I’ve been rolling through speakers recently and DIY speaker building came across my radar about a week or two ago. I was super impressed with how cheaply you could buy a set of speakers that, by nearly all reports, sounded fantastic. So I decided to give the Overnight Sensations a try.
I ordered the kit from Parts Express with all the doo-dads I would need otherwise (soldering iron, solder, glue, screws, etc.) and got out the door at less than $250. I’m not much of a wood worker. I’m handy around the house, but not really a builder. I got a D in shop class when I was in Jr. High. I was building a shelf. It wasn’t much, but I was determined to try this speaker thing.
The kit came on Friday of last week. I decided to put the sides and back of the box together first, since I was going to paint the fronts a different color and I thought it would be easier to do that if the front wasn’t attached. This would prove to be a mistake, but not a terrible one.
I got to the crossovers on Sunday. I woke up ready and willing to spend all day on them, forgoing all other household duties to get them done. I started at about 10 am with a cup of coffee and all my supplies laid out in front of me. I watched the Parts Express video. Um, it stops halfway through putting together the tweeter crossover and moves at lightning speed through the rest of the crossover build. I tried stopping it in key places to see if I could make out what was happening, but it didn’t do a lot of good. So I decided to look online for photos of an assembled crossover. I found a lot of them, but I also discovered that the kit is shipping with a few different parts than it used to, so I had to figure out which was which. And I discovered that there are about a million ways to put these things together, at least in the looks and layout department.
But I persevered. Why didn’t I just look at the wiring diagram? Because I’ve never read one before, so it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I’m a musician and small time recording engineer, but I’ve never done much more than wire stuff together with patch cables. The only soldering experience I had came 25 years ago when I was interning in a studio soldiering patch cables. But I looked at the video and other designs online for long enough that the crossover started to make a little sense, enough that I could look at the wiring diagram and make some sense of it. So I did that and finally got the thing loose wired together. I hooked up a speakers and the Lepai amp and tested. It worked! First time out of the gate! Patience proved successful. I never knew I had it in me.
After that bit of progress I wired up the second crossover using the first as a template and then I soldered it all together. It was 4:30pm. Only took me about 5 hours of staring at the things to get them together. After that I got a couple coats of paint on the boxes and the baffles and I called it a day.
Yesterday I decided I was going to finish, I got the crossovers into the boxes, I wired them up to the binding posts and speakers and tested again. Still worked! So I soldered and set to gluing the baffles on.
I was using Gorilla Glue, which I knew from doing the boxes would bubble out the sides as it cured, so I got the baffles on and waited. I wiped what came out (I tried using just a little, but I guess not little enough), and went off to left them dry. A couple hours later I came down to the workshop to find that there was more. So here’s where things started going a little pear-shaped.
I used a Rustoleum metallic paint for the baffles and even though it had been more than 24 hours since I finished the paint, the paint still took my fingerprints as I glued the baffles. That plus the glue made it necessary to touch up. The results were not pro quality, but still, they turned out OK. Not bad for my first go. I have them in my office now and they sound decidedly better than the Bose Companion 2s I had been using.
Now I need to figure out what to build next weekend. I’m leaning toward the Hitmakers, but I’m also thinking about the Amigas. Right now I have a set of JBL LS308 on my mixing desk. Tempting to try the Hitmakers in their place. I have a set of Klipsch RF-82II in the living room. The Amigas are a tempting replacement for them…