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From the drivers up DIY headphones (NO LATHE OR HIGH END EQUIPMENT REQUIRED!!!!)

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I want to start off by saying I use a lot of sarcastic humor in my speech. I want to let you guys know ahead of time, it is mostly aimed at myself and my own stupidity in the project, and that it will never be related to the actual information you need to build your own set of headphones......enjoy popcorn.gif

 

 

Back story (Click to show)

 

So a while back (probably mid October) I started listening to my music a bit more, which was fine, but not for my mom. Not because she is a music hater or anything, but because I use a pair of AKG Q701s. You see, the Q701s leak sound like crazy, which is great for having a big sound stage, but when your mother doesn't understand that your headphones are open, she will think that your music is too loud and will hurt your ears.
 
So at the age of 20 my mother was coming into my room every 10 minutes telling my to turn the volume down. I hope none of you ever have to experience that kind of frustration
 
Finally I said F it and I decided to add a pair of closed headphones to my collection. I went out to best buy (I hate the store, but it is pretty much the only place you can test out headphones) and I liked the bowers P5s, but they were 300 bucks!!! I don't know about you, but I will listen to my mom complain and save the 300 bucks thank you very much.
 
I also really liked the audio technica 900x, but alas, they were too expensive as well.
 
I go home and on the way I started to think about why headphones cost so damn much. Apart from the drivers, the design is really simplistic. As I was drifting in and out of lanes on the road, I came up with the idea to make my own headphones.......and then I narrowly avoided a head on collision...lol.
 
Once I got home I looked online to see if anyone else has been successful at making headphones. A couple of people did modifications, and of course I found the DIY electrostatic thread, but nothing that was made for a simple headphone DIY project. My goal in this thread is to hopefully shed some light on building your own headphones.
 
Please keep in mind that this is a 1st try sort of dry run. It is not pretty because it wasn't intended to sound pretty. The pictures all sort of suck too because we probably have the worst lighted home in the entire US. Hopefully you will forgive the 'unsightlyness' of my project.

 

 

 

 

 

PART LIST

 

THE FIRST THING YOU SHOULD BUY IS!!!!!!......safety goggles. I am one of those people who hates wearing safety anything ESPECIALLY goggles. But over the project I got so much crap in my eyes were red for days. 

 

Drivers. A lot of people seem to ask this question on the Head-fi forums. The truth is that I ordered mine directly from audio technica. They aren't cheap. A pair of drivers that were supposed to go in the 900x cost me 63 bucks shipped to my door. I don't think that is a bad deal, but you want to be careful that you balance out the cost of your project. If your project ends up costing more than buying the headphones........well then I think you need to reevaluate your DIY ability.  I have also heard that sennheiser and grado sells their drivers, but audio technica was the easiest for me because I was able to call them right up and get everything straight without having to deal with emailing a bunch of companies. 

 

Here are the ones I got, you can see them among the other stuff

 

 

 

 

 

(((((Just FYI, a lot of these things can be found cheaper. These are just the parts I used, and I over bought by a lot because I know I have other DIY projects coming. The whole idea of this project is so that the reader can learn from my mistakes and improve the concept and design to make it cheaper and more efficient)))))

 

Hot glue gun (6-20 bucks depending on how fancy of a glue gun you want...chances are you already have one) http://www.amazon.com/Melt-Trigger-STICKS-EVERY-ORDER/dp/B0002KR9DY

 

Hot glue sticks (10 bucks *and I did use a LOT of this stuff*) http://www.amazon.com/All-Temp-Hot-Glue-Sticks-Package/dp/B000FAFJEW

 

DREMEL TOOL!!!!!: You should probably get one if you do DIY stuff regardless if you build these or other headphones. They do cost a bit of money, here is a cheaper one... http://www.lowes.com/pd_225167-353-200-1/21_0__?productId=3025616&Ntt=dremel+tool&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3Ddremel%2Btool&facetInfo= but I SERIOUSLY suggest that you invest in a better kit like this one. http://www.lowes.com/pd_116767-353-4000-3/34_0__?productId=3069949&Ntt=dremel+tool&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3Ddremel%2Btool&facetInfo=

 

Soldering kit (35 bucks *this kit is really freaking awesome. It came with a trigger activated 140 watt soldering gun, extra tips, a pretty nice case, and solder, for 35 bucks. When you pull the trigger, it gets hot very quickly and when you let go, it cools rapidly which will hopefully prevent burns and heat damage to things around you) http://www.lowes.com/pd_97541-273-8200PKS_4294772304__?productId=3135969&Ns=p_product_avg_rating|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_avg_rating%7C1&facetInfo=

 

Here is a picture after burning myself with that stupid orange handle one you see above. 

