Speaker Box Construction

Speaker boxes can be made of anything rigid enough to not vibrate and cause losses or distortion; the most common materials are Plywood, Particleboard, and MDF. Plywood is more impervious to water and probably the strongest and lightest, but Particle board and MDF being much denser have (possibly) better sonic properties, and MDF makes the nicest looking boxes and is easy to work with… The box material should be considered for the application by the system designer and chosen for the individual application.

Many folks seem to think MDF is the best and anything else will blow apart when you fire up your sound system, totally incorrect. All of these woods have places of honor in the car audio field.

When the woofer moves in and out while in the speaker box a fair amount of internal air pressure is present when the speaker moves in and a negative air pressure occurs in the box when the speaker moves out, plus a whole lot of vibrations occur from the speaker moving and these pressure changes The wood that the box is made out of can vibrate also, using a thicker wood or denser wood will minimize these vibrations..If the box panels are large (or thin), they can resonate enough to cause hearable distortions. Bracing the box can help minimize these distortions. In a box with two woofers a center divider can also act as a brace… Making internal bracing (or external) is pretty easy and makes the box a lot more sturdy. One trick I seldom see anymore is using the circle you cut out from the woofer hole as a brace elsewhere in the box, it can be cut in quarters and used as brace material or used to thicken the center of your largest panels which could vibrate.

Some folks seem to think the box should be absolutely airtight! Some folks go so far as to seal the inside of the woofer box with fiberglass to ensure an absolute airtight seal! Some folks seem to be worried about the way some wood allows air to seep through it!I got news for those guys, most woofers are much more porous to air pressure than any wood we will be using! Well, it wont hurt anything to be airtight, but I get the impression from a lot of folks that they put way too much effort into trying to achieve air tightness To be honest though, the main problem with air leaks is high frequency sounds caused by air rushing though any small holes.. The air pressure changes inside the box can force air in and out of any small leaks and cause whistling sounds! DISTORTION! The distortion is what were trying to avoid… Generally, a few small air leaks wont change the performance of the woofer like folks seem to think, in fact an air leak would have to be huge to greatly affect (a) and (b) aboveThe main thing we want to do is avoid air leaks because of whistles!

There seems to be some confusion about using a divider in a woofer box with two woofers… Many installers seem to be telling their customers that by having no divider the box will make more bass! I think those installers either don’t know anything about speaker boxes or are making excuses because they are too lazy to build the box correctly If both woofers are exactly the same, the box will sound the same with and without a divider! There is no increase at all by not using a divider

But there are some good reasons for having the divider!It braces the box! And most importantly (to me anyway) it prevents the speakers from interacting inside the box…Let me explain, we know that if the woofers are putting out the EXACT same sound and level then having no divider wont matter, but what happens if one speaker is playing LESS than the other speaker???Lets say one speaker is working fine and the other speaker is not playing at all, the working speaker will push the non working speaker (through the box) allowing out of phase air pressure to come out of the box through the non working speaker, causing the good speaker to sound really bad! It there was a divider, this wouldn’t happen, if there was a divider the good speaker would still be pumping nice clean sound to your ears, while the non working speaker just sits there… Even if the speakers are both playing but one is playing less loud, the sound from the loud speaker averages DOWN with no divider, but having a divider will leave the loudest speaker still playing loud, and even the less loud speaker will reinforce it somewhat making it even loader. One such situation is when one of your speakers "blows". The one speaker will be damaged because of the loss of interaction of the other speaker on which it depended. With a divider, if one speaker blows, the remaining speaker can merrily play along. So basically, with no divider even a small problem with one speaker will make the whole box sound bad, but with a divider it is common for one speaker to completely go silent and the working one still sounds great! In conclusion, my advice is to use a divider!

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by: Eddie Runner