Do It Yourself
DIY or Do-It-Yourself
DIY in audio is the process of taking a hands on approach to part or all of the constructions of hifi components. Why on earth would you want to do this when there are so many ready built products available off the shelf already? Well for one you can save yourself a fair amount of money and end up with a system that sounds a lot better than it should for the price you paid. DIY covers a whole range of things, such as building your own equipment including speakers, amplifiers, cables and more. You can start with something simple and take on larger projects as your skills and confidence improve.
Speaker kits are fairly readily available in Australia. We supply many short form kits such as from Visaton where everything is supplied but you have to build the cabinet from scratch. For those more technically minded you can build the speaker completely yourself, sourcing the most appropriate drivers, designing and building the crossover and cabinet yourself. All such speaker kits can be extremely rewarding to build and they can give you the option of customising the speaker exactly how you, or your better half, want.
Amplifiers are a bit less common but many easy to assemble kits can be found on the Internet both locally and overseas. Australia’s main general electronic suppliers carry a range of good kits. Other high-end, valve and more sophisticated kits are available from other sources, usually via the Internet. More technical knowledge is generally required than for speaker kits and good soldering skills are essential. Of course the right tools will help greatly! Many kits offer step by step instructions but it is a good idea to ensure support is available from the kit manufacturer in case things go wrong or you need help. Once finished, a kit amplifier can rival commercially available amplifiers costing many times the price.
Other hifi items such as cables, pre-amps, phono amps, noise filters and more are available from the Internet, both locally and overseas. These types of kits often have more specific uses hence are not so common but can be much cheaper than the commercial equivalent. It is important not to get confused with pricing, you must compare like with like in regards to performance. Many people also custom make these and other devices, as their needs are not met at a reasonable cost at the retail level, or simply for fun! Making your own equipment allows you a degree of customisation not often possible with off the shelf items.
Being able to control the exact requirements, the look, even the size of your hifi can have enormous benefits, plus give you the satisfaction of saying “I built it myself.” But before you jump right it, you must make sure you are familiar with all the safety issues, particularly in any construction involving mains voltage, or high power valve supplies. If you have any doubt obtain professional help whenever appropriate. Many kit suppliers offer assembly options as well. That said however, there are an enormous number of kit DIY products out there, browse the Internet and see!
Written by Leon Gross, originally published in Audio & Video Lifestyle magazine.
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