 

 

 

 

Wire (now here is where I am going to say that I made a massive mistake. I used 16 gauge wire. It is wayyyyy to bulky and thick to work with. You can buy OCC stranded silver magic fancy wire for like 7 bucks a foot and spend 140 just in cable alone, or you can pick up some cat 5 e cable from lowes. They can cut you a length of Cat 5e cable for dirt cheap, and you can get the length you need (20 feet is good since you will be using a 10 foot length for your right cup, and the same for your left cup). 

 

Wood (here is again where I made a stupid mistake in hind sight. I bought 2 2 foot by 1.5 feet by 1/4th inch thick wood from lowes for like 3 dollars a piece. I ended up making a bunch of concentric circles to make cups, but after putting in the dampening materica, I learned that the shape doesn't make an ounce of difference. I could have - and you can save a lot of money by buying 1 sheet of the wood and make a box based cup.)

 

A metal coat hanger (seriously, if you guys don't have a metal coat hanger in your home.....Idk what to tell you)

 

Some type of soft cloth ( I tried to mimic the classic stax headphones, so I bought some weird soft/light fake leather that had a brown almost wooly underside to it, and it worked perfectly. If my sewing ability was any better, it might as well be the same headband from stax headphones. It cost me about 5 dollars for a yard of it from Joannes. 

 

Some elastic (this is something you guys will have to figure out on your own. Some people like their headphones to rest more on the heads rather than their ears, in which case you would need less stretchy elastic, and vice versa if you like your headphones to rest more on your ears. In any case, you will nee about a foot of elastic. I got some for a dollar). 

 

Blank CDs (this is going to be a weird concept, but believe me, blank CDs were probably the most used thing in this project bar none. I have 200 of the stupid things and I decided to use them. It is only dumb luck that they actually turned out to be extremely useful and actually performed well in terms of sound quality ((((The ones I have linked are the cheapest on newegg only for the fact that they have free shipping and come in a 50 pack. If you want to go to walmart, you only need a 10 pack)))) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817131586

 

Polyfill (I couldn't find this stuff in town, so I would recommend that you don't waste your time looking for it. I myself ended up using a wool fabric that I tore up, but in hind sight, I would have rather have gotten this stuff and had some left over for other projects.)http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=260-317

 

The last thing is the material for the ear pads. Now you have two options. You can buy your ear pads (which is what I recommend) or your can make your own (which is what I did for the sake educating who ever reads this extremely long thread). If you are going to buy ear pads, you can either get something like these http://www.amazon.com/QuietComfort%C2%AE-2-ear-cushion-kit/dp/B0073H2WP4/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1359424525&sr=1-4 which are pretty good quality for fairly inexpensive and comfy ear pads, or you could just go nuts and get some really expensive ones http://www.headphone.com/accessories/audeze-lcd-2lcd-3-vegan-earpads.php . Options for ear pads are pretty much limitless. 

 

The materials would include leather (I got some fake black leather for 10 bucks for a yard, black thread, 3 bucks for some super thick stuff, and 3 inch thick foam 40 bucks...........yeah I said 40 bucks. This is why it is so much smarter to just buy the ear pads, but thankfully I had most of this stuff lying around the house). 

 

Last but not least, you need an audio plug. I got a 6.3mm audio plug from radio shack for 4 bucks and some change. 

 

Optional stuff: Cable sleeve: I had a ton of this stuff, but I think 20 bucks for some nice cable sleeve would not be a half bad idea. Heat shrink: If you don't know what heat shrink is, google it, it comes in so many varieties that it would take me too long to explain them all, but so long as it is the right size, you really can't go wrong.  

 

Also, I think you will need a circular saw, or some type of powered saw. You COULD do this with just a dremel tool, but you will be working on these things way too much. I can almost tell every single one of your that you, your family, or your friends have some type of power saw. If you don't have one, barrow one. 

 

BUILDING THE HEADPHONES!!!

 

Now that this post is a mile long, lets jump in to building the headphones. 

 

I tried to base my headphone design off of a retarded love child of the audio technica ath-ad900x and stax headphones. Don't ask me why I didn't go with square cups, because I am stilling hitting my head against the wall over that over sight. 

