To build your own passive speaker crossover, you will have to know how to solder connections, do some simple wiring, and cut pegboard with a saw. Component values for capacitors (which filter out low frequencies) and inductor coils ("chokes" that filter out high frequencies) depend on the drivers you are wiring, how you want to shape your sound, and how much power you want your speaker system to handle. Complexity ranges from a single capacitor to protect the tweeter from bass to a complex design with many components. The best combination of protection and simplicity is a 12dB/octave, second-order design.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Two air-core chokes per speaker, equal value
- Two 200V polypropylene capacitors per speaker, equal value
- Speaker wire
- Wire cutter/stripper
- Box cutter
- Soldering iron
- Liquid solder flux
- Wire nuts or electrician's tape
- Tie wraps
Use drivers matched for sensitivity, or how loud each will sound with a given power input, and for impedance: both 8 ohms or both 4 ohms.
Read the tweeter's recommended crossover frequency and plan the crossover at least 500 to 1000 Hz above recommendation to make it handle more power. Read the woofer's response chart and note above which frequency the response becomes less smooth and linear, more wavy and jagged. Design the crossover frequency right above that point.
Use an Internet published 2-way, second-order crossover calculator. Type in the impedance ratings and the desired crossover frequency. The calculator will give you the proper capacitor and choke values.
Check availability at online parts houses for the chosen component values. If the values you calculated are not available, recalculate the crossover frequency slightly up or down until the calculator gives you values that are available.
Connect speaker wires to your woofer and tweeter using whatever connectors or method your driver terminals dictate. Most speaker wire is clear-jacket, copper or beaded, striped or a marked with a plus on the positive side.
Separate and strip 1/2-inch of insulation off the crossover-end of both wires. Scrape 1/2-inch of enamel off the choke wire ends unless already tinned. You will twist together and solder all connections between speaker wire, capacitors and chokes.
Connect the tweeter negative wire through the capacitor to the positive amplifier feed. Connect the choke across the tweeter negative and positive wires on the tweeter side of the capacitor. Connect the positive side to the negative amplifier feed.
Connect the woofer with the capacitor across the terminals and the choke on the amplifier side of the positive lead. Connect the negative amp feed directly to the woofer negative side. Solder and insulate all connections with wire nuts or electrician's tape.
Cut a pegboard square large enough to fit all crossover parts. Arrange and tie-wrap all components to the pegboard. Connect and test your system.
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