Speakers

Threat to CE Pros: Homemade Hi-Def Speakers for Less than a Buck?

YouTube sensation HouseholdHacker shows DIYers how to make a "hi-def" speaker using only a paper plate, tin foil, a shiny penny and mini-jack; MythBusters checks it out


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Can you really make your own “hi-def” speaker for under a buck?

Integrators and speaker manufacturers can breathe a sigh of relief because it seems (spoiler alert!) that you cannot.

MythBusters challenges a popular YouTube video by “HouseholdHacker,” who demonstrates how a paper plate, some tin foil, a shiny penny and a mini-jack cable can produce sound that rivals some of the biggest names in loudspeakers.

“Watch out Bose!”
he declares.

YouTube fans voted the video as one of the top online myths they wanted to see busted, and the Discovery channel took the mission to heart on the hi-sci show MythBusters.

Here’s how Hacker makes his speaker:

  • Wrap foil around a paper plate.
  • Place a penny on the center of the plate. (“It is important to note that you use a shiny penny for this, as a corroded penny will increase electrical resistance which will result in poor sound.”)
  • Tape the exposed wiring on one end of a mini jack to the penny on the plate. )
  • Plug the cable into an audio source.
  • “You should have results like this. …” (cue music)

Even by YouTube standards, the sound emanating from Hacker’s plate speaker is pretty darn good.

Yet, modest as he is, Hacker apologizes for what may be perceived by audiophiles as somewhat sub-par sound: “Since we’re using only one speaker,” he says, “the audio will not be quite up to par as if you had a 7.1 system.”

What?! Myth Busted??

The geeks at MythBusters heeded Hacker’s warning by taking plate speakers to the extreme.

A single speaker is for wimps. MythBusters set about to create a 13.2 surround system using the Hacker method.

Even before testing his homemade hi-def speakers, MythBuster’s Tory Belleci bashes Hacker’s claim that the products can be made for only $1. The speaker jacks alone cost $10 each.

Here, however, Belleci misses the point. Hacker suggests of the jacks, “Take it from an old headset or something,” in which case they would be free.

Doesn’t Belleci have 13 old headsets lying around?

In the end, not surprisingly, the MythBuster’s homemade speakers failed to produce sound.

I’m just waiting for Hacker’s second segment on how to make a subwoofer for less than a buck.



  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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