Building a speaker box around your speaker helps to improve the quality and direction of sound so that your music is being directed into the room from the front of the speaker. Speaker boxes made of wood are quality choices because they are able to increase sound quality and distribution and serve as protection for your speaker.
The 5 best woods to build are speaker box are:
- Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)
- Baltic Birch Plywood
- Marine-grade Plywood
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We have provided you with the best wood options for building a speaker box and other considerations you should make during the building process. Speaker boxes provide noticeable changes in the clarity of sound that a speaker will provide to a room. Understanding the materials and proper construction for a speaker box can make a large difference.
The 5 Best Woods to Build a Speaker Box
The woods that are mentioned on this list are specifically chosen due to their composition. The best woods to use for speaker boxes are uniform in their density to allow for the highest quality sound resonance to project. Typically, these are dense and softer woods, as harder woods are not uniform and will force the sound to resonate within the box opposed to project outward.
We will go through each of our five best wood options, giving you the breakdown of what we like about them and how some woods may be better than others based on your needs.
1. Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)
MDF is a manufactured wood that is popular for building speaker boxes because it is very dense and thick. It is made by combining recycled wood particles with resin and wax to form a compact and consistent material throughout the board. This is important for allowing sound to reflect consistently from the material and maintain the speaker’s sound with no added tone.
This wood material is able to absorb additional vibrations that may tamper with the speaker’s output. We recommend choosing MDF if you want to hear the speaker’s output in its clearest form. The resonance has been described as ‘dead or atonal,’ which will not change the quality of the sound but will provide less of a ‘punch’ than you may want to hear.
The advantages of using MDF for a speaker box include:
- Economical: An 8-foot board will cost you around $25 depending on where you purchase it from. The amount spent on the speaker box will depend on your desired size, and the amount of speaker you plan to cover. This is a fairly inexpensive material compared to other wood options.
- Dense and uniform: These characteristics are the most important to clear and consistent sound, as we have mentioned.
- Easy to cut: Because there is no grain like natural wood and is consistent throughout, it is easy to cut through. This allows you to work with larger boards and easily customize your speaker box size.
- Treatment-friendly: You can stain and paint MDF to make it look like most natural woods. You can get the benefits of the sound quality with the desired aesthetic in your space.
Some disadvantages to consider when using MDF for a speaker box include:
- Weight: Because of its density and compactness, MDF is a heavy material. This may not be the best choice for a speaker box if you plan to move it frequently.
- Strength: MDF is also not as strong as other woods, requiring more careful handling to prevent damage. You should also be careful when using nails or screws as the material does not always take these easily.
- Water absorption: In damp environments, MDF may swell more easily than other materials. Keep this in mind in incredibly humid or wet settings.
Overall, MDF is our top choice because it does not disrupt the speaker’s ability to project its sound and can be easily acquired and manipulated for building.
2. Baltic Birch Plywood
Using Baltic birch plywood is another great option for building a speaker box because it is also a dense wood product that will not interfere with the tone emitted from a speaker. Plywood, in general, has shown to be successful. It’s a common choice among those building speaker boxes for increased clarity and sound quality.
Of all plywood options, Baltic birch has shown to be of the highest quality as it relates to the speaker’s output and performance. It is known for being a rigid and durable wood, allowing it to be used and intact over longer periods of time. While it is dense, it is lightweight, making it easier to transport speakers that need to be moved around more frequently.
Here are some more reasons you should consider using Baltic birch plywood for your speaker box:
- Durability: The composition, strength, and versatility make Baltic birch a high-quality material that will last a long time. The initial investment becomes more economical when you consider the longer-lasting results.
- Less prone to warping: Compared to other plywood, Baltic birch does not warp as frequently, especially when these pieces are thicker.
- Aesthetics: Baltic birch is also an attractive wood to work with. It can be left exposed depending on the style of the room it is in or treated easily to adapt to any desired look. Stains, dyes, and finishes can be added easily or simply finished with clear top coats.
