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Building a pair of headphones from scratch, here is a description of my plans with some mspaint pictures; seeking advice!

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

I have been wanting to build a pair of headphones out of a spare set of HD600 drivers for a few years now, but without a wood shop, there were some kinks I hadn't figured out how to get around in a satisfying manner (eg. headband material, how the driver housing would mount, etc.) so in a nut shell, the band will be bent, plied cocobolo and maple, the driver enclosures will be made of two bent hemispheres of solid cocobolo, with maple and ebony accents, and the padding will be sueded white lambskin. here is a quick run down of the basic construction, the pictures below should help explain

 

The band will be made of bent plywood, which should keep it light, flexible, and strong (right?). My first though was to use alternating plies of 1/32" figured cocobolo and straight grained maple, but I don't know if veneer is good for a thin strong bent ply. I am not entirely settled on how the band will couple with the driver enclosures yet, but a direct sleeve joint seems the best option for strength and weight savings, as they wont need to be adjustable since they will be designed for my head alone.
 
As far as the housing of the drivers/speakers themselves, I'm juggling multiple designs here. initially, I was going to build up plied cylinders and simply mount the drivers within leaving them open concept (as the drivers were designed for open concept), but bending into a cylinder that small sounds difficult and it wouldn't be the sexiest look. Instead, I am thinking of of bending solid chunks of cocobolo, then cutting two orange peel shaped semi hemispheres, with a 1/4" vertical brace of maple joining the two of them, plied at the top with a slot joint for the head band. a picture below should give an idea of what I mean. despite the hemispherical shape, it won't be a proper hemisphere, due to the way I will be cutting the pieces from wood bent on one axis (think of the slatted construction of the body of a lute or an oud, but with only two pieces). there will be an ebony structural ring that the pads screw into, and the drivers will mount to the maple centre joint. pads will likely be made of white lambskin suede, unless a better idea comes. the scale in my drawings is a bit skewed, as the casings will be BIG so that the padding goes around my ears and rests on my skill, leaving my ears untouched (like the HD600s do; my ears get sore easily).
 
This is an entirely closed design, the prospect of which I REALLY dig, but I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that. I could drill a small holes, a big hole, lots of small holes, or scrap the plan entirely if it will likely sound awful. I plan to route the left driver through the headband to the right driver, so I can have a single cable instead of a Y split cable. will the fact that there is an extra foot of cable going to the left driver influence the sound? if so, I will simply run a second length of cable for the right driver half way up the headband, then bring it back, so the distance between each driver to the source is equal.
 
So what do you think, fellas? any links to custom headphone build threads? I poked around but I seem alone in this idea
 
 

Edited by rivermandan - 11/7/12 at 10:17pm
post #2 of 2

I've done a couple of DIY headphones before, it's more difficult to get started than you'd think, but once you get the hang of it, it'll be easier to improve and replicate your results than you'd think. No, the extra length of cable won't harm the sound in any way, wood can be a good material for both the cups and the headband if you keep it thin enough for the headband to "spring" properly, if you do use layered wood for the headband, make sure the grain is facing the same direction for each layer and that you bend them before gluing together so they will hold their shape. Once you understand the factors that go in to how the cups affect sound, you can keep improving on your design until you give yourself the best sound you can for a given set of drivers, it's really a fun thing to do. If you'd like more info on Grado style open backed drivers and tuning of the wood, you can try a thread by TheLostMIDRange called "Cup Tuning Basics", it has a lot of amazing info on the dynamics of how the wood shape, thickness, species, and even finish can affect the sound.

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