 

Step 1: Make the baffles. 

 

The baffle is the part that holds the drivers in a headphones. It is just a plate with a hole in it for the driver. That might sound really easy to make, but when you start thinking about the requirements of a good baffle, it becomes a lot harder. For those of you who want to come up with your own design, the baffle has to be light, it can not vibrate, and it has to be pretty strong so that nothing flexes. 

 

Now remember how I said that I used CDs and hot glue a lot......well guess what I made the baffles out of tongue.gif . What I did is I took two blank CDs and put a layer of hot glue on on cd and spread it evenly, and then I added a second layer which is what actually 'glued' the second CD onto the first one. 

 

My thinking was that the CDs were pretty rigid, light, and since the hot glue is somewhat flexible, the vibrations don't pass through hot glue all that well. Sounds perfect right? Well I am not so sure that it turned out to be as perfect as what some members can probably do, but I was pretty happy with it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For making the hole for the driver, I lined up the center of the driver with the hole that was already in the CD. Then I outlined the driver on the CD with a pencil. Then I took my dremel tool and sanded from the center out to my drawn circle. Little bits of crap went everywhere so if you do this, please make sure your wear safety glasses or goggles. 

 

I did the same for the other baffle. I fitted the drivers into the holes I made, and VERY VERY VERY carefully I outlined the ring where the driver met the CD in hot glue. If you get hot glue in your driver, you are screwed. Period. So please take your time and do both sides of the driver (front and back). 

 

If you can do me a favor and ignore the wire, here is a picture of the finished product. 

 

 

 

 

Step difficulty: Average. 

 

The hot glue dries quickly, so when you lay the glue on the CD and spread it out, you have to be quick. Also, using a dremel to get a circle in the CD for the drivers is easy, but it can be a very long process in order to achieve the best result. 

 

Things I would change: BEFORE you put the drivers into the CD, I would cut a square out of it. I can not remember my math at the moment, but I know that there is an equation for maximizing the area of a square in a circle. You can use a circular saw or a dremel for that, but if you cut a square, you will drastically reduce the work in the next step. 

 

Step 2: Making the cups. 

 

This is the most annoying of my mistakes. 

 

I am going to give you a quick insight into what I did, and then I will show you what you should do. 

 

So first I started off with a trusty CD and a plank of wood and traces a circle. (you can see from the 3rd picture above). I then took a cup and made sure that the space from the outer circle and the inner circle would be about 1 inch and traced the cup......and yes I had to test a lot of cups. This made 1 ring. Please note that ring and circle is not the same thing in this step. Hopefully you will see why in a second. 

 

The next circle I made was 1 inch wider than the inner diameter of the ring I had just made, and made sure that the inner diameter of the second ring was 1 inch less than the inner diameter of the first ring. 

 

I think what I just said is going to be confusing to some of you. Just in case it is, what I am doing in this step is I am making concentric rings and using cups as my traces for the circle. The circles will be my guide lines for cutting. 

 

After I cut out 3 rings, and 1 cap and glued them together, here is what I got. 

 

 

 

Here is the inside view

 

 

 

After some sanding on my bench grinder, here is what I got. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the inside view (just FYI, it is a lot smoother and spherical than what this picture shows.) 

 

 

 

 

As you can also see, I made an indent in the CD for the the wire is supposed to go. I used a dremel tool and just put a bit out. 

 

Now.....that was a lot of work, money, heart ache, and ultimately a waste of my life. Like I said, after putting in the dampening material, the shape did not matter, so go with a square. 

 

Once I you figure out the maximum size of the square you can cut from a single disk, then you should be able to figure out the perimeter. 

 

Cut out a rectangle, 1.5 inches by the perimeter plus 1/4th inch (the quarter of an inch is to make up for the wood that is lost by the saw) by 1/4th inch. Cut the rectangle into 4 equal pieces and glue them together BUT NOT TO THE BAFFLE. You will need to attach the wire first before you glue the cup on. What I would do from here is on one box drill a hole on the box for a 3 pin xlr jack. Then on both boxes, you can drill 2 holes at the top so that you can bring the wire from one channel up over the head band into the second channel and out the 3 pin xlr jack. That way you can have a single detachable cable which is incredibly useful. Once you have everything wired up like I will show you in the next step, feel free to attach just the box to your baffles. 

