on April 21, 1999
For a book of its size and length, it is pact with information on how to measure and calculate various parameters relating to speaker design. The book is based on a high school course offered by the author in the USA. Therefore this book is ideal for persons with reasonable high school mathematics backround. Calculations are stressed and done step by step, in tutorial fashion. Explanations of driver parameters is excellent.
One draw back was the poor print quality of the book. Besides this, it is an excellent gateway book to the world of loudspeaker engineering.
on February 26, 2001
I haven't gotten to any other speaker design books yet, so I can't compare it to others. But for someone with no experience (i.e. me. ;-) it seemed like a good overview. One of my major complaints is he will follow an equation (most of which are very useful) with an entire page of how to program this equation into your "scientific calculator." If you don't know how to take a square root with a calculater without explicit instructions, this isn't the book for you in the first place! Plus an entire chapter dedicated to "Top Box" software, which I haven't actually seen, but the specs require an x286 computer with DOS 3.3. In other words--it's ancient.
He also throws out all of the specs variables by name but doesn't really clarify where they come from. Not terribly clear on this topic.
And don't plan on using chapter 8--all of his designs are built from Radio Shack drivers which are no longer available.
But gripes aside, I feel it was a decent book with a lot of information for the number of pages (although perhaps not the price) and I feel somewhat prepared to tackle my first project. However, I'm also going to pick up another book or two!
on March 17, 2002
I started as an interested greenhorn in building speakers and, were not for this book, probably would remain so today. There seems to be only two directions in which one can head in order to build excellent speakers. One way is to use a book by an experienced author that supplies well-designed projects. However, the usefulness of such a book is limited by time. The world of speakers is in continual flux with items such as drivers constantly changing, thus rendering this type book soon-to-be obsolete. The other direction enables one to deal with new parts, but requires them to either evaluate some high school level equations or alternatively use a computer program. "Advanced Speaker Designs" uses the second approach, guiding a person through both equations and computer techniques with whatever level of handholding the reader wishes. If someone has forgotten how to work with equations using exponents or logarithms, the book will direct them through each step on a scientific calculator. All-in-all, there are about six important equations in each of the two critical chapters on box design. After awhile, even someone who has forgotten high school math can quickly push buttons on their calculator to get the answers with confidence in their technique. The same applies to the section on speaker computer programs. Unfortunately, books that use a "Speaker-Building for Dummies" approach give mediocre results at best. This book aims for you to produce a higher level of speakers.
There are two problems that must be solved to design a really good set of speakers. First is to figure the size (and shape) of a speaker cabinet in order to get quality bass. Secondly, to design a crossover network (using capacitors, inductors and resistors) to send the correct electrical signals to each driver (low frequencies to the woofer, highs to tweeter, etc.) Both of these issues are dealt with head-on in this book. The numerical characteristics of a speaker, known as the driver's "T/S parameters," are needed to calculate the cabinet. They are carefully explained and, if need be, a way to measure them is shown in the first two chapters. After that, two chapters show how to use these numbers in equations that will make a blueprint for either a sealed box or a vented box. Also shown is how to know which type box a particular woofer is better suited. As a supplement, if you are forced to use an old cabinet of predetermined size, this book shows you how to use the woofer in-hand. Two items are out-of-date in this book; the computer program featured in Chapter 5 and the speaker projects in Chapter 8, (the Radio Shack speakers are out-of-date). However the discussions in both chapters, such as inputting speaker data and the use of impedance-compensation networks, give insights into how to use current computer programs and techniques for designing a good pair of speakers.
Although the book is really geared towards the serious beginner, advanced ideas appear in the two chapters on "Subwoofers" and "Crossovers." In "Subwoofers," there are explanations for using two woofers in "isobaric push-pull" configuration and for using multiple interconnections of dual voice coil woofers (I have never seen this in another book.) In "Crossovers," one finds an explanation of how to control the acoustic radiation pattern of a speaker using the D'Appolito driver geometry. The equations for first-order, second-order and third-order crossovers for two-way speaker systems, as well as their phase-vector diagrams and filter rates, are shown in detail. Three-way systems are not treated in great detail, as the book explains why it is so difficult to get good results for this case. Nonetheless, a computer program is demonstrated and recommended for three-way crossover needs. On the second page of the appendix, sources for speaker and crossover parts are given from specialized companies. This book gives a walloping dose of speaker building in only 125 pages. It will develop your ability to produce excellent designs, but only if you are willing to stay the course.
on March 26, 2001
I have little doubt that any good DIYer could examine a few commercial speaker enclosures and then run out to the workshop, whip up a set of boxes, mount some surplus drivers and feel quite proud and happy with the results. If, by some lucky accident, they also sounded great, I suppose it wouldn't be necessary to verbalise the whys and wherefores...
