Birch or plywood

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by metalbass101, Feb 14, 2004.

which one?

Poll closed Mar 15, 2004.
  1. Birch

    12 vote(s)
  2. Plywood

    4 vote(s)
  1. metalbass101


    Jan 24, 2004
    which one would you rather have in your amp/cab?
  2. bassmantele


    Jul 22, 2003
    Boston MA USA


    Birch plywood.
  3. Introvox


    May 21, 2001
    Ontario, Canada
    for my 1x18 and my 2x10 cabs, I used Baltic Birch....awesome

    same as Mesa uses
  4. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Whichever's lighter.
  5. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Me Too! Bye!
  6. Neither.

    Baltic Birch void-free plywood is what most of the commercial cab manufacturers use. The advantage is lighter weight than MDF, but a higher tendency to buzz. More bracing is required for BB ply, making it heavier. Void free is terribly expensive, and cheap plywood (not void free) is a total waste of time and money for speaker cabs.

    A clever design such as the Eden XLT series uses the vents as reinforcement for the interior cab walls.

    The difference in weight between void free ply and MDF is 32 pounds vs 49 pounds per cubic foot. I use two cubic feet when making a 1x15 subwoofer cabinet, 31 x 20 x 20. This is one 4x8 x 3/4" sheet of MDF.
  7. ESP-LTD


    Sep 9, 2001
    Perhaps I've not been paying attention, but I've never seen a Birch cabinet.

    Birch is a hardwood, with many characteristics of Maple. As such things go it's fairly heavy and hard.

    Plywood is a product constructed of layers of wood laminations of 1/16" to 3/16" or so with the grain in consecutive layers at a 90 degree angle to each other.

    I have seen folks advertise that they use plywoods made of different base woods (biRtch, poplar, spruce, etc) but never using a solid hardwood, which would tend to resonate.
  8. bassmantele


    Jul 22, 2003
    Boston MA USA

    Which was my point. I think someone's confused.
  9. NeedMoreBass

    NeedMoreBass unregistered

    Feb 14, 2003
    Yeah, bitch plywood!! That's my favorite. :D

    But I like birch plywood too! :bassist:


    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    I've got a Mesa Diesel 1x18 made of Birch & it KILLS!

    I also own a Bag End 2x10 made of Poplar that also does it all.

    It all depends on its construction & the range it's going to be used for...

  11. ESP-LTD


    Sep 9, 2001
    For those that didn't know, "Baltic Birch" is a plywood product (originally at least, made from birch). It has laminations about half the thickness (and so more of them) than common plywood. Although I don't believe it's completely void free (unless you spend even more), the voids would tend to be smaller than normal playwood because of the construction. As plywood goes, it's very cool plywood (but dense). Mesa Boogie uses Baltic Birch per their web site.

    Based on the Poll, lots of folks would like to buy cabinets made of Birch. Curious.
  12. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I got to try out a custom made 2x12 over the weekend. It was about 120 litres and made of MDF. Damn it I almost burst a blood vessel in my forehead picking that thing up. You may as well use concrete.

    Personally I'm prepared to accept a small sacrifice in sound for something that will give me far more pleasure overall by being managable and portable. And to be honest I don't think my ears are golden enough to hear the difference between timbers. So I use plywood.
  13. ESP-LTD


    Sep 9, 2001
    As I understand it the design goals are maximum rigidity and density.

    I'm too old, fat, and slow for heavy boxes. I've about decided that 40# is my limit so I build plenty of small ones.

    I've never used Baltic Birch because I'm too cheap, and I have to admit I've done plenty of 5/8" and some 1/2" plywood.
  14. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Spruce or poplar plywood is light and stiff. Requires about the same bracing as a birch ply box - which is not much, if the box is not too big...

    MDF boxes require fork trucks.

    And that leaves us with the usual compromise - and your chioce.
  15. I betcha can hear "buzz" though.


    Marine plywood (BB, et al) is pricey when guaranteed to be void free. This will do the job OK at lower power and/or higher frequencies. Low down pounders need mass to keep the panels from buzzing.

    I favor multiple, single-drive boxes because each is smaller and lighter in weight. When table saw weather returns, my Rockford subs are downsizing from 5.4 cubic feet vented to 3 cubic feet sealed. Easier to haul and less weight. Probably no change in bottom end at 41 Hz.
  16. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    :) My cabs don't buzz!
  17. Probably not, if you are using 10s.

    A Delta 10 displaces a paltry 55 mL, or 220 mL for a 4x10. Compare this to 1100 ~ 1600 mL displaced by some of the Beymas and JBLS, and you'll get the picture. Big displacement drivers will pound a cabinet very hard.

    Panel vibration of any kind absorbs acoustic power that could otherwise be put to use making sound, even if the panel does not buzz.

    My Rockford subs are built from 3/4" (19mm) MDF and braced in an X-Y-Z fashion. I cannot sit on this cabinet more than a few minutes before my butt gets pickled from the vibration. The panel is 20 x 20 inches (8 x 8 cm) and is the smallest panel and the least prone to vibration. The 20 x 31 panel is probably worse. Nothing in this sub buzzes or rattles, but the panels are still vibrating and absorbing power.


    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    My Mesa Diesel is a 13ply Baltic Birch cab with 1x18 & hasn't a buzz anywhere, not even with the Zon tuned to low "G"! The weight isn't that bad(about 75lbs) even with the massive EV in it. Too bad they still don't make either of 'em, oh well...

    It's all in the construction & material that has to be primarily considered with the driver being used(as explained earlier) to make it all work together(as in bass building) so one will not cancel the other out or let it work to its fullest potential...


    PS: Just my .02