Speaker Box Calculator
This speaker box calculator or subwoofer box calculator will help you determine the boards' measurements to cut when building a speaker box of your own. We can also treat it as a speaker box volume calculator as it can also help you find your speaker box's internal volume depending on its dimensions, board thickness, speaker driver displacement, and tube port (if needed). As a bonus, we have also included in this tool a speaker driver displacement calculator for your convenience.
In this calculator, you will also learn some guidelines on how to build a speaker box and how to calculate speaker box volume yourself (or, how to find the volume of a box in general). At the end of this text, don't miss our sample calculation for a 12-inch speaker box. Keep on reading to start learning!
Building a speaker box
Building your very own speaker or loudspeaker, whether it be a full-range speaker, a woofer, a mid-range speaker, or a tweeter, is a fun experience. It challenges our creativity, most especially in terms of woodworking, electronics, and our understanding of sound. Building a speaker box means we have full control over its design and size, not just over the speaker driver you want to use, but also over the sound quality.
However, in this basic speaker box building guide, we only focus on the speaker box itself, the volume displaced by the speaker driver, and the speaker tube port (if ever we need it). Keep on reading to learn more.
How to build a speaker box?
Building a speaker box is like building any kind of wooden box, except that it doesn't have any moving parts like lids or covers. We cut boards of wood or fiberboard to size and assemble them into a closed box with proper sealing, using enough glue or caulking on the joints.
- The first step in building a speaker box is to decide on its design and size. If you are keen on clean audio and deep bass, your best choice is a ported speaker box. On the other hand, if you are not much concerned by the bass, a sealed speaker box should be your go-to option. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the sealed (left) and ported (right) speaker boxes:
- Once you've decided on the size and design to build, the next step is to determine your speaker box's board panels' measurements. We can calculate each panel's dimensions depending on the speaker box's dimensions and the board's thickness. From the sample illustration below, we can see that the front panel's width is smaller than the speaker box's width by twice the board's thickness. This also holds with the side panel's height.
On the other hand, we can also see in the example above that the side panel's width is the same as the speaker box's depth. The measurements of the panels depend on the design of your speaker box. Our calculator offers six designs for you to choose from, as you can see in the field of our calculator.
- After cutting your boards, it's now a matter of assembling the panels to form the speaker box. We can butt-joint the board pieces together or miter them for a seamless look. However, butt-joints are stronger and easier to do than miter joints. Butt-joints are also easier to seal and are still aesthetically pleasing.
Now that you know how to build a speaker box, let us now learn how to use our calculator to easily find your board panels' dimensions.
How to use our speaker box calculator?
Our speaker box tool is packed with a few features that will help you get started in building your speaker box. Here are the steps on how to use our speaker box calculator:
- Choose the assembly case you wish to make. At first glance, each assembly might seem to be identical. However, during the actual assembly, you might consider recessing a face or two to give your speaker box an added character. You can choose case 1 or case 2 to have the front side recessed, as shown below, or case 3 or 4 to recess the side panels. It's your choice.
Once you've chosen the assembly case, the next step is to enter your speaker box outside dimensions. That is its width, height, and depth.
The next step is to input the thickness of the board you want to use. Speaker boxes are typically made of to ( to ) thick boards. Upon filling in this field, the field will already show a calculated result. After inputting this, you will find a board-cutting guide at the bottom of our calculator.
If you decided to install a speaker tube port, select in the Are you making a ported speaker box? field. Doing so will reveal the and fields for you to fill in. This will update the value of the internal volume of the box accordingly. You can also input a particular port volume for other port shapes provided you know its value. Having this feature also makes this tool a subwoofer box calculator.
If you already have a speaker driver, you can select for this next field to display our speaker driver displacement calculator. Input the required values for the cone diameter, mounting depth, magnet diameter, and magnet depth to calculate a speaker driver's displacement and automatically update the box's internal volume.
How to calculate speaker box volume?
To estimate the speaker box volume, we need to determine the box's internal dimensions and multiply them together. Typically, the board thickness is uniform throughout the speaker box's body. With this concept, we can formulate the speaker box volume equation as follows:
where the variables used are:
- - speaker box's internal volume without the speaker driver and port;
- - width of the speaker box;
- - board thickness;
- - height of the speaker box; and
- - depth of the speaker box.
However, the internal volume of the speaker box decreases when we introduce our speaker driver and ports. In this calculator, we approximate the speaker driver's volume displacement by evaluating the cone formed by its cone casing and the cylindrical volume taken up by the speaker magnet.
