55-1465   4 ohms 12" 100 watts 25 Hz to 3kHz woofer (Newark)

This is not the same model number of speaker I used; those are no longer available.  You will need four of these.

subwoofer
Visation  W300-8 subwoofer 120 watts, 32Hz to 2.5kHz (Parts Express)

A really great subwoofer, at a great price.  You will need one of these.

chickenhead knob
chickenhead knob (eBay, or most hardware stores)

I used these because of the long tradition they have had. If you decide to make a treble adjustment, you will need three of them.  If I had to rebuild the speakers, I would leave off the treble knobs.

 volume dial

volume scale (surplus)

I bought these off of eBay.  I haven't seen anything like them ever since.  These were apparently one model of volume dials designed with similar looks; see below.

      cody panel
Commando Cody jet pack control panel (note  the volume dials and chickenhead knob)       

I didn't care much for the Commander.  But his jet pack control panel was good for a few laughs.   


e meter
Scientology e-meter dial (this part was not used)

Yes, I could have had one of these in each speaker, shaking to the music.  But they would have required a separate circuit and AC adapter.  This system already has too many wires.



`speekerzzz
front speakers, finished

You can see the sloppy workmanship here.  But they sure do sound good!

speaker test
The whole set of speakers

The complete set of speakers.  I took this before I bought the bass shakers.  I made a separate amplifier out of the standard Dayton 25 watt aubwoofer plate amlifier, repurposing an old subwoofer cabinet.


roku tv
Insignia Roku 55" 4K smart TV (Best Buy)

Now this is what really makes this system work!

I had to use the TV's earphone jack to connect it to my sytsem, as it didn't have a standard set of sound out jacks.  This means that if I want to watch this TV, I have to have the speakers on.  This kind of TV needs great sound, so I have no problem with that!


yamaha
Yamaha RX V385  5.1 channel receiver 100 watts/channel (Parts Express)

This is a different receiver than the one I used; that one was discontinued.


plate ampilfier
Dayton SA 25   25 watt subwoofer plate amplifier (Parts Express)

You'll need two of these if you add the bass shakers.


bass shaker
AuraSound AST-2B-4 Pro Bass Shaker, 4 ohms, 20Hz to 80Hz 50 watts (Parts Express)

Wire these in serial to make them 8 ohms.  Women love it when these do their job.  Guys, if you want to get a girl in the mood, get a pair of these now!


auvio
Auvio wireless surround sound broadcaster (discontinued- available on eBay, or you can go with a Bluetooth transmitter)

An older, but still good, piece of technology.

Or you can simply use wires to connect your rear speakers and subwoofer.  I went with a wired subwoofer/bass shakers, and a wireless Auvio system for my left and right rear speakers.


6/1/2" woofer
55-2970  6 1/2" woofer 8 ohms 50 watts  50Hz to 8kHz (Newark Electronics)

Since the center and rear speaker don't have to take as many watts as the front ones, this was chosen.  You will need one of these.


5 1/4" woofer
55-1205  5 1/4" woofer 50 watts 65 Hz to 3kHz (Newark Electonics)

You will need two of these.


4" midrange
4" Silver Cone Foam Edge MIDRANGE 1kHz to 12kHz, 35 watts (eBay)

You will need two of these.


horn tweeter

GRS PZ1025 2" x 6" Piezo Horn Tweeter 50 watts, 1.8kHz to 30kHz (Parts Express)

You will need three of these.  These are not the speakers in my original design.


12" grill

5", 6", 10", 12" waffle style speaker grill (Parts Express)

My original plan was to make a cloth covering for the front of the cabinet, but after much reflection I felt that the grills would look better.

You will need the following:

5": 2
6: 2
10": 2
12": 4



6 1/2" grill
 6 1/2" waffle style speaker grill (eBay)

You will need one of these.


clamp kit
speaker grill clamp kit (Newark Electronics)

You will need 11 of these.


port

speaker cabinet port tube #269-2156 (Parts Express)

You will need 2 of these.



osb
            1/2"x8'x4' sheet osb (oriented strand board) (Home Depot)

I chose OSB because I felt that, with some stain applied, it would look like a Jackson Pollock painting.

You will need three of these.

In constructing speakers, something called The Golden Ratio is discussed.  The Golden Ratio is 1 to .62 to 1.62.  On a speaker system that is 24" wide, the numbers would be:

24"w (1)
38.8"h (1.62)
14.8"d (.62)

Supposedly this will make your speakers sound better.  This is utter nonsense. My measurements did not take The Golden Ratio into account, and my speakers sound fine.  For speaker builders, The Golden Ratio should be seen as a balance between the size of the speakers, and the amount of lumber you can afford.  If you can save a few dollars by cutting down on some measurements, and those few dollars are important to you, then do so.


fuse holder
fuse holder for 3AG fuse (eBay)

You will only need 2 of these, as the other speakers will not have to take such a load.


fuse
2.5 amp fuse, 3AG (All Electronics)

You will need 2 of these.

insulation

Knauf Insulation R-13 Kraft Faced Fiberglass Insulation Roll 15 in. W x 32 ft. L (Home Depot)

You can either get a big roll of this, or buy the audio version, which will be a lot more expensive.  Pulling the insulation off of the paper is a breeze.   Generally I cut the insulation to fit, and use a staple gun to staple it into the back, bottoms, and sides.


3 way crossover

120W 3 Way Speaker Crossover (eBay)

You will need three of these, unless you are using capacitors and my capacitor charts.


terminals
Two Conductor Speaker Wire Spring Terminal Part # 260-300 (Parts Express)

You will need 5 of these.


stain
Wood stain

You could be either a total loser, and buy some stain, or make your own.

Wood stain recipe

1/4 cup instant coffee
2 cups vinegar
  1 #0000 steel wool pad
2 pennies

Pour into Mason jar.  Put on cap loosely (this will produce gases that need to escape).  Let sit for 1 week.  Stir and filter through coffee filter or paper towel.  Let sit for another week, and apply to wood.  Let sit for a few minutes, and then wipe off.

Varnish: Don't bother.  OSB board looks exactly the same after you varnish as before.  It absorbs varnish like a sponge.


Other items needed: wood glue, wood filler, caulk, 1"x2"x8' furring strips, nails, screws, solder, soldering iron, electrical tape, orner braces (Home Depot)

furniture wheels

furniture wheels (American Science and Surplus)

You will need 2 sets of these.

These don't really make your speakers any more mobile.  If I had to redo them, I would leave these out.


Links:

My personal blueprints for these speakers!
These blueprints are not a be all and end all for building speakers, but rather as a guide so that you can design your own.

Next week (08/05/2018) click here for speaker box assembly etc.!
If you click now, you will see our NEW website under construction page.

Parts Express

A great source for parts!

Newark Electronics

Another great source.

All Electronics

Lots of little parts you might need, like wire, fuses, capacitors, and so on.

Home Depot

A great place to get hardware to finish your speaker boxes.

eBay

You can get anything here.

Best Buy

They're a bit high priced, but the stuff they have is good.

American Science and Surplus

A great place for obscure parts, tools, and everything else.  And the catalog is a lot of fun to read too.

1950s Jensens Speaker Building Instruction Book
Incredibly elaborate spakers, with all sorts of parts that are unavailable now.  This can definitely inspire you.  Personally, I prefer simple box systems.