I wanted to replace my tired Klipsch 2.1 computer desktop speakers, which have served me well for 4 or 5 years.
I did not want to buy commercial computer speakers, or commercial full-sized bookshelf speakers under 200. Both suck, in my opinion. I wanted something different.
Click to see the best computer speakers under 200 for DIYers on Amazon, in my opinion.
Enter the Parts Express Overnight Sensations. The Overnight Sensations are a do-it-yourself near field monitor, designed by Paul Carmody.
They have been around for a few years, and a quick search on the Internet will provide you with a few Overnight Sensations reviews. I thought I would add my build to the mix.
“You mean I need to build them?”
Yep, that’s right. These are not prebuilt.
The Overnight Sensations are a DIY option for those with a little mechanical and woodworking aptitude.
They are a good entry-level DIY kit and are easy to assemble. A picture says a thousand words.
The speaker box is unassembled and needs to be glued and finished. The crossover is not assembled and needs to be put together and installed in the box, as does the woofer, tweeter, port, and terminal jacks.
Although it sounds intimidating, it’s easy — just a little time-consuming, especially if you don’t have all the tools.
There is a lot of information on the Parts Express forum, with folks — including the designer — who are willing to help.
But you may need to make a couple trips to a hardware store. I did.
The kit comes with all the speakers, wood for the cabinets, and crossover parts. That’s it.
Here’s a list of stuff that may be needed, depending on your situation.
It does not come with speaker wire, speaker terminals, or a non-conductive board to mount the crossover.
Sandpaper, along with wood stain or paint, are needed to finish the cabinets.
Clamps and wood glue are needed to put the cabinet together, and screws are needed to mount the woofer and port. More must have items.
(I used #6 wood screws.)
Also, it requires a soldering iron and solder.
How I assembled the best bookshelf speaker under 200
Parts Express has a video and a detailed write-up on how to put this kit together. I did not realize this until after I finished my Overnight Sensations build.
I will say this: It’s easy to build them but will take some time.
I laid out all the parts and started with the boxes.
The sides should be easy to figure out — as is the back and front panels.
Note: The port on the back panel should be installed with the upper part of the cabinet.
Out of the two small boards, the bigger one goes on top.
Putting the cabinets together
I glued and clamped all boards together except the front baffle.
After pre-drilling the woofer holes on the front baffle, I drilled holes for the speaker terminal.
Now it was time to sand and stain the cabinet.
I stained them an English chestnut color and realized I did not like it. Oops!
But, nothing a can of black paint can’t cure. And it did.
I like how they look now. They look more like “speakers” than something I created in the garage.
Overnight Sensations crossover layout issues
My only issue was the Overnight Sensations crossover.
Before I soldered it together, I tested it and found that the woofer worked — the tweeter did not. Bummer. Back to the drawing board.
Although I followed the schematic, I botched something, somewhere — so I rebuilt it. And it worked.
You have to be willing to accept failures and screw ups with this kit and figure out how to fix them.
That said, if I did my crossover again, I would do the layout a little different.
For instance, I would use a smaller board that fits through the driver opening, which would allow easy replacements in the event of a failure. That’s a change I’d make.
Also, I read that the inductors should be mounted at the opposite ends to eliminate “crosstalk,” with one mounted vertically, the other horizontally.
Although I did this, I can’t explain why this matters or how to put the crossover together.
But, I can show a picture of my sloppy solder job. I hope it helps. Don’t judge. This is my first DIY speaker build, and I’m still learning.
Almost done: Thank heavens, I want to listen to music!
I used Gorilla Glue to glue the crossover to the bottom of the box and soldered in the terminal jacks so I could use banana plugs.
With the front baffle off, it made it easy to install the port tube.
I took the telescoping piece off and screwed the outer portion of the port to the box.
Then, I put a little glue on the telescoping portion and slid it on the rest of the port so there was a total of 6 inches.
The length is important because the box is tuned to 53 Hz.
Once the port was installed, I glued the front baffle.
I soldered the tweeter and woofer wires and installed them.
Note: The tweeter is a tight fit. And I mean tight. Once in the hole, I just keep pressing on each side of it until it was in.
Time to get listening now!
Overnight Sensations review: How do they sound?
Well … I’ll say this: I could not wait to break in the speakers. I was impressed on the first listen — long before the woofers were burned in.
I like them — a lot.
I have them installed on a riser on my desk and played MP3 and FLAC files through my quiet computer that fed the digital output to a receiver rated at 50 watts RMS. The receiver was connected to the speakers.
The wattage I used was the highest the speakers are rated for. I prefer an over-powered amp driving speakers at lower volumes because it provides ample clean wattage to them. That said, the OS have a low sensitivity at 83 dB, so it will take a good amount of juice to power them.
I’ve read that Lepai amps work well with the OS, but I have no experience with them yet.
The speakers have a flat frequency response, which is great. They are uncolored — a massive benefit compared to my Klipsch, which favored the upper frequency range.
I have been using the OS speakers as near-field monitors when on the computer at low volume levels, and I like them — a lot.
When I turn the volume up a little higher, they fill my medium-sized room.
The OS sound really good. And I mean really good.
I think they are probably on par with a 400-500 dollar commercial bookshelf speaker.
The sound is way bigger than I expected out the HiVi 4 inch woofer.
They are much smoother and balanced sounding than the Klipsch they replaced. And the sound stage is so much wider.
I’m also using a small subwoofer to round out the sound, but when using the OS without the subwoofer, they still offer a lot of bass response.
Are the Overnight Sensations worth the money?
I think so. But keep this in mind: They take a little work to put together.
Also, if your source material is bad, they will sound bad. I have MP3s and FLAC files, in which I tested both of them.
I did notice that some of the lower quality MP3s sounded like crap, but the majority of MP3s and YouTube videos I tested were good.
The FLAC files were awesome — as expected.
I like the Overnight Sensations and may put together another pair for the bedroom.