To Buy or to DIY, here is my question

If I buy the speakers that appear closest to what I desire

they are $11k new and $8k used.

If I buy the raw speakers and build it 

the speakers alone are $2.2k.

That is a 3 way system.

Still must add costs of XOs and cabs.


Assume the total custom build cost would be about $3k.

The $8k speakers used are Proac D40Rs.

The raw components would be from ScanSpeak and SB acoustics

and include 10" woofer, 4.5" Mid and a planar ribbon tweeter.

MadiSound provides XO advice. 





I was going to do some homemade ones, but found a nice speaker already engineered.

There is always active XO if you do not like doing crossovers.

Then there are cabinet resonances, etc, so it is not like it is just a table saw, a drill, and a router.

Or one can get a set of Vandersteens for about 3k, and they effectively have ScanSpeak motors I think.

Save up until you have $8K for the used pair. No way you could duplicate factory quality!

Depends on your DIY skills, how much time you have, what you want the end product to look like, and whether or not the difference in price is worth it.

BTW, A quick Google search shows me that a pair of those used should be nowhere near $8K.

I’ve heard some pretty good DIY speakers.

Most of them look like $hit, though. I’ve only ever seen one pair that was DIY that would pass the WAF, and that guy was a master cabinet that for what it's worth.


1 - Ask in DIYaudio where the best builders hang out

2 - I think you are going about this aaaaaall wrong. 

Trying to compare one specific pair of speakers with a random DIY offering is bullocks10.  I say this as a dedicated DIYer, but that's no way to buy for sound quality or to guess at what the final product would be like.  This is like comparing a Nissan to some random truck based on tire brands.  How on earth do you do that?

If you DIY you should do so for the experience, and if you are just starting and want to use expensive components rely on a pre-made kit.

Post removed 

If you’re not proficient at designing and tweaking a crossover, I’d consider a kit that has already worked out those details. The crossover is just as critical as the drivers and the cabinet (maybe more-so because of the ability to compensate). To be right, a speaker has to be a complete and cohesive design....its far more than the individual parts. The crossover is a key element in that design that shouldn’t be under estimated. DIY can be an awesome endeavor, and can save some money, but there are a lot of unknowns about the outcome.

Is this from The Onion?

Jason actually got it right.

The same with knotscott.

As an experienced DIY speaker builder, I say you are valuing your time at $2/hr. Or buy a cabinet kit and adjust your outlay price accordingly. Either way you will end up with nothing to show off.

Nissan makes trucks?



Don't forget to consider the used market value for when you decide to change.  I think you might find the cost of the Proacs is not that much different than the DIY speakers.  

Some people can build speakers as good or better than factory. I am a big believer in the old maxim, "if you want something done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself".    However, what you can't do yourself, in one iteration, is all the research and development to get all the components and electronics matched, tested, built, tested, rebuilt, tested, .... until your speaker is just right.  Fixing or modifying my car, the formula is clear and I can do it first time every time.  Building a speaker set, I'd only put the time and effort into it if I had a proven design that I had heard, loved the sound, and could duplicate it.

I asked this very question in a thread DIY speakers.

If the design and xover are proven then that leaves building the cabinets to the CAD or drawing specs. 

Not all DIY have someone that makes them and ships them as flat panels for end user to assemble. 

I'm a US manufacturer with high end CNC routers that can knock out cabinets relatively easy. Building tings is what I like to do and was reaching out to members who were also interested in a certain DIY model and we could get a few members as it would reduce CAD, programming and set up time by distributing that cost amongst 3-5 pairs rather than just one. 


You'll have to build the speakers to get the answer to your question!

It's like refurbishing an old car; estimate the time and money it'll take and multiply by x, where x is between 2 and 20.

Real gratification comes from visualizing a new speaker, designing it, building it and changing it until it sounds as you first imagined it. In 1999 I got the idea of building a fully horn loaded system with the bass provided by folded corner horns back in the corners and mids and highs played by horns out in the room where they would image better with the obvious time discrepancy corrected by a DSP component. It was 2004 before I found a DSP that would do everything I wanted. This was a DEQX preamp/DSP.

