Building your own wooden speaker box is a fun experience. You are provided with a wide number of wood options to choose from for your speaker box. But which wood should you go for?
MDF and Plywood are two popular wood used for making speaker boxes.
But which is the better option? MDF or plywood for speaker box?
MDF is denser, easier to work with, and cheaper compared to plywood. However, plywood tends to refract and reflect sound better than MDF. This leads to an overall better sound traveling. In addition, plywood offers more portability and better resistance to bending and moisture.
Want a more in-depth comparison to make the decision? Well, we have just the thing for you. We did the research and made a full comparison between MDF and plywood. Just follow us to this article!
MDF vs Plywood for Speaker Box: A Head to Head Comparison
If you prefer building your own DIY speaker compared to buying a speaker, then this guide will prove helpful. DIY speaker building is a fun project and yet, a difficult one to execute. And the very first decision is to choose the right material for the speaker box.
Today, we’re going to talk about two particular types of woods that are used in building speaker boxes. MDF and plywood.
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and plywood are very different from one another. But before we get into the nitty-gritty details, let’s have a quick overview.
The following is a table showing the general differences between MDF and plywood:
|Overall Sound Quality||Comparatively Poor||Rich|
|Ease of use||More||Less|
|Resistance to moisture||Low||High|
|Resistance to Bending Force||Low||High|
Looks like plywood looks to provide an overall better material in the expense of costing more. MDF, on the other hand, is economical compared to plywood but falls short in flexibility.
In the following segments, we’ll learn about all the differences in more detail. That’ll help us understand which wood is worth investing your money in. Let’s get going!
MDF vs Plywood: In-depth Comparison
The differences in material between the two wood type plays a huge role in the sound quality. There is also the matter of actually building the speaker box and the costs.
In this section, we’ll compare the two wood types side by side in every aspect.
Density of the wood has a direct impact on the sound quality. The wood resonates, distorts, or reflects depending on the density board. Too dense of a board can stifle the reflecting property of the sound. Similarly, less density can create a more distorted sound.
So it’s necessary to get the right balance in density while picking speaker box material.
Let’s see how the density of MDF and plywood affect their quality as a speaker box:
MDF is solid and consistent in appearance. This allows MDF to absorb any extra vibrations that would interfere with the speaker’s output. This allows you to hear the speaker’s output in its most natural state.
The MDF board’s resonance has been described as “dead or atonal.” This means that the sound quality will not be affected. However, it will deliver less of a ‘punch’ than you might expect.
You might have to adjust your MDF thickness for speaker box.
The density of plywood is good but certainly less than MDF. The difference in density does not create any glaring difference in audio quality. The audio sometimes is not as upgraded as MDF.
Plywood’s density does not allow it to offer as clear or true sound as MDF.
Winner: In the case of density, MDF’s uniform density wins. The audio clarity offered by MDF is much better than that of plywood.
Overall Sound Quality
The main reason you are building the speaker box is for an exclusive audio experience. And we already mentioned that the wood being used has an effect on the speaker’s audio.
This may be the most important sector of comparison. Let’s see which sounds better, MDF or Plywood.
MDF is the number one go-to choice for speaker manufacturers. So for casual listeners, MDF offers a satisfactory performance.
But enthusiasts think less of MDF. Musicians made cabinet walls using MDF and claimed MDF sucked the life out of the music.
Experts will always tell you that MDF flourishes in clarity but lacks the oomph. MDF just does not offer that euphoric experience that some of you might be looking for.
Source: Creative Channel
Note that speaker performance may vary based on MDF thickness for speaker box.
Plywood is much more appreciated by enthusiasts. It doesn’t warp as frequently, especially when the pieces are thicker.
Plywood is a good option for low frequencies under 300Hz. In plywood speakers, voices sound more natural. It is better articulated there. Midrange instruments have a more accurate timbre with plywood as well.
Winner: Plywood wins in overall sound quality. The lows and mids of plywood are far superior to that of MDF.
Weight of the board will affect the speaker box’s portability. Anything heavy cannot be used for a speaker that is intended to be carried around.
Let’s see which board weighs more.
As we saw in the last segment, MDF is uniform and dense. The density and compactness make speaker boxes made of MDF quite heavy.
Being too heavy significantly affects the speaker box’s portability.
Plywood is much lighter than MDF. It’s much less dense and compact. So the speaker boxes made of plywood are also much lighter.
Winner: Plywood wins this sector because of its lighter weight. Its lightweight characteristic doesn’t affect the audible properties and makes it highly portable.
