HTPC/Home theatre build... need lots of advice
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March 17, 2008, 11:36 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Courtice, Ont.
Originally Posted by
I wouldn't really recommend building your own amp/speakers unless you are extremely knowledgeable in those areas. It would probably be cheaper (and easier) to pickup a 5.1 receiver (which is an amp and all), and a 5.1 set of speakers. I'd think it would sound better too, but again, if you are skilled in these areas then maybe not.
You're right it won't be easier and there may not be much savings, It's more for the satisfaction of doing it all myself. However the DIY'er can certainly make a very high quality system. Amps really aren't that complicated, not much has changed in the last 20 - 30 years. Most advances has to do with efficiency and of course the digital end of it but at the end of the day you need to get it to analog. Almost the same thing with speakers, there are a lot of fancy designs that are used mainly to make a small speaker do what a larger unit does naturally and more than likely better. In both situations I don't need to worry about profit margins or weight or parts count or labour or efficiency all of which drives the cost of commercial units up big time, my only worry is the extra cost of the parts. In the end I get a much beefier and more versatile setup.
Plus once you get into cross-overs there is money to be saved making my own amps. For example say for the two main speakers I want a setup that has two 12", a 5" and a tweeter. Using a standard amp I would have to put cross overs in the speakers and the price of high quality caps and coils can be huge and if I wanted to use higher order xovers that cost could triple and if I needed to tweak the frequecies/rolloffs a bit it is a major inconvenience to change not to mention additional cost. Further more there are drastic phase changes at the xover frequency which can cause some very funny constructive/destructive interference with the other drivers in the box giving a peaks and dead spots in the frequency response of the system, probably not an issue for home theater but really no good for music quality. If I make my own amps I can simply make a unit that has three outputs for that speaker, one for the subs, one for the mids, and one for the tweets. I can do all the cross-overs electronically eliminating the passive xovers completely and I can tune the frequencies rolloffs and attenuation with the turn of a pot and have the added benefit of all speakers being in phase at all times, win-win. Of course that particular amp will really only work with those particular speakers but who cares since it's mine I can change the setup on a whim.
I still may need to buy a receiver but it only will need to do the decoding and give me high quality 5.1 or 7.1 analog out and also handle the switching operations, again that is if I cant get the PC based hardware to do the same thing. At this point I know zilch of the digital standards and what my requirements are. Lots of reading still left to do.
Babrbarossa, thanks for those links. It's been a while since I've looked at speaker design and will have to refresh myself. That saved me some leg work. I used to have a setup to be able to determine the Thiele-Small parameters for unknown drivers that I'll have to take a refresher on too I think. I can handle the wood working end of it. I have built some furniture but not what I would call craftsman quality at all so there will be a challenge there making the speakers look nice and professional.
I'll probably use this tread as the "worklog" since all of the discussion will be here too.
Thanks everyone for the input and suggestions so far!
And sorry for the novel!!
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