Plywood 1930s till Now -- rethinking the love of Baltic Birch (vintage or new)

Plywood 1930s till Now -- rethinking the love of Baltic Birch (vintage or new)

I had to process-in an interesting 3pc set of late 1950s era DiY Tone/HiFi cabinets....It was actually really interesting and fairly beautifully done job – –(using some speakers I don't see too often; very old garish 50s hifi grade Utah 15 inch coaxial's – – these would be the predecessor to the much more common and dreadfully cloth-surround disguised ceramic magnet"Celesta" (also sold by R/S inhouse for a spell) will be selling these) a topic for another time))

– I'll be letting these go so if anybody's looking for a matched pair let me know! (I have 3 perhaps)

I was expecting simple boxes – but these are bass reflex and a nice implementation with side ports at that!

On top of that they're using the type of plywood I'm always recommending.... that is to those DIY'ers / audiophiles interested in Primo vintage sound.

My suggestions on cabinet construction materials are always met with a little bit of frustration – – "So where do I get that 1950s interior plywood?"

Well.... If you don't live in Ward Cleaver's, soon to be gentrified neighborhood (stripped kitchen cabinets, walls, floors of a 1950s Frank Llyod Wright house perhaps?), I suppose one source might be a pair of estate cabinets like these!

1950s's plywood no-good you say? That's certainly true in the eyes of most any cabinet maker... They'll laugh you away as you approach them with that old yellowed knot-filled stuff..too much work to make it look pretty. The exposed and very stylish look of Birch's perfect lams mean little veneer work.
Those who build with wood love Baltic Birch ply. What kind of woodworker wouldn't? It's smooth, void free, cuts so & beautifully and it's pretty cheap (or at least it used to be, err, thanks Putin!)

It seems to me, that this beautiful Baltic Birch plywood came very prevalent to the market, sometime in the late 1980s or 1990s. It soon became a fan-favorite and replaced MDF in speaker building in a lot of cases. My father and I really welcomed it too at first .... because we have been dealing with lifespan woes and ho-hum sound of particleboard. Electrovoice and JBL pioneered its use going all the way back to the 1950s. Before Birch from overseas, so called "Marine graded" ply cost a fortune.
Like MDF before it, Baltic Birch ply was spoken of as a miracle material. And at least in the case of beauty, durability and deadness it kinda is.

When it came to audio... we never thought birch ply the best sounding – – especially when put head to head with other, nastier looking domestic pine/spruce/fir type plys with lots of sap and knots. The reason we knew this was from experience. None of the manufacturers pre-1960s used high-quality plywood ...not really .. if it showed, they used veneer over it..... And If you look at the first use of plywood (plywood goes back to the 1890s, but it's early commercial uses AFIK are in these baffles) Cinema 1930s Western Electric and Lansing Sound Co (pre Altec) -- Through the late 1950s Altec VOC models ... As well as various other stuff along the way – – you'll note that it's primarily made out of interior grade 3/4" and above Douglas Fir type ply. This is not usually pretty stuff. There are definitely some hit or miss applications of what someone else mentioned on here – – "void free" (of course that might have just been luck of the draw).

Some of the very high-quality tone cabinet manufactures like Lyon and Healy .... Hammond, etc -- did do better...((As well as a Western Electric (early 50s 753, by mid 50s it was Weldwood or GP Douglas Fir)) it's earliest products – – Used a solid middle, with veneer top/bottom called Lumber-Core... Interestingly enough the very first generation of a AR1 and AR3 (only the super early ones) speakers also use lumber core probably for it's void free density and those guys were looking for the absolute straighest, best looking, rigid thing they could get, so that they could avoid hardwoods. The Lumber-Core very shortly moved to veneered ply and then to crappy MDF/Particle board by the 60s, for most mfr's....

The reason the Douglas Fir plywoods from the 1950s (and before) sound a bit better – – it's a hardness, and a trapped air thing. First off these are interior grade plywood's ... which mean they will quickly disintegrate if exposed moisture. 1950s in before, the most common chemistry was a hide type. Hide glues are still used by Luthiers... they are extremely hard, inflexible, and have a reputation for sound quality.