In 2004 I began purchasing components, sawing wood, machining and polishing bronze and brass. It took me about a year to get the system up and playing. The SQ was a big disappointment. Since then I have changed bass horns from the bass bins of Klipschorns to Bill Fitzmaurice designed HT Tuba subs. I changed the wide range driver in Oris 150 horns from Lowther PM4As to AER BD3s. I added Fostex t900a bullet super tweeters. I upgraded the DEQX from the PDC 2.6 to a DEQX HDP4. I reprogrammed the DEQX over and over with the final programming done with the assistance of DEQXpert, Larry Owens. Finally by 2017 I had my horn speakers sounding even better than I had imagined they would. This provides real lasting gratification.  That gratification is intensified by numerous audiophile friends who have heard my system saying really nice things about it such as, "That is the best I have ever heard that song.

If one has good skills and tools and is tenacious enough to keep trying and trying until you get it right then designing and building your own speakers can result in a product as good as the pros produce.  It is like the old Speaker Lab ad from decades ago which stated, "If listening to your stereo is as much fun as going to the circus the listening to your stereo with speakers you built for yourself is as much fun as riding your own elephant to the circus.

@duramax747  It sounds like you are set up and ready to go and with personal care and attention are likely to get a better build quality than most factory speakers.  As for the crossover and speaker design, you are trusting the guys on the DIY board, who are likely pretty knowledgeable.  They have invested a lot more time than the average guy who walks in a plops down hi Amex and buys a pair of expensive speakers.  OTOH, they are subject to the same confirmation bias as everyone else.

But don't expect guys who have bought $20k speakers on this forum to agree that your speakers stand a snowball's chance in hell of sounding as good as theirs.  they won't do it.


Real gratification comes from visualizing a new speaker, designing it, building it and changing it until it sounds as you first imagined it.


I agree, but let's not forget this is a hobby, and learning happens from all sorts of directions, as does the passion to learn more.

The DIYer who buys a complete kit, perhaps to build with their children or grandchildren is starting a journey. 

I personally am always happy to see DIY efforts in Audio for a lot of reasons.  I like builders more than I like spenders and people with hands on experience in building a single speaker already know more than any audiophile who merely reads a magazine. 

Please, please, get your hands dirty.  Encourage your daughter or son to learn about electronics, music, physics and let's all have a great time with it.

It's fun, it's frustrating, it's time consuming, it's very gratifying.

If your any good at it. The next pair are already in your head. 

If I was going to DIY right now, I'd go with GR just because they have kits, cabinets or you can DIY too. Support is just an Email away and if you run out of gas, you can buy finished cabinets.. Great support. But most of all a great speaker weather you paint it with a roller or take it in for an auto finish or fancy veneers.

They sell a very good speaker.. Their subs are exceptional too. OB Servos.


Costs of commercial speakers: typically 10-30% of their price is the materials cost. (Cabinet + drivers + XO + internal cabling). That's the standard business model. When companies push it lower, they play with fire as they are will be unable to support returns and customer support.


I suggest getting a commercial speaker first. Build a DIY speaker second because it’ll tie up considerable time, effort, planning, money, etc. BTW, if you don’t have the proper tools, like table saws, don’t waste your time, unless you’re fine with rough looking cabinets.

The virtues of building speakers is that you can voice the speakers like fine instruments to your liking. Certain MP Caps work well with different cone materials and to a lesser degree coils. For example, Mundorf Supremes work well with paper cones. Topology, drivers, cones, enclosures, porting, damping, etc. all contribute to the sound, and with DIY, you’re in control of these parameters, whereas a commercial speaker, you’re stuck with lowest-cost-to-produce mentality.

Good Luck!


There are some in this hobby that believe if you spend more it must be better. 

I've been using power tools since I was very young so I have a great appreciation for having the skill set to build your own speakers. 

With what I do for a living,  using power tools is not even an option. It's a different skill set but nonetheless equally satisfying to use a 40 hp router and create parts with such a tight tolerance is very rewarding to experience. 