Sometimes, building the best speaker box is not enough. The sound experience still depends a lot on the quality of the speaker used and it’s internal components. Without a quality speaker, you’re just left with an hollow box with nothing but loud noise.
To help you with that, we got some special recommendation. Here’re some of the best 8” subwoofer that can complete your entire speaker setup:
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The reason we picked these subwoofers is because they are the best in the market. Assessing all the available reviews from audiophiles across the internet, we settled on these 3. Try them out. You won’t regret it!
Ease of Use
As you will be making the speaker box yourself, being easy to use is quite beneficial. This is especially true for less experienced workers.
So let’s see whether MDF or plywood is easier to work with.
MDF has no grain and is uniform throughout, unlike actual wood. This makes cutting MDF very simple. As a result, you’ll be able to use larger boards.
In addition to that, MDF is also easily customizable as a speaker box. Building DIY speaker box using MDF is preferred by studios and music personnels. All you need is a DFY speaker box kit and your wood for the speaker box.
MDF boards are very easy to paint on and customize as well.
Plywood is much harder than MDF. So cutting plywood boards requires significantly more effort.
Cutting plywood boards might require the use of heavy machinery like sawblades. This makes the procedure of making speaker boxes much more complicated and difficult.
Winner: MDF wins this round. MDF boards can be easily used and customized for making speaker boxes.
Resistance to Moisture
Moisture can change the board, making it swell. This affects the sound and the overall longevity of the speaker.
Let’s see which is more resistant to moisture, plywood or MDF.
MDF absorbs water easily. It has low resistance against moisture as well. In damp or wet environments, MDF swells easily.
You can fix this problem by a huge margin by having a tung oil finish. This makes them resistant to moisture and concede no water damage.
Plywood can’t easily soak up water. Even spilling water on it will not have much of an effect on it.
Higher quality plywood, such as baltic birch, will not easily swell due to moisture. No matter how damp or wet the environment may be, you will not need to worry about it.
Winner: Plywood wins this sector. Plywood is more resistant to water. MDF easily swells due to moisture.
Cost is a huge factor for DIY builders. So let’s see which is more economical to work with.
Why use mdf for speaker box?
Working with MDF will not hurt your pocket much. MDF is comparatively inexpensive. An 8-foot MDF board costs around $25 depending on where you buy it from.
Accommodating the place for 3 subwoofers require bigger box and it can get costly. And that’s where MDF shine in offering cheap options for speaker box.
The lower price is a big reason for manufacturers to prefer mdf over plywood.
The cost of plywood may vary depending on which specific board you are getting. But all of the varieties of plywood will set up back more than MDF.
The better quality of plywood comes with a premium price tag. Baltic birch, the best plywood for speaker cabinets, is more expensive than other wood alternatives
Winner: MDF is cheaper so technically MDF wins this sector. But the higher quality of plywood makes it worth the higher price for some buyers.
It’s time to pass up our verdict after a long assessment of the characteristics of the two woods.
Is plywood good for speaker boxes?
Yes, if you are comfortable working with wood and have a bigger budget, go for plywood. A speaker box built with plywood will give you a better listening experience. The speaker boxes will be harder, longer-lasting, and more portable.
But if you are on a shorter budget, then just go for MDF boards. Though the audio experience won’t be as good, it will be satisfactory.
There is no definite best wood for speaker box. Get the board that best matches your priorities.
What Is the Best Plywood for Speaker Box?
Baltic Birch is the best plywood for speaker building in terms of audio quality. It’s because Baltic Birch is a dense wood product. It has no effect on the tone produced by a speaker. In general, Baltic Birch has proven to be effective for improving clarity and sound quality.
Which Wood Does Speaker Manufacturers Generally Use?
MDF is the most used wood among speaker manufacturers. The industry-wide acceptance of MDF might be due to its cost-effectiveness. MDF is very easy to machine and manufacture with high standards of accuracy. The MDF also offers clear audio output that is accepted by most users.
Why Is MDF Easier to Work with Than Plywood?
MDF is easier to work with because it has no grain like natural wood and is consistent throughout. This makes MDF very easy to cut with even simple tools. On the other hand, plywood is a stronger wood. Cutting and shaping plywood requires more effort.
We reached the end of the line. Hope this helps to settle on a decision on choosing either mdf or plywood for speaker box.
If you want the best sounding speaker, plywood is the way to go. It has better sound, is more portable, and lasts longer. But if you are on a budget, then MDF is the best option.
That’s it for today!