The total internal volume of the speaker box would then be:
Knowing how to find the volume of a box for our speaker is also beneficial especially when the speaker driver supplier indicated the required average internal air volume for best sound quality. The speaker box's internal air volume actually tells us something about how the speaker driver delivers sound.
The smaller the speaker box volume is, the less air there is inside. This air can then be compressed easily, acting as a shock absorber for the speaker driver's vibrations. This results in more control of the speaker cone to handle a wider range of frequencies.
On the other hand, a speaker box with a larger volume reacts oppositely and typically requires installing a port in the system. You can learn more about ported speaker box in our port length calculator.
Sample calculation of speaker box volume
Let's consider building a 12-inch speaker box with the dimensions of 18" x 15" x 20" for its width, height, and depth, respectively, using a 3/4" thick board. Let's say our 12-inch speaker driver's displacement volume is around 0.128cubic feet. Let's also say we wish to include two cylindrical tube ports that take up a total of 0.15 cubic feet of volume in the box.
Using our speaker box volume formula, we calculate the speaker box volume as shown follows:
By subtracting the speaker driver and port volume displacement, we get:
⚠Before we finally proceed to cutting the board and building the speaker box, now is the time to check our speaker driver specifications to see if the internal air volume of 2.107 ft3 is around its recommended range. If it is within the range, then we can now transfer the measurements to our board for cutting.
There has been much progress in speaker design and room ratios. We have updated this blog to reflect those changes. Updated on October 18, 2019
The speaker size vs room size debate has been going on for years. About the only thing everyone can agree upon is that they both must be considered together. Just like listening and speaker positions have their one or two spots that will work in any given sized room, speaker size and room size must be matched so that one is not interfering with the other. Rather than plugging information into a speaker room size calculator, let’s take a look at why the dimensions of the room are so important.
I made this video to help give you a clearer understanding of this issue.
If the low-frequency driver diameter is too large for the room, you just compound the room modal issues. If the low-frequency driver is too small, you leave your musical presentation anemic when it comes to bass attack and decay. The speaker and room size relationship is also the most misunderstood relationship when it comes to small room acoustics, especially in my experience, among Audiophiles. You must watch the physical size of your loudspeaker and make sure it will not only physically fit but also acoustically fit into your room.
What Is The Correct Ratio of Speaker to Room Size?
If your room ceiling height is 8′, should you put a 6′ tall speaker in it? If your ceiling height is 10′, should you put a 6′ tall speaker in it? Would it be better acoustically and monetarily for you to look at a smaller speaker, such as a 4′ tall speaker in a room with an 8′ ceiling? Why are room height and speaker height part of the speaker size vs room size debate? Why is low-frequency driver diameter important when we are considering placing speakers within a room? Why do we have to consider room volume and driver diameter in order to achieve some type of sonic balance? It is speaker height and low-frequency driver width along with how many low-frequency drivers should I have in my room. All of these variables are part of the speaker size vs room size debate. Not all of them can be addressed in a speaker room size calculator either, these questions need to be uniquely answered based on your specific room and speaker size.
Floor And Ceiling Reflections
The first reflected energy to really reach our listening position is the reflection from our floor and ceilings. If our speaker height is too close to the ceiling then we are adding more ceiling reflections to intermix with the direct sound. This creates reflection time delays that must be dealt with along with the sidewall reflections. We also create an SBIE or speaker boundary interference effect where the small distance between the ceiling and the speaker will start to have a comb filtering effect going on as reflections from speaker sound strike the ceiling, then strike the speaker and then back to striking the ceiling again. This comb filtering effect can create phantom images that will produce audible distortions from that area.
- Sound Reflection Off of the Ceiling
- Sound Reflection Off of the Floor
This floor to ceiling height can not be underestimated. The reflections from the floor and ceiling strike your ears first before any of the sidewall reflections. You are sitting on the floor so your proximity to floor surface produces reflections that are distortion. The top of the speaker and the ceiling height produce reflections that are determined by the proximity of the speaker to the ceiling. Both of these reflections have a negative impact on sound stage width and height. This room distortion caused by these pairs of reflections can be heard in your mixes and personal listening rooms.
ROOM SIDE / SPEAKER SIZE: http://www.audiogurus.com/learn/speakers/what-size-speakers-room/85
SPEAKER SIZE: https://www.cnet.com/news/size-matters-are-your-speakers-too-big-or-too-small-for-your-room/
Speaker Driver Diameter
If your low-frequency drivers have large diameters, say 12″, 15″, even 18″ then you must have a room volume that can support all of this low-frequency energy, the speaker vs room size relationship must be taken into consideration. Low-frequency energy must be controlled prior to its introduction into the room based upon proper driver diameter matching with the room volume. Once it is released into the room, you must manage it through the proper low-frequency sound absorption technology, which is not the easiest approach. It is better to manage low-frequency room distortion producing room modes through both energy containment and proper sound absorption technologies.