I'm building speakers cabinets with Panzerholz and making my own footers on CNC lathe. I've never seen a commercial speaker mention or show locking 45 miter joints but building an entire cabinet with this complex joint is a learning curve for sure.

Panzerholz is so dense I tap a thread into the wood to take a machine screw like you would tap metal, I do this for all the drivers instead of screwing a wood screw into MDF as commercial speakers offer. 

All my bits are carbine not carbine tip as this wood will tear them up if not. 


In college I wanted speakers that rocked the campus (off). So I researched and found the perfect sized enclosure (like 5’ tall, 3’ deep an 4’ wide… just small enough to fit through a door. 2” x 4’ reinforced. Designed for Voice of the Theater 15” woofers. 1973 (?). Glued and screwed. I couldn’t lift them. They would have been fantastic… not audiophile… loud with great bass. I ran out of money before I could buy the speakers. Big boxes in 1973 , we’ll not audiophile… but loud. That is the limit my wood working interest.


I couldn’t produce the set of Sonus Fabre Amati Traditional if my life depended on it. Building a set of speakers that sound better than $500 of the shelf… I could do that.

Please post your results.  I'd love to hear these when you're done. 

@chorus first step, head over to the DIY forums, very limited experience here.  

IF you are an extra-hands-on type person and normally build things yourself at home, with good plan/design/specs, go DIY and build it yourself. Madisound sources specs from the driver manufacturers, which helps. Check out Troels too, 

If wood making is not for you, source a local cabinet woodworking shop to build you furniture grade enclosures, and wind up with much better parts, better results, better enclosures, at half the cost of new. Buy all top the shelf drivers if you proceed. All new parts! You won't look back with high quality diy keeper-speakers, and less likely to resale them later. Can be very rewarding. Best of luck.     

WAF. And where are you going to build them? Clear it all with your family first - that's the MOST important consideration. With support, joy - without support, pain and more pain. Trust me on this.

If you decide to procede: ScanSpeak makes a lot of different speakers, but I expect that they don't all play nice together. If you get good advice and buy high quality drivers, chances are that you are building to a very high standard. If you buy high quality caps, like styrene or teflon, ditto. But - you may not be used to sound of that quality, and may not recognize it. The sound should be smooth and get better hour after hour.

Then it's 'only' a matter of cabinets and crossover design. As mentioned, expect to spend a lot of time, years, before it sounds as you want it to. But it's fun, it's educational, and you MAY end up with speakers that you couldn't possibly afford otherwise. That's what happened with my modified ESL speakers, my DIY electronics, and my DIY turntable. I was lucky, and I planned and calculated and planned some more.

Remember: WAF, WAF, WAF. Then you can start planning.

I use a ScanSpeak Revelator sub. Very nice, pretty much keeps up with the ESL's.

2nd having a good look at Troels Gravesens site… lots of experience there. Check out also builders projects completed. Lots of great ScanSpeak and Seas projects. I’m seriously considering the loudspeaker 2. I would say these are moderately hard woodworking projects, especially if you are planning veneer finishes.

ps You need to be very sure you are keeping these for life… it’s pretty tough to get your money back fro a diy project.

If you have the skills and equipment to make them, I'd say go that route. Each time you listen to them or even walk by, you can think, "I made those" which is a pretty satisfying feeling. I made some Zigmahornets and while they weren't the best looking speakers, they sounded pretty good and I was pretty proud of the work I put into them.

You could enlist a professional,  builder of cabinets like Lee Taylor.  Impeccable work.  Then they will equal retail makers in and out.  Large 2 way stand cabs in cherry and black ran about $1100.  If you find a good "recipe" that also includes a proven XO and drivers, then have him quote you on a cab build (from said design).  From basic black to exotic woods avail.  That way you have a hand in it and could build the XO and do final assembly.  That is if you don't want basic flat pack MDF kits which might suffice but not "wow".

