Personal Area Stereo

A couple of cheap speakers, a cheap amp, and a subwoofer turn into a very local sound field

August 6, 2015

Photo by David Pisnoy on Unsplash

I like listening to music while working. But I don’t like wearing headphones—after a while they start feeling claustrophobic.

After a little experimentation, I’ve come up with something that works well for me. I have music that sounds almost as immersive as using headphones, but at the same time is local to the chair where I work.

The setup uses a pair of Micca COVO-S bookshelf speakers (currently about $50 on Amazon). I made stands for these using a couple of 5lb barbell weights from a sporting goods store, two pieces of threaded iron conduit, and four pipe flanges. I bolted the bottom flange to the weight, and used screws to attach the top flange into the speaker base, separating it from the flange using grommets. (I did this to isolate them a little—I have no idea if it is necessary). The speaker wire runs up through the pipe.

Here’s what they look like:

Speaker on stand

I use a Topping TP-30 class T Amplifier/USB DAC combination (about $60-70), and a Sony SA-W2500 subwoofer (about $100).

The two Micca speakers are placed next to my chair, facing inwards. The subwoofer and amp sit next to it. I plug my MacBook into the amp using USB or via a cheap bluetooth audio receiver.

The chair-of-work looks like this:

Chair with speakers

The result sounds surprisingly good. The little Miccas have good detail and fairly flat response from the low-mids up. The subwoofer fills in the rest.

And the good thing for my family is that the sound is surprisingly localized. Sitting it the chair, I get an immersive experience. But get up to fetch a cup of tea, and the sound is just a mild background.