This post was guest blogged by Ben Simpson, a Carbon Fiber Gear reader based in Australia.
To start off, lets take a look at the final product:
My speakers started life as a kit made by D-S-T and purchased from Wes Components, Ashfield. The enclosure design is by Stone’s Sound Studio, and features Peerless HDS components. I was expecting a flat-pack box when it arrived, but to my surprise, the boxes are pre-assembled. All that is required is some simple wiring and installation of the speakers into the pre-cut holes.
Whilst the kit is available in a range of finishes, knowing that I was going to strip and re-cover the boxes, I chose the cheapest finish…a black vinyl veneer (faux woodgrain texture).
At the time, I was working part-time in a composite workshop, Custom Carbon Components, they make all sorts of custom parts for performance vehicles, aircraft and boats. Unfortunately I did not take pictures during the build process, so I did my best to put together this DIY with just text. Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments.
How Did I Do It?
The first step was to make a mold of the tweeter recess, so that the recess could be replicated in the carbon veneer.
Next, I removed the vinyl veneer. This was done using a rotary sander and coarse grit pad. Meanwhile, the tweeter mold was added to an existing flat panel mold. This was sprayed in clear gelcoat and covered in 1 layer of woven carbon fiber and 6 layers of directional and non-directional fiberglass. The matting was then infused in a silicon vacuum bag, creating a 2.5mm thick panel.
A Die grinder was used to remove 4-5mm of material from the tweeter recess, this was to allow for the thickness of the veneer and the veneer adhesive.
The first veneer panel applied was the front panel to ensure the tweeter recess was located correctly and centered.
The edges of the veneer were chamfered so that the 2.5mm veneer edge is hidden when assembled. This process is very time consuming, but necessary for a professional finish.
The sides and top panels followed, and the excess trimmed off the rear of the box. Any gaps between the chamfered edges were backfilled with a black pigmented resin. All composite sides were then sanded with 400, 600, 800 and 1200 grit.
The back of the box was prepped, primed and sprayed in 2 pack black paint.
This was then masked, and the carbon panels were sprayed in clear 2 pack paint for extra protection and additional shine/depth in the carbon finish.
The sanding process started again with 400, 600, 800, 1200, 1500 and finally 2000 grit.
Before the final assembly, I decided to re-wire the provided crossovers with Van-den Hull air-core cable. For a little contrast, I used stainless security screws to mount the speakers, tweeters and speaker cable terminals.
25kg of crushed garnet was added to the bottom cavity of each box, then the plinth was attached and speaker spikes installed to maximum stability.
In total, the process of re-veneering the boxes took me 6 months, working about 10hrs a week, with access to a composite workshop and specialized tools, and expert advice available.
Not a project that I’d recommend for the feint hearted!
So How Do They Sound?
Before completing the second box, I compared the resonance of the panels, and discovered that resonance was reduced…More importantly, the resonant frequency was also reduced, which helps to minimize unwanted coloration of sound.
The garnet was added after 100 hrs of listening, and an immediate improvement in midbass was noticed.
Overall, the sound is very balanced. In their price range, I have not heard a set of speakers that perform this well and visually, they are unique, and are often a talking point when visitors drop by.
I couldn’t have completed them without the help of a few people. I’d like to thank Drew at CCubed, Nathan at WES components, and of course my wife for dealing with the laundry when washing my clothes laden with fiberglass dust!