 

Then cut out a cap for the cup. All that matters is that it is that it is larger than the hole it is covering. So if you want to make a square, that is fine, but you can make any weird shape you like really. But do NOT glue it on right away. You will glue it on later.

 

 

 


Edited by Tjj226 Angel - 1/30/13 at 6:10pm
post #2 of 13
Impresssive! I completely forgot cds are made of polycarbonate which is what you want. The only issue you might run into is vibrations from the driver echoing though the cd. If this becomes an issue they have these pvc pipe clamps at your local hardware store that have a rubber inside. They are about 50mm and squeeze perfectly around the ad700 driver. You would have to cut down the rubber but I would think this would prevent any vibrations from the driver. Here is a picture to show ya what I mean.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Folex View Post

Impresssive! I completely forgot cds are made of polycarbonate which is what you want. The only issue you might run into is vibrations from the driver echoing though the cd. If this becomes an issue they have these pvc pipe clamps at your local hardware store that have a rubber inside. They are about 50mm and squeeze perfectly around the ad700 driver. You would have to cut down the rubber but I would think this would prevent any vibrations from the driver. Here is a picture to show ya what I mean.

 

Cool. There isn't much of a problem with what I have done in terms of vibrations, but I will probably use either that, or office style rubber bands next time. 

post #4 of 13
How heavy is that wood? I got a pair of denon 2000's and for me I consider them too heavy, despite their wonderful sound. I'm currently in the process of trying to design the lightest pair of headphones / biggest driver.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Folex View Post

How heavy is that wood? I got a pair of denon 2000's and for me I consider them too heavy, despite their wonderful sound. I'm currently in the process of trying to design the lightest pair of headphones / biggest driver.

 

The wood is extremely light. However, I would see what you could do about getting some mahogany. I know that stuff is pretty heavy as well, but it will create less back wave resonance, so you can not use so much dampening material. If you do it that way, the highs and mids won't be washed out like they are on mine (in the process of fixing that).

 

Something to keep in mind with my headphone design is that the headphones are rather heavy, but they are far less heavy than say the HE-04 or something like that. Also, due to the elastic I used for the head band, the weight is very evenly distributed, so it doesn't feel heavy. The dennon just puts all the weight in a few spots, so you end up feeling it more. 

 

About the only discomfort I get with mine is from the ear pads, and like I mentioned, you should probably buy your own unless you are some type of wizard with a sewing machine.  

 

 

post #6 of 13
You got any final pictures ?

The absolute easiest way to make a pair of headphones, prob comparable to AKG's would be to find a flange piece that fit. Here is an example http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?sku=28139&gclid=CP3Rjt7fjrUCFQSf4AodQU0A1A
Edited by Folex - 1/29/13 at 3:46pm
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Folex View Post

You got any final pictures ?

The absolute easiest way to make a pair of headphones, prob comparable to AKG's would be to find a flange piece that fit. Here is an example http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?sku=28139&gclid=CP3Rjt7fjrUCFQSf4AodQU0A1A

 

I do have some final pics, but I am redoing some of the things on my headphones right now. 

 

After writing down some of the things I should have done differently, I kinda said F it and I went ahead and did them. 

 

For example, I used 4 CDs and very little hot glue to make the baffle. The thing is probably 10 times more resistant against vibration. 

 

I am also using much thinner wire. They other stuff was just getting on my nerves. 

 

I am also going to try and redo the pads. They provide a great seal, but they aren't comfy at all, and I think I know of some ways to help that. 

 

So just give me some more time and hopefully I will have a better product. popcorn.gif

post #8 of 13
Another thing you might want to try, 900x = $63 @ 5Hz - 40kHz and Ad700 =$12 @ 5 – 30k KHz. I really wonder if there is going to be any difference in sound.
post #9 of 13

Hey, I saw your article on overclockersclub and noticed you mentioned how songs like lindsey stirling's music sounded good but others didn't, did the other music sound a little harsh or gritty to your ears atall? I've noticed that about a few headphones, crystallize sounds incredible but anything else just sounds awful, sometimes putting a piece of felt between the driver and my ear helps calm it down a little, as well as putting some "breathable" tape over the back of the driver (pharmacy section at walmart for a couple bucks) but any kind of sound deadener in the back of the driver just makes the sound muffled and looses its "airiness", sometimes a good thing, but mostly not in my experience.I'm trying my own diy headphones as well, hopefully they'll turn out alright, I'm modeling them after the acoustics of a violin, since it's well researched what can change and alter the reverberation to change the sound as needed if it's not quite to my liking at first, along with some memory foam earpads. Might have to change to car-sponge earpads since I've heard mem-foam can reflect and distort a bit of the sound before it reaches your ears, but we'll see. Hopefully our projects will bring great sound to our ears, good luck with your own mods.

post #10 of 13

I think you might want a breathing mask in addition to the goggles, some of that stuff you're generating is definitely unhealthy for your lungs. I mean, VERY unhealthy. Not just the dust but the polycarbonate decomposition products when it gets hot. You might not even be able to filter some of these with a mask, so an extractor fan might be required.

