Should You Buy Off the Shelf or Custom Built Speakers?

Written by: MT Team

Updated: Aug 4, 2022

Getting the right speakers for your home entertainment or recording set-up is vital. The correct speakers will add a more detailed and immersive experience for whatever you are listening to.

Millions of other people must agree as the speaker market is huge now. The global loudspeaker market was worth around $4.6 billion in 2020 according to Global Newswire. The figures involved have been increasing each year and this is partly due to the popularity of smart speakers.

However, when it comes to finding the right speakers for playing back music, there is still a huge demand for quality traditional audio speakers.

If you are in the market for some new audio equipment, you may have asked yourself whether the new range of DIY kits is worth investigating, or whether you should just buy your speakers off the shelf. 

What Are the Options for Purchasing Loudspeakers?

Back in 1926, Edward W Kellog and Chester W Rice invented the first dynamic speaker. It is almost one hundred years later, and this is still the most common type of speaker available. However, how you choose your speakers has changed somewhat.

The route that the majority of people have taken over the years has been to buy speakers ready assembled off the shelf. These speakers often came as part of a complete HiFi system in the past although it has always been possible to buy stand-alone speakers too.

Then there are the DIY kits aimed at amateur speaker building enthusiasts. These can come complete with everything needed to construct quality speakers. Some kits contain the cabinets and all components necessary for a complete build, while others contain only the components without the cabinets.

Lastly, there is the option to make fully customized speakers where the builder will manufacture their own cabinets, and select each component to match their needs. 

So Buying Speakers off the Shelf Is the Easiest Choice Then?

Exactly, visiting a shop or logging into Amazon means that you can have a pair of good speakers connected up at home in no time.

In the past, stacking systems would come complete with speakers. These speakers were often of lower quality than audio enthusiasts would have liked. This led to people buying replacement speakers of a higher quality for their music systems.

There are plenty of reasons to think about building your own speakers though, instead of buying them off the shelf.

Is Building Your Own Speakers a Good Idea?

Over the last decade or two, audio quality has been dropping. With the advent of MP3s and portable music devices, audio has become digitized and compressed. Compression often leads to a loss of sound quality.

One way to bring out the best sound quality of your music system is to have the best speakers that you can. Custom-made speaker components offered by SoundImports and others online can help an audio enthusiast have the highest quality sound for their budget.

The best speakers available can cost tens of thousands of dollars. By selecting components carefully, and with the right knowledge and skills, very high-quality speakers can be made for a fraction of the price of top-end equipment. 

Why Would You Choose DIY Speaker Kits?

Perhaps you are looking to build your own home recording studio. In this situation, you would want some tips on how to choose the right speakers for a studio. Suppliers of audio components could help advise you on building your own custom speakers.

But, if you were more of an amateur building enthusiast, or if this was to be your first project, you might like something simpler than a custom build.

DIY speaker kits offer the enthusiast the chance to build their own speakers without needing to research dozens of tweeters or worry about crossover components.

Building a DIY speaker kit gives the individual the satisfaction of knowing they constructed part of their sound system. They also provide the opportunity to own high-quality speakers at a lower price than when assembled. 

Which Option Is Best for Your Budget?

Speaker manufacturers need to make a profit, and therefore some speakers on the market may not provide as much bang for your buck as home-built versions.

It is reasonable to say that higher-quality speakers can be built by yourself for the same price as shop-bought versions. However, there are other factors to take into consideration.

If you have no knowledge of building speakers or relatable skills, your custom project could take a significant time to complete. You would need to have some woodworking skills along with electronics knowledge. Ideally, you would know how to finish your cabinets to give good aesthetic quality to them too.

DIY kits offer that middle ground between buying assembled speakers and making a truly custom set. You will probably have to weigh up the time you have, your skills, and your budget. If you want speakers right now then ready assembled ones are the way to go.

Don’t forget the power of a good amplifier too. Adding an SMSL amp to your new speakers will bring them to life and add a much richer sound. Useful for getting the best out of downloaded music. 


Speakers are the best way of improving the sound from your stereo system. The fact that there are now different options for how these speakers are assembled or purchased is good news for audio enthusiasts and musicians.

If you are looking to improve your rhythm as a musician, then recording and playing back songs is useful. Having quality speakers is vital to be able to hear all your chords and notes.

Similarly, if you are a music fan, you will want the best speakers your budget can get. You just need to work out which route to those speakers is best for you.

About MT Team
Posts on all things related to instrument education, gear reviews, and so much more. Written by the MusicianTuts editorial team.

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