Arcade Projects >> Arcade Paradise 3

Speakers

One of the gripes that I had about the previous two cabinets that I did was that it was very inconvenient to adjust the volume. Both of those cabinets used a set PC speakers that had the volume knob attached to the right-hand speaker, so I had to actually reach around to the back of the cabinet to fiddle with the volume control.

There are actually quite a few different directions you can go with cabinet speakers. One option is hack apart a set of amplified PC speakers and wire them up to a pair of shielded arcade speakers. I didn't go this route because standard arcade speakers are kind of puny-sounding in my opinion. Granted, the sound in most arcade games is puny-sounding, so these are an "authentic"-sounding arcade solution, but I wanted something beefier. Also, it still doesn't solve the problem of not being able to easily adjust the speakers' volume.

Some people are using a car amplifier and car speakers in their cabinet. I'm sure that the sound is probably really good (of course, depending on the amp and speakers that you use), but I felt that this would be complete overkill for me. While I definitely wanted sound with a good deal of punch to it, I didn't feel the need to come up with something that would blow the glass out of the windows of every house in the neighborhood. And besides, you're right back to not having an easy way to adjust the volume. You could add a volume dial to your cabinet using an audio taper potentiometer, but again, using a car amp and car speakers wasn't what I was looking to do.

The solution that I finally came to arrived when I saw the Creative SBS 2.1 350 speakers. It's a set of PC speakers that has two satellites and a subwoofer, and the best part is that it has a separate (wired) remote unit for power and volume control! And at $30 for the whole package, it's a great deal. A big advantage of using PC speakers is that they're shielded, so you don't have to worry about interference to the monitor.

I took the satellite speakers out of their cases and mounted them directly to the marquee bottom / speaker panel. One thing to note is that removing the speakers from their cases did alter the sound of the satellites. Since sound was now able to escape from the sides of the speakers and not just from the front, they sounded "tinnier" than when the speakers were in their cases. To fix this, I constructed a little "speaker cover" of sorts out of poster board to cover the sides and backs of the speakers, and the sound was back to normal.

I have the little remote unit mounted with double-stick tape on top of the cabinet toward the far left side. The remote is small enough that you can't really see it unless you know it's there, but it's in a really handy location for me...all I have to do is reach up and slide the little knob to adjust the volume.

The only pain in the arse with these speakers is that the remote is hard-wired to the subwoofer. This was a pain because not only was the wire too short to go from the bottom of the cabinet (where the subwoofer is) to the top of the cabinet (where the remote is), but it would also mean that I'd have to drill a hole in the top of the cabinet at least as big as the remote in order to get it up there. To solve both of these problems, I just snipped the wire in half, fed it through the hole in the top of the cabinet, and then soldered a length of 4-conductor wire where I cut it.

The Creative SBS 2.1 350s aren't the mightiest speakers on the planet, but I don't have any plans to turn my cabinet into a "jukebox" or anything like that. For playing arcade games though, they sound great. The subwoofer has plenty of - but not too much - rumble, and the satellites cut through very nicely.

speaker-mounted
Speaker mounted. You can also see the L-bracket where the top of the plexi rests.
speakers-front
Both speakers mounted.
speakers-volume2
Look close: The remote volume control is on top toward the left.
speakers-volume1
Extreme close-up view of the remote volume control.

 

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