- MDF Frame (or Plywood)
- Iron Plate
- Ribbon Speaker Membranes
- Aluminium L-Profiles
First of all, get a hold on all the material necessary to begin. You’ll need new material along the way. Depending on the design you choose and the material ($) at your disposition, you’ll need more or less stuff and one or another type.
I will describe my development process to build the speakers:
Here you use any magnet that has the characteristic of being “anisotropic”, this means that it’s magnetized through it’s largest dimension, these can be either ceramic ferrite/strontium magnets. The strontium ones are stronger and are better considering the fact that they can be set closer to one another without affecting their magnetic field as much as with other types. The Danish project used 102 magnets (42mm x 7,7mm x 9mm) (length, width, thickness) for the woofer and 60 magnets (50mm x 19 x 5mm) for the tweeter section, thus twice the amount for a pair of speakers.
Considering the fact that magnets are cheaper if bought in large quantities, you can consider buying them together with other builders.
2- I started experimenting with common household material, kitchen plastic foil, chocolate paper as foil and cardboard as a frame, then later wood as the frame material and bigger membranes.
3- Once the principle and concept was proven to work, I started getting the material for the full scale prototype.
4- Found the best place to buy wood, if you can buy the pieces cut out while you purchase, all the better, if they can also make the inner cuts, fantastic. Remember to get a piece cut to use as a transitory foot for your loudspeaker, in my case it’s the definitive foot. It is here you make your first decisions, will you build the frame out of one solid piece, or a series of thinner plates stuck together, maybe mixing wood with some other stronger material.
5- At this moment you’ll have to decide if you want to paint the design, I didn’t with the prototype.
6- Go searching for the perforated iron plate and decide what thickness you want, depending on your possibilities to cut it, your budget and the sound considerations. Try to have a well perforated plate, with at least 50% air with respect to the iron. Thus you’ll avoid making the speaker even less effective.
7- Find a place where they can cut the plate to you specifications, remember to get the plate cut to the size you made the holes in your wood plate, but even BETTER, get the plate cut before to your specified sizes and cut the wood plate correspondingly. Or even better, have the thickness of the wood plate adapt to the size of the magnets so you don’t need to adapt to the perforated plate that way the iron plate will be screwed directly on to the plate, so its size will only need to be a bit smaller than the MDF frame size.
The woofer hole should be cut based on the size of the membrane you’ll be using for the woofer part of the flat speakers, just follow the following proportions:
This gives you a trapezium form for the membrane, which helps to propagate the vibrations and eliminates standing waves on the membrane, etc.
How big the dimensions really are depends a lot on the design of your project, the width of your MDF plate, the thickness of your magnets, etc. In my project the magnets were not too wide,
the MDF plate was very thick and the distance I wanted to place the magnets, due to their low magnetic field strength, made me put the magnets 2mm from the membrane, that meant the perforated iron plate had to be cut to fit the woofer membrane hole.
The original Danish design, due to a thin plate, thick magnets and thanks to the strength of the magnets, could have the perforated plate screwed directly to the back of the MDF wood plate, this made the design easier and faster to build, less “engineering” and precision involved.
8- Find the membrane material, a strong, thin, resistent plastic, unstretchable, not affected by atmospheric conditions, humidity, etc. I recommend Mylar, you may find something else, tell me about it.
9- Find the foil you’ll use. I had a very hard time finding the chocolate foil paper here in Chile. I will not tell you where I found it, you won’t have such a hard time. In Denmark it is sold in the Supermarket. You could go to a paper store.
10- Make experiments with your foil material, you need to determine it’s resistence. Thus you’ll be able to determine the length of foil you’ll need to fulfill the 3-4 Ohm resistence the membrane must have. I will talk about that later.
11- The glue is a 3M product, there may be a number of competitors where you live, here in Chile it was my only option at that moment. Practice using it, it’s effectivity, how much should
you use, the wrist movement, etc.
12- Get the required amounts of L aluminium profiles, these you’ll use to hold the metal plate with the magnets close to the membrane,
if you chose a 30 mm MDF fibreboard, like I did, the magnets must be placed with the plate, closer to the membrane than those 30 mm, I wanted them to be 2 mm. from it, so the plate was placed approx. 20 mm into the MDF board. The L-profiles let you hold the distance constant.
The L- Profiles are also used to stretch the membrane.
Here I will now include some tips and tricks I forgot to place on the original docs here on the site. I have felt compelled to do so due to a few mails that I have received from friends around the world. Here we go:
Aluminium conductor foil
I know this has been one of the very hard parts of this project, how the h… do I cut a perfect strip of aluminium foil that, to make things harder, is very fragile and then stick it on the membrane in an easy way?
