Breathing New Life Into Some Old Design Acoustics

IMG_20161226_160904606As you probably know by now, I spend a fair amount of time checking out the various thrift stores in Des Moines and Ames. While I will bring home just about anything that interests me, last summer’s Nakamichi find has sent me on a quest to put together the best system I can for under $100.

Normally I’d peel the price tag off, but in this case, I think I’ll leave them on.

Late last August, I stopped in at a nearby Goodwill and discovered a pretty good selection of stereo stuff someone had gotten rid of, including a pair of Design Acoustics PS-10 speakers. These little cubes are a three way design, with a 10″ woofer firing out of the bottom of the cabinet, which is elevated on a pedestal about an inch and a half from the base. The speakers themselves were in decent shape, but the foam surrounds on the woofers had rotted away many moons ago. Still, for a price tag of $6.99 for the pair, how could I go wrong? I quickly grabbed a cart, loaded them and a JVC cassette deck up, and off we went.

After procrastinating and putting it off for a couple of months, I finally hauled these speakers down to my brother’s place, where we performed the minor surgery. Not only did Bro have the tools and the space needed for the repairs, he’s also done this before, which gives him a leg up on me.

Here’s what we found after removing the woofers from the bottom of the cabinet:


Yeah, those foams are toast! Getting those black seals off wasn’t so easy though. After breaking one Xacto knife and still getting nowhere, I tried prying it off with a screwdriver, which wend much smoother. Soon, after a little bit of elbow grease, we had the edge down to bare metal.

Before clean up
After clean up
The speaker cabinet mid surgery.

Next, we centered the foams, and glued them to the cone, making sure the seal was consistent the entire way around the diameter. A second set of hands is a big help with this, as it allows one person to hold the cone while the other applies pressure to the new foam. Once the glue set up, we went ahead and did the same to the outer edge of the foam and applied it to the metal ring of the speaker. This was a pain in the tuckus, as the glue really didn’t want to stick to the metal, so we re-applied the black plastic ring  and set them upside down on the floor of the garage. This kept a steady pressure on the glue while it cured, and seemed to work fairly well. We only had one spot that needed a little extra glue afterwards. And no, I don’t know why I didn’t get a picture of these two stages either.

After the glue had set and we checked our seals one last time, we re-applied the black ring and put it all back together again, ending up with these:IMG_20161226_152816675

As you can see, we left the original dust covers in tact. Replacing them would be for nothing but aesthetics, and since these woofers are buried in the bottom of the speaker, that wasn’t a concern. besides, new dust covers didn’t come with the foam kit, so there was that as well.

Bass? What bass?

So was all of this work worth the effort? Absolutely! I listened to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band from the Mono Box last night, and was very impressed with their sound.  That enjoyment carried over to the Beach Boys Pet Sounds, where I could hear that wonderful third dimension that is so elusive in many recordings. No, they don’t have a lot of bass, but considering the dimensions of the cabinet, that’s no surprise either. What bass their is though sounds very pleasant, and should improve as the foams break themselves in. For my ears, I don’t feel like I am missing anything. Overall, these are a definite upgrade over the Mordaunt Short Pageant 2 speakers I had been running, and those weren’t bad sounding speakers either.

After adding up the original cost of the speakers and the price of the new surrounds, I have about $38 wrapped up in these, and they are well worth the price. Not only are they a fine improvement to the < $100 system they’re connected to, I’d say they’re worth the $150 they seem to command these days.


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