This discussion and video have covered some of the variables that you must consider when selecting a speaker to fit both physically and acoustically within your room. A speaker room size calculator is a good starting point, but we need to look at the individual variables when constructing a layout. We covered driver size and room volumes, so you can appreciate and understand that when it comes to the speaker and room size relationship, it is better to consider smaller speakers in today’s smaller rooms.
I hope this explanation helped. Please leave any comments below so I can get back to you. Don’t be afraid to hit those Facebook like, Google+ and Twitter buttons on the left hand side so other people can see this post. If you would like a free analysis of your room, please complete the form on this page www.acousticfields.com/free-room-analysis/ and we will run a free analysis for you. And if you want to learn more about this subject please sign up for our free room acoustic treatment videos and ebook which provide step by step instructions. Get instant access by signing up now.
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When you make the template, you should make the 90� and 45� lines before you drill the center hole that will go over the pivot. This will ensure that the screw holes align perfectly with the center of the template. It also gives you reference points when placing the template on the enclosure. You'd draw lines on the baffle of the enclosure, crossing at the point where you want the speaker to be centered. You'd then align the marks on the template with those on the enclosure.
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When selecting the wood to make the templates, don't use inferior wood. 1/4" material works the best. 1/4" MDF is difficult to find but makes nice templates. 'Good quality' plywood also makes good templates. Luan is OK but birch and oak (oak is preferred if you're going to use plywood) are a bit better. If you use cheap plywood, the inner layers become loose and dislodge making the inner diameter of the template uneven. If you're using a cheap plywood, apply a thin layer of glue around the inner diameter (wiping away as much as possible). That will keep the inner layer secured. When you buy material for templates, you don't generally have to buy a full sheet. Many of the home improvement stores have sheets cut down to smaller sizes that are less expensive and easier to handle if you don't have a truck to haul it in.
When marking the template, you should include the center points for the speaker mounting holes. While the template is on the jig, make a tool similar to the one in the following image. It's simply a thin (~1/16" thick) piece (metal, plastic...) that has a 1/4" hole to fit the template maker's center post and a second hole that aligns with the center of the speaker mounting holes. To find the center of the holes, you can measure from center to center of the holes on opposite sides of the frame and cut that in half. If it's easier for you, you can measure from the right side of the hole to the right side of the hole. That's sometimes easier than judging where the center of the hole is.
The template base should either be mounted in a Workmate type vice or otherwise secured so it can't move. When cutting, it's difficult to get the bit to cut completely through the template blank without cutting the base slightly. If you'd like, you can insert a sacrificial piece of wood between the template blank and the base. The cuts in the base won't be deep if you're careful and generally won't cause any problems. Remember, this is to make templates. You'll use the templates until they wear out or get damaged. Before you can put the piece of 1/4 inch plywood or MDF that is to become the speaker template onto the template base, you will have to drill a 1/4 inch hole in it so that it will be able to fit over the pivot dowel. After putting the template blank on the dowel, you will have to secure it with a few #6 X 1/2" or #6 X 3/4" flat head screws. If you make the mounting holes in the same place as the holes in the speaker, the same holes can be used to mount the template to the speaker box. You will have to countersink the screw heads so that the circle cutting jig can pass over them.
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For those who don't know what flat-head screws look like... You can also use drywall screws.
This is what's left after the hole is cut.
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When using t-nuts or when pre-drilling holes for speaker mounting screws, you need to confirm that the dust cap logo is aligned properly with the screw holes. If the logo is square to the holes, you can pre-drill the holes square to the enclosure 90� and 45� to the top and sides of the face of the enclosure). If the logo isn't square to the holes, you'll have to line up the logo, mark the hole locations then drill the holes.
Setting the Router Bit Depth when Using the Template:
When setting up the bit, confirm that it can cut deep enough to cut entirely through the piece being cut. The depth beneath the base of the router will have to be the thickness of the template plus the thickness of the material. The bit needs to be chucked up so that as much of the bit shank as possible is in the collet but not so far down that it won't cut deep enough or so deep that collet hits the plate for the guide. If you check this before you begin, it will save a lot of time.