Only ever heard one pair of good DIY speakers, built by a design lecturer at uni who had worked for Lowther Acoustics and was a skilled woodworker.  I have wasted too many hours listening to rank awful DIY speakers to ever consider wasting my money. Most end up on the scrap heap whilst the owners build yet another pair they believe will be wonderful. If DIY speakers could be made by amateurs at a 1/4 the price then someone would soon apply an economy of scale and build them for sale for 1/2 the price.  This is commonly undertaken as a business by many smaller buy direct manufacturers who buy in drivers, make cabinets and sell the result. Never heard one yet to rival an equivalent 'branded' speaker. But if that is what floats your particular boat, spend your life in the shed.

Thanks for sharing the different resources. Very Helpful.


For those who ask "Why Try A Build" ? 

Some of the best systems I have heard were home made

using combinations no one ever tried. 


I hope not to keep them for life as that would mean

I am leaving sooner than I'd prefer to.


Accept that resale on anything I make will be 20 cents/dollar.

I am recently retired so my time is worth about $2/hour.


There is a lot of trial and error, science and years of experience

when you buy from a speaker maker. So what do I have?

Friends, connections and time.


My idea of a DIY is choosing the people who will advise

me how to have it built.


I did build some Speakerlab cornerhorns once. My power tools were

a $10 craftsman drill- no that was not a variable speed model-and a

$20 craftsman skill saw. Those speakers had 2 1/2 4' x 8' sheets of high density

particle board in each side.


Today my tools are the phone & the internet.


Re those concerned with my WAF situation can relax.


I drove to GR Research with my old speakers so Danny

could rebuild the XOs. While I was there I heard his Open baffle

NX speakers. I would buy those now except for a couple things.

He can't deliver any now and I have dogs so speakers 3 feet

into the room are not a practical idea.


There are always those standing by with a pin to pop your bubble.

I actually had a couple folks here routing me on. Thank you.

I will keep you posted as things progress.



I’ve never seen a commercial speaker mention or show locking 45 miter joints but building an entire cabinet with this complex joint is a learning curve for sure.

All JBL joints are hand fitted lock mitered and wood welded. See link below numbers 33 34 35 36



Since I can't buy precisely what I want, I'm left with one option.

That, and nobody has admonished me that I can't, the skills, or the gumption to do so....that led me to make one.  Follow by similar pair.

That begat 4 identical ones; all iterations varied slightly in build.

Currently, 2 sets of 4, each with its' own....assignment. *S*

Recently read a 'critique' that the original Ohms had flabby bass and a limited high end; imho, more a problem of the 'era  tech' with perhaps some corners 'rounded off'....

I'm odd enough to take a shot at that. ;)

Will I expand upon that here?


Everyone seemed to 'have enough' of Kenjit, and I have more sense to claim anything more than I have My my specific interests and desires.

How ever You pursue Yours has always been an option....

....and there's a lot of those to select from. *S*

Have @ it.

I can build speakers better than any factory. I have a woodshop with excellent tools. But I am slow and most of all plain lazy. I have a design degree's a complete sin.

I can afford to buy them so I buy them. But I think you should build them. Go for it. You can always tweak and build on what you've learned the next time...and then just move the components into a better cabinet. Don't be afraid to find a cabinet maker to advise or even do parts of the more difficult procedures.




really ? better than a cabinet within a constained layer cabinet with the outer cabinet wrapped in aerospace satellite grade CRFP, cured in an autoclave…. sure….

There is nothing more rewarding than designing and building something with your own hands.


Thanks for that link. Now there is one on the list. 

To build a speaker cabinet without it doesn't make sense. 

1. Stronger joint for structure integrity.

2. More bonding surface than traditional 45 miter.

3. Provides an air tight seal.


When I purchased my first locking miter bit I purchased it at Woodcraft. I figured I would ask the staff there as the majority that work there are seasoned woodworkers who have a shop. 

None of them had experience with it nor could advise. 

Personally, I would not build a cabinet without this joint. 

What's the point of your post?  In the aerospace industry, our typical markup was 5x-10x the parts cost to cover the rest of our operational costs plus profit.  Never begrudge a manufacturer just because you can't figure out what their cost of doing business is.

If you build the speakers yourself, you had better like them because you will find them difficult to sell. Unless you have a trade account, you will be paying a multiple of what the manufacturer pays for the components. There is also the opportunity cost of your time. The chances of getting better sound than a speaker from an experienced designer (sadly now deceased in the case of Pro Ac) who has spent decades refining his designs are slim.