Well, this is not my own original idea but I used it very successfully while building my model. In Chile there is a special type of paper that is used for chocolates, it is a waxed paper that on one side has a very thin aluminium foil, much thinner than the foils used for food. The only real issues was where to go in Chile to buy a sheet large enough to include the complete design in one piece.
I had to travel to Santiago and then go to a packaging industry, there in the trash (they didn’t sell any of that material, no surprise), I found some 10-15 meters of the stuff, enough and even some extra material I could use for future projects. The guy there could not believe I would use it to build a loudspeaker, he gave me his address so I could send him a picture… never did… but if he has access to Internet he might find this site one day… if he cares 🙂
In Denmark this paper is used to package sandwiches (well, the Danish style sandwiches smørrebrød) and can be bought in the right width at a normal supermarket (lucky them). If you live elsewhere you must see where you can find it – good luck – but it is very much worth the effort.
Once you have it, this is what you do:
You design your membrane by drawing it on the foil, then you use two very sharp blades stuck together, separated by a small coin or equivalent, be careful to align them well. These blades you will use to cut the covering aluminium foil without cutting the underlying paper, so be careful and control the pressure as precisely as possible (don’t do this after a long night or party). This way you will obtain the design by removing, once again, very very carefully, the thin strip created by the cuts between the blades. With some sweat and patience, you will have the complete design of the membrane on supporting wax paper, with the strips much closer and perfect than you could ever do by sticking aluminium strips onto the plastic membrane.
Now you stretch the plastic membrane on a table, attach the edges with tape and spray the adhesive onto the surfaces. Stick the aluminium side on the plastic membrane – be very careful when you flatten and remove any wrinkles on the membrane, the supporting paper is humid with the spray glue liquids, when the paper is wet it can easily tear, a horrible thing that happened to me killing one membrane…
Now it’s a matter of taking off the paper without taking the aluminium off… and that’s where the wax comes in handy, you use a hairdryer in the hot setting and heat the paper until the wax melts and you are able to pull it off from the aluminium! This is delicate too, but quite a bit of fun too.
The membrane material
Now another interesting subject is the membrane material. In the first model I used a rather thick Mylar membrane my brother had for windsurf sails around 50 um. (micrometers) and later I used a sticker material with golden colour of half the width.
In the second model I used what the original design recommended, two slit oven bags. I did not test them out before and the surprise was that the speakers became gigantic hygrometers, I was able to predict bad weather by looking at my speakers, they would go limp and stretch out on sunny and dry days… 🙁 This my recommendation is that you test the membrane material’s response
to humidity before you use it. Take a piece of the material, stretch it out over a frame and go into the bathroom and turn on the hot water and see if it goes limp. If it does change the membrane material.
I have since bought a roll of 12 um. (micrometers) Mylar for the next model, Mylar is a very resistant material and considering the good results I obtained in the first model I think this will help considerably with the next model.
The adhesive glue
Here is an interesting subject that can be easily overcome by using a very good, effective and easy to use glue made by the 3M company, free advertising I am doing for them, it’s a spray glue that comes in a black can, Super 77. This is the solution, follow the instructions given and try to use it sparingly and uniformly, practice on useless surfaces before the real stuff.
Once you have designed the membrane you’ll notice there are sections that connect the different portions of the conductors that are between the magnet poles, these are not contributing to the membrane movement, and therefore do not need to be between the magnetic poles, a way to have them do no harm by adding to the membrane dead weight is to place them outside the stretched portion of the membrane, that is on the MDF plate. This way the real portion that is doing the work is suspended between the magnets and the dead weight is lowered help in the efficiency of the system, at least a bit.
OK, that seems to be all for now, if I remember anything more I will add it. Hope this can come in handy for you all.
The glue I recommend using.
Aluminium conductor foil
The foil material I recommend
An important element in my construction design
A list of materials needed linked to the corresponding pages
How to build the simple crossover needed for the project
Magnetostatic Loudspeaker frequently asked questions
Related sites and interesting links
The magnets and their characteristics
MDF Plate or the Frame
The wooden frame that’ll hold the whole thing up
The most delicate element in the design
Here you need to do your home work well
How about receiving a bit of advise, you might avoid some mistakes I did
The material I recommend you use and how to test it
Ashort account of the personal experiences in this project
My building recipe
My personal recipe to Hi-fi heaven
Original building recipe
The original Danish recipe
Perforated Iron plate
This part will hold the magnets behind the membrane
Some very useful and practical tips on the LaFolia subject
The high frecuency elements in the LaFolia speakers
The crossover will cut at 500 hz, this will help the distribution of the sound in the woofer.
A coil with 0.95 mH cuts off the bass over 500 hz, 6dB per octave.