Some people like to set up the router so that it cuts approximately 99% through the piece being cut and then use a utility knife to cut the rest free. I recommend using a sacrificial piece, setting up is easier. The sacrificial piece will end up with multiple rings in it but it does no harm and rarely ever needs to be replaced.
You will need to screw the template down to the enclosure so that it cannot move when routing it. You will use the lines on the template to line up the template with the desired center of the opening in the enclosure. Remember, this template must be used with the guide bearing. If you attempt to make the cut without a guide bearing on the router, the router will cut through the template and the enclosure.
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Now, I know this looks like a lot of work but after you make the template base, the circle cutter and a few templates, you can cut perfectly round smooth speaker holes very quickly. As an example, using a multi-hole template, it is possible to cut out holes for a tweeter, woofer and port in approximately 20 seconds using a large plunge router. If you make all of the 8 screw holes in the template, you can mark and pre-drill them so that the speaker can be mounted perfectly straight the first time. Don't drill through the holes in the template. It will make the holes slightly larger each time because you can't prevent touching the template with the drill bit. Use a fine point Sharpie to mark the hole locations, remove the template and then drill the holes. For best results, use router bits with carbide cutters. MDF will cause a high speed steel cutter to dull very quickly. Sometimes, non-carbide cutters will dull after just a few holes.
- When cutting the holes, keep forward pressure on the router until the cut is complete. If you stop in the middle of a cut, the vibration may cause the router bit to break. When cutting the holes, you must go in a clockwise direction. If you were cutting around the outside of a template, you'd go in the opposite direction.
- Don't allow router to come out of the jig, it will destroy the jig. Make sure that the router remains flat on the template at all times. If it tilts inward, it will damage the perimeter of the cutout in the enclosure. If it tilts outward, it could slip past the template and destroy the template (possibly damaging the enclosure. It's easier to keep the router flat if there is a lot of material (at least 1/2 of the width of the router base) between the cutout and the edge of the template.
Speaker Enclosure Bracing:
Most speaker enclosures will benefit from bracing. The diagrams below will give you one example of enclosure bracing.
This is the bracing as viewed from the baffle (where the speaker is mounted). The baffle board and the speaker are obviously not shown. Notice how the brace ties the top of the box to the bottom of the box. This stops the top and bottom of the box from moving along axis 'A'. The brace also connects the sides together. The horizontal part of the brace stops the sides from moving. The open areas of the brace allow the air to move freely through the box and reduce the airspace taken up by the brace. The cross-pieces don't have to be really thick because the wood that makes up the brace will not stretch or compress.
This is the side of the box with the right side removed. You can see another brace. This brace stops the back of the box from flexing. The back of the box is tied to the vertical brace. When these braces are glued together, the sides and back of the box will be extremely rigid and significantly reduce the resonance in the walls of the box.
This is the top of the box. This is simply another look at the bracing.
If you have very heavy woofers or will need to remove your woofers frequently, you'll need to use T-nuts. T-nuts are threaded metal fasteners that are used to provide a solid mounting point in wood. They are inserted into the back side of the baffle board. A hole is drilled just large enough to accept the cylindrical part of the T-nut. You insert the T-nut into the hole and (if possible) give it a good solid whack with a hammer. If you can not get to it to hit it with a hammer, they can sometimes be pulled into place by simply tightening the screw. This works fine on softer woods but won't always work with MDF. Sometimes the threads strip or the screws break before the T-nut is fully seated. If you're having trouble getting them to pull all of the way down, use a C-clamp to seat them. If you don't get them to seat fully before mounting the speaker, the screws will continue to loosen as the T-nuts continue to pull down. Only after they are fully seated will the screws stay tight. If you have a problem of them falling out, apply a bit of Goop or E6000 to the cylindrical part of the T-nut before you insert it. The photo below shows a couple of T-nuts. They come in many different sizes. The diameter of the screw that's to be used with them is important because the screw must be able to fit through the hole in the frame of the woofer. The depth of the T-nut isn't really important but you should use one that's closest to the thickness of the wood as possible. This provides more threads and reduces the chances of it stripping out.
This image shows their placement in the baffle board. The dashed lines show the diameter of the hole drilled to accommodate the T-nut.
The following threaded inserts are also available but they take up a bit more real estate than the T-nuts and can't be installed where there isn't sufficient clearance between the center of the hole for the insert and the edge of the hole for the speaker. They can however, be used in other locations on amp racks and such. This allows you to remove and reinstall panels without getting dust around the holes (screws threaded directly into wood always pull out a bit of dust when you remove them. This can be difficult to clean up if the material covering the piece has fibers that tend to hold the dust and wood particles.