Exactly. Hiring US workers with US taxes, US healthcare, US utilities etc. these ever increasing costs need to be recouped in every widget a company produces. 

As a manufacturer if you don't know your true cost of doing business you better brace yourself for impact. 

If I buy the speakers that appear closest to what I desire

they are $11k new and $8k used.


What is it that you desire?
can you intimate it with words?

I heard some Devore O/96 the other day that threw a wider stage than i expected.
And some coffins Moab things should be relatively easy to make a large box for.

The main problem is making them sound good.

BTW, I do encourage you to check out Troel's website, a builder after my own heart, but he has a lot of pictures about construction and assembly that can really help the new builder see what's involved.

I work at a high end retailer.  I can buy name brand speakers for 50% off or less.  Nevertheless, I built my own.  2 reasons...none of our brands make what I wanted my speakers to be in terms of size, form factor, etc.  AND, even at half price I was not willing to pay for what we sell...all too expensive.  I am not a big one for luxury goods.

My concept was a 7" woofer in a 1.5 cubic foot vented box, with a 2" dome MR and ribbon tweeter.  So I ordered a set of drivers and prefab cabinets from Parts express and paid a cabinet shop in town to rout the front baffles for them.  I bought prefab crossovers from PE, and used in-line L pads to match driver efficiency to get the best blend.  Version 1 did not satisfy me.  Next I swapped out the Aluminum dome MR for Soft dome.  Still not what I wanted.  Then I recreated the crossovers with higher quality components and somewhat different points.  Still not good enough.

At this point I scrapped my original design for one using a completely different MR-TW concept.  I sent the driver selection to Tony G. at in Holland, and had Madisound fabricate my crossovers using premium parts, bought another pair of front baffles from PE, and eliminated the L-pads.  These are what I have now.  I wound up spending something like $2.7K on all the parts, labor, design fee for Tony, etc. including all iterations.  My speakers aren't perfect, but for well made symphonic recordings, they are quite satisfyingly true sounding.  Their low end surpasses that of the 6.5" 2-ways that go for around $10K at the shop, and without a robust low end, symphonic material just sounds unbalanced.

So I am firmly in favor of DIY unless....if you are a perfectionist and cannot stop fiddling until you get it just right, you may never get there.  OR, if you can easily afford the speaker of your dreams, then do so and you can always tinker in your spare time for fun!

Cost / Benefit thought experiment: You receive the Proac D40Rs
as a gift? What then? 

Price and cost are not the same.

@chorus , by all means! If you are looking for point source speakers DIY is the best way to go with a few caveats. I would stick with drivers that have the same radiation characteristics. Putting a ribbon tweeter (line source) in a point source loudspeaker is going to significantly change the frequency balance with even small movements in the room. Keeping the drivers phase and time correct is not easy and frequently results in some very complicated crossovers which are impossible for the novice to design. You can stick a basic crossover in there but you will not get the best imaging. You can not do this well without a calibrated microphone system. Depending on luck does not work well with speaker design. If you do not want to get involves with DSP you will have to get very inventive. But, that is the fun in it!

If I were to do this without DSP I would keep the drivers in separate enclosures as small as possible even open (except for the woofer). This will allow you to move them relative to each other. Using the calibrated microphone you can measure the group delays and move the speakers to get them all time aligned which if you are lucky will also get them phase aligned. This should be done outside to avoid reflections that can confuse things. Once you get the locations figured out you can mount them in a framework maintaining those relative locations ala Wilson.

If you have no skills are lazy or have no time then off the shelf is what you get. If you have skills an open mind and are craving something unique then DIY is the way to go. Kits are fine but it's not like going your own way. And those who say DIY can not look good are only interested in what the mass market gives them. Anything that's different is perceived as wrong they crave the boring imported rectangles and cubes. A toaster must look like a toaster.

I did this. My Take

1) I wouldn't even consider going down this path without a proved speaker design from a reputable designer.

2) It is more about the integration of the speaker drivers and the voicing of the crossover than just picking drivers you like. The drivers may be the easiest part.

