How to Design an Open Baffle Speaker

by David Lipscomb
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Open baffle speaker systems get their name from the fact that the speaker employs only a frontal mounting board for the speakers. Without an enclosure behind the speakers, open baffle designs suffer from a lack of bass and low efficiency. However, they are relatively easy to build, and offer a noticeable sense of space around instruments when listening to music.

Step 1

Choose a driver that operates optimally in an open-air environment. Such drivers have low excursion, and should be as large as the design can handle. Remember that a driver in an open-baffle design has severe issues producing frequencies lower than the diameter of each driver.

Step 2

Use multiples of each bass driver chosen to reinforce the bass response. Plan to use a sealed or ported subwoofer to reinforce frequencies that open-baffle speakers cannot. Place the speakers, once finished, in a corner if possible to reinforce the back wave of each driver.

Step 3

Ensure you have the tools to build the speaker. Have a table saw, router for hole cutting, medium density fiberboard for the baffle itself, a drill, and screws to hold it all together.

Plan to use an equalizer (EQ) to smooth out the response of the speaker. Open baffle designs have a large bump in output near the resonant frequency of the driver. Consult the manufacturer's specifications, looking for a specification called "Fs." Expect to use the EQ to reduce the output of that frequency once the speaker is completed. Realize that each driver in the speaker array will have this issue, so plan accordingly.

Items you will need

  • Table saw
  • Drill
  • Router
  • Philips screws and screwdriver

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