The next insert is screwed into the wood with an allen wrench (hex key wrench).
The next two examples are hammered or pressed (C-clamp) into the wood. For heavy loads, the one with the flange should be used (flangs on the back side of the MDF). For the greatest resistance to pulling out (inserts without the flange), use the ones that are the same thickness as the wood. Longer inserts have more cleats which makes them harder to pull out.
The following two images show what the inserts look like after being installed.
These are brass inserts that you screw into the wood with a large flat-bladed screwdriver.
If you want some nice terminal cups for your enclosure, the following are available from Madisound. They will accept large gauge wire or banana plugs.
Front and Back:
Sealing Around the Speaker:
If the speaker has no gasket and the speaker box isn't covered in carpet or vinyl, You can use an open cell foam weather stripping around the cutout in the baffle. The weather stripping should be about 3/8 to 1/2 inch wide and 1/2 inch thick. The weather stripping in this example is 3/8 inch thick and 1/2 inch wide. You need to make sure that the area around the cutout is clean and dry so that the weather stripping will stick. I recommend wiping it down with solvent and allowing it to dry before applying the weather stripping. If you REALLY want it to stick, apply a single coat of contact cement to the area around the hole and allow it to dry for 10 minutes or until it no longer sticks to your fingers when you touch it. When applying the weather stripping to the coated area, you get only ONE chance to lay it down in the right place. As soon as the weather stripping touches the contact cement, it's not coming back up.
This is the weather stripping applied around the cutout. I didn't go all of the way around for this example but you DO have to go all of the way around.
This is a closer view of the same thing.
This shows the adhesive backing. Some weather stripping has a really thick backing that won't allow you to bend it around the cutout. You need to get something that is similar to what is shown here.
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One Simple Tool to Find the Right Size Speaker for Any Space
Do you usually choose speakers by guessing? I want to show you one simple tool to find the exact right speaker for any space.
It is called Forward Aspect Ratio (FAR) and it is simply the shape a speaker makes, defined by length and width. Here’s how you can reverse engineer it to master the universe.
- Measure the length of your space at mid-depth.
- Measure the width of your space at mid-width.
- FAR = length ÷ width.
- Cov. Angle = 2 × arcsin(1 ÷ FAR).
Let’s walk through it together.
1. Measure the length of your space at mid-depth.
2. Measure the width of your space at mid-width.
3. FAR = length ÷ width
50 ÷ 40 = 1.25
FAR = 1.25
4. Cov. Angle = 2 × arcsin(1 / FAR)
2 × arcsin(1 ÷ 1.25) = 106º
We need a 106º speaker.
Yikes! How do I type this into the google calculator?
Easy. Search google.com for calculator. Make sure you are in degrees. Click inside the calculator input window and type 2 [shift + 8] [shift + s] 1 / 1.25 [enter]. On a mobile device, turn to landscape mode and use the Inv button to show sin-1.
What if I don’t have the right speaker?
Don’t worry. As long as you have no more than a 3 dB error on each side, you’ll be fine.
Drop this into Google: ABS((20 × log(FAR A))-(20 × log(FAR B))) where FAR A is the speaker you need and FAR B is the speaker you have. As long as the result is less than 3, you’re good.
What if the result is more than 3?
If your speaker is too wide, just know you’re going to get some extra wall reflections.
If your speaker is too narrow, consider subdividing the space. Take your FAR, cut it in half, and redo your calculations.
Click here to download my free book, 105 Questions about Sound System Tuning. It’s everything you wanted to know about live sound system setup but were afraid to ask.
Nathan Lively is a Sound Engineer, Pro Audio Career Coach, and Author. His goal is to help you grow your business through:
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Size calculator speaker
Subwoofer Box Calculator
What is a Subwoofer Box for?
Everyone understands that the box is an indispensable part for the proper operation of the low-frequency speaker, which is designed to work in a certain volume, without it, the subwoofer speaker will simply chase the air, while the efficiency will decrease several tens of times.
Without a box, due to the lack of the necessary damper, the speaker is very easy to pull out of the stroke, this is when the coil starts to come out of the magnetic gap, it is at this point that any slight distortion of the diffuser can lead to a coil's impact on the core (cylindrical magnetic core in the center of the coil), which leads to the detachment of the winding from the coil frame.
Of course there are exceptions, for example, as Free Air subwoofers, which are designed to work in an open volume, but the efficiency of these subwoofers is very small, it is recommended to install them only as a last resort.Start Subwoofer Box Design
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