October 11, 2020

Free Speaker Upgrade

We have been thinking about a speaker system upgrade for a long time. We use speakers mostly for our laptop, which actually comes with speakers. 

In 2000 we bought a set of computer speakers at a second hand shop. After having them for a few years a friend said while listening to them, "you should buy better speakers".

Perhaps. We do appreciate a more accurate reproduction of the music we listen to, and a fuller sound makes for a richer earsperience.

But where does it stop? How much better is enough? 

A review on stereo speakers puts it this way - "In life, money isn’t everything. When it comes to premium sound however, it can pretty important."

The speakers shown at the top were their top pick. I would enjoy listening to them, and if someone gave them to me, I would use them joyously. 

However, they cost over $3000 dollars, and look like scary double monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Linda and I decided early on that we would keep our thrift shop speakers until they stopped working, then talk about what, if anything, would replace them.

Those speakers lasted a lot longer than we thought they would.

20 years later, and the speakers only recently quit working. What a bargain.

Our friend thought we were insane. Dedicated to the cause, but insane.

"Now", we said, "It is time for new speakers." 

But we had terms that needed to be met first.

1. We didn't want to have to buy anything.

2. It would be nice to not have to go anywhere, and 

3. We did not want to add anything to our spartan living space. 

Linda suggested we take some of the stereo speakers from our van before we had it hauled away. I retrieved two 5 X 7 units, along with some wire and hardware that might be useful.

Then I took a look at our old little speakers, that I had kept. It turned out that they were fine. It was a wiring problem that made them quit working, and this was fixed when I dismantled them to use in our new set up.

Since moving to Nova Scotia 6 years ago, we have been using a minimalist approach to furniture. 

For a coffee table we use a plastic tub we brought with us, with the leaf from our second hand dining table (which was one thing we did buy shortly after arriving). 

I envisioned using this space to house our speakers.

Add a bit of cardboard for baffling inside, some duct tape, various wires and headphone plugs, a variety of fasteners collected over the years, a small stick thrown in for good measure, and we had our resources.

Using a simple set of tools over the course of a couple of sessions, we assembled everything according to the design we had imagined. 

It was a fun and challenging project to take on, and it was totally successful. 

The sound quality improvement is impressive compared to what we were using before, we didn't have to go anywhere, order anything, use anything new, or spend any money.

By using space we already had, and taking away the old external speakers which were always getting in the way on our coffee table, we minimalised our already minimal living room. 

We are happy with the results.

Our new system reminds me of another movie - Frankenstein. 

It is a Frankenspeaker. Not pretty, but free and with 100% reused materials, in a most unique configuration. Plus, there's a stick! See it?

We've created a monster of sound. 

"It's alive!" 


  1. Anonymous10/11/2020

    Inspiring! A while back my son commented, Mum, you need a new tv, that picture must really be straining your eyes! I assured him my eyes were fine and I had no need for ultra HD or whatever the latest is. I'm happy with 'good enough' as there is no limit to 'the best and the latest', it just keeps changing so that we will part with more money.

    As far as sound systems go, I'm a professional musician but I still really enjoy old records, crackling sound and all. I find the modern, digitally enhanced recordings a bit sterile.


  2. You guy's crack me and up and inspire me!

  3. Love it! The built in speakers on our TV recently gave up the ghost, but we had some computer speakers packed away because our small living space makes headphones more practical. What do you know, they work just fine on the aux output for the TV! I'm thankful we tried that and didn't go through the exercise and expense of buying a new television.


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