The main disadvantage of using Baltic birch plywood is:
- Cost: Baltic birch is going to be more expensive than other wood alternatives, but the increased price is also made up for by the improved sound quality. Other plywood may be cheaper, but they will not provide the superior sound and tonal effects that Baltic birch will.
Baltic birch plywood is a top contender for building a speaker box, particularly for its durability and superior sound quality. If you can find it at a reasonable price point, we recommend considering this quality plywood option.
3. Marine-grade Plywood
Marine-grade plywood is typically used in boat building (hence its name) because it uses waterproof glue to keep the wood intact, and it is a strong and lightweight option that does not contain many knots or defects. The water component is not particularly important to the building of speaker boxes, but the other qualities are.
Plywood, in general, is a strong contender for speaker boxes because of the resonance issues we have mentioned throughout the article, as well as its stability and resistance to many environmental factors. Their higher density will prevent a significant impact on the quality or tone of the speaker, allowing you to hear as close to the original output as possible.
You can use this material for speakers inside a boat, as well as those that will be kept elsewhere. Because many boats have speakers on them, this is an excellent material to use. While the boards are made with waterproof glue, you should still be finishing the wood with a heavy-duty seal as the wood itself is not waterproof.
Now we are getting into harder woods that may not be as optimal as it relates to adding sounds and resonance to the speaker’s output. Pine does come in plywood sheets, which should help to make them less susceptible to sound and tonal changes, but it is still not as uniform throughout. This is noticeable with the increased knots you’ll see in the wood.
Pine is one of the most cost-effective choices and can be easily obtained from many hardware supplies. It is also a durable material, can be easily treated with paints, and is generally resistant to rot and decay. You will have to decide whether you opt for the pine plywood (eliminates wood-related sound impacts) or settle with standard pine, which provides a more natural look.
If you are going to pick a wood, you should look at using pine because it is softer and more absorbent to sounds than others may be. You can always make a larger speaker box and pad the inside with sound-absorbing materials to counteract the effects of the wood while still maintaining your desired natural wood aesthetic.
Oak has also become a popular choice for speaker boxes because of the attractive appearance it provides. Like pine, it is also a softer wood and will not have as dramatic of an impact on the sound as a hardwood will.
Oak is a good choice in wood because it is:
- Durable: Oak will be long-lasting and is resistant to damage over time, allowing it to maintain its attractive grain qualities.
- Less likely to warp: Sunlight and water do not have a great impact on oak as it has water-resistant properties.
- Treatable: You can easily stain and finish the wood based on your desired aesthetic. Oak does look great with a clear top coat, but it can be easily changed to meet your needs.
A reason to look towards other material options for your speaker box is that it is still considered a hardwood, and you will possibly run into the issues of sound quality. The wood is also very heavy, making it more difficult to move the speaker often. Of all the options on our list, we do not recommend oak unless you prefer its sound output or want oak features in your space.
Factors to Consider When Building a Wooden Speaker Box
There are some specific factors that should be considered as they relate to the overall sound quality and life of your speaker box. Choosing dense wood can help to account for some of these factors and limit negative side effects that would be associated with using other wood options.
Resonance and Tone
In most cases, users want their speakers to clearly reflect the sound quality and characteristics of the input. The type of speaker box that is used has the ability to impact these tonal qualities. To maintain the purity and clarity of the speaker’s sounds, people will often steer clear of solid woods because they can impact the quality and features of the speaker.
Using these denser and softer woods for your speaker box will allow you to hear more of the speaker’s sounds and tones, while solid woods will add some texture and can distort the sounds slightly. If you want to hear the speaker do its own thing, opting for the softer woods mentioned on our list will help to maintain the speaker’s qualities.
These are the top reasons you should avoid solid woods for your speaker box:
- Colored or changed tone: The lack of uniformity in a hardwood will cause the speaker to reflect itself differently off of different parts of the speaker. This will result in varied changes in resonance (deep and full sound) from one part of the wood to another. The added tones and texture are dependent on preference.