All very poor traits for building materials.

Since plywood products are very dependent on glue – – the type used is a big deal Along with the high gloss, sometimes a very hard and smelly product was used to be on the plywood – – heavily dependent on phenolic resin. You see this type of plywood in Altec Lansing stuff from the 1950s too. And it's also a very very hard and not very flexible. And example of this material would be seen in early utility cabinets like the rather famously good 618 Utility (8" for the 755 and 12" for the others)... and the 614 and 612 Utility cab's which are infamously implicated with good sound in the Lansing Iconic.

Altec was really never interested in cabinet design....They liked simple approaches that worked and got the job done. These cabinets one could call, just plain boxes – – and the reason they sounded good were oddly the materials used. You can knock up one of these out of birch ply, but the results won't quite be the same.

Typically cabinets made from Birch using these designs sound more mellow. Not bad performance .... but a little bit less crisp and exciting versus the hard-woody, inflexible originals. And when I mean in flexible, I definitely don't mean thick or with bracing. Altec didn't do much bracing, and the wood was thinner (mostly less than the often recommended 3/4") in their stuff either – – way too costly.

Modern builders do a much "better" job, rarely cheap-out.... Modern efforts always have lots more bracing making for a "rubbery" and very dead cabinet (cleaner-tougher materials nowadays). Mfr's assume this is a good thing, but often the results either add nothing or even dull the sound, adding the wrong type of coloration to the mix.

By most accounts, by the time Altec (Hollywood 1940s, Anaheim 50s-60s era) was done slamming together these cabs and spray painting them with that really hard hammertone paint (that had all kinds of lacquer and glass) ... It only added to the pleasant clean resonant tone.

Below photos of the cabinets I'm disassembling (cabinets which will yield the old pine ply; I will surely save it for open baffle projects and remanufactured accessories, for the American Instruments horns and other parts coming...)

I was inspired to throw up this post, as I don't often see the cool ink stamps on the edge of the plywood (Including the "interior" so that builders knew not to get it wet). In this case we are looking at a fairly plain product (made from old growth pine) that was offered probably at the hardware store or building supply circa 1950s. I love to find this stuff, and always save what I can. It delivers, Surprisingly accurate sound, not too dead not to resonant either... thanks to it's three-quarter inch thickness..., and you can see it's loaded with voids. It won't make pretty cuts and the surface ply veneer is just barely good enough to make it look pretty (if you are not a perfectionist).

The other photo is an example– this is a circa 1940 Lansing Sound (Jim Lansing, pre-Altec) mini Shearer horn/baffle – – also made out of the similar low grade Douglas Fir interior building stuff A little bit thicker perhaps, but you can see the voids in between the laminations and event a few knots.

In conclusion, density and quality of building material doesn't necessarily equate to the best sounding cabinet. Any number of audiophiles are lining up around the block to buy original model 618 or 614 utility cabinet which were by all accounts made with really crappy, 1950s "flooring" grade plywood, that was a bit too thin for a speaker designer's taste. Altec's cheapness and carelessness lead to sound quality in this case.... go figure.... these old, sought after models just happen to be very hard with a very correct sounding tone, tons of clarity and detail.

By the 1970s, glues were developed for plywood (very rapidly) to allow them to be nearly waterproof. This type of plywood (if it doesn't rot) will last forever in the sun and rain outdoors. The types of glue – were inherently softer/or at least more "plasticy" as well. This makes the plywood sound different when it's used on speaker cabinets. Chemicals vary...besides phenolic and urethanes – – they tend to use a lot of latex. Latex of course the soft binder which gives the plywood a slight rubbery feel when you pick into it on the edges or in the fill areas.... This type of pine flooring grade plywood that is made for outdoor use is still a choice you can go with – I even recommend this over the much prettier Baltic birch ply if you are after the Classic American sound.

When we were building our little American Instruments Isophon horn-projector back in the early 2000s – – we went with a Italian Poplar or Spruce .... very thin, and it was quite nice, and only about 1/16" thick.

