Sunflower speakers archive

Archiving the sunflower speakers page here:

For my third pair of DIY speakers (I know… running out of rooms to put speakers in), I decided to try a new style with an open baffle design. The open baffle designs that get most of the press are Linkwitz’s Orions and John Krekovsky’s NaOs but those use really expensive drivers with active electronics requiring multiple channels of amplification. So instead, I’m using one of Paul Carmody’s designs that he has dubbed the Sunflower XT.

It uses dayton reference drivers which are great performers at a good price. I used a few from this lineup for the ZDT 3.5 speakers from the last project as well. Also, it uses a Vifa XT tweeter which is a driver used in many high end designs that is generally accepted as an excellent tweeter with low distortion and great dynamics. Whatever that means. 🙂

In any case, here are a few pictures of the speaker in progress.

    March 13, 2011

The baffles:

The rears with the cutout and recess for the port:

A little photoshop on what will be the side panels (maple birch ply):

The “box” part glued up:
Sunflower xt

View of the bracing and foam on the inside:

Side panels cut and just positioned to see what it will look like:
Side view

Next step is to do some sanding and bondo-ing before figuring out how to assemble the pieces together and paint. Speaking of which, I think the “box” part is just going to be black. Either a spray textured black or a brushed/rolled on enamel flat black. The plywood sides are going to just have a few coats of a simple tung oil rub. That’s the plan right now anyway. More to come.

March 27, 2011
A few updates:
view of front/side and rear/side

The “translam” top piece (still needs to be trimmed and sanded)
Translam top

It will look something like this:
Top mockup translam

Also, here’s what I think the crossover box top will be:
Bookended crossover box top

It’s a remnant piece of hardwood (not sure what species) that I book-ended and sort of-kind of biscuited together with my table saw and a piece of MDF.

It will look something like this (carrying through the translam concept):
Crossover box mock up

Got some glue/water sealing done today also.

March 29, 2011

March 31, 2011
Got some painting done:

April 5, 2011:
Drivers installed and crossovers partially complete:

April 9, 2011
Got the crossovers done an everything wired up.

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16 Responses to Sunflower speakers archive

  1. Dave says:

    Hi Bonnie & Jason, Dave Whitley from Virginia here. I built Paul’s first version of the “Sunflower” a few years ago as my first DIY project. The finished speakers turned out slightly different (aesthetically) from what they started out, but the end result was a GREAT sounding speaker! I actually surprised myself, because I’m not exactly an accomplished craftsman, but all in all, I’m very pleased. Okey dokey, here’s my question: would you have any helpful tips/hints/etc. on how to build a matching center speaker since I now use these as my R/L mains in my H/T? I have no clue on how the cabinet should be built, and I mean, would it also be an “open baffle” design? Would I use the same drivers in the same configuration? Also, since it will go into an existing A/V rack, it will have to lie horizontally, or on it’s side. Not ideal, I know, but right now, that’s just how it’s gonna be.
    I know I’ve probably overloaded you with questions that you weren’t prepared to deal with, and that’s okay, I’ll understand if you don’t want to tackle all this! I just thought I’d throw it out there & see if I had any luck. Thanks for any consideration you might have, Dave.

  2. jason says:

    Hi Dave – thanks for the comment. I would say you should choose a traditional center channel. An open baffle won’t work in a traditional location surrounded by AV equipment. And the existing design positioned horizontally definitely won’t work… center channels have specific technical design considerations. I would say that you might try picking an existing design that uses the same/similar drivers. Maybe the Nat P? I’ve been really happy with my ZDT 3.5 center channel. GREAT with dialog. There are a few others to choose from that I think you would be happy with. Maybe try asking around on htguide? Feel free to ask any questions you might have! Best of luck otherwise.

  3. Ben says:

    This is a wonderful build. Can’t imagine why Paul doesn’t have these on his site. Nice work!

  4. jason says:

    I dunno… I would be fine with that. Maybe he feels the other ones are nicer and he doesn’t need another example! Feel free to ping him about it though. =)

  5. Jeremy says:

    Great looking build! I am building a set of mains soon and have been trying to decide between the ZDT 3.5 and the Sunflower Redux (I am assuming your build is the redux?). Since you have built both, I was wondering if you could give me any insight into the performance differences between the two speakers. Thanks in advance.

  6. jason says:

    Sunflowers seem to be more bass capable but the ZDT have a nicer midrange due to the dome I think. Both are great… just different. If you want OB, go Sunflower. If you want straight forward box, go ZDT. I think I prefer the ZDT slightly due to the midrange though if I was forced to choose.

