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Partical Board?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by ampegsvtca, Dec 18, 2003.

  1. When did Ampeg start using partical board to build their 810 cabs? And how inferior is this material compared to plywood? Are they saving a lot of money by doing this? And those plastic 1/4" jacks are pretty cheessy too.
  2. Hell of a lot less durable now. This sucks ;/
  3. Particle board is way different from MDF (medium density fiberboard), but looks similar. MDF has a finer, more dense appearance. You can leave MDF out in the rain for a season and it won't turn into oatmeal like PB does.

    MDF is 2x the price of particle board, and 10x the quality for speaker cabs. MDF is also very heavy at 49 pounds per cubic foot (a 4x8x 3/4 sheet).

    I have particle board cabs that I've built for prototypes, and they slowly turn into oatmeal even when not left out in the rain. They have to be painted, etc, inside and out, or they deteriorate. Not recommended except for prototyping.
  4. They're saving a lot of money, yes. It's vastly inferior to plywood: when it gets wet, it falls apart, and in virtually all cases it's heavier.

    Particle board and its slightly more durable relative oriented-strand board (OSB) have become very popular in new home construction for exterior shielding (underneath siding). Time will only tell whether the starter homes built this way will last particularly long.
  5. Mmm...OSB covered in fake stucco...mold-tastic!

    I think, when I go to buy my first house, I'm gonna get a little brick or concrete bungalow. I bet that the Sears Tower will be demolished before most of the bungalows on the North Side.
  6. jawzzz


    May 23, 2003
    Denver Colorado
    As a full time carpenter(framer), I can attest to how bad the fiberboard is. Just yesterday, I almost fell through the roof of the house I was sheeting. Very weak stuff. Once it gets water on it, it gets worse. I would not want a speaker cab or house made out of it or particle board.
  7. I believe around 1986 or so. Definitely by 1992. My old cabs are built out of 9-ply Birch(?). Very stout.[​IMG]
  8. herrera


    Feb 15, 2002
    a board for practice?
  9. Jerrold Tiers

    Jerrold Tiers

    Nov 14, 2003
    St Louis
    I need to mention here that the Ampeg cabinets are not "particle board".

    Some cabinets are made using "Italian poplar" plywood, such as the PortaBass units.

    Some cabinets are made using 18mm 13ply imported plywood, such as the PR and BXT series units.

    Some cabinets are made using "OSB" in combination with plywood.

    Specifically, the SVT-810E is made with OSB and plywood, with possible use of pine, MDF etc as filler pieces or cleats. The use of OSB in the 810 has been the subject of "some discussion" here..........

    Plywood is made with layers of thin wood glued together oriented with the grain alternately "N-S", and "E-W". It is reasonably light, and the best imported types resist impact well. It is also going through the roof price-wise, especially at the present time. Domestic US plywood is headed way down in quality, with so many voids and defects that it is almost impossible to use if you are going to cut it and need a decent edge.

    OSB is made with strips of wood up to several inches long, glued-up with alternate layers oriented at right angles like plywood. It is about 80% as strong as plywood, but is somewhat lower cost, heavier and not as resistant to impact.

    Particle board is sawdust with just enough glue to make it into a solid board-like material. It is cheap, heavy and not very strong. it does not resist impact well.

    MDF is sawdust with a lot more glue, so it has more of the character of a plastic like the old "Bakelite". It is REALLY heavy, more expensive than particle board or cheap plywood, but still isn't very impact resistant.

    As far as I know, none of the Ampeg 810, 410, 210, etc, cabinets are made with any significant "particle" or "MDF" content.
  10. MDF is excellent for speaker cabinets. It's heavy and it WILL fall apart if it gets wet.
  11. MDF seems to sustain the same amount of damage as does plywood when left outside in the rain. I ran this experiment last year during the California rainy season.

    Particle board turns to mush. MDF and plywood get ratty and deteriorate more slowly.

    Other than weight, MDF is ideal for speaker cabinets. It is far more dimensionally stable than plywood, and has much less tendency to resonate and buzz. Precision cuts are easy, and do not splinter like plywood. MDF is hard on carbide cutting edges, and wears them out faster than plywood.
  12. The results of this test can vary considerably depending on what type of glue is used for both the plywood and mdf. There is a "marine" grade plywood that is going to hold up a lot better than any MDF. There are also exterior grade MDFs that can be very durable. The key to MDF is if any moisture gets beneath the surface, it will swell up.

    As far as density and weight, there is a newer product out called Ultra-Lite MDF. They actually inject air into the MDF which gives it a molecular structure that is closer to real wood. I sell a lot of that stuff as moldings but I'm not sure how it would work in a speaker.

    The bottom line is that a good plywood is still a better option than any MDF or particle board but with technology being the way it is, that could change in the near future.
  13. That opinion is not shared by many engineers who require a non-resonant enclosure.

    Plywood resonates much more easily than does MDF because it is lesser density. Concrete resonates less than MDF, and is even heavier.

    If you leave your cabs out in the rain, use marine plywood. If weight is an issue, use void-free plywood (baltic birch, apple-ply) and brace it extensively.
  14. Well, if non-resonant enclosures were what makes or breaks a speaker cabinet, you would have a point. You are correct in saying MDF is less resonate than plywood... by how much, I don't know, but I would disagree that it's a dramatic difference.

    There are also other factors involved in making a good enclosure- durability, weight and portability are also factors and plywood is still superior in these categories.

    Besides, if everyone agreed that MDF was the superior material in making enclosures, wouldn't everyone be using it since it's a lot more economical than plywood?:confused:
  15. Loudness, Weight/Size and Price are the fundamentals of commercial cabinets, not a concensus on using quality materials. If this were the case, manufacturers would use stainless fittings that don't rust, quality crossovers and much better drivers. But they don't.

    MDF is a big negative in the weight catagory and this makes it unacceptable for portable cabinets of any appreciable size. At 32 pounds per cubic foot, void-free plywood is 65% the weight of MDF at 49 pounds. In a typical 2x10 slot port cabinet, MDF adds 21 additional pounds more than plywood.

    Cabinet resonance is a huge detriment because acoustic power is consumed and wasted when the walls buzz. This adds a random coloration that cannot be predicted, nor made consistent from cabinet to cabinet. Panel resonance is Engineering 101 for cabinet design, and is the reason why cabs are not constructed using solid wood. Increased mass lowers the resonant frequency and reduces the compliance of the cabinet panels.

    The job-at-hand is what determines the correct material. If my client wants a 1x10 Neodymium driver, I know he will not accept it in a heavy 3/4" MDF cabinet. Conversely, if I build an 18" or 21" subwoofer for a club, it definitely will be made from 1" MDF.

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