Plastic Vs. Wood

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ChicoDisco

ChicoDisco
Hello All,

Strictly speaking sonically and musically, (not the weight difference), which speaker enclosure sounds best, or which is better overall, again based on the sound, not weight, --> Plastic Enclosure or Wood Enclosure?

Also, given two speakers with the identical Internal Parts (woofer, midrange, tweeter, wiring, crossover, etc.) and the same physical shape and size, but, with the only difference the enclosures, one plastic and the other wood, -> which will sound sonically and musically better?

(Kindly, please, let's not discuss the weight factor, since in most cases it's a given that the plastic enclosure has the advantage in this aspect.)

I really would like to know from the critical Musician's, Sound Engineers' and Pro DJs' hearing, was something lost from going, from wood to plastic, just like from real calf skin drums to synthesizers, electronic pianos, etc.

All responses/discussions are greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much.

DJ ChicoDisco
 

HelloMontana

New Member
I think this may boil down to a physics question.

Intuitively I would think that wood would be more elastic/flexible and thus reverberate/vibrate base more than plastic...posibly/generally making wood boxes sound "warmer"...kind of the difference when you kick a wood box compared to a plastic one...

Then you also have those fiberglass enclousures

Also if you look at audiophile speakers, most -if not all- are made of natural wood

...but this is pure speculation...The design of the box may be a bigger factor

...as far as tops for mids and highs I don't think it makes much difference.

I would try to hear the boxes you are considering and see if you like the way they sound.
 

jimmyt

New Member
Wood can sometimes give you up to 3 db more output in the lower portion of the frequency spectrum.
 

short_circutz

New Member
HelloMontana said:
I think this may boil down to a physics question.

Intuitively I would think that wood would be more elastic/flexible...<snip>
I would think the opposite, and that wood is more rigid and LESS elastic than any type of plastic based compund.

Feel the surface vibration difference between an EON running a full range signal, and an equivalent properly built wood enclosure also running the same full range signal. The "plastic" box will have more vibration because it is not as rigid.

And I agree that you will get more useable output for LF from a wood box rather than a "plastic" one.

You want the enclosure of any type of mid-bass or lower frequency spectrum cabinet to be as rigid as possible, and typically, wood is the most cost/weight efficient compromise to accomplish that. Your ultimate enclosure would be fabricated with re-inforced concrete, but who wants to have to lug those around! :lol:
 

HelloMontana

New Member
How about that 13 or 18 ply birchwood? Is that stiffer than plastic? What are those massive concert array systems made out of?
 

ArthurG

New Member
I think the question is irrelevant. Using the same components, a poor wood box made of thin agglomerate will loose again a well made pastic box. And the opposite is also true ! So it's all in the design...


For example, let's compare the waterfall of FBT MaxX6A (plastic cabinet) vs JBL MP415 (wood box) :

FBT MaxX6 A waterfall :



JBL MP415 :



Waterfall is a good test to show cabinet vibrations and this example shows clearly the superiority of the FBT solution. One reason is the components (high-end B&C stuff) but the other is the exceptionnal rigidity of the FBT plastic box.

So my conclusion : don't base your choice in the material of the box, but in your ears !!!


my french 0,02€ ;)
--ArthurG



PS : for subwoofer, the problem is a little bit different. We can make a great sounding plastic sub but the weight benefit of this solution againts a wood counterpart doesn't worth the effort.
 

HelloMontana

New Member
See...we needed a Frenchman to find the answer :)

What is a waterfall and what do the three dimensions of the graph represent?

I hear fbt is very popular in Europe...Is that what mobile DJ's use out there?

Thanks :wink:
 

ArthurG

New Member
Yes FBT is very popular here. A lot of mobile DJs use this brand and particulary the MaxX line.

Regarding a waterfall, the datas are :
- X axys : frequency range (low freqs on the left and high freqs on the right)
- Y axys : Sound Pressure Level (higher level on the top, low levels on the bottom)
- Z axys (depth) : time (initial signal in the background, and afterwards signal in the front).

During a waterfall signal, we send to the speaker a fullrange (pink noise) impulse test (this impulse signal is very short, typically 1ms) and we mesure the frequency response every millisecond to see how the speaker reacts.

