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Old 17th September 2005, 07:17 AM   #1
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Default hardwood for cabinet

hello

i've just ordered a pair of fostex fx120s to build thomas barefoot's

kilatone

i run a small audio studio and while my main monitoring is likely to keep changing depending on what i can best afford, this 'kilatone' is likely to stay on.

i would really like to make the cabinets out of hardwood, specifically, afromosia, a very heavy and beautiful wood. now, i know that hardwood is not recommended for the purpose, but as i understand, almost any speaker has to make a few compromises based on realistic sensibilities, might i not make this one additional compromise based on my whim? i'm looking for someone to tell me "go ahead, it won't degrade the sonics significantly much", or for somebody to tell me "NO! what it does to your sound is simply not worth the eye candy, the difference is audible everytime".

anybody care to send out an encouragement or warning to this first time DIY enthusiast?

thanks,

self.
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Old 17th September 2005, 09:25 AM   #2
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Go ahead and build it. Life's too short to worry about such things. Providing it's been properly seasoned, this will be one of the better woods to construct a cabinet from. I seem to remember someone making a new (large) plinth for his Thorens 125 out of it. As I recall (though my memory is fallible), it's so hard, it cuts more like mild steel. This cabinet isn't of epic proportions, so panel vibrations will be less of an issue anyway than a larger design. I suspect they will be higher in frequency than with MDF for example -probably more akin to a decent ply. You could damp it slightly if you were concerned with some internal material, but I doubt it'd be necessary.

Enjoy the music.
Scott
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Old 17th September 2005, 09:59 AM   #3
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I'm not familiar with afromosia, but a quck lookup shows it has a hardness factor of (Janka) 1560. That certainly is nice and hard.

But...

Musical instruments are always made of hardwood. Any idea why? It's partially the durability & looks. But mainly it is because hardwood has a lot of resonance. It colors the sound to create a loud, unique sound.

In the case of speaker building the worst case would be to build reference enclosures out of hardwood. Sure, it'll sound awesome during mixdown or mastering, and of course look impressive.
But as soon as you listen to your song on a regular old plywood or MDF box it'll loose some of those frequencies that were exaggerated by the hardwood enclosures. -bad!

I have seen drums made of nothing more than hardwood. Taping it is loud too. The same drum made of MDF or plywood would sound dead and lifeless. But that is how you want an enclosure to be, as transparent and dead as possible.

I think veneer over baltic birtch ply would be the best bet. Or if you had some really, really thick afromosia... maybe a few inches. Or build a 3/4" baltic birch plywood enclosure and then build your afromosia enclosure around it.
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Old 17th September 2005, 12:02 PM   #4
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I'm all for increasing the use of nature's materials in our surroundings, especially wood.
A fundamental challenge in building a box from a hardwood relates to a characteristic of the material: its grain.
Wood moves with seasonal changes in ambient moisture. Under cold-weather (heating) conditions the air is drier. During the summer there is more moisture in the air.
Add to this that wood has different rates of change in dimension with the grain vs. across the grain.
What this means is that an initially "well" constructed box may develop cracks from the moisture related stresses that occur. Every corner of a box where 3 sides meet is going to have a cross-grain condition. Woodworkers accomodate this by letting panels "float" or by limiting the length of the cross-grain condition.
I've had success using the chosen wood over mdf. Veneer can be bought or made, depending on your resources.
Hope this helps
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