The rest of us will need a book such as Ray Alden's. The greatest strength of the book is that it breaks down, and explains in simple language, the various parameters [there are MANY!] that enter into an enclosure design, item by item. Hypothetical cases are illustrated, the calculations shown, and graphs are given that have the significant points labelled.
There is an assumption by the author that you will use a computer program to handle the difficult work, but the text explains how to do all the calculations using a scientific calculator. [This latter option would be fine if you had already obtained your drivers, for example, and just needed to work out a suitable size for your cabinets, but could not be recommended for real "design" work.]
The design software that Alden recommends ["Top Box"] is quite old, but there are many free, shareware and commercial programs out there, available for download. Although they all work the same way, most first-time builders wouldn't have a hope of using them successfully without Alden's book to explain what it all means, or how to find the relevant values that need to be entered.
Most web-sites and textbooks dedicated to loudspeaker enclosure design are filled with acres of equations and graphs and there's nary a picture of a box or a voice coil [unless someone is trying to sell you something!] I believe that anyone who studied Alden's book would be able to make sense of the rest of the texts on this esoteric-looking subject. In short, it's the best introduction to the subject I've been able to find.
Alden's approach allows the builder to meet any situation head-on. If you've got hold of some pre-built enclosures and need to choose suitable driver units, then that's OK. Want to make the "best" box for those expensive voice coils you've bought? You're covered. Got a special size in mind? You can choose where to make the compromises.
A bonus is that the book has plans for some ready-to-build units. The drawings even tell you which dimensions will need to be "juggled" according to the properties of the chosen driver units. Woodworking is not covered, however, and a reference is given to three chapters of another 'Prompt' publication.
If you're a first-time designer-builder, you must get this book. A little knowledge of electronics would be a help [but is not absolutely necessary] to get the best speaker system for your money.
on July 9, 1997
Covers the basics and give examples. Mentions
most of the variables and discusses those that
are neccessary for the beginner.
Contains a lot of information, in a small size, at
a very good price.
on January 12, 2005
I have gotten a lot out of this book over the years, but it is now somewhat outdated. Apparently, to remedy this, Ray Alden has written a new book called SPEAKER BUILDING 201 for Audio Amateur press. I just got it and, in a few words, IT IS SUPER! Not only are terms and concepts amplified, but new software is introduced, some completely free types found on the internet, while others are very reasonably priced. Incredible chapters on CROSSOVER design, both two-way and three-way. Lots of diagrams. Also a chapter with 11 completely designed systems, a chapter on how the PROs design speakers, and a chapter on construction techniques. CHECK IT OUT before you spend a bunch for the old one! The new one is cheaper and ONE OF THE BEST I HAVE EVER SEEN!
on February 20, 2013
This book contains most of what you'll need to know to build passive crossover speakers, and will help you if you are on the road to active crossover or digital crossover systems. It's also rather dated in terms of information. It was written before the upsurge in cheap computer-based measuring systems so many of the measurement procedures don't include recent software and hardware.
on September 11, 2010
I gave this as a gift to my best friend, who has been wanting a speaker design book for the past 2 years or so. I finally remembered in time for his birthday this year. All i can say about the book is that i wish i bought 2 copies. One for him and one for myself. Even though we are both amateur designers, i looked over the table of contents in this book and realized that it wouldn't be too big of a jump.
I would definitely reccommend this book to anyone that has a basic knowledge of both sound and speakers.
on July 9, 2014
Good information for building your own speaker enclosure. Better than several others.
on April 20, 2001
Great book to keep on your shelf to impress your friends with how complicated speaker design can be. Endless high-order equations which should keep you entertained for months as you attempt to understand let alone use the information. It reads like a text on quantitative methods, with plenty of plugs for expensive computer design programs.
The projects don't even state driver manufacturers! Author says you can buy your drivers from your local hardware store (NO KIDDING!). Gets all the way down to first-order crossovers, and he thinks this is 'advanced'.
I've got three books on speaker design, have built one great set already, and am building a second. I just returned this book after perusing it for maybe five minutes. Do yourself a favor - Forget this ... There is nothing in this publication that you won't find in any of the others on speaker design. Buy random drivers, throw them in an old wooden crate, and you will have a set of speakers with greater designed accuracy than any of the seven projects in this book.
Absolute useless garbage.