This is not the end all of Birch. Don't chuck your nice project in the bonfire. But next 'round, use your judgment before choosing the pretty wood....Look at the cheap stuff at the store too, sometimes it's better to use. Wrap on it a couple times and judge of the tone ..... *before* you go with it. Avoid overly dead or soft materials.

And most of all, be green, be sensible, and be clever – – save the 1950s wood from that "yarder or dumpster" parked outside of the mid-century diggs under remodel....(kitchen cabinets make great OB's if they're wide enough)

Early @ HiFiTown 2022
 

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Great writeup @hifitown !

I always wondered if makers such as Altec/JBL/Klipsch/AR…factored in the cabinet resonance/coloration…into the overall sound if at all?

Having done stints in both custom cabinetry and remodels. I’ll say that the plywood used in those old 50’s/60’s cabinets was quite good (very, very strong). It was kind of sad to see them being replaced with new, yet inferior particle board cabinets. When building custom, the furniture grade plywood was definitely better than the old stuff (mainly in the outer smooth veneer of choice). Baltic birch was only used for cabinet drawers.
I use it as a compromise between plywood (voids) and MDF (dead/void-less). I have wondered what standard furniture ply might sound versus BB.

If I ever get enough freetime (when ai finish all my other audio & non audio projects), I’ll A/B an old versus new cab. Curious minds and all…
 
Great writeup @hifitown !

I always wondered if makers such as Altec/JBL/Klipsch/AR…factored in the cabinet resonance/coloration…into the overall sound if at all?

Having done stints in both custom cabinetry and remodels. I’ll say that the plywood used in those old 50’s/60’s cabinets was quite good (very, very strong). It was kind of sad to see them being replaced with new, yet inferior particle board cabinets. When building custom, the furniture grade plywood was definitely better than the old stuff (mainly in the outer smooth veneer of choice). Baltic birch was only used for cabinet drawers.
I use it as a compromise between plywood (voids) and MDF (dead/void-less). I have wondered what standard furniture ply might sound versus BB.

If I ever get enough freetime (when ai finish all my other audio & non audio projects), I’ll A/B an old versus new cab. Curious minds and all…
Thanks guys.. Yes .. so much more to learn on this. As to the care level of the various mfr's... I think this varied too. Now that you mention it, it's quite ironic really. Altec veered into using MDF in their commercial (avoid if possible the 1970s/80s MDF VOTT) products, but retained plywood for home jobs (like the Magnificent A7 adaption) often times well into the 1960s. JBL --
Walt always used to tell me – – and what experience has shown – – was probably the very first manufacturer to switch entirelly to particleboard (modern MDF is better) for all of their otherwise gorgeous home products (Met/Para gon, Minigon, and most of the L' stuff). The JBL commercial stuff, (which became very popular in the 1970s for sound reinforcement, due to Altec's flub) stayed very durable plywood. EV made a mix I believe.

AR, Advent and the other USA New England outfits wanted, dead, dead, dead. I think they espoused it in literature. Fair enough... they were after-all doing Acoustic Suspention stuff. They loved particle board for sure.... Whenever possible took the chainsaw to MDF cabinets and would save the lumber core and plywood versions. Besides being nicely made, these systems were often loaded with the giant alnico-laden parts... (I have a photo showing 1/2 dozen versions of the killer AR3 mid, for another post!)

If anyone might have known the virtues of plywood – – I'm betting on Paul Klipsch. No other manufacturers seemed to showcase their choice in materials so much as them for all of their classic products starting in the 1950s and running all the way through the 1990s.
I am somewhat curious as to what type of plywood the mid-fi centric Arkansas outfit used for most of their cabinets. It was neither a poor quality doug-fir, nor was it imported Birch... something else, perhaps you guys know.

I was saddened to see the current incarnation of the Heresy IV ... Not only abandoned Paul's design – – but also used a ported system. The 3,000USD set of those didn't sound bad but wasn't up to snuff compared to "loaded" 1950s EV Aristocrat, est cost 800-1000, much cheaper)
Don't forget the glue – – I know it's not as strong as modern PVA types – – but Franklin still sells pre-dissolved hide glue which is good – – and you can also if you are (patient) purchase the actual granules.
 
