Anyone Build Their Own Enclosures ?

 

Bronze Member
Username: Only126db

Michigan USA

Post Number: 11
Registered: Jun-06
Its been a looooong time since I've been here and I am sure there are a couple of you who do so let me know who and what wood you use and how do you finish them off?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15808
Registered: May-04
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Generally you build most speaker enclosures out of MDF and not "wood".

http://www.parts-express.com/wizards/searchResults.cfm?srchExt=CAT&srchCat=603



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Bronze Member
Username: Only126db

Michigan USA

Post Number: 12
Registered: Jun-06
Not interested in prefab, and generally yeah mdf, but does anyone use anything else, besides Birch ply. I mean has anyone tried any exotic woods?
 

Gold Member
Username: Stryvn

Wisconsin

Post Number: 1254
Registered: Dec-06
There's a reason most use mdf and ply, TOYLTH. Sonically.

Do you know anything about veneering? Have access to vacuum? Cauls? Band saw?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15813
Registered: May-04
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The reason most manufacturers use MDF is for cost vs results. MDF is cheap and, while not the absolute ideal speaker enclosure material in all cases, more importantly for cabinet construction it's consistent and easy to work with. No warps, no knots and no voids and its dimensionally stable. The question, "Have you ever seen a violin made out of MDF?, works both ways. Solid woods are the premiere material for instrument construction because of their responsiveness to vibrational input. For that reason they are relatively thin and braced to perform well as a resonator. Trying to build a speaker enclosure from a solid wood is somewhat ridiculous. Sonus Fabre builds with solid woods but not in a "taditional" six slabs of material glued together format. They have sections roughly 2" in thickness which are shaped to the "lyre contour" familiar to their speakers and those multiple sections are stacked one upon the other to form the enclosure. This is time consuming and tedious work to make each section fit well to the specs of the enclosure and pair as a sonically inert unit to the two sections facing it. Using sophisticated measurement devices the individual sections are then braced to ensure the ratio of dead to alive response SF favors. Think of buy the entire main trunk of a tree and then slicing it into 2" sections which will be hollowed out to form the enclosure and then trying to accurately brace the sections for good response. This sort of construction is multiple times the expense of any MDF/ply cabinet as each piece, for each section, must be of the highest quality as any knots, voids or distortions of the grain of the wood will create a resonance that is then near impossible to remove. Trying to do the same thing as a DIY with any solid wood is all but beyond the scope of even the most patient woodworker. Try this in an "exotic" wood species and your cost is astronomical, screw up once and there goes the entire enclosure into the scrap bin waiting to be made into small salad bowls. The better option to any exotic finish is a MDF core with a veneer of your choice. Caution is recommended when selecting baltic birch ply for a speaker enclosure. Ply of any sort is more resonant than MDF and can cause unexpected colorations in the final product. In commercial design birch ply is typically combined with another material to make for dissimilar resonant formations and kept to relatively small enclosure dimensions to aid in panel stiffness ratios. Once again this is rather sophisticated stuff that is better left to those constructors with a fair amount of experience.


What were you thinking about doing and how much experience (and tools) do you have to accomplish the woodworking required for even a simple MDF box?


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Bronze Member
Username: Only126db

Michigan USA

Post Number: 13
Registered: Jun-06
My trade before the recession was Finish Carpenter, so I have wood working skill and tools.

I am seriously out of practice though.... it's been a couple years since I actually built anything.

I now live where wood is readily available and found some Locust Wood 2" thick planks for a good price.

The speakers are going to be a low power set of dual 5 1/4" drivers probably not getting over 60rms per cabinet, I'm thinking with 2" thick material resonance may not be an issue.

The wood for the two cabinets would be cheaper than a sheet of mdf !!!
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15817
Registered: May-04
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OK, then let's move to another reason for using MDF as a speaker cabinet material. Solid wood by its nature is not self-damping but MDF is. What that means to a potential speaker builder will be the overall dimensions required to make a cabinet whose total internal volume, external shape and damping capacity is suitable for the drivers selected when using 2" thick solid wood panels in place of thinner MDF. Using 2" thick panels will mean the required internal volume for proper bass response can only be accomplished by building an overly large enclosure. Given the width of the front panel will need to be no less than approx. 6" the volume you'll need to obtain for proper bass response can only be accomplished by either building a much wider, taller or a much deeper enclosure. The width of the front baffle will determine in part the frequency response of the overall system due to reflections off the baffle. Too wide and you have one problem, too narrow and you have another. If you really don't have any idea how to accomodate the baffle width of the system or how to minimize refraction from the edges of the baffle, then you could be building a system that is ultimately let down by the desire to have an attractive finish on the exterior panels but that actually fights the overall sound quality due to the limitations of the material used. I think you'll also find the consistency of MDF to require less internal bracing and more predictable bracing patterns than solid wood panels. It's not how many watts you put into the sytsem or the diameter of the woofers, it's just a function of not having a cabinet with acoustic resonances you cannot control. Solid wood is generally more resonant than MDF and will require more bracing to damp those resonances. Those additional braces, should they be required, will also take up internal volume and force you into building yet a larger enclosure to obtain the correct internal volume. Enclosure bracing can be an art in itself in that a good designer can manipulate the bracing to push existing resonances into a less problematic frequency band if resonances must exist at all. You seem to be taking on a lot of construction variables you might not understand how to control just for the sake of a pretty cabinet. What do I have to say to convince you a good speaker enclosure is not made by just gluing six panels together and thinking that's sufficient for good sound?

