Birch or ply wood for live sound?
Sir Chris
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#1
27th December 2012
Old 27th December 2012
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Birch or ply wood for live sound?

Did extensive search on GS and google. Couldn't find anything so I'll keep it short and simple.

I'm about to pull the trigger on an empty warehouse. Rectangle shape, 2,000 sqr ft. 20ft ceiling. Floor, walls, and ceiling is all bare concrete.

Want to use the space for live sound. I want to cover every square inch of the warehouse in wood. Wood floor, walls, and ceiling.

I was thinking of using birch wood but the panels are twice as expensive as ply wood. Ply wood tends to be made out of birch wood though. So was wondering if anyone can drop some insight on which path to take. Last thing I want is to invest it all in ply wood only to regret it later and wishing I had gone with birch. Or vice versa, regretting I spent twice the $$ on birch when ply would have given me just as good of a room sound.

I really appreciate any responses as this project will likely tie up my time and $ all of next year. Cheers

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27th December 2012
Old 27th December 2012
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All other things being equal, both may perform in a very similar fashion.
#3
28th December 2012
Old 28th December 2012
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The sound will be very dependent on design and construction, so you could get good results with either. I'd recommend on having some cloth showing too. Having more than one wood and/or stain can make for a good look to establish visual lines.

Take a look at the threads here and elsewhere on polycylindrical diffusers, panel absorbers and porous panels. Lots of great options.

BTW, normal plywood is made from SPF (spruce, pine and fir) most often. One nice thing about birch plywood is the finish. To get good SPF plywood in terms of finish, the price goes way up. Do all of your math and see how many pallets you need, then shop around.
Sir Chris
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28th December 2012
Old 28th December 2012
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The finish is actually secondary in my book. If it looks ugly but makes up for it in sound, that's where I want to go. I feel people could be more forgiving if that's the case. I'm not too worried about absorbers or diffusers for the time being. I'd like to first focus on the wood. Once its all in place and a few of us can go in and hear it in action, we can determine how much (if any) sound treatment is needed. Thanks for the replies gentlemen.

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#5
28th December 2012
Old 28th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Chris View Post
The finish is actually secondary in my book. If it looks ugly but makes up for it in sound, that's where I want to go. I feel people could be more forgiving if that's the case. I'm not too worried about absorbers or diffusers for the time being. I'd like to first focus on the wood. Once its all in place and a few of us can go in and hear it in action, we can determine how much (if any) sound treatment is needed. Thanks for the replies gentlemen.
If you are concerned about sound more than visuals, then look back to how I started my earlier post:

"The sound will be very dependent on design and construction, so you could get good results with either."

By that, I mean that the design (shape, openings to absorption behind the wood, diffusive elements) are far more important to the sonics than the difference between SPF and birch. So I wouldn't just substitute plywood for a drywall-style cladding (or hang it over drywall) in a shoe-box shape and expect it to have awesome acoustics. Since you said it was a concrete room, the acoustics of the concrete room will dominate unless you tackle it as a live-venue or studio designer would.
Sir Chris
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#6
28th December 2012
Old 28th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Syncamorea View Post
If you are concerned about sound more than visuals, then look back to how I started my earlier post:

"The sound will be very dependent on design and construction, so you could get good results with either."

By that, I mean that the design (shape, openings to absorption behind the wood, diffusive elements) are far more important to the sonics than the difference between SPF and birch. So I wouldn't just substitute plywood for a drywall-style cladding (or hang it over drywall) in a shoe-box shape and expect it to have awesome acoustics. Since you said it was a concrete room, the acoustics of the concrete room will dominate unless you tackle it as a live-venue or studio designer would.
Thanks for the clarification. That makes more sense.

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