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Thread: Shop Project: "Enclosures" for flat panel speakers - not "fine woodworking"

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    Shop Project: "Enclosures" for flat panel speakers - not "fine woodworking"

    Way back in the 1990s I worked for a large, non-profit organization. When it came time to move to a different office location, the decision was made to shut down a small conference center and I negotiated a deal for a whole bunch of stored audio gear when I was moving on to a new career choice a few years later in exchange for not getting "cash" for a huge number of unused sick days. IT was a win-win all around.

    One portion of that pile 'o gear was four 24" x 24" flat panel speakers which were a niche favorite at the time in the audio world. These were used for non-voice audio reinforcement in the conference center. They were carefully secured in bubble wrap when things were torn down and I've also had them in storage since. Well, that's about to change with the new shop building as I intend to use them with the A/V receiver and sub from our previous property's "media room". These particular speakers were designed specifically to replace a normal 2x2 acoustic tile in a suspended ceiling. There's no suspended ceiling in the new shop. There's no ceiling in the new shop, either.

    When the derelict house next door was slated to be demolished due to it being unsalvageable as a structure, I was able to salvage (see what I did there...) a lot of trim lumber that I intend to repurpose for all kinds of things over time, especially for stuff in the shop. The first use...which I thought of when I was helping clean out that "house of horrors"...is to make supportive enclosures for the four flat panel speakers. The assemblies will be suspended within the trusses (method TBD). The base trim is the perfect starting point for these constructions and since I had a long piece that was in the shed rather than the wrapped pile of trim boards outside, I decided to do the first one...a test of the idea in worst case...this past weekend.

    I don't have an operable table saw currently and didn't feel like setting up the miter saw (not on its stand because of taking it back and forth to the new building) so I trimmed the four required pieces of material to length using a battery operated circular saw. From there, the J/P was the only tool needed to manipulate the boards to 15mm thickness and 135mm width. Glue, brads and trim screws secured the thing together. Edges rounded on the router table completed the woodworking. I mean...this is a simple box with no top or bottom. It will also be at least ten feet in the air, so if something isn't perfect, I'll live. There are plenty of actual fine woodworking projects to come in the new space I'm sure.

    The "design", if you will, is not unlike a shadow box. There is about 6mm of space between the actual speaker surface and the enclosure sides. There are two reasons for this: appearance and the potential need to put a back/top on the box, depending on how they actually sound in the space. This latter reason is yet an unknown but most likely if the sound is better with a "top/back", these speakers were still designed to be in free air, so some level of porting is necessary. The narrow open area between the speaker panel and the frame may be just enough area to serve that purpose and since it looks nice, too, it keeps options open.

    I had left-over HFS5000 (grey) primer and EM6500 (grey) finish from the kitchen at the old property, so that got the nod for this project. Grey is in line with some of the things I intend to do in the shop once I can get to interior finishes and I don't anticipate needing that color for normal woodworking projects as it was custom for the kitchen it was originally used in. I used a foam brush rather than spraying and it looks fine. Especially given it will be up in the sky.

    Any way, the design proves out and I'll make three more of these suckers as time allows. I want to get them hung after the spray foam insulation is complete while I'm setting up my lighting to keep the up-high adventures to fewer sessions. Here are some photos so you can visualized all of what I spoke about.

    The flat panel speakers...company is long out of business. These were manufactured in August 1990 based on markings.

    IMG_2412.jpg IMG_2413.jpg IMG_2414.jpg

    The project:

    IMG_2415.jpg IMG_2416.jpg IMG_2422.jpg
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    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    N CA
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    1,039
    Really nice, Jim. I will look for the “Oops, I buckled the Sheetrock” thread in the pretty near future.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2022
    Location
    Tracy, CA
    Posts
    181
    Very cool. I don't have direct experience with open baffle speakers, but you might end up covering the back with something to prevent all that echo and reverberation coming from the sheet metal on the ceiling.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Cedar Park, TX - Boulder Creek, CA
    Posts
    661
    Nah, you count on the reflections from the wall to 'enhance' the sound. My Maggie's sound terrible ... err, less than great... if you push them back against the wall. Not the best choice for a small room, but they sure are cool. I think...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    Aaron, there will be no exposed metal...up top there will be a minimum of 3" of closed cell spray foam, which is an uneven surface that will certainly help contribute to reducing reflection of sound.

    Wes, this room is actually about the same size as the conference center the speakers came out of originally, albeit with a much loftier height. It will be easy to experiment with tops/backs vs no tops/backs (my default) by comparing sound from pairs to see which provides the richer environment. Having the big subwoofer somewhere in the room will not hurt things, either.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    62,079
    Following up to close out this "not fine woodworking build"...yesterday and today I took the time to do the other three speaker setups so I can get them hung in the shop. Pulled the remaining wider baseboard and door jamb material from my salvage pile, cleaned it up on the jointer, assembled and painted one coat yesterday. Painted the other coat this morning and then put everything together this afternoon. These three are about 10mm "shorter" than the first one, but I wasn't shooting for any kind of precision on that.

    IMG_3024.jpg
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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