- Blurred notes: The increased resonance may also prevent you from hearing the desired ‘punch’ you would want from a speaker. The harder woods can muffle the sound slightly and even prevent the speaker from projecting as far in a space.
- Cost: If you are price conscious with the materials you will be using, hardwoods are going to be the more expensive option, especially for larger speakers that will require more material.
The most common hardwoods include maple, walnut, cherry, hickory, oak, and pine. We have included oak and pine as options on our list because of all the hardwoods; they will provide you with the best quality for speaker boxes. Speaker boxes can be made of these other materials, just keep in mind the factors we mentioned above.
Warping is the result of moisture changing different parts of wood unevenly, being reflected in deformities in shape and texture. Warping occurs more frequently with natural woods that are not uniform in nature (typically your hardwoods). When building your speaker box, you will want to choose a wood that has a smaller chance of warping to prevent damage.
The following factors cause wood to warp at increased rates:
- Temperature and humidity: Because greater moisture will cause wood warping, increased humidity will allow for more warping to occur. This is also related to temperature as warmer weather can exacerbate the warping process when combined with moisture.
- Grain: The part of the log that wood is cut from will impact the wood’s likelihood of warping. Using end grain is often the safest option to avoid warped wood.
- Thickness: Thinner pieces of wood are going to warp at increased rates as there is less material for moisture to work its way through.
- Lack of coating: Woods that are not stained, painted, or sealed will warp faster than those that are.
Keep these factors in mind when building your speaker box will help to keep your material in good condition and prevent major changes to the wood over time.
Open or Closed Back Boxes
An important factor that impacts the quality and direction of sound is choosing an open-back or closed-back speaker box. This will require varying purchases in the amount of wood material you use and will change the sound quality and tone. The primary difference is whether or not wood will be covering the backside of the speaker.
- Open-backed speaker boxes will allow the direction of the sound to be less distinct, allowing for a more surround-sound feel in the room.
- A closed-back speaker forces the sound in one direction, allowing you to achieve that ‘punch’ sound in a concentrated area.
Choosing one or the other will largely depend on the desired sound you’re after, as well as your speaker box construction.
All the materials mentioned on our list can work in either format but using a hardwood with the closed back will provide the most obvious and changes the tone with the concentration of sound in one place. Closed backs will require you to purchase more materials, so expect an increase in material costs and construction.
The Best Woods for Building a Speaker Box
Building a speaker box that keeps the integrity of the sound quality can be best achieved with the use of MDF or high-quality plywood (Baltic birch or marine grade). This video also does a great job of comparing material types so you can pick the best option for your specific needs and speaker choice.
The type of material you end up choosing will be dependent on the sound quality and characteristics you want. For the most natural speaker quality without limited outside noises, look for MDF or plywood. If you find the coloring and additions that hardwood brings to the sound are something you like, look at the oaks and pines.
Try to look for dense woods that are durable, easy to cut and work with, and strong for long-lasting use. Any of the materials on our list will result in favorable outcomes for the sound to your speaker box, with minor changes to quality and sound characteristics with each.
There are many factors that go into deciding what type of wood you should choose when you are building a speaker box. Based on those factors that are listed above you will decide ultimately if you will use one of these five best woods for a speaker box.
- Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)
- Baltic Birch Plywood
- Marine-grade Plywood
- How thick should wood be for a speaker box? A speaker box is generally has a thickness of 3/4″. This is because we want the speaker box to be as non-resonant as possible.
- Do speakers sound better in a box? Using a speaker box will enhance the quality of the sound from the speakers. A good speaker box will be designed to have a crossover that divides the frequency spectrum to each respective driver.
- Does the size of the speaker box matter? The size of a speaker box does matter. Depending on how much bigger the box is than the actual speakers it can have negative impacts on the quality of the sound.