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MAKE Asks: is a weekly column where we ask you, our readers, for responses to maker-related questions. We hope the column sparks interesting conversation and is a way for us to get to know more about each other.

This week’s question: From the old days of crystal radio sets and through until today, audio electronics projects have been all about DIY. What audio equipment have you built, hacked or modified?

As a young man I foolishly overloaded the amps on a rather nice pair of Roland studio monitors. I looked up the frequency specs for the speaker and wired my own crossovers with capacitors to turn them into passive speakers. Now I power them with an external amplifier and they still sound beautiful.

Post your responses in the comments section.

Michael Colombo

In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens’ educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.



  1. chuck says:

    My first two guitar effects were a ‘talkbox’ made from a Rat Shack telephone amplifier and some tubing and a spring reverb torn out of a discarded console organ. My first amp was a homemade plywood box with a horn and 12″ woofer from a car driven by a Realistic 50 watt p.a. amp. That rig and a cheapo distortion pedal saw me through my first two or three ‘bands’.

  2. Chad says:

    I built an Adafruit wave shield that is intended to be used for a store door chime. The ones that are currently available aren’t very good, and are definitely not customizable. Mine looks for a change in the door switch to determine if the door opens or closes and plays the appropriate sound. It also has a timer when the door is held open. When the timer expires, it plays a different sound continuously until the door is closed.

  3. Mystic River says:

    I think my favorite audio hack was taking an old telephone, drilling two holes for 1/4″ audio jacks, and wiring them up – one for recording, one for playing back. I could play all kinds of odd stuff while talking to people.

    My favorite use was calling a disconnected number, recording the “I’m sorry…” lady, then calling up a friend and playing it as soon as he picked up the phone.

  4. Mystic River says:

    PS that was in the late sixties, and recording/playback was done using a 7″ mono open-reel tape deck I got from a junkpile at an electronics repair company.