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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

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.

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Article Topics

News · Product News · Speakers · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
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. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

10 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Isaac  on  04/25  at  02:26 PM

Doesn’t have quite the spaciousness I would have expected. Frequency response isn’t very linear, and is pretty limited to begin with. Soundstage very narrow also. Powered by reference source equipment.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  04/25  at  02:48 PM
Posted by 39 Cent Stamp  on  04/25  at  03:45 PM

Hi-Def Speakers? Are they like Hi-Def sunglasses? 1080P?

10 bucks for the mini jacks? I guess he doesnt know about CE on the cheap.

Subwoofer for $1: Pound on empty 5 gallon bucket.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  04/25  at  03:53 PM

Cute, 39, real cute

Posted by mononoke  on  04/26  at  09:05 AM

Ground loops to a piece of copper no sound will make.  But if your loop to ground is the aluminum foil then maybe you might get sound?

Posted by automation07  on  04/26  at  03:19 PM

He thinks Bose is high-end…nuff said.

Posted by HiFidel  on  04/26  at  07:50 PM

Maybe HouseholdHacketor’s intention wasn’t to make a quality speaker but to just troll Bose

Posted by Melanie Warner  on  04/26  at  09:22 PM

Maybe the covert meaning is about how simple hi-def speaker manufacturing is - hence all the money they put into industrial design and marketing to make them expensive.

Posted by Peter Hoagland  on  04/28  at  09:02 AM

Julie, and I thought you didn’t like speakers!

Posted by Ward  on  04/28  at  08:30 PM

How silly of Myth Busters.  Any self respecting speaker designer knows that only Australian alu-min-ium exhibits ear pleasing even order harmonics unlike American a-lum-in-um which suffers from displeasing odd order harmonics and requires very steep (>8th order) Linkwitz-Riley filter slopes to attenuate the severe break up modes inherent to the American “foils”.
They [Myth Busters] probably didn’t even perform a proper dielectric break in period on the speaker cables to align the electrons before use.
Junk science if you ask me.  Harumph!

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