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gassit 3rd February 2013 12:43 AM

Timber Boxes

When building a large high-quality speaker box, the consensus here seems to be to make it out of Baltic Birch plywood, laminated bamboo or MDF.

And yet...

Look at the laudatory reviews of these solid wood speakers and then tell me why solid wood is frowned upon: Sony SS-AR1 Loudspeaker (TAS 214) | The Absolute Sound and Chario Academy Sovran Loudspeaker ? Audiophilia.

DavidL 3rd February 2013 12:54 AM

Solid wood is more prone to dimensional changes ( shrinkage and expansion) when the temperature and humidity varies over time. Some solid woods can crack or break apart a cabinet or piece of furniture if these changes are not took into account.

gassit 3rd February 2013 01:09 AM

Dead right!

But it's not all that hard to design a box to accommodate the wood movement.

So, is solid wood a no-no?

prairieboy 3rd February 2013 01:13 AM

Here is a good, informative, discussion on the subject:
To summarize, solid wood for speaker cabinets is not a good idea.

gassit 3rd February 2013 01:38 AM

'Lo Prairieboy,

Yep, knew all that but thanks anyway.

So why did the speaker manufacturers mentioned above use solid wood and yet still get exceptional results?

prairieboy 3rd February 2013 09:14 PM


Originally Posted by gassit (
'Lo Prairieboy,

Yep, knew all that but thanks anyway.

So why did the speaker manufacturers mentioned above use solid wood and yet still get exceptional results?

Well ... do we know they got exceptional results? Yes, the two articles were positive, but then if they weren't would they have been published? Sorry, but I'm always just a bit cynical about glowing reviews on audio equipment.

Frankly, I would suspect the primary reason they used solid wood was solely for marketing purposes. (Much the same way high end amps have thick slabs of aluminum milled for face plates ...) As for the Sony, being painted, it is a bit obscure whether it is all solid wood ...

It's not that it is impossible to use solid wood, its just that it requires skill, planning and a lot of time. Again, with the Sony it is hard to tell, but with the Chario the wood was obviously cut into small strips to eliminate any stress wood, and to ensure conformity, then glued. Additionally, I'm sure that any solid wood they've used was kiln dried, left to sit, planed, left to sit, planed, left to sit, until they were a) close to the dimensions desired and b) certain it was stable. It would be interesting to see how much material was rejected.

They've obviously oriented the grain so expansion/contraction will be front to back. The Chario may, or may not, have a 'solid' wood baffle, which would be the critical component in terms of expansion.

One of the ironies of wood, is that the most highly figured, and desirable, is often the most unstable (bird's eye maple excluded). Hence the luxury of being able to use veneers of highly figured wood over a stable base.

Just my thoughts ....

planet10 3rd February 2013 09:29 PM

We are continuing to play with solid wood enclosures.


gassit 3rd February 2013 11:15 PM

Thanks Prairieboy for your detailed reply;it's food for thought and one more knuckle on my knucklehead.

As for you Planet10, I eagerly await the results of your "playtime".

tvrgeek 3rd February 2013 11:44 PM

Solid wood is just another material. Every material needs to be used to take advantage of it's properties. I think the discussion should be talking high Q vs low Q materials. I have followed the low Q, but so thick to be rigid camp. Makes things big and heavy. I was just given some very dense play to do a set in and I am looking at various materials at McMaster Carr. The best answer may be "yes" What makes the best baffle may not be the best side.

Keep us posted Dave.

planet10 4th February 2013 01:16 AM

We've had quite a few builds that are really nice... they are now undergoing torture tests to see if they stay together


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