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This page consists of a description of my Voight Pipes. The design used is based on Derek Walton's pipes (alt). All five speakers use a Radio Shack 40-1044 driver, which is a 35-Watt, (70 max,) 8-inch full-range driver. They are made out of Pine, and use fiberglass insulation as filling. I magnetically shielded the drivers to prevent interference on my television screen.
I chose to build these speakers because they are electronically simple to build: There's no crossover!
I found the design in February of 2002 while co-oping in California, but I didn't have time to build them until I was back home in Massachusetts. During a school break, I constructed a single pair of pipes. The backs were hinged so that I could adjust stuffing, felt, ect. Once I was satisfied with the sound, I screwed the speakers shut.
After I graduated from WPI, I found the time to construct the remaining three pipes to make a complete surround-sound set. I adapted the design so that I could use it as a center speaker with the distinctive triangular peak that the other pipes contain.
Derek Walton has a set of plans with internal dimensions. My challenge was adapting these designs to work with pine that is 0.75 inches thick. You may view my design notes here: (Although, they are not neat)
For the center speaker, I chose to twist the pipe to the left under the driver, and then behind and back to the front. (This is the approach used in the Bose Wave Radio.) To do this, I redesigned the bottom to have the same volume and a different shape. You may also view my notes and calculations, but these are worse then the ones above!
The materials used in the project were chosen for practical purposes. The first pair that I built were experimental, and I had no desire to invest any more money and time then needed. While I could argue that full-range drivers have better imaging then traditional multi-way systems, and no crossover distortion; the real reason that I chose the Radio Shack 40-1044s was to save money and keep the design simple. The full-range drivers are much more economical because there is only one electronic component per speaker to purchase instead of a minimum of three.
I chose pine because of its appearance, price, and simplicity. More experienced DIYers will tend to build their speakers out of a material that is "better" acoustically, and then laminate or paint the cabinets to their liking. I wanted a material that was ready available at Home Depot and would still be eye-pleasing with minimal effort and expense. The same theory was applied to the stuffing; fiberglass insulation is cheap and available at Home Depot.
At first, I stripped the wood using a handheld circular saw. Big Mistake! The angle on the side pieces for the back was hard to cut, even when I later used my neighbor's table saw. When I sealed the boxes for the first time, many screws did not go in straight and occasionally popped out on the surface of the pipes. (For the later pipes I used a drill guide.) Some calculations for the center channel were inaccurate. Also, not all of the center channel goes through a properly-angled pipe.
These are the best-sounding speakers I've owned, every recording comes to life! The speakers are much clearer then inferior multi-driver units with vocals. Due to the single driver, they are lacking a bit in bass and treble, however, this is easily fixed with a little bit of equalization, or bass management at louder levels. At 35 watts, 70 max, they are loud enough, (more then 100 decibels,) for a typical room. For ordinary stereo, they have the best imaging that I've ever heard.
These speakers are ideal for flat, realistic playback and volume. People who like to over-emphasize base or treble will find them lacking. (Have you ever listened to someone's radio and realized that things just don't have that much base or tweeting in real life?) Likewise, those who plan to prefer to listen at painful levels may wish to look elsewhere. The 40-1044s' range is perfect for vinyl, CD, and movies, but they are a bit lacking when it comes to using them with DVD-Audio. (I haven't tried them with SACD.) I'd like to add a super-tweeter to pick up notes above 18,000 Hz off of high-resolution recordings.
I'm still inconclusive about the center channel. Occasionally, I hear it resonating at lower notes, which is undesirable. Maybe in the future, I might rebuild it as a television stand, which would allow for the tube to follow the original plan much more closely. (Unfortunately, this approach would prevent me from buying rear-projection televisions.) Another problem with the center channel is that it requires a high ceiling or a lower television stand, because of the point.
Based on my experience with these speakers, any speakers that I seriously invest in will probably be based on full-range or extended-range drivers. I may add bases to the bottom, as they tend to be a bit wobbly. The center channel proved to be an awkward design at best, and thus when I have more time and money I might re-build it as a combination speaker and television stand.