Building Your Own Speaker Enclosures - Part 1

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Part 1 in a 3 part series - covering the tools and material needed and figuring rough enclosure volume.

Building your own speaker enclosures is pretty easy, and is beneficial in MANY ways...

First and foremost, you can save A TON of cash for the investment in time, and you can also build it to any size you wish, as long as the cubic volume is within the specified range, which you will learn how to figure out later in this section.

I have personally built many speakers, everything from a small set for my garage, to a cabinet for my bass guitar rig, and, I am currently building a home theater in my basement. It has saved me money, allowed me to build the speakers to perfectly fit any space constraints I had (which played a huge role in my little garage setup), and I have gotten better sound with each set.

So, I thought it would be fitting to this website to share what I have learned, and help you avoid the mistakes and share the successes I have had in this very interesting process.

To start, you need the following equipment:

  • A skill saw or table saw (table saw is better for getting straighter edges)
  • Power drill and some screws (1 1/4" drywall screws work great)
  • A decent saber saw, or the like, to cut out the circles for you speakers
  • Of course, speakers, wire, and crossovers (if applicable)
  • PATIENCE (something I am in short supply of)

Speaker Enclosures are more than just wood pieces randomly thrown together and screwing speakers into them. The volume and port size and length (if you go ported, which I HIGHLY recommend) is determined by some basic arithmetic involving some of the speakers' specifications, and your taste.

The following table gives an approximate volume in cubic feet you need to plan your enclosure for based on the woofer size. The woofer is the single most important element in calculating your enclosure as it makes 80% of the air or more.

Woofer SizeEnclosure Volume
4".25 - .39 cubic feet
6".35 - .54 cubic feet
8".54 - .96 cubic feet
10".96 - 1.8 cubic feet
12"1.8 - 3.5 cubic feet
15"3.5 - 8 cubic feet

How you distribute that volume is pretty much up to your needs, just don't make them square! Square enclosures will make awful bouncing frequencies. You might have noticed that many sound reinforcement speakers have the sides of the box tapered in toward the back, if you can do that, do it. that helps sound move out and not bounce like it does between parallel surfaces.

To figure your enclosure size in inches, multiply all the sides as follows height x width x depth, so if your box is 16" x 12" x 8", you have 1536 cubic inches. Take that figure and divide it by 12 three times, so 1536/12/12/12=.89, so, your enclosure is .89 cubic feet.

Easy, huh?

OK, that is the rough volume, to get a more precise figure for the volume of your enclosure you will need two numbers from the specifications of your woofer. The Q (or, Qts) and the V(as) ratings. The V(as) is usually measured in Cubic feet, but some companies use liters, if this is your case, divide liters by 28.32 to get the cubic feet.

To get the volume, compare your Q rating to the chart below, take the multiplier listed for your Q, and multiply that by the V(as), and that will be the optimum volume of your enclosure in cubic feet.

QMultiplier
.2.1
.25.25
.3.4
.35.75
.41.1
.451.5
.52.0
.552.6
.63.5

And there ya go, the exact optimum volume for your speaker enclosure, no just figure out how to best size the enclosure, given your volume, to fit your needs.

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