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Long ago I had a pair of ancient Klipsch model H speakers in the decorator finish. I researched these when I had them and I believe they were from 1958. Very early consecutive serials 348 and 349. I am not sure what plywood they were made of, but I will post some pictures to see if maybe it can help you figure it out.

001.JPG

011.JPG

006.JPG

HeresyOld2.JPG
 
Thanks guys.. Yes .. so much more to learn on this. As to the care level of the various mfr's... I think this varied too. Now that you mention it, it's quite ironic really. Altec veered into using MDF in their commercial (avoid if possible the 1970s/80s MDF VOTT) products, but retained plywood for home jobs (like the Magnificent A7 adaption) often times well into the 1960s. JBL --
Walt always used to tell me – – and what experience has shown – – was probably the very first manufacturer to switch entirelly to particleboard (modern MDF is better) for all of their otherwise gorgeous home products (Met/Para gon, Minigon, and most of the L' stuff). The JBL commercial stuff, (which became very popular in the 1970s for sound reinforcement, due to Altec's flub) stayed very durable plywood. EV made a mix I believe.

AR, Advent and the other USA New England outfits wanted, dead, dead, dead. I think they espoused it in literature. Fair enough... they were after-all doing Acoustic Suspention stuff. They loved particle board for sure.... Whenever possible took the chainsaw to MDF cabinets and would save the lumber core and plywood versions. Besides being nicely made, these systems were often loaded with the giant alnico-laden parts... (I have a photo showing 1/2 dozen versions of the killer AR3 mid, for another post!)

If anyone might have known the virtues of plywood – – I'm betting on Paul Klipsch. No other manufacturers seemed to showcase their choice in materials so much as them for all of their classic products starting in the 1950s and running all the way through the 1990s.
I am somewhat curious as to what type of plywood the mid-fi centric Arkansas outfit used for most of their cabinets. It was neither a poor quality doug-fir, nor was it imported Birch... something else, perhaps you guys know.

I was saddened to see the current incarnation of the Heresy IV ... Not only abandoned Paul's design – – but also used a ported system. The 3,000USD set of those didn't sound bad but wasn't up to snuff compared to "loaded" 1950s EV Aristocrat, est cost 800-1000, much cheaper)
Don't forget the glue – – I know it's not as strong as modern PVA types – – but Franklin still sells pre-dissolved hide glue which is good – – and you can also if you are (patient) purchase the actual granules.
The Heresy II was built using particle board, unlike the earlier Heresy I. When I built my Heresy III clones, I started with a Heresy I plywood cabinet and assembled around it. All things being equal, I think that (and the Al Klappenberg crossover) made it an improvement over the stock Heresy III.
 
From someone that worked at Klipsch during the '70s:

"The Birch-cabinet-grade 3/4" plywood used was a custom lay from Georgia Pacific..."void-free"..."

"For the fine-wood-veered panels such as black walnut and all the rest of the finely veneered panels...what was used was Georgia-Pacific (generally!) custom lay of "void-free" Poplar lumber-core plywood. This consisted of edge-glued poplar lumber boards which seldom were more than 1.5 inches wide. On the inside "side" of the lumber-core, were TWO veneer plys of top grade birch! On the outside "side were two more veneers, one of birch adjacent to the poplar lumber core, and one of whatever the fine veneer was....oak, walnut, rosewood, ebony...whatever! The same rules for outer veneer thickness and total panel thickness applied! These panels were custom veneered by GP...in panels that were specifically sized for particular speaker designs."
 
If I ever get enough freetime (when ai finish all my other audio & non audio projects), I’ll A/B an old versus new cab. Curious minds and all…
Member Tleung and I did a similar comparison years ago in his system - spent a bunch of time listening to his 604E/Mastering labs Altecs on a 300b amp in 2 takes on the old Altec 620a cabinet.

