Come to think of it, choosing the perfect material for your subwoofer box is not so easy after all. If you’re thinking about buying a subwoofer box or building one yourself, you’re probably stuck between an MDF and plywood board.
Plywood is a thick, flat, wooden sheet. A plywood subwoofer box is made of several layers of wooden sheets glued together. On the other hand, MDF is an engineered wood product made of wood residuals that have been pressed into a sheet. There are several types of plywood, varying by size and quality.
In this article, we compare plywood and MDF subwoofer boxes, their advantages, and disadvantages. What makes plywood subwoofer boxes better than MDF or the other way around? Let’s find out!
Also read: Can You Use a Subwoofer Without a Box?
Both plywood and MDF are wooden-based subwoofer box materials. They are strong, lightweight, and, best of all, pocket-friendly. Now, that brings us to the big question – plywood or MDF?
Plywood is better than MDF for a subwoofer box. Plywood is lighter and stronger, making it more readily portable and durable than its denser rival, MDF. You can easily work on plywood without degrading its structural integrity. However, quality plywood boards don’t come cheap.
That’s not all. If you were to work on a plywood board, you’d have a smooth experience using all the cutting, drilling, drawing, and boring tools. MDF doesn’t do that.
Instead, its fragile structure gives in to the weight of the manual tools. Any cutting or drilling is met with some resistance, and you must move slowly to prevent unnecessary waste.
We can give several reasons why plywood is better than MDF for subwoofer boxes. Here are a few to start with:
Soaks up water slowly
Soaks up water fast
Denser than plywood
As you can see from the brief table above, plywood is the obvious winner on a wide account of practical applications in audio. Its strength-to-weight ratio makes it resistant to bending.
A typical subwoofer box features a wooden material, usually manufactured from recycled wood waste.
You can use plywood for a subwoofer box. Its acoustic properties include sound insulation and elimination of vibration. In addition, stiffness, strength, and rigidity also help to improve the sound clarity and tone, while keeping distortion at a minimum.
Remember, not just any plywood can make a good box. Your chosen plywood has to be 3/4 “ (1.905 cm) thick at the very least. If you can’t find any plywood, we recommend a non-porous, heavy, 3/4“ (1.905 cm) MDF board.
An MDF board is denser, but the resulting weight of the box is nothing to be concerned about (assuming that you’ll be moving your subwoofer cabinet every now and then).
Plywood can either be voided, meaning it has holes, or voidless, meaning it has no holes within its structure.
For speaker building, always go for voidless plywood, such as the baltic birch. Voidless plywood is often a good quality material you can use to build excellent quality speaker boxes. Also, the more layers your plywood has, the better!
Plywood is a multipurpose engineered wood. It comes in grades A, B, C, and D. Grade A plywood is the highest quality (and most expensive), while D has a lower quality.
Manufacturers have a knack for going for cheaper materials. If you’re building a cabinet yourself, check what plywood grade you’re working with. Go for the higher quality plywood.
MDF (medium-density fibreboard) is like natural wood, except that it has a uniform density from one end to the other.
If you’re looking for something much cheaper and easy to work with, an MDF board would be better. It’s easy to cut by hand, paint, and add personal touches to the finishing.
Wood is arguably the best material for subwoofer boxes. Put it up against plastic, metal, and concrete boxes, and the differences will be easy to spot a mile away.
There are various types of woods used to make subwoofer boxes, the most common being the baltic birch plywood. Others include; marine-grade plywood, soft pine, and oak.
MDF is the best wood to use for a subwoofer box. Although it won’t match up to a high-quality plywood board, MDF is thicker, denser, and cheaper. Baltic birch plywood is the next best option after MDF. It’s stronger and more durable, but at the same time, more expensive.
Throughout this article, we’ve pointed out that plywood is better than MDF in almost every aspect. However, the cost of a good plywood board can hurt your wallet if you’re on a budget.
A common reason why most people choose MDF for a subwoofer cabinet is because it’s significantly cheaper and produces a decent quality of sound.
MDF density absorbs vibrations and minimizes unwanted noise in the output. With an MDF board, you can build a solid subwoofer box with a beautiful, personal touch. All this comes at a low cost. You may spend anywhere between $50-$100 or more, depending on the size of the box.
Building a sub-box from the wrong material can be a waste of time and money, not to mention the poor sound quality that comes later into the mix. Wood is perfect, but not all woods share the same acoustic properties.
We recommend both Plywood and MDF boards for your next DIY subwoofer cabinet. Should you face any difficulty building one, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help.
In general, plywood is better for speaker boxes because it’s way harder, creating stronger and lighter boxes, though it’s also more expensive. MDF makes for a great budget-friendly option while still providing good-quality sound.
- Greenply Plywood: 8 Interesting Facts on Plywood.
- The Basic Woodworking: Best Wood for a Speaker Box: It’s All About Sound Quality
- Flaunce: MDF Wood Speaker Cabinets
- CT Sounds: What type of material is best to use to build a Subwoofer Box?
- Sawinery: What Is The Best Wood For Speaker Box? — Awesome DIY Build For Better Sound (2021)
- Orbit Sounds: Advantages of using wood in speakers
- Less Known Facts: 10 Facts about MDF
- Audio Mention: Best Wood for Speaker Box- Top 5 Reviews and Buying Guide
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.