Speaker kits have been around since the dawn of the hi-fi craze in the early 1950s. During that period, the major driver manufacturers (e.g., Electro Voice, University, Sherwood, Argos, and Utah) offered kits to the DIY market. Major distributors also entered the market with Allied, Lafayette, McGee Radio. One of the most popular suppliers, Heathkit, sold thousands of speaker kits along with its line of other electronic kits.
The off-the-shelf speaker market offered by RadioShack, Best Buy, and retailers reduced the number of speaker kit suppliers in the last third of the century, forcing the DIY audio hobbyist who wanted a better-quality speaker to purchase wood, drivers, and other supplies to build their own. The advent of multiple-channel surround sound systems and portable music devices further reduced the interest in DIY speaker building. The average non-technical audio enthusiast was left with whatever the consumer market offered in off-the-shelf speakers.
The renewed interest in vinyl by baby boomers and millennials alike has once again spawned an interest in two-channel stereo, opening a mass market for DIY speaker systems sold through online suppliers. One company, Swans, a long-time supplier of high-quality high-end speakers and well known by audio enthusiasts, is now offering DIY speaker kits through Amazon under the Swans Speaker Kits name (www.swanskits.com).
Swans is a now a division of HiVi Research, a manufacturer of fine quality drivers. They produce more than 3 million drivers annually for use in the OEM market.
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This article was originally published in audioXpress, August 2019.