Go rap your knuckles on the Locust wood planks and then on a 3/4" panel of MDF. Decide which is better at damping vibration and subsequent resonances.


Why so intent on using solid wood when the only surface anyone is going to see is the exterior which can be veneered to almost any finish you desire?


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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2063
Registered: Oct-07
Jan, sounds like TOYLTH is a woodworker who wants to get his hand back into it and found some nice wood. Getting some beautiful speakers is just a plus.
With the panel crowd, real controversy exists about the benefits and downside of wood vs MDF. Wood is a natural composite and as such has a distributed resonance. It is the Shape which will determine much of what you hear. While the knuckle rap test will show some result on wood, the final shape will determine how much and how bad this effect is. Wood as a frame material only? Pretty live and may actually accept and dissipate vibes better than MDF.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2064
Registered: Oct-07
One other thing::
MDF apparently comes in different densities. I have shelves made from this stuff which float level with the water. It is so hard you can't stick a finger nail on edge into it. It takes 2 men and a boy to move a 4x8 sheet of 1". In appearance, it is almost grain free. It looks like it was made from sawdust, and fine at that.
I don't know where the person who helped me with the shelves got this stuff, but the local home stores DO NOT carry it. The MDF available at these stores is made from coarser wood debris and is not as heavy or resistant to the finger nail test.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15821
Registered: May-04
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"With the panel crowd, real controversy exists about the benefits and downside of wood vs MDF."

Building a stand for your panel type speakers is not the same as building the entire enclosure from solid wood. Remember, a "virtue" of panel type speakers is they have no box and therefore no "box sound".


"Wood is a natural composite and as such has a distributed resonance."


Which is why it is so useful in building fine musical instruments. This works fine if you're able to determine the wood is free of knots and voids. That's kind of difficult to do when using 2" panels.


"It is the Shape which will determine much of what you hear."


I consider that an oversimplification of the subject, leo. However, it is primarily the dimensions of the material - all things being equal - which will be the first issue in "resonance". A larger panel will always have more and more intrusive problems than a smaller panel. One reason standmmount speaker can "disappear" acoustically more effectively then an equal priced floorstander. MDF allows a smaller panel dimension than does solid wood of equal density - if such a thing exists.


"Pretty live and may actually accept and dissipate vibes better than MDF."


It will accept the vibration more readily but, disspiate the vibration more readily? Unlikely unless it is extremely low mass which goes against all modern speaker building techniques. Combining dissimilar materials? Fine, if you know what you're doing to the music but not so great if you're just looking for a nice outward appearance. The idea of accepting vibration in solid wood suggests you can then control the vibration/resonance in ways favorable to the final product of the speaker system. Sorry, that's unlikely in a DIY speaker system.


As I've stated in another thread, the "home improvement" shops are in the business of selling wood and wood products for cheap - they are not in the wood business. Not only are there differing densities to what is termed MDF, there is also a "high density fibreboard" which is even more inert than any MDF. More expensive, more difficult to source, more difficult to work with due to its mass and faster to ruin your blade but far better as a speaker enclosure material.


I'm not against the woodworking aspect of the project. There just doesn't seem to be a good reason to build a speaker out of the material when a MDF/veneer enclosure would be more suitable to the final sound quality. Save the nice wood for a project you know will turn out well for its intended purpose. IMO this isn't one of those projects.


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Gold Member
Username: T_bomb25

Aurora, Colorado United States

Post Number: 2268
Registered: Jun-05
Bamboo,marine ply,and baltic birch ply are far superior to mdf even hardwoods but their variables could change over the years and hardwoods tend not to last nearly as long. There are 3 main things that make mdf the norm in commercial speakers:
1.Bamboo,marine ply,and baltic birch ply are 5 to 6 times more expensive,Bamboo is 10 to 12 times more expensive than mdf.
2.Mdf is much easier to work with and much easier to get all over the globe..
3.Its easier to find good supplies of mdf that are good supplies,bamboo,and the ply's its not easy to find a good unadultrated supply of these materials...

If you are building your own speaker a batch of the other materials listed up top are far better than MDF but its more expensive,harder to work with,and harder to get a good supply,good luck with your build....
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