Zebra zightings

Following my cast of cast-off speakers, today come the zebras in horizontal or vertical stripes. I'm on about speaker cabinets executed in solid wood or stacked ply. By laying up routed-out slices of usually Nordic Birch ply, we get horizontal stripes unless the finished carcass is veneered or lacquered. Examples of this type included the original Magico Mini and Vapor Sound, even a few earlier models by TAD.

Today we have Ilumnia from Belgium, the big sound|kaos sub from Switzerland, BonySound from Spain, Germany's Berlina range from Gauder with their trademark ribs and Mayfly from Canada whose skyline diffusor geometry breaks up internal reflections [right]. Vapor incorporated vertical hollows filled with sand for extra damping. Magico's Mini had X-shaped cross braces. None of the horizontally stacked constructions go full square because their assembly principle allows for more organic shapes in the first place.

Vertically striped because they turn stacked Ply 90° are Audel of Italy. Their cutaway at left shows the concept and design freedom to groove or otherwise texturize interior walls. Vertically striped only if their wood gain makes them so are Boenicke speakers from Switzerland. They route out complex internals from laminated solid-wood blocks which finally clam-shell two halves together. sound|kaos apply the same principle to their solid-wood Vox3 monitor.

Regardless of exactly how solid or laminated wood gets applied, speakers built in this fashion are more complex and laborious to make than regular MDF boxes. They also tend to shun filler or damper materials because their interior walls, lines or traps already work as diffusors.

If they use ports, they routinely become a structural part of the build to not rely on plastic or metal pipes. The Audel cutaway with its front-firing slot ports shows this, too. The white-gloved Gauder photo illustrates how their individual ribs line up with guide rods and include intermediary damping layers of a dissimilar material.

Achieving a smooth finish with no voids is tough with exposed ply edges. So is applying veneers or lacquers without eventual lines telegraphing. It's likely one reason why Magico transitioned to aluminium builds later carbon elements. TAD too moved away from stacked Ply. Vapor Sound under its original owner persisted for years but eventually closed its doors. But when the cast breed of speaker cabinets had its own short article, the solid stack of today's woodies which don't replace MDF panels with wood for standard box builds deserved its own. So here we are: stacked, ribbed and ripped.

As before, my few examples don't aim at completeness. They simply give you a place to start should you find such constructions interesting.

PS: If you know of more speakers that should be included on this page, please let me know.