3) The box is a big deal and you do need to have good wood working skills.

4) The crossover soldering is also harder than you think, I had the advantage of having someone at work who does it for a living do it for me.

My story is I used Troels Gravesen's designs. I think most see him as the best. I made 3 different speakers, bookshelves (Scanspek), center(Seas), and the Faital 3C-15. Bookshelves and Center took 3 months each, the Faital more like 5 months. My woodworking joints were impeccable, they need to be. I also spent a lot of time on finishing so they would be acceptable in the home.

I never thought in my life I would have such a good sounding system, honestly. The bookshelf/center is meant for the family room entertainment center, I have them in the garage and I am in there every night for an hour looking for an excuse to stay out there, they now have about 1000 hours on them and they get better and better. The 3wc-15's are absolutely amazing, I just melt into the music and can sit there for 3-4 hours at a time.

If you are committed, have a great attention to detail and it is important to you, do it. If you really do a good job and use good veneers, you can make them look pretty nice, you can also send to a cabinet mater for finishing if WAF is an issue. I built a paint booth in the garage and was able to get a really nice finish.

If you do it, let us know how they come out.


A lot of deep thought coming to the surface-Thanks!

Some excellent experience sharing as well!!

I have some skills and I am lazy by nature.

I am communicating with Madisound to get

some initial advice. 

Jonk- Enjoyed your response. Thanks.

Mendel- Now I'm spinning a little.


I met at a CES show in N.Y. years ago one of the heads of the factory from Proac. He said they used 'stock' Scan speak speakers off the shelf. He said what made their speakers special was all about the cabinet and the extremely beautiful book-matched veneers. So, unless you have excellent woodworking skills and a shop and a finishing booth with spray equipment you won't get the same results.

However, you CAN build your own speakers that sound every bit as good as good as factory built speakers. Danny Richie sells kits that are excellent quality. He is an expert crossover designer also. For fun I recently finished a kit from Swan that are incredibly good 3 way speaker kit. I made crossover changes and set them on 12" subwoofers. They are incredibly good with proper modification.

Whatever kit you choose the biggest challenge will be how to get them to look good. Everyone always tries to duplicate a factory veneer finish and they always look armature.  Here is a method I use to produce beautiful looking speaker and takes minimal table saw skill. NO spray booth, stains or finishing and yields a beautiful high end look. The box is square. I glue a 1/4" rounded wood molding from Home Depot to the outside edge. This gives the speaker a nice rounded edge from the front. Fill and sand so it's a perfect smooth appearance. Then simply spray can a flat black finish to the face. This leaves the remaining sides of the cabinet unfinished. They sell all kinds of beautiful pre-finished veneer at Floor & Decor. I got some  'African Tiger' wood that was amazing. It matches the same 1/4" thickness and mates perfectly to the 1/4" molding. Carefully cut and fit each piece and glue it to the MDF cabinet. The only requirement is a thin sharp table saw blade to cut the 45 degree angles. The pre-finished flooring 'clicks' together for a perfect seem fit. After you cut and fit all the pieces you are done!!  You end up with a professional finish that looks amazing.  A flat black, rounded, front face that flows into a red and black African Tiger wood. This looks far BETTER than most square face,veneer speakers. BTW... the selection of colors of pre-finished wood flooring is HUGE and the finish is as good as it gets.

No painting my subwoofer cabinets either. They are finished in high gloss black granite. I have a tile wet saw and using urethane glue attached the granite to the mdf cabinet. This was not only beautiful but added mass and rigidity to the cabinet like nothing I've ever seen.

I am an experienced cabinet builder with over 50 years experience and I'm always unimpressed with DIY veneer cabinets. The staining and finishing is far more difficult than most people realize. The above method will yield a far better result, faster build time for less money.

You CAN definitely DIY an excellent pair of high end speakers. The 'Factory' doesn't have a magic wand to wave over their finished speakers. If done properly diy can outperform many factory speakers costing thousands more. Do the research and find out what makes a speaker box sound good (or ask Danny Riychie) Then finish it properly so it looks awesome.

Good luck!