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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a pair of three-way speakers that my father built in the 60's. He built them as furniture incorporating them into end table cabinets. (Solid pine) My brother says the speakers were replaced at one point but I know nothing about speakers and I know I don't like the muddy sound that the speakers have.

I looked at them last night and the mid and woofer are paper cones without foam around the outer perimeter. Is this normal? They look cheap. The mid looks relatively large. I think roughly about 8 inches in diameter. The woofer is 12" I'd say.

I really don't know much about home speakers and construction. I think I heard something in the past how solid wood for speakers isn't great and that three ways are difficult to balance (???)

Anyway, I was just wondering if I could resurrect the speakers to actually sound good or if I'm totally wasting my time. It would be nice if they are functional however for sentimental reasons I will keep them as end tables and look for a set of nice two way speakers if I am embarking on the proverbial needle it in a haystack thing
 

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Your speakers probably have a cloth surround.

Muddy sound could be attributed to several things. Blown tweeters. Poor cabinet design. Speakers with dry surrounds. Failed component in the crossover. Poor crossover design.

If they were vintage known brand speakers then it might be worthwhile to refurbish them but being homemade their value is mostly sentimental. Hard to say if you could get them to sound right without wasting too much money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys. I think I'll take the speakers out and check to see if I can get any info on the back of them. Is there way to check see if they are any good by using an electronic multi meter? Or is just checking to see if they are working by ear adequate? (not sure if speakers go bad and still work at the same time)
 

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Speakers are equal parts art and science. The interactions between box and components and (especially) crossover is complicated. The chances of making a crappy sounding speaker far outweigh the chances of making a good one.

But if you really do want to go down that rabbit hole, here's you best bet. Some of these posters make and sell parts for world-class hi-fi speakers. http://www.avsforum.com/forum/155-diy-speakers-subs/
 

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Foam surrounds are totally a thing. I've seen them a few times - even on fairly high-end speakers. It's not very common, though.

Being foam, that stuff deteriorates, so you probably are experiencing rather lackluster cone excursion and, more importantly, return to resting position.

The other issue is, as people have mentioned, the cabinet may just suck. There's a lot more to putting together a speaker than throwing a few drives into a box. There's quite a bit of math involved in terms of cabinet size, displacement, time alignment, and Q resonance. There's nothing wrong with wood for a speaker cabinet, as long as you take into account the resonant frequencies of the type of wood you're using, especially in the configuration it's being built into. In a lot of ways, wood is much better than MDF, but most super high-end companies go with proprietary materials that are very heavy and designed to be acoustically inert (and thus, very expensive!)

If there's some sentimental value for you (and that appears to be the case), I'd try to source some new drivers to try out in the cabs. Maybe find a mono source material first and try the left and right independently to see if the sound is the same from both. You might only have one driver to replace. It's also possible that one (or more) of the drivers was wired out-of-phase with the rest. You can test this easily with a battery.
 
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