THE SOUND OF PANYL: An EXPEDIT + iTunes Speaker Hack
October 26, 2012
Our shop manager Jeff is a committed "maker" and a fastidious re-user and tinkerer. He rarely lets anything go to waste. And he's also an accomplished musician and audiophile. Regard what happens when he heeds the call of his first IKEA hack, as told by him:
The inspiration for this hack came when I found a stereo in the dumspter near my house. I’d only been the shop manager at PANYL for a few weeks but I’m hearing all these newfangled terms like "upcycling" and "IKEA hacking." I’d done plenty of upcycling (why else would I be in the dumpster?) but had never attempted an IKEA hack. But I was about to....
In the fabrication shop we had an iMac with built-in speakers but no dedicated sound system so I seized the chance to combine my “new” old speakers with IKEA’s Expedit and some PANYL.
I’ve been building speakers from scratch since my teens. MDF – which is the mainstay of most IKEA products -- is the default material for building speaker enclosures because of its acoustical properties. It’s dense and less likely to absorb sound waves than wood planking or plywood.
Each EXPEDIT door insert has four of the six square panels to build a cube. I figured I would re-use the MDF panels from a third insert kit to fashion the two missing sides.
Here is the step by step:
- I took the speakers apart and salvaged the woofers, tweeters, input jacks, crossover and the wiring, etc.
- I removed the doors and hinges from the inserts, and set aside the door for the front of the speaker, called the baffle.
- I ran a bead of caulk along all internal seams. The box has to be air-tight because it might rattle if air tries to escape through cracks when the woofer moves in and out (later I cut holes called “ports” in the front of the speaker cabinet to regulate pressure).
- Out of the panels in the spare insert kit, I cut one 12½” x 13⅜” and one 1113/16” x 13 ⅜” panel for each speaker. I roughed the contact surfaces with coarse sandpaper and glued them in place. Then I put wood screws through the glued joint from the outside, one at each corner.
- In order to attach the front baffle to the cube, I cut two 11 ¾” strips out of 1”x2” trim from Home Depot. Before fastening the blocks to the back surface of the baffle, I leaned a drawer front against the unfinished cube to mark where they should go. (I ended up using the white door front for the baffle – sorry for the confusion in the photos).
- Next I used a hole-saw to cut out the hole for the tweeter and the two front ports (these allow air to flow in and out of the cabinet and will increase bass response).
- Then I cut the hole for the woofer with a jigsaw after laying out the design with a compass.
- With an X-acto knife I roughed up the rear surface of the baffle. I attached the wood blocks that I cut previously to the baffle with Liquid Nails. I then drilled two flat-head screws into the blocks from the front. Using a countersink bit on the front baffle when pre-drilling ensured that the screws would be totally level with the surface.
- Time to solder the input jack to the crossover and slide all the pieces into the baffle. In this picture you can see the 1”x2”attached to the rear of the front baffle.
- The next-to-last step was to cut holes in the rear of the boxes for the input jacks.
- Finally I put some foam batting inside the boxes to dampen internal reflections. The front-baffle assembly can now be slid into the cabinet. You can see the predrilled holes in the side of the speaker box, and the countersunk holes in the exterior for the flathead screws.
To test them out, we hooked them up to an old Kenwood amplifier and an iPad (neither of which we could resist the urge to PANYL, in addition to the speakers).
But, did they sound any good? Check out the video!!! The sound was recorded by the digital camera mike and not edited.