"Man plans, and God laughs."
"Measure twice, cut once."
One of these popular sayings applies to our awesome DIY subwoofer project, and it's not the one about cutting. Due to a lack of omniscience, I didn't get why the Big Guy was laughing until a few days ago.
Let me back up. We're getting down to business this week with our fourth and final DIY project in this little summer column series.
The reason this is a great project is because of the markups and cost of doing business for all of the common home theater subwoofers that are shipped to you, albeit indirectly, from overseas. Because of that world-spanning distance, combined with the cost of marketing to U.S. audiences, there's a requirement for a lot of margin. The solution is cheaper parts and compromised sound.
A $400 subwoofer probably costs less than $70 to make. A $4,000 subwoofer might cost $700 or it might cost $400 — hard to know.
But the point is when you build it yourself and use better ingredients, you get a much, much better result.
So this week, I discovered that I have very recently been beaten to the punch for a DIY, DSP subwoofer kit by none other than a company with products built in China! Is that irony? Or just capitalism?
The DIY approach is increasingly popular, and it's catching the attention of the smarter OEM manufacturers. You can still achieve DIY excellence on your own — it's just cheaper and easier now, thanks to these guys.
Is there a compromise in quality? Only slightly in this case. Dayton Audio is really one of the good brands out there — a true friend to the DIYer.
Apparently, Dayton has been dreaming up a DIY subwoofer kit that is roughly the same as my idea, and they recently released it for purchase at the same price I was aiming for, complete with a 1-year warranty (through the distributor), which I obviously can't touch.
Rather than cling to my precious originality, lets go with the flow and instead walk through the steps of building this awesome and easy-to-assemble subwoofer project.
It is my intention to help you build a subwoofer that competes with some of the best, and to do that, we need to aim a little higher than the previous projects. The focus of my writing will be on the kit that costs $600. Gulp! Yes, that's quite a bit to invest, and if that's a deal-breaker for you, there is a $300 option as well.
For those smart folks who want to try this along with me, step one is to purchase the kit. Dayton's outlet, parts-express.com, is selling the kits and offering the warranty. On the site, search "Dayton dsp subwoofer kit" and you'll find the options. The 10-inch version will be our focus, with notes for the 8-inch version as well.
Even if you're not building this project, you'll get to learn about modern tech that is already becoming commonplace: DSP, or Digital Signal Processing of sound.
Ahead, we'll walk through not just the construction of this kit, but also the more difficult task of setting up the DSP so that this $600 (or $300) subwoofer performs like one literally costing thousands. Stay tuned.