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As we learned in audio concepts, the speaker box is one of the three most important parts of building a good speaker system. On the next page I will describe several styles of speaker boxes, but first an understanding of what goes into making a well made speaker box or cabinet must be made.
We learned about standing waves in the previous section, and you probably visualized them as waves interfering with each other in the air between you and your speaker system, but standing waves are all over the place. Not only are standing waves present in the air inside a speaker cabinet, but the material the cabinet is made of as well. If you've ever rung a bell or heard a metal pipe or rod ringing when struck you've experienced standing waves from a solid material. A more pleasant example of standing waves is the string of a violin. As the bow of the violin is drawn across a string, a wave is sent through the string that resonates back and forth from each end of the string and interferes with itself to produce standing waves in the string, these standing waves are controlled by how long the string is (where the musicians fingers are holding the string) and are responsible for the note that the instrument produces. In a musical instrument, having controlled standing waves can be a good thing, but in a speaker where the goal is to produce as accurate a representation as possible standing waves can interfere with the sound the speaker is attempting to reproduce.
The cabinet itself can be made of many kinds of materials, the majority of cabs are made from either plywood or mdf, though you can find them in everything from styrofoam to cardboard to carved granite. Overall, the best speaker cabinet material would have high stiffness, to avoid flexing under the pressure and movement from the driver, and high damping characteristics, to remove what movement and waves are created in the cabinet. Baltic birch plywood and mdf are both considered quite capable at a reasonable price for these characteristics.
Another important aspect of speaker cabinet design is acoustical treatments. This could include anything from acoustic stuffing, to lining the walls of the cabinet with materials that affect the sonic characteristics in a beneficial way.