To build a tuned port speaker, you're likewise building a bass reflex speaker or a vented speaker.These designs extend the low end frequency response of the woofer in a two-way or three-way speaker, or a subwoofer in its own cabinet.
Building a tuned port speaker is challenging, but the cost savings are significant, as is the satisfaction of experiencing those very low frequency effects. While there are many considerations, from the shape of the enclosure to the size of the loudspeaker before you begin construction, there are multiple plans available on the Internet.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Thiele-Small parameters (for loudspeaker/driver)
- Win ISD software
- 3/4-inch to 1-inch medium-density fiberboard
- 3/4-inch plywood
- PVC pipe (for port)
- Power drill
- Router or circular saw attachment
- Speaker wire
- Sonotube (for round cabinets)
- Binding posts
- Connection terminal
- Wood glue
- Silicone caulk
- Wood screws
Select a loudspeaker to be housed in the bass reflex cabinet and then download Win ISD which is a widely recommended free speaker design software available at www.linearteam.dk. Popular speaker sizes range from 8 inches to 20 inches, but the most popular sizes are 10-inch to 15-inch loudspeakers.
Get the Thiele-Small parameters. These are supplied with every component of any worth. They tell you that component's resonance frequency, which is critical to enclosure size. If they are not supplied with the component, you can find them easily online. Plug those parameters into the Win ISD program.
Determine your cabinet dimensions. Bass reflex and ported designs are the same thing, and they yield a bit more low end and are more efficient than sealed enclosures. They're also larger in cabinet size, though, and more involved as a do-it-yourself project.
Buy your enclosure material. The three main materials to consider are plywood, medium-density fiberboard or Sonotube, which is used to pour concrete columns. Saw the material to your enclosure measurements or have them cut wherever the material was purchased.
Dry-fit your sides, bottom or top, and bracing. Bracing is a piece to increase cabinet rigidity and aid in minimising vibrations. It's often the same size as the bottom piece, which is inset into the sides or walls of the enclosure.
Glue the sides, bottom (or top) and brace. Additionally secure the connections with wood screws. If the screws are to last, countersink them. Clamp the enclosure with furniture clamps, and let it dry for eight hours.
Cut out the back panel. If you are building a powered sub, the cutout should accommodate the plate amplifier. If you're building a two-way or three-way design, the terminal cup is what you cut out space for in the back panel. Dry-fit the panel, then glue, screw, clamp, and let dry as in the step above.
Attach the top panel. This panel may be inset in a rectangular design or larger than the enclosure itself if it will be used as a table top. In either event, attach with glue and wood screws, clamp and let dry.
Prepare the front panel. This is the panel that needs to be cut out for the loudspeaker and often for the port or ports. Before attaching the panel, all inside-facing seams should be caulked with silicone caulk.
Construct the port or ports. Ports can be square, constructed of the same plywood as the cabinet panels, or round. Round ports are often made with PVC pipe. Flare the ends of the port no matter what shape port you make. Glue the ports to the back of the front panel, allow the glue to set; then caulk around the ports to make a complete seal, and let the caulk dry.
Glue, screw down, and clamp the front panel. From the opening in both front, for the loudspeaker, and rear, for the terminal cup or amp, caulk with silicone caulk all the seams of the front panel. Let this dry for at least 15 hours.
Sand the cabinet. Router the edges if you are to have rounded edges. Fill all countersunk screw holes with wood putty. Sand again. The cabinet is ready for the installation of the loudspeaker or driver and the terminal cup or plate amplifier.
Install the back piece, be it a terminal cup or plate amplifier. If it is a plate amplifier, all the terminals are on the rear-facing part of the amplifier. Make sure all parts clear internal bracing. If there's not enough clearance, notch out the bracing. Secure the back piece with glue. Once the glue is dry, caulk around the perimeter of the terminal cup or plate amplifier. Allow sufficient time for the caulk to dry.
Attach connecting cables between the terminal cup or amplifier and the loudspeaker or driver. Then attach the front speaker(s). Use wood screws and a nondrying caulk around the cone's perimeter to make an airtight seal.
Finish the cabinet with a wood veneer, paint or stain of your choice.
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Tips and warnings
- Use speaker design software for this project. Win ISD is one such program that can be downloaded free for Windows PC users.
- Tuned port speaker cabinets are tuned to the resonating frequency of the driver and are also adjusted in their interior volume by the size of the driver and the port. For this reason, ported speaker designs are larger than a sealed enclosure with the same loudspeaker, but deliver better low-end response more efficiently.
- Always use generous amounts of glue and silicone sealant in building the cabinet or box. Absolutely no air should escape the cabinet except through the port.
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