These notes describe a compact 2-way loudspeaker system that uses high-quality Vifa drivers. The original system was developed for senior project credit in the Georgia Tech Audio Laboratory in 1990 by an electrical engineering student named Kirk Wrzesien. Kirk's objective was "to design a premium 2-way loudspeaker system for a small dorm stereo system and for use as rear loudspeakers in a home surround sound system". The system uses Vifa drivers in a vented-box enclosure. A student assistant who was working for me in 1991 tested a set of the speakers for another student who built them for special problems credit. He was so impressed with the frequency response that he wrote a note on the student's report asking me to please not discard it because he wanted to build a pair, which he did.
Kirk's original system used a commercially available enclosure. Its internal volume and Helmholtz resonance frequency were only approximately correct. These plans describe an enclosure that is designed for the Vifa woofer.
Here are some pictures of the speakers that were built by Dave Anderson: Picture 1 and Picture 2. Dave built two cabinets, inner cabinets of MDF using the dimensions specified in the plans and outer cabnets of cherry plywood.
The crossover network is a passive network that consists of a first-order low-pass filter on the woofer and a second-order high-pass filter on the tweeter. The crossover frequency for the tweeter is approximately 3000 Hz. The crossover frequency for the woofer was chosen experimentally for optimum frequency response with the tweeter. A L-pad is used to attenuate the signal to the tweeter by about 4 dB to equalize the on-axis pressure sensitivities of the two drivers.
In spring 2001, an ECE faculty member at Georgia Tech built the speakers and considered the sound to be too bright for his taste. He changed the 3 ohm resistor in the crossover network to 4 ohms and the 15 ohm resistor to 8.2 ohms and was pleased with the results. I was reminded of what people long ago called "west coast sound" and "east coast sound." Seems that west coast manufacturers, e.g. JBL and Altec, made loudspeakers with a hot high end. Whereas manufacturers in the New England area, e.g. Acoustic Research and KLH, made loudspeakers with a more muted high end. The two-way speakers described here have a very flat frequency response. But if you prefer something closer to the east coast sound, you might want to use the alternate resistor values. After listening to a set of speakers for a while, nothing can be more annoying if they sound too bright. I recommend the resistor change is you will be sitting close to the speakers.
The drivers, port (vent tube), and crossover network components for a stereo pair of speakers are as follows:
The enclosure has an internal volume of just under 0.6 cubic foot. The effect on the woofer parameters of the resistance of the inductor in the crossover network has been taken into account in its design. In addition, the volume is adjusted to account for the volume occupied inside the box by the woofer and the port. The box plans assume that the back panel is screwed to 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch bracing around the inside back of the box. There is no other bracing in the box. If the box design is changed, the dimensions must be adjusted to maintain the correct internal volume. The internal dimensions of the empty box are as follows:
A very nice looking box can be built with 3/4 inch veneered plywood. The edges on the front, sides, top, and bottom can be miter cut so that the only edges which show are around the back panel. To construct the boxes in this way, the following pieces of 3/4 inch plywood are required for two boxes:
The dimensions for the back panels are reduced by 1/16 inch to keep the fit from being too tight. The pieces should be cut so that the veneer grain matches at the joints between the sides, the top, and the bottom. The grain on the front panel should be oriented along the long dimension of the panel. After the pieces are cut, the edges can be miter cut at a 45 degree angle before they are assembled. Before miter cutting the front panel, the holes for the drivers and the ports should be cut. On each front panel, cut the holes for the tweeter and the woofer so that the two drivers are on a center line with a spacing that separates the outside frames by one panel thickness. Cut the hole for the port so that it is one panel thickness from the outside frame of the woofer and away from the box walls.
The box dimensions are calculated for 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch bracing around the inside back of the box. The back panel is screwed to this bracing to close the box. The following pieces of bracing are required for each box:
The lengths of the bracing pieces are reduced by 1/16 inch to prevent too tight a fit.
So that the boxes can be opened in case of repair, the back panels are not glued on. To provide an air tight seal for each back panel, the bracing to which it is screwed should be lined with a 1/4 inch thick weather stripping tape. This best tape for this purpose is a closed-cell tape that is sometimes called "camper tape". Two brand name manufacturers are Macklanburg-Duncan Co. and Dennis. Use 3/4 inch wide tape if you can find it. Do not use tape narrower than 1/2 inch.
Once the pieces are cut, the box can be assembled using the following procedure:
The drivers and crossover network components can be purchased from the Audio Lab of Georgia, 3611 Clearview Place, Atlanta, GA 30340 (770-455-0571). Audio Labs carries some general purpose crossover network circuit boards which can be used with the system. Georgia Tech students usually get a discount at Audio Labs. A good wood working shop which can make the boxes is Wood Wonders, 1200 Foster St., NW, Atlanta, GA (404-355-4778). These people really do a good job at a reasonable price and I recommend them.
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