Bill Schneider's audio projects


Welcome to my web site about audio projects. This site began as a showcase blog without much project construction information, but seeing the number of "hits" and realizing the potential for broad dissemination of information, the site has been expanded to include the ongoing construction details for these projects. While the main purpose of the material included here is educational, the site also serves as a creative outlet for my photography, graphics, and technical writing.

The most recent project, completed in July 2013, is the Linkwitz LX521. For that project there are three pages of construction notes containing 268 photos and graphics.

My first undertaking was a North Creek Echo kit, and before they were finished I bought plans for the PLUTO loudspeakers from Siegfried Linkwitz. The following information is about these projects and more that I've undertaken since 2007.

North Creek Echo

The North Creek Music company once sold a wide array of loudspeaker kits, but have reduced their offerings to several of their more popular kits. They advertised tight-tolerance components, tested drivers, and full instructions for all of their kits. The kits looked very promising for someone who had a minimum of knowledge about building audio components and woodworking. The Echo was their entry-level kit that cost about $160 plus shipping. It was a pair of 5" two-way MT (Midrange, Tweeter) loudspeakers that were designed for integration into an A/V system. Shielded woofers and tweeters made them compatible with TV screens.

The sound quality easily beat my older Paradigm Phantom speakers, except for the lack of deep bass. Size still matters.

There are no construction notes for this early project, except for the steps for applying Maple veneer here.

Linkwitz Pluto



Pluto speakers are available in plan form (or fully assembled) from the Linkwitz web site. They are unique in that they contain a circuitry for an active crossover, equalization, and amplification in the base. Circuit boards, populated or bare, are available from the Linkwitz site. Additionally, these have been updated with a better mid-woofer since I built mine in the summer of 2007.

Even though the plans are very prescriptive about many elements, Plutos can be customized considerably by the builder. I chose to make a different base to house the electronics, miter the tweeter pipe, and make a custom mid-woofer holder to improve its appearance. These changes can be considered industrial design, closely related to my educational backgrounds in mechanical engineering and fine-art.

Together with their mating subwoofers shown below, they remained my favorite speakers until I built the Linkwitz LX521 loudspeaker five years later.

[Construction notes here]

Pluto+ subwoofers

Subwoofers designed specifically for the Plutos integrated very well with the system. I understand that the newer Pluto 2.1 reaches considerably deeper than the original Pluto because of a better driver but some builders still report substantial improvements with them.

At my own risk, I departed from the rectangular box specified in the Linkwitz plans for appearance reasons. It made for some interesting fabrication challenges. The construction thread can be found on the Orion Users Group web site at:

in a thread called Round Pluto+ Fabrication.

Zaph ZMV5


These are very accurate sounding speakers, but because of basic physics (size matters) they are a little lean in the lower registers compared to larger speakers. Still, they are amazingly good, and project a lifelike soundstage if they are given adequate breathing room away from walls.

The cost for drivers and crossover components is very reasonable. The designer, John Krutke, has an updated design (the ZA 5.2 TM) using better woofers. Drivers and crossovers are available at Madisound. Even with the better drivers, the cost is still very affordable. The Madisound ZA5.2 TM kit would be a good design for a first-time builder, or for someone living in an apartment.

[Construction notes here]

Overnight Sensations



Paul Carmody of Chicago posted plans for this in May 2009. Because of the low cost of the parts, I built this as a fun summer project. They are currently deployed in my darkroom. They were my first fully-painted speakers, and provided a means to experiment with a new air compressor and water-based paints.

There is an extensive construction thread on the Parts Express Tech Talk forum about their fabrication and assembly.

In 2016 I built another pair from Meniscus Audio parts. These feature cherry baffles and maple veneer, and were made for a client. Photo here.

There are a host of other build threads on Parts Express showing lots of different approaches for building this popular small speaker. Be sure to check them out too.

Madisound Recession Buster Reference


These speakers sound remarkable, especially for their size. The design was done by Jed K. of Clearwave Loudspeaker Design for Madisound. They employ ScanSpeak 15S/8531K01 woofers and SB-Acoustics SB29RDC-C000-4 tweeters. Unfortunately the attractively-priced Recession Buster Reference kit was a one time special from Madisound in late 2009 and they sold out quickly.

While this is no longer available, it appears that a modified version of this design is still available as the Minuet 5A from Clearwave Speaker Design. It uses a different version of the woofer, and a ScanSpeak tweeter instead of the original SB-Acoustics tweeter. You can clearly see the heritage though.

I was pleased at how low the mid-sized ScanSpeak woofers reached. They have a great reputation and breathtaking price to match, but it's well deserved. They require placement in a room away from walls and other boundaries. They must be elevated from the floor too. Like all good speakers, they need breathing room.

[Construction notes here]

Zaph ZDT 3.5


These were completed in May, 2011 almost three years after I started them. I had them almost completed within a couple months of starting, but I procrastinated on finishing them.

First, I couldn't decide on paint vs veneer. I eventually veneered them in Mahogany.

Then I sanded through the thin veneer on the back of one of them, and stopped work for another year in frustration. Eventually I removed the damaged veneer, replaced it, and finished the job. These problems and their solutions are documented in the construction notes.

They are big speakers!

[Construction notes here]

Zaph 12" Subwoofer
(needs finishing)

This project is functionally complete and working, but I'm unsure about how to finish it. Paint? Veneer? The subwoofer certainly goes deep, but calls attention to itself because of its size.

Maybe turn it into an end table? To be continued someday...


[Construction notes here]

(construction halted)

I'm more than half-way through building the Linkwitz Orion speakers. It's an ambitious and expensive undertaking.

The Orion project was interrupted by the announcement of the LX521, also a Siegfried Linkwitz design. I may revisit this project when there's time and desire.

[Construction notes here]

Linkwitz LX521

Even though the Orions were not finished, I jumped on the LX521 plans as soon as they were available.

There were unique challenges presented in the making of these. The construction notes fully document their fabrication and are are illustrated with many "how-to" photos. If on dial-up, expect a wait.

[Page 1] Baffle template, bracket, and woofer box fabrication.
[Page 2] Baffle fabrication, crossover, bridge concepts & fabrication.
[Page 3] Painting, passive crossover, wiring, final assembly and photos.

These loudspeakers sound superb!

Clear, deep bass, and exceptional detail set these apart from my previous loudspeakers.

New! The web notes compiled as a PDF file. (1.2MB, 43 pages)

Audio equipment table

I needed a convenient place to store the electronic equipment for my audio system, so I created this table.

It's essentially a series of painted MDF panels with poplar skirts for strength, and supported using "faux finished" PVC tube uprights. Threaded rods inside the pipes pull everything tightly together "flexy rack" style.

The uprights match the textured "faux finish" on my Pluto loudspeakers. I have castors on the bottom so I can roll the table out for access to wiring.

I have a few construction pictures in my Parts Express gallery.


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All content  on these pages is copyright 2007-2014 William R Schneider.