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|Brand / Manufacture||Dayton|
|Price range||<100 Euro|
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Dear Loudspeakerbuilding community,
I don’t really know where to start. I didn’t actually know anything about building loudspeakers until just a few months ago. It’s funny that I ended up at this website a little later by coincidence, but there I was, a mechanical engineer excitedly devouring articles about electrical engineering, vibrations and basic acoustic principles.
Soon it was clear to me – I needed to try it out for myself. Looking at the subject from the practical side was probably what I found so exciting. I had caught the bug, and I was gripped by “loudspeaker-building mania.”.
The first question that came up was which box to build. I would have loved to listen to a few of the boxes first and chosen the right one for my needs. But the journey of almost 400 km was just too far for me. So I decided to start small, and I started looking for an affordable, not-too-complicated pair of speakers for my home office because the 2.1 Creative system hooked up to my computer simply wasn’t doing it anymore. Much too bass-heavy! I was having to reset the subwoofer on every third song. After a few days of careful thought and devouring more articles on your page, I noticed the Dayton Needle. Countless positive reader comments and a fairly simple assembly solidified my decision: THOSE WOULD BE MY NEW BOXES.
So, what am I going to need? Let me skip over that part, because other than a cordless screwdriver and a couple of manual screwdrivers, I didn’t own any tools at all… ;-)
Anyway, I ordered the Needle assembly kit, and two days later it was there. Too bad, it was much too early – my vacation didn’t start for another week. But when I unpacked it, there was good news in terms of time management. It was a stroke of luck that the electrolytic capacitors were missing. Otherwise I think nothing could have stopped me from diving right in. A short phone call to Intertechnik, and the problem was soon solved. I want to thank Intertechnik again here for the friendly hotline service and for making it extremely simple to resolve the small shipping error.
Planning the appearance of the loudspeakers was an ongoing process, and I kept starting over. Inspired by many of the reader reports and after playing around with SketchUp for a while, I came up with the following design. Much to the satisfaction of my girlfriend, it all matched the colors of our living-room décor.
For the material, I wanted to use birch multiplex; that would save me the trouble of veneering it later. In addition, I thought it would require me to paint the front white otherwise. Getting a nice sophisticated shine with clear varnish sounded more like a plan.
Once the plan was set, I started on the practical implementation. For some reason I began with the frequency crossover – why on earth? I had always had trouble with electrical engineering in college. But I should give a little more background here. Weeks earlier, I had forced a work colleague to listen to my constant speeches about the wonderful world of DIY loudspeaker building. He was the one who convinced me to use a circuit board for the crossover. “I have one at home,” he said, “I’ll bring it for you tomorrow.” Long story short, I cobbled everything together and finally attached the electrolytic capacitor and the coil to the board with a little bit of hot glue.
The next day, my garage was repurposed as a box workshop. I had already had the boards cut to size at a lumber store. Since I was a little afraid of messing up my whole cabinet with a bad router cut, I started by cutting out the chassis openings on the two front panels. At the top left, in the background, you can see my completely improvised routing template. I was actually planning to build the routing template shown on this website in the workshop practice section, but the hardware store just couldn’t manage to get that stupid aluminum bar within 3 weeks (argh!) and I couldn’t wait any longer (loudspeaker-building fever).
Next, I started busily gluing. I had bought the express glue from Ponal. It wasn’t really that hard. To make sure everything held firmly, I also improvised a little here and weighed down the glued cabinet with a bag of Ytong mortar left over from a renovation project.
After I let the cabinets dry for half a day, I had to do the last cutouts. This time the cabinets were already assembled, but by now I had practiced, and everything went well. The connection terminal was larger than the back wall, so the cutouts could only be done when the cabinet was assembled, and I still wanted to add a couple of curves, which are hard to do separately on the individual pieces. I decided on the screw-in version of the cabinet base. I still wasn’t confident in my ability to solder on a crossover without any mistakes, so that would let me access everything easily.
Sanding was the next item on the agenda. It did end up taking a while, but I think the results speak for themselves.
The last two project days were spent on painting. First I used painter’s tape to block off the parts of the boxes that weren’t supposed to be white. After two layers of paint, I decided the coverage was good. The hot summer days were perfect, because at 35° C I was able to start on the second coat after just two hours of drying time. To be safe, I did wait 12 hours before putting on the clear coat because that was a little touchier.
Finally came the assembly. I used hot glue to attach the crossover to the back wall, just above the connection terminal opening. The clamps already attached to the wiring were used to connect the chassis, and I ended up using the soldering iron again to do the terminal. Finally, I added a little Sonofil to the cabinet. I followed Udo’s instructions precisely, and I paid careful attention to the width of 10 cm. What can I say, I just couldn’t manage it – on two pieces, the width was less than 10 cm. As a result, the strips could slide back and forth. I think that’s exactly why it came with two packages of Sonofil even though you only need one. Oh well, I thought, I’ll just use roughly the full width of a mat (total width of about 35 cm) and try to get three equal strips out of it. The second try worked better, and I was able to clamp the Sonofil between the side walls so nothing slid around anymore. I tightened the last screws, and it was done!!
