I recently had a need for a pair of speaker stands on short notice. Being a frugal audiophile with a picky wife I knew my stands needed to be dirt cheap, solid and attractive. My original idea was to build the Stubby design from TNTAudio.com. So there I was laying in bed one evening thinking about the logistics of the project, thinking about my general dislike for PVC and how I was going to explain my expenses and time in the garage to my significantly better half. That’s when I had something of an epiphany. First off I don’t like the look of just an oak board for the top and bottoms. Buying a router and the necessary bits would blow the budget for sure, not to mention it could cost this shop klutz a finger or two. It was then that I remembered being stuck in a Michael’s craft store (I lovingly call it the “crap store…”) where I thought I had seen some pre-routed rectangular boards. Exciting thoughts like this usually exhaust me, with that I was sleeping like a baby in not time.
A trip to Michael’s on my lunch break the next day resulted in an amazing find. Michaels does sell precut and routed speaker stand tops and bottoms. Those idiots call them plaque faces, whatever, I knew right away their true purpose! The best part was that an 8” routed oak board for the base was $1.88, and a smaller 6” matching board for the top of the stands was only $1.39. Now I was committed, so the next day I was off to Home Depot for PVC and All Thread.
There I stood on my lunch hour day two in the plumbing isle of Home Depot looking at the Schedule 40 PVC, thinking about how many pieces it would need to be cut into so that it would fit in my RAV-4. While also thinking of the threaded rod that would run through the center and how long it would take to get someone to come cut a couple pieces of that for me. Remember this is my lunch hour I’m wasting away in a store known to ignore customers for hours on end. I turn around to press the “Ignore the guy who needs help” button when I see precut threaded 24” lengths of 2 inch metal plumbing pipe. Hmm, that looks better then PVC, how about some way to connect it to my plaque faces? Lookie here, we have some 2 inch floor flanges. $1.50 each for 2 pipe lengths and 65 cents each for the four flanges, I was off to the paint department with a big smile on my face. I picked up 1 can of flat black el-cheap-o spray paint. So now I’m running to the self-checkout hoping (in vain it turns out) to make it back to work on time.
At this point I am pretty proud of the $17.93 I have wrapped up in this project. I get home and show the loot to the wife who is all too familiar with my “shop skills”. In return I get the single raised eyebrow that I have seen before. I was determined at that point to make this project work. I knew failure would cost much more the $18 in “I told you so….”
Saturday rolls around I and put on some old jeans and a tee-shirt. Put the cars in the driveway and begin sanding my the tops and bottoms of my soon to be stands. About 10 minuets later I’m done with my handy dandy palm sander I am brushing on some “Honey Oak” stain I had left over from something or another. While that dries I wiped down the two plumbing pipes with an acetone soaked rag to get them paint ready. Go inside for another coffee while the acetone evaporates and then it’s off to the side-yard to spray paint. While the first coat of paint dries I apply the first coat of lacquer to the wood, then back out to the paint for a second coat. This entire process took about one and half hours at a very leisurely pace. After that I wrapped it up for the day, everything is drying and my honey-do list is growing while I literally watch paint dry.
First thing in the morning I measure diagonally from screw hole to screw hole to find dead center of the flanges divide the number in half and get the distance from center to each hole. I measure to find center of my board and mark my 4 screw holes with pencil. To my surprise the dots lined up perfectly with the holes in the flanges so I sunk the screws. After repeating that process 3 times I have 2 tops and two bases each with flanges attached. Next I attached the larger boards to the pipes and filled the pipes with paving sand. The top boards were then screwed down to the top of the pluming pipes and I had a pair of sturdy non-resonate speaker stands that took less then 3 hours of work and $20 in parts available at any Michaels and Home Depot.
How did they look in the end? Well I should have picked black screws, but I didn’t have any on hand. I also thought of a couple of ways to add spikes economically but in the end I didn’t use them. I could have bought some speaker spikes from Parts Express, but I didn’t have a big enough order for free shipping at the time. (Remember the frugal audiophile comment at the top, I meant it.) I also thought of something kind of creative. I could use a 1-inch wood screw half way in, cut the head off and file it to a point. I didn’t want to mess with the wood finish on the top of the base, or I could simply drive some nails through. In the end I experimented with some ISOBlocks as well as brass footer spikes from Mapleshade Audio. I didn’t notice a difference so I was happy to just leave flat on the floor. The appearance could be improved by using a set of Speaker Spikes from PartsExpress.com, but at $50 for the pair, it would have certainly broken the budget. I like the resulting look, but the stainless steel screws and the lack of spikes could have given a much more professional look.
The sound was much more then I expected for the amount of money, skill and time required to put these together. I don’t know if I could have ended up with something better by following the Stubby instructions, I’m happy enough with the results to not bother trying. After the home theater review was done I put these stands up against some $100 Omni-Mount stands that they easily bested, they didn’t sound better then my $500 Usher stands, but I didn’t hear 10 times as much resolution and depth. The significant difference between these budget DIY stands was as fore-mentioned resolution and depth of soundstage.
The base idea for these stands came from TNTAudio.com, I would like to be sure to give them the appropriate credit. In the end due mostly to laziness on my part I really didn’t build the Stubby’s at all. I built my own bastardized version to suit my own needs, but that’s what DIY is all about. I am glad I could share my experience with those of you who were interested in saving more then a few bucks by getting out in the garage for a few hours one weekend.
from aﬀordableaudio, By Jeff Brown