  7. Anil says:

    Nicely crafted, beautiful looking speakers. I love it, nice DIY 🙂
    What amp are you using with it?

  8. jason says:

    Thanks! I actually have given them away to a friend. He was using my DIY Aleph X monoblocks but they were a bit much for his setup so he’s just using a simple chip amp now.

  9. Brian says:

    Hi Bonnie & Jason,

    Those are very beautiful speakers. Very nice build. I am thinking of making a pair of floor standing speakers to replace a pair of backloaded horn speakers. I wanted to make something that wasn’t easy but not too difficult. I was looking for a little more bass than the horn could give while retaining the liveliness of the single drivers. A few questions.
    1: It looks as if the `box` part of the redux is all MDF and the sides are Maple/Birch ply… Is that correct? What thickness wood?

    2: How difficult was the crossover to make. I’ve never made one but I have made a Tube Amplifier Kit that I just love. SO I if it is simple there is a possibility that I could make one.

    3: I have a large room W 12`, D18`, Height 20` or so… Do you think this speaker would be suitable?

    Thanks so much for your wonderful post and any thoughts you may have to share.]

  10. jason says:

    Hi Brian,

    Yes, the box is MDF and the sides are birch ply. It’s all 3/4″ both the MDF and plywood.

    The crossover was not that hard. If you’ve done tube amps, the crossover should be a piece of cake.

    They would probably be fine for your room… depends on the rest of your system, but assuming your source is hot enough and your amp is up to the task, you should be fine.

    Good luck with the build!

  11. Brian says:

    Hello, again. Thank you for the quick reply. I’ve been looking at the Sunflower Redux again on Paul Carmody’s site.
    It seems like all the photos and measurements there have the back of the box section set at an angle… I like the way yours look better. The square ( straight ) back looks great. Plus I think that it would be a little bit simpler that way. Could I trouble you for the measurements on the bottom box section? Any help would be greatly appreciated. I live in the Japan countryside and the local DIY scene is nonexistent.

  12. jason says:

    If I remember correctly, I just maintained the front width dimension and made up the depth and height to account for the appropriate volume that is called out on Paul’s site (42L). I would just measure them for you but they’re actually at a friend’s house now.

  13. Maxwell Perkins says:

    Hi there!
    I’m considering building a pair of these speakers for a first DIY speaker project, and am wondering if you can provide some helpful information. Sorry in advance for the length of this–any info you can provide would be most helpful.
    1) How sensitive to placement and wall distance are these? Paul says in his thread that he didn’t think they were sensitive at all, but I’d be curious to hear 2nd opinions as well.
    2) You mounted the crossover on the outside of the box–was this just for ease of modification or is there another reason? Is there a reason why I wouldn’t want to put them inside the box like normal, assuming that I plan to build them as best I can one time and leave them be after that?
    3) Does the bass port being on the back matter, vs. putting it on the front? I saw another DIY build where they put it on the front, but I was thinking that it would probably have a big impact on low-end frequency response and would probably be best left as-is. However if I’m wrong and it doesn’t matter where you put it, I’d prefer to put it on the front as well which is why I ask.
    4) I see the crossover schematic on Paul’s website. I’m now trying to pick out components and first thought that lower DCR was always better for inductors. I recently stumbled upon a PE post where they say you should actually be matching the design DCR for inductors, not trying to get below it. As such, do you know what the proper DCR values are? Do you have a components list that you used for your build that I could compare to?
    5) Lastly, how does it sound? Other than Paul’s short description and a few mentions of mid-range clarity I haven’t seen a lot. I know SQ is subjective, but I am still curious to hear as many opinions about these (subjective or not) in regard to how they sound.


  14. James Perkins says:

    Do you have a set of measured drawings available? Any details beyond what I see in the photos regarding the enclosures would be great. Thanks in advance

  15. jason says:

    I don’t, sorry. I would say to try to follow what the originator of the design did. Keep the front baffle width the same if you need to change the depth or height.

  16. jason says:

    1. I think they were perhaps a little more sensitive compared to a typical speaker because of the open back. But I don’t think that would stop me from building them.
    2. It was just for fun.
    3. No, bass port position wouldn’t make a difference really. Front, back, bottom all have been done.
    4. I don’t have that list… I think I just used Paul’s BOM.
    5. Sounds great! Really enjoyed these especially with female vocals. I thought the bass was tuned a bit heavy for my tastes, so I stuffed the ports and that helped to my ear.

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