Better than Bose? Homemade ‘Hi-Def Speakers’ for Under a Buck
YouTube sensation HouseholdHacker shows how to build a speaker with a paper plate, tin foil, a shiny penny and mini-jack; MythBusters checks it out.
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The ultimate 13-plate-speaker surround system?
April 25, 2009 by Julie Jacobson

Can you really make your own “hi-def” speaker for under a buck?

MythBusters challenges a popular YouTube video by “HouseholdHacker,” who shares his expertise with audiophiles facing economic hardships.

He 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.

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. (Spoiler alert: they busted the myth.)

Household Hacker shows us how to build an economical 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.”

Even so, he marvels at his low-cost invention and warns, “Watch out Bose!”

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.

One apparent Hacker follower (or Hacker himself?) was disgusted by the TV show’s flawed results, posting his comments on YouTube:

Hey you wonderfully brilliant people that also happen to be skeptics. I recommend not backing up your skepticism with “if the mythbusters proved its not possible it can’t be done. There a couple things I personally know of that the mythbusters didn’t test correctly and botched up the “myths” From personal experience and testing they are absolutely incorrect on some of their outcomes. So now… please, prove your brilliance comes from watching tv and start cussing me out. for being stupid.

I’m just waiting for Hacker’s second segment on how to make a subwoofer for less than a buck.

 

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Julie Jacobson - Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

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