What type of material is best to use to build a Subwoofer Box?
April 7, 2019 by Coleman Thedinger
You can build a subwoofer box out of just about anything, but different materials have their own pros and cons. Let’s look at some of the most popular materials for building custom enclosures and their benefits, so that you can choose the one that suits your car audio build the best.
Your subwoofer is going to be doing a lot of heavy lifting on the low end and moving around a lot of air. The material of the box is going to have an influence on the sound and choosing the wrong material can be devastating. Having said that, there’s one material that’s the most popular and most highly recommended, but there are also some alternatives that are worth discussing.
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
MDF is the most popular, and the best overall material for subwoofers for many reasons. This manufactured wood is very durable. It’s dense and thick, which helps bring out the best sound quality from your subwoofer, rather than a thinner board that would allow the sound to resonate and distort. Despite being so hefty, medium density fiberboard is relatively inexpensive and very accessible.
With other types of wood, you’ll need to be concerned with changes to the weather, especially if you live somewhere with hot summers and cold winters, because bigger shifts in temperature make the enclosure more prone to warping. The same is true of humid climates. MDF isn’t nearly as prone to warping, which is another reason that it’s the go-to for when you’re building subwoofer enclosures and speaker boxes in general.
The one downside is that it’s awfully heavy, so if you plan on moving your subwoofer around at all, you may want to consider something lighter, but chances are it’ll just be sitting in your trunk, so you don’t really have to worry about this.
No other enclosure materials check off all the same boxes, with such limited downside.
If you want something that’s going to look a bit nicer (and you don’t plan on covering it with carpet), then pine board makes a good alternative to MDF. You’ll want to find a good piece without knots and other imperfections that can impact the sound and cause it to warp more than it’s already prone to do. Warping is the major issue with using different types of woods instead of MDF. You can build a beautiful, natural wood enclosure and stain it and it’ll look incredible.
Plywood is another option, it’s a better choice than pine, which you should only really go with if aesthetics is a big priority and you want to stain it and have it look fantastic.
Fiberglass is a good option in certain circumstances, it’s typically used in highly-customized and high-end installations. Fiberglass is light, strong, and you can shape it into just about anything. Some of the challenges are that you can’t have very large single panels with it, but that’s generally not what you’re going for when you’d use fiberglass, anyways. There’s more potential for error when you’re building fiberglass subwoofer boxes, but the result can be stunning.
To sum it up, MDF is the most popular and generally best material to use to build a subwoofer box. In some niche cases, you may want to use another wood or fiberglass, or some thing else altogether, but if you’re looking for the gold standard then medium density fiberboard is what you need.
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