How to build a speaker volume control

Written by jan benschop
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How to build a speaker volume control
Use an outboard volume control to tame your speakers. (volume maximum image by nfrPictures from Fotolia.com)

Whether you are looking to turn down the volume on a single ceiling speaker or a pair of stereo speakers in another room, a device called an L-pad may be your best option. L-pads keep the impedance of the speaker the same at all volume levels, so that the load presented to the amplifier does not vary. This ensures that all speaker crossovers and components work as intended, and that the amplifier and speaker work together as efficiently as possible. You can mount the L-pad behind a wall-plate or in whatever box suits your needs.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Mono L-pad for a single speaker or:
  • Stereo L-pad for a pair of speakers
  • Speaker wire
  • Wire cutter/stripper
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Liquid solder flux
  • Needle-nose pliers

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Cut all speaker wire lengths you plan to use and strip 3/4-inch of insulation off the ends.

  2. 2

    Lay the L-pad on its back, shaft up and terminals facing you. Terminal 1 is on the left, terminal 2 is in the middle and terminal 3 is on the right.

  3. 3

    Wrap the ends of both the wire coming from the amplifier negative terminal and going to the speaker negative terminal to L-pad terminal 1 -- and solder them in place.

  4. 4

    Wrap the wire going to the speaker positive terminal around L-pad terminal 2, and solder it in place.

  5. 5

    Wrap the wire coming from the amplifier positive terminal around L-pad terminal 3 and solder it in place. For a stereo L-pad, repeat steps 1 through 5 for the other speaker and its L-pad.

  6. 6

    Use needle-nose pliers to mount and fasten the shaft of the L-pad through the hole in a wall plate or box with the shaft nut provided. Turn the knurled inner shaft fully counter-clockwise. Slide on the knob with the pointer or white dot lined up with the minimum position indicator on the plate or box.

Tips and warnings

  • Stereo L-pads are simply two mono L-pads, stacked and ganged with a single shaft. Wire two speakers to one set of L-pad terminals each.
  • Some ideas for housing L-pads are cigar boxes, decorative wooden boxes, plastic or bake-lite electronic hobbyist boxes, or aluminium amplifier chassis boxes.

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