Both boxes where very nicely built copies of the 620a so all the good stuff for these drivers; 9cuft, 40Hz vent tuning, wide baffle, even used risers to get the driver centers up to ear height. The big difference; one was made of 1-1/2 thick super dense and heavy HDF, the other, well braced 3/4 thick Baltic with tight dadoed corners and such.

The HDF box was kind of 'hifi' impressive if you know what I mean; big, thick bass and a kind of dark background, but dark was the thing - they where kind of dead sounding, a little 'slow' and un-enaging. We kind of flipped songs a lot, looking for wow factor, not really listening to the music.

The BB boxes where a whole different take though; a little less bass but what was there sounded better, more snap, more punch in the chest immediacy. The music had more midrange energy, more presence, they were just more musical and engaging. With these speakers we forgot about anal-lizing, we just poured through Tony's music collection and turned to what he was up too with that 300b amp - the best one I've heard to date.

I don't know but it seemed a slam-dunk to me, the heavy HDF was good hifi, the BB was music. and I think Tony still uses those exact same BB speakers.
 
Gotta love those... really
Long ago I had a pair of ancient Klipsch model H speakers in the decorator finish. I researched these when I had them and I believe they were from 1958. Very early consecutive serials 348 and 349. I am not sure what plywood they were made of, but I will post some pictures to see if maybe it can help you figure it out.

View attachment 48648

View attachment 48649

View attachment 48650
Member Tleung and I did a similar comparison years ago in his system - spent a bunch of time listening to his 604E/Mastering labs Altecs on a 300b amp in 2 takes on the old Altec 620a cabinet.

Both boxes where very nicely built copies of the 620a so all the good stuff for these drivers; 9cuft, 40Hz vent tuning, wide baffle, even used risers to get the driver centers up to ear height. The big difference; one was made of 1-1/2 thick super dense and heavy HDF, the other, well braced 3/4 thick Baltic with tight dadoed corners and such.

The HDF box was kind of 'hifi' impressive if you know what I mean; big, thick bass and a kind of dark background, but dark was the thing - they where kind of dead sounding, a little 'slow' and un-enaging. We kind of flipped songs a lot, looking for wow factor, not really listening to the music.

The BB boxes where a whole different take though; a little less bass but what was there sounded better, more snap, more punch in the chest immediacy. The music had more midrange energy, more presence, they were just more musical and engaging. With these speakers we forgot about anal-lizing, we just poured through Tony's music collection and turned to what he was up too with that 300b amp - the best one I've heard to date.

I don't know but it seemed a slam-dunk to me, the heavy HDF was good hifi, the BB was music. and I think Tony still uses those exact same BB speakers.
I think this is a great assessment and really agree with what you wrote....this is what I have typically encountered. The old pine plywood, all things-being-equal ... is to the BB, what the BB was to the dead HDF/MDF/Particle board/etc. This varies in degrees...and maybe it's not everyone's cup of tea. BB... It's not like a total deal killer – – it's just that if you are building, and you can source and employ the pine plywood (even the low end flooring stuff.... the older, the better) go for it. When I compare the two... mmmm the void-free stuff just leaves a little bit "wanting"....
 
Long ago I had a pair of ancient Klipsch model H speakers in the decorator finish. I researched these when I had them and I believe they were from 1958. Very early consecutive serials 348 and 349. I am not sure what plywood they were made of, but I will post some pictures to see if maybe it can help you figure it out.

View attachment 48648

View attachment 48649

View attachment 48650

View attachment 48652
That not the later Klipsch Birch/Poplar as described below... no this is the early stuff. Pine. A slightly nicer A/b graded so no knots on outside. These are very early. I think your woofers were changed ... those are 1960s/early 70s EV's. .. hard to say .. there is a clash in timeframe on the components... .. but your hardware has "metal mold" so it's been on there a while. Cool speakers! That K1000 horn is pretty uncommon I think?
 
From someone that worked at Klipsch during the '70s:

"The Birch-cabinet-grade 3/4" plywood used was a custom lay from Georgia Pacific..."void-free"..."