So, if you look only at X and Y axys, you have a classic frequency responce curve. The Z axys will show you how good a cabinet will attenuate the sound after the initial signal. Ideally, a "perfect" speaker will show only 1 curve, ie the signal. But in real life, it's not the case ! Better the attenuation is, better the speaker is (better clarity and fidelity).


If a speaker has an issue at one frequency, it's easy to find out with the waterfall. For example, we can clearly see that the JBL MP415 has a bad resonance around 9kHz.


Please keep in mind that the JBL MP415 waterfall is already a very good result. To be honest, the FBT MaxX6A shows the best waterfall curve I saw in my life ! (and I mesured some high-end stuff like Nexo and EV concert boxes). So when I say the MaxX line is impressive, its really the case, booth on the bench and during listening tests !
 

John Brown

New Member
ArthurG,
The FBT out performed the Nexo? Were they comparable models? I have heard a full array of Nexos and was very impressed with them. But I never felt they were worth the money they want for them.
My American 2 cents :wink:
 

ArthurG

New Member
John Brown said:
ArthurG,
The FBT out performed the Nexo? Were they comparable models? I have heard a full array of Nexos and was very impressed with them. But I never felt they were worth the money they want for them.
My American 2 cents :wink:
John,

I never said that a FBT out perform a Nexo (between lines, I mesured a Nexo PS15 and the Geo T line Array system), I said the FBT MaxX6A shows the better waterfall curve of all speakers I tested. Not the same thing. They are many more parameters than just a waterfall to judge sound quality...

And to be more specific, the waterfall curve is a very nice tool but its not the only way to compare speakers. Sound is a subjective thing and a speaker X can have better results ON PAPER than Speaker Y, but you can prefer the sound of speaker Y. They are lot of hidden things that curves don't show !


So take these curves as they are (nice tools to compare objectively 2 products) and nothing more, because at the end, only your ears will be the judge :wink: .
 

John Brown

New Member
ArthurG,
All I can say is Amen to that brother, and sorry for misinterpreting your statement. That is the problem all speaker manufacturers face, it is only as good as your ears say it is.
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
I say wood. A Stradivarius will never be made of plastic :)
how many musicians prefer plastic acoustic guitars?

For midrange and tweeter i dont think it matters much, but for bass, wood always sounds better (more natural) to my ears.
 

ArthurG

New Member
hippydog said:
I say wood. A Stradivarius will never be made of plastic :)
how many musicians prefer plastic acoustic guitars?
hippydog,

You're badly wrong :?

A Stradivarius or an acoustic guitar is a music intrument and the cabinet helps in the sound. It vibrates at certain frequency to participate in the sonic signature (the "caracter" of the instrument). This is done on purpose.


But a speaker is not an instrument. At the opposite, the cabinet of a speaker must be neutral and NOT vibrate, because vibrations create resonnances and lower efficiency.


So next time you'll defend wood, you'll better have to find another argument (and a valid one if possible :wink: )
 

ArthurG

New Member
John Brown said:
Hey Arthur,
Want a job :wink:
Well don't tell it twice because actually I'm really looking for a new job ;)

I've already been working for 2 north american companies and I've been many times in US (SF bay area and Toronto). If you need someone in Europe, I could be your man :)
 

ChicoDisco

ChicoDisco
Dear John,

So, do I get (say 30%) commission of Arthur's first annual salary, since
I started this thread, which allowed Arthur for further shine-through with his excellent technical know-how? Maybe I'll settle for 20% :)

Just kidding, of course.

If this is a serious offer to Arthur, hope it all turns out well for both or you.

All the best, and kind regards,

DJ ChicoDisco

p.s. Thanks again All for your very informative feedback.
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
ArthurG said:
But a speaker is not an instrument. At the opposite, the cabinet of a speaker must be neutral and NOT vibrate, because vibrations create resonnances and lower efficiency.
So a sub box made of cement would sound better then one made of wood?
:p :D
 

CJ Greiner

Supreme Gold Member
Funny you should mention that... I saw a website that showed a custom home-theatre setup where the subs were built into the floor with specially-shaped sound paths.

It was made out of concrete & concrete blocks. :idea:
 
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