“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

Loudspeaker Design Cookbook, 8th Edition Vol.1 Review

by May 02, 2024
Loudspeaker Design Cookbook 8th Edition

Loudspeaker Design Cookbook 8th Edition

LDC8 coverAs a loudspeaker reviewer, it’s not always easy to evaluate loudspeaker designs that fall under my analysis. But after reading the recently released 8th edition of Vance Dickason’s Loudspeaker Design Cookbook, I can say that criticizing loudspeaker designs is a lot easier than actually engaging in the design work. While it’s an obvious remark to say that it is easier to criticize than it is to create, the Loudspeaker Design Cookbook drives that point home with a hammer. Loudspeaker design is rather complex stuff, especially for those who are trying to get every detail right. However, the Loudspeaker Design Cookbook provides paths for good engineering practices from amateurs to seasoned pros to help their design work at every level.

I will say that the title of the book is a slight misnomer. The Loudspeaker Design Cookbook (Vol 1) doesn’t provide ‘recipes’ for loudspeakers in the sense that it contains instructions on how to build specific speakers. Rather, it is a tutorial on how to design a competent loudspeaker. If you want to learn how to design a good loudspeaker, this book is for you. On the other hand, if you want to make some loudspeakers using an existing instruction set, this volume doesn’t do that. Volume 2 does go into specific designs, but only as case studies in design decisions rather than instructions for making particular speakers. For those who want to build their own speakers from pre-existing designs, there are many well-regarded kits from Parts Express, Madisound, CSS Audio, and GSG Audio Design to choose from. Audioholics recently took a stab at that ourselves in our review of the Parts Express Orian bookshelf speaker kit.

Vance Dickason - The Author

Anyone who writes a book called the “Loudspeaker Design Cookbook” is going to need some serious qualifications to use such an ambitious book title, but this book certainly has a very qualified author indeed. Vance Dickason has been in the loudspeaker industry since 1974 and has authored every edition of the Loudspeaker Design Cookbook since its first edition in 1978. He is an editor and contributor to Voice Coil magazine and has written articles for many other audio publications as well. He has designed hundreds of loudspeakers as an engineering consultant for a long list of respected audio companies. Furthermore, he has had extensive involvement with the AES on the subject of testing and measurement. This is just a partial list of his accomplishments in the loudspeaker business, and his experience makes him a great guide to loudspeaker design. In the course of reviewing loudspeakers, I have had many conversations with talented engineers who are responsible for many highly-regarded speakers, and quite a few of them have spoken highly of Mr. Dickason as well as praised various editions of the Loudspeaker Design Cookbook.

So You Want to Design a Loudspeaker, Eh?

LDC8 crossoverThe Loudspeaker Design Cookbook covers the basics in the first chapter, but it gets pretty deep rather quickly in successive chapters. Its chapters are arranged by aspects of loudspeaker design, and it is suited more as a reference for someone who wants to look up a loudspeaker design topic. In this sense, it may not be the best tutorial for a beginner who doesn’t already have some basic knowledge of loudspeakers. Although, anyone who wants to learn about loudspeaker design from the very beginning could learn a lot from this volume - if they have the patience to read through it carefully. That isn’t to say that Dickason’s writing is abstruse. Far from being difficult to read, Dickason’s prose is very lucid and accessible. Nonetheless, the technical nature of the subject just doesn’t lend itself to a brisk mid-morning read on a beach in Waikiki.

Lots of attention is given to low-frequency design types early on, with the second through fourth chapters devoted to sealed designs, ported designs, passive radiators, and transmission lines. This is just as well since the low-frequency design has such a major impact on the loudspeaker, and it is not simple stuff. The fifth and sixth chapters, “Cabinet Construction: Shape and Damping” and “Loudspeaker Baffles: Driver Location, Separation, and Other Considerations” are not given as much space, even though they are very important subjects as well. However, they are much simpler matters to deal with acoustically, and just don’t require as much explanation. The seventh chapter deals with crossover networks. It is the single largest chapter, and, as such a critical element of loudspeaker design, the subject merits the length of the discussion. Successive chapters deal with testing and measurement, development tools, and room acoustics. After that, Vance separates further discussion on different classes of loudspeakers, from car audio, home theater, and studio monitors. In the final chapter, he wraps everything up by designing and building a high-performance loudspeaker from start to finish, the ‘LDC8’ hybrid speaker which utilizes much of what he discussed in prior chapters. It is a great example of using the knowledge that can be had from the book in the creation of a seriously good loudspeaker.

LDC8 enclosure   LDC8 cabinet notes

Even though I thought I knew a lot about loudspeaker design from having reviewed and dealt with so many loudspeakers, I was learning interesting new facts from the first chapter onward. Much of the new material I learned was clarification of subjects I was always a bit hazy about, and this book gave my highlight marker the most use it’s had in years. I found helpful insights into nearly every aspect of loudspeaker design that I wasn’t aware of, from driver motors, suspension components, enclosure shapes, crossover designs, port flaring, design software, and measurement techniques. This edition of “Loudspeaker Design Cook” is fairly comprehensive, and I think that even seasoned industry vets would find plenty of useful information within its pages.


Those who think they can design a loudspeaker from pieces of trivia they found on social media and Youtube would be mistaken (well, they could design a loudspeaker, but it would be a poor one). Even amateur loudspeaker designers need a grasp of the fundamentals, and there aren’t really any online resources where all of the fundamentals can be gleaned in a structured manner. But the 8th edition of the “Loudspeaker Design Cookbook” does offer a great grounding in both basic and advanced loudspeaker design topics. It's not just a good starting point for aspiring speaker designers; it's also a detailed biblical guide to reaching a terrific destination.


About the author:
author portrait

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

View full profile