I used a Dayton DTA-1 to connect the two speakers to my PC. I’m not a pro by any means when it comes to testing loudspeakers, but I would like to share a couple of my impressions. I did the first listening test with a CD that happened to be lying on my desk: the “Tarantino Experience” sampler. The first song was Bang Bang by Nancy Sinatra; goosebumps is probably the best word to describe it. Her voice was clear as glass, and I couldn’t suppress a grin. It was just amazing how good the distorted electric guitar sounded. What a great sound for such little money (if we generously overlook my investments in the tools). The second CD I put on was from Aerosmith – Pump. When I listened to “Janie’s Got a Gun” a bit louder, I really startled myself at the beginning. I didn’t realize how lifelike the synthesizer sound could be. But that wasn’t all – after all, a PC offers many options beyond just putting in a CD. Recently, I ran across a website where you can put together your own playlists and then listen to them. I thought of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, especially the middle part that switches off between a soloist and a chorus and then ends with a one-of-a-kind percussion and guitar section. I have to say I missed the pressure in the bass range a little bit here. Still, the Needle did a great job when you consider the small diameter of the chassis. It may still get a little better once it’s broken in. I wasn’t quite finished listening to the song when my girlfriend came into the room. “Turn it down, you know I don’t like Freddie Mercury’s voice that much. Why don’t you put on Rihanna’s “Te Amo,” she said. I had heard the song plenty of times on the radio, but I had never noticed the great sound of the drums and the fantastic acoustic guitar. You could hear someone clapping, too; suddenly I liked the song.
In summary, all I can say is that I don’t regret my blind purchase. The Needle is exactly what I needed in my office.
If you would like to build this assembly kit, you can purchase all parts from Intertechnik.
Ralph’s „Danger Girl“ Needles
On the search for a new hobby, I ran across this website. I hoped that building my own loudspeakers would give me a creative, hands-on activity, with the reward of listening pleasure. The Needles assembly kit was a blind, or rather deaf, purchase – I wanted to be surprised..
I had the 16-mm MDF boards cut to size at the hardware store. The only woodworking that I had to do myself was making the round holes in the wood. I did that with a standing drill and a router attachment. It was fairly laborious, and it probably would have been much faster and just as clean to do it with a jigsaw. I glued the wood together, welded the crossovers, installed the chassis elements, put in the insulation material, and my speakers were done. The whole thing was really very easy, and I finished it in an afternoon.
My design was based on the following idea: the surface should have so much detail that at first glance the eye only sees a brightly colored surface. Only up close, upon further inspection, would the individual details become visible. I decided to plaster the boxes with a Danger Girl volume because I liked the way it looked. (I’m neither a comic fan nor a particular fan of Danger Girl). It took me two cans of spray adhesive. If I had to glue anything else, though, I would use something more like paste. The spray adhesive made everything pretty easy, but bubbles kept forming under the paper and I had to press them flat for weeks until they stopped forming. I sealed the whole thing with two coats of clear varnish. The Needles offer plenty of entertainment value just from their appearance.
I run the loudspeakers from a Dayton DTA-1 and a SanClip+ MP3 player. With half a year of experience behind me, let me say this about the sound: the setup is very dependent on the quality of the recordings. Bad MP3s and bad recordings are no fun. With good material, on the other hand, the Needles are a real pleasure. Make sure they’re set up close to the wall. If the boxes are standing in the middle of the room, they just sound flabby. My Needles need a little bit of volume before they sound good. Below a quiet living-room volume, they burble away without attracting too much attention. Only at a reasonable indoor level, and preferably a little higher, do they start to sound really great. A friend and I allowed ourselves the pleasure of pitting the Needles against full-grown pedestal loudspeakers with a 3-way design from a well-known audio shop, in the 400-euro range (for the pair). The whole happening took place with an NAD amplifier and Marantz CD player, along with the aforementioned MP3 player. In my opinion, the high and medium tones are clearly differentiated, with good resolution; the Needles have nothing to hide in this area compared to the larger boxes. The 3-way boxes had more pressure – sometimes even a bit too much pressure for the listening room, which measured about 20 m2. The Needles have a bass that is not exaggerated, but still sounds “nice.” With the electronic music, we wondered where the bass was coming from and how the little wide-range speakers managed it. In the end, I would say that the bass range is a matter of taste.
As so often, these speakers are probably a compromise, and they need to be seen in context. My setup with the Needles, DTA-1 and SanClip+ allows conscious music listening for about 200 euros, and it holds up well against the team of ready-made boxes, NAD and Marantz, which is certainly in the 1000-euro range. It’s truly amazing how much you can get out of these tiny wide-range speakers. Just a couple of words about the DTA1: the striped jack cable (included) is just annoying and should be replaced quickly, and the blue LED is too bright – I covered it with a piece of black electrical tape. I also fed the amplifier a constant stream of batteries even though I was only using it with a power cord. The weight of the 8 batteries makes the device pleasantly heavy. I find the feel of just one control element to be charming. The high indoor volume that I normally use is located at 12 o’clock on the amplifier. In terms of the sound – and in the context of the price – I am very happy. The Needles with the NAD amplifier are even better, especially for deep notes.
In summary, I would like to say that the Needles are a great gateway drug. I am proud of my Needles, and I enjoy showing them off. If making them is more important to you than owning them, I would say the Needles are almost too easy to build. My list for the next project is as follows: Blues Class, recessed chassis, and more complicated carpentry and soldering work. But one thing is clear: I won’t be able to build the loudspeakers in my living room this time.
If you want to build the Needle by yourself you can by the assembling kit here.