"For the fine-wood-veered panels such as black walnut and all the rest of the finely veneered panels...what was used was Georgia-Pacific (generally!) custom lay of "void-free" Poplar lumber-core plywood. This consisted of edge-glued poplar lumber boards which seldom were more than 1.5 inches wide. On the inside "side" of the lumber-core, were TWO veneer plys of top grade birch! On the outside "side were two more veneers, one of birch adjacent to the poplar lumber core, and one of whatever the fine veneer was....oak, walnut, rosewood, ebony...whatever! The same rules for outer veneer thickness and total panel thickness applied! These panels were custom veneered by GP...in panels that were specifically sized for particular speaker designs."

The 70's Heresy 1s and LaScalas I bought new were HBR, unfinished Birch plywood
 
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After looking at a lot of speakers from the 50s and 60s I have been thinking that the pine or fur ply is something I want to try in my next build with vintage drivers.
I think there is some synergy there for tone and liveliness.
Also while building my WE TA 7331's I have been working with pine BC decking plywood. @hifitown and I had some discussion on that thread that reinforces my thoughts.
 
After looking at a lot of speakers from the 50s and 60s I have been thinking that the pine or fur ply is something I want to try in my next build with vintage drivers.
I think there is some synergy there for tone and liveliness.
Also while building my WE TA 7331's I have been working with pine BC decking plywood. @hifitown and I had some discussion on that thread that reinforces my thoughts.

I have a pair of Goodmans Twin Axiom 10s and am considering using pine or Douglas Fir for the enclosures.

20+ years ago I was researching enclosures and found quite a few designs from the 1930's that sure appeared to be resonant. So does the Telefunken OB enclosure. I did not save them and now they don't come up in a search. I had a pair of Auris speakers from Hans Kortenbach, RIP, that were resonant. The front baffle was Sitka Spruce. The cabinet shape was named Rondo came up when I searched back then. Havenite efud made a pair with Betsy drivers.



A cabinet patent from 1954 mentions resonance.
 

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This is a great thread! Many thanks to @hifitown for starting it and sharing his experience. I don’t have any experience with cabinets from the 1950s but Early’s comments about the sonic benefits of older plywood are in line with what I have long suspected.

My cabinet builds have all used modern materials but I do have some data points to add to what has already been stated. First, the different thicknesses of Baltic Birch sound quite different. The 1” sounds dead and heavy; the thinner BB (metric equivalent to slightly less than 3/4”) sounds more lively but is also a bit thin in the bass. To my ears the 1” is totally unacceptable; the colorations of the 3/4” are easier to overlook.

Second, I recently made some new open-back cabinets using El Cheapo plywood from Home Depot. To my surprise I think they sound better than my BB cabinets—more dynamic with a warmer, looser low end. The builder-grade plywood may be a bit less detailed but if so it is a worthwhile trade-off.
 
This is a great thread! Many thanks to @hifitown for starting it and sharing his experience. I don’t have any experience with cabinets from the 1950s but Early’s comments about the sonic benefits of older plywood are in line with what I have long suspected.

My cabinet builds have all used modern materials but I do have some data points to add to what has already been stated. First, the different thicknesses of Baltic Birch sound quite different. The 1” sounds dead and heavy; the thinner BB (metric equivalent to slightly less than 3/4”) sounds more lively but is also a bit thin in the bass. To my ears the 1” is totally unacceptable; the colorations of the 3/4” are easier to overlook.

Second, I recently made some new open-back cabinets using El Cheapo plywood from Home Depot. To my surprise I think they sound better than my BB cabinets—more dynamic with a warmer, looser low end. The builder-grade plywood may be a bit less detailed but if so it is a worthwhile trade-off.
What drivers were you using?
 
You don't have to tell me - Audio Note Es have been my favourite (normal-sized room) speakers for the past 20 years. Full 15 ply Russian Birch all the way around.

1830106-audio-note-anespe-he-and-an-stands.jpg


Hand-made in a trout stream-powered plant in Austria.

Speaker factory tour halfway down the page Audio Note UK factory tours and Life in the fast lane with Peter Qvortrup

There is a sort of pride of ownership in having speakers made in a green factory using real wood paying people real wages over buying speakers made from plastic moulds from China.
 