A capacitor at 105 microF cuts off the highs on the low side 6 dB per octave.
This is a part of the project where it’s open for experiments checking out more exotic and expensive solutions and types of crossovers to see if they make any difference. I was not able to find anything other than the normal grade stuff (i.e. crummy), but it is a prototype, so that’s fine! To obtain a 105 microF, just connect two capacitors in parallel, as shown in the diagram above.
This is the fun part and also the part that requires most patience and dexterous hands, but using the recommendations in this La Folia Project the results can be easily attained.
The woofer conductor design must fulfill the general layout as shown in the diagrams.
This explains also shows you how and why the speaker actually works. See how the conductors between each magnet polarity have the current flowing in the same direction?
You then use the general three finger rule and figure out the force exerted on the membrane, change the polarity and the force is 180 degrees shifted, thus the speaker membrane will move in and out as the current changes flow, as would be expected…
More on that at a later moment…
The wood I used was a MDF fibreboard, 30 mm. thick, a great width which gives a very good resistence to vibration and a very sturdy heavy frame for the membranes (together with the perforated metal plate), helping considerably to make the bass frequencies all the more attractive, something that can be considered the soft point of the project.
That’s is, at least, the theory, I now think it’s overkill and a thinner wood frame is the way to go.
Having such a thick piece of wood, makes the cutting a real adventure, MDF boards create an incredible amount of wood dust, so beware!
It also creates a problem not considered in the original project (they were smarter), how do you get the magnets close enough to the membrane?
It is much heavier than the original project frame, the loudspeaker foot has to be much stronger than they recommended, obviously!
I think it is best to have the wood cut by an expert, here in Chile that is very inexpensive, that may not be the case in your country.
If you plan to paint your loudspeakers do it after it’s been cut and before you start doing anything else.
Here are the original Danish project dimensions:
If you want a bigger loudspeaker, use the following proportion relationship:
4 : 3 : 13
This also changes other dimensions, so be careful and check everything out before doing anything irreversible to your material.
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What are the membrane-conductor material dimensions?
- Membrane material: Mylar Film 12 micrometers (0.012 mm)
- Alu-foil: aprox. 12 micrometers (0.012 mm)
- Total width: 0.024mm
Did you use a different material for the mid-tweeter membrane?
Do you corrugate the bass membrane?
By using the thin aluminium material I had no reason to worry about rattling which is the reason why there was no need to corrugate in any way. Thicker aluminium foil may have problems but I can not be sure.
I have found another material than mylar for the membrane base, what should I take care about?
Do not forget to test the base plastic (mylar, kapton, kevlar, etc) foil for humidity variations in the tension. Take a piece, extend it over a cup or anything like that, stretch it and then check it when you go into a sauna (or some place humid) with it. If the tension is maintained its alright, if not change the material.
Can’t find the right aluminium foil, not wide enough…
Have you tried going to the packaging companies in the US. I went to a chocolate – candy factory and got a meter and a half wide roll of chocolate alum on waxpaper material.
Based on what you say on your site, the Woofer ribbon is probably the most tricky one to make, why?
More than tricky it requires a lot of work and is a very delicate job if something goes wrong you can destroy a lot of work…
How are Apogee- Magnepan – Martin Logan – Dali – etc. loudspeaker compared to yours? Have you ever heard Apogee- Magnepan – Martin Logan – Dali – etc speakers before?
Just indirectly, never been in front of a pair of factory built magnetostatic nor electrostatic loudspeakers. I left Denmark a year before even trying LaFolia and in Chile there are not enough hifi freaks to justify anybody bringing Apogee speakers to the country, now I’m in Mexico but I would have to travel to the capital or the US, one day I may sit in front of a pair and give my opinion. 🙂 (Update: That did not happen, though I did enjoy a pair of Martin Logan’s – not the same thing though).
How can you tell on a magnet which is North pole and which is South pole?
Look for the polar bears! That’s the North pole! 🙂 hehehe… well I don’t know the exact way (a magnetometer?), just define one pole as North and the other as South and go on based on that asumption, it really doesn’t change anything. In my case I took one magnet wrote N on one side and S on the other and I used that reference magnet to coordinate all the others.
How did you corrugate the mid-tweeter membrane?
I used a lego plate and a stick. Others have created weird high-tech machines to do this job, I don’t have the money for that 🙂
Have you had any experience using electrical coils instead of magnets?
Dahlberg Audio Design (Swedish)
DIY Radial Loudspeaker Project, by Steve Deckert
HiFiHeaven, good starting point for all DIY’ers
Magnetostatic speakers (Wikipedia)
Magnetostatics, some options
Paper thin magnetostatic loudspeaker (Youtube)
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Obviously I can’t assure you all links work, if links are dead please inform me