 

Good fun project though...

 

w

post #11 of 13

I've been thinking about how I'd build a pair myself, and I ended up deciding on something a little bit more similar to a Grado design. I think I'll probably hybridize the two here, though, and when I do I'll be sure to post about it!

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

Well this is interesting. It has been ages since I played around with these headphones, so it is kinda of nice to see new attention. 

 

@ lazy H: It is hard to say. Originally I was trying to find a way to find a way of producing DIY headphones that were better than Dre headphones and would be something with a sound signature more like D2Ks rather than the stereotypical M50s. The headphones that you see are more proof of concept headphones than anything that was designed with any real thought and science put into it. 

 

With that in mind, Lindsey Stirling actually sounded pretty darn good. For the money I put into the headphones, it probably could have given the D2Ks a run for it's money. 

 

For other music like classic rock, the sound stage was dreadful. It was a little bit more open in one ear vs another ear, and the bass was not very clean. It was just plain all around bad. For most music, I actually liked it more when I took the cups off, and just used these headphones in the same way that you would use the K1000 headphones. I actually fiddled around with some pads, and I actually made a pretty decent open version of these headphones, but the close version needs work. 

 

It is funny that you mention this because I literally just heard the HE-300 headphones. I thought they were some of the best headphones in the 200-300 range (excluding various EOL headphones) that I have heard, and they are literally just two drivers in a baffle. Real simple. So if the DIY community can find a way to get their hands on those drivers, then we could start making some really nice headphones. 

 

@ Waki Baki: Lol. Thanks for the heads up. I did not protect myself from anything, but it is probably a good idea that other people protect themselves. Hopefully I will remember to edit the post later tonight. 

 

@Bad Moose: I made a pair of custom grados. I started with the driver and made almost a perfect spec grado replica for half the price. They still suck. I will never understand how anyone likes grado headphones. I have spent hours trying to redesign them to get the sound stage right, and they still are just plain awful. I actually made better sounding electrostatic headphones with Saran warp and some copper PCBs from radioshack. 

 

If you still want to do a grado ish type of design, please choose a different driver.  

post #13 of 13

Not sure how I completely missed this, but very cool project and construction ideas.  Funny how I stumbled upon this because I am planning on doing up a few DIY designs myself.  Right now I have quite a few headphones and driver options at my disposal: T50RP (coming soon), CAL!, HD280, KSC75 and 8320.  I was planning on attempting to mod with the stock cups on the T50RP and CAL before trying my hand at custom cups there, but the last three will have everything custom but the drivers (that's the plan anyway).  I feel that the cup designs in the former two are the culprit for alot of issues between type/thinness of plastic and chamber size.  I'm actually most interested in the CAL because it uses Fostex biocellulose drivers similar to what the Denon Dxxx uses.  I was planning on experimenting with open and closed cup designs, so there's been alot of reading up I've been doing the past few weeks in preparation of other's trials and tribulations haha.  I never considered contacting the manufacturers directly to acquire drivers...but I already had an old uncomfortable pair of HD280 and my trusty budget duo to work with.  Good to know this is possible with Sennheiser, AKG and Grado and definitely cheaper than sourcing used headphones otherwise.  

 

I have read that some drivers that are typically in open configuration just don't respond well to closed cups (mostly read this of Grado drivers) but the Koss drivers (KSC35, KSC75) are an exception and perform very well in that configuration.  So I say if you're making a Grado clone, try the Koss drivers first.

 

The 8320 is my big challenge...I want to use silicone molded resin there :evil: should be tricky aka fun...much planning is required here so this will be last haha.  I think if I can rough out a good cup design with wood or molding materials, casting a mold of it will ensure that both sides are perfectly symmetrical, but I'm not sure how it will fare acoustically compared to wood.  I suspect that if done correctly, it would be better than the stock cups as long as it's thicker/denser material.

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