You don't have to tell me - Audio Note Es have been my favourite (normal-sized room) speakers for the past 20 years. Full 15 ply Russian Birch all the way around.

1830106-audio-note-anespe-he-and-an-stands.jpg


Hand-made in a trout stream-powered plant in Austria.

Speaker factory tour halfway down the page Audio Note UK factory tours and Life in the fast lane with Peter Qvortrup

There is a sort of pride of ownership in having speakers made in a green factory using real wood paying people real wages over buying speakers made from plastic moulds from China.
That’s a true near-field setup.
 
I have a pair of Goodmans Twin Axiom 10s and am considering using pine or Douglas Fir for the enclosures.

20+ years ago I was researching enclosures and found quite a few designs from the 1930's that sure appeared to be resonant. So does the Telefunken OB enclosure. I did not save them and now they don't come up in a search. I had a pair of Auris speakers from Hans Kortenbach, RIP, that were resonant. The front baffle was Sitka Spruce. The cabinet shape was named Rondo came up when I searched back then. Havenite efud made a pair with Betsy drivers.



A cabinet patent from 1954 mentions resonance.
Outstanding info and link! I have seen cabinets like this. And I think we had some of those Tele OB cabs in our heydey of that in the 90s..I wouldn't agree – – the Germans were thinking of res on the thin plywood there a little bit. Interestingly enough, Auditorium23 must've picked up the name from the Hammond Solovox cabinet of the (early 50s?) ... it was a potentially resonate on purpose very simple open baffle "Tone" cabinet. Very pretty to look at 8 or 10" as I recall. Our exporter used to have a bit of luck with those in Japan. I am not sure if they were ever practically used.

We decided to go with a device to resonate multi-octave low frequencies – – since our small Panatrope horns could not go low enough with such a small full range Isophon driver (the best we could source from the Telefunken 085 Studio system). We were having great luck with it – – but terminated the LF project because it was very difficult build--- might revisit this some day....
Yes, thanks. I'll use something other than Birch for the Goodmans.
Yes, I would...but that's just always been our advice... This all makes sense, since most cabinets are, for better (and often "for worse", sorry Klipsch) some form of resonant method to accentuate low end. How the colorations turn out and what the tonality of your cabinet ends up being is very much (surprisingly) dependent upon the material used to construct it.
This is certainly a gross simplification – – but it bears to reason that you would want to use a nice sounding wood even if liveliness or resonance is not your ultimate goal.... Other designs, that are not ported, base reflex, or open baffle etc. – – i.e. "just plain old sealed boxes"; yes, here is probably an argument well worth considering.... that you *should* use something very dead.
So those who so have monitors, built with enjoys 15 ply Birch ... cool! So glad, because particleboard is terrible.
I'm going to ask Selectric above, what his favorite Home Depot material is right now. There is actually the possibility to get really decent plywood there. Northerners and midwesterners would probably have much better luck at the large store chain called Menards (sp?) -- I am a hopeless Southerner, however it has been displayed (and implied by relatives) at that store has a superior lumber selection to the other big boxers…
Don't forget to scour the dumpsters for construction material I know that is going to not be appealing for some – – but you could easily score enough material to build all sorts of speaker cabinets at a home remodel. By the time you finish gluing and/or veneering or refinishing – – you'll hardly notice the errant screw or nail hole. I think a lot of people go with the beautiful birch plywood, for that very reason – – to avoid veneering. However if you were building a couple of cabinets look beautiful in the home – – I would say that as far as cabinet building goes – – veneering is one of the most satisfying and funnest parts of the job. Maybe others could chime in here – – but that way you can use whatever material you wish. No matter how scarred or ugly. For the set who enjoys the industrial look of the 1950s Altec utility cabinets – – what we used to do – – stripped down all the paint you can until you get a mixture of paint and woodgrain – – then go over it with a high-quality wood wax. Ends up looking very cool!
Hard pine is still used for construction grade materials. And since the glues are very much loaded with hard compounds – – that type of wood is not bad sounding so Long as it is not too fancy.
 
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