Is wood against the grain of 21st century hi-fi & AV ?

chebby

Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
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What is it about wood? Almost every UK specialist loudspeaker company still makes wood veneered (or wood look-alike veneered) loudspeakers in a range of finishes.

Roberts, Pure and Vita all offer premium portable and tabletop radios/stereos either built of wood, wood wrapped, or with wooden ends. (In the case of the wooden cabinet Roberts Revival range, it's still their soaraway best seller and was the company's 'saviour' product when resurrected as the R250 in the 1990s.)

Even Yamaha re-introduced the (very 1970s) flourish of wooden end 'cheeks' on their A-S1000/S2000 and CD-S1000/S2000 products.

Monitor Audio and Quad specialise in gorgeous mirror/piano gloss wood veneers and another IAG company (Castle) are doing well with a huge range of specialist veneer finished speakers.

With almost every TV (except my Pansonic it seems) finished in the ubiquitous gloss black plastic - and so many other home entertainment products finished in gloss black - it seems suprising to me that wood is still hanging on at all, let alone being quite so popular still, as a desired finish when gloss-black lacquered speakers mimic black plastic so well.

I don't think it's a generational thing. I know many people a lot younger than I am, who are fed up with plastic and metal and see a real wood finish as a desirable attribute.

I have noticed that more and more hifi racks and AV stands have wooden (or part wooden) construction compared to - say - 20 or 25 years ago when black powder coated steel and glass hifi/av furniture reigned supreme.

Any thoughts on my (very) non-rigorous/non-market researched observations? Are you a fan of wood on/in/around/under your hi-fi or radio or supporting your AV gear? Do you hate the stuff and prefer everything in black gloss or metal or plastic or glass? Are those wood trimmed or wood veneered products a vestigal reminder or 'throwback' to those 'radiogram days' that only middle-aged and elderly folk appreciate and refuse to let go of?

Would you like more wood trim offered by more manufacturers (like on those Yamahas I mentioned) on your amps and CDs? (Or at least have the option.)

Is it something deeper and beyond our understanding? A need maybe? We live in a world where wood can be easily banished from every single aspect of our lives and yet... that little bit of burr walnut on the dashboard, or the little bits of wood on your DAB radio, or the hankering for the Welsh dresser (despite a hose-down stainless steel and granite kitchen being more practical).

Anyway, let's talk about wood. Love it or hate it. What place should it have in 21st century AV technology?
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
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wood maximises perceived quality; the look and feel of wood makes a hi-fi product feel 'nice'. It's like driving a Ford Focus or an Alfa... any modern vehicle that has a hybrid plastic interior. Then sit in a Jag or Triumph that has real wood dash and cappings and it feels and smells different. Whether the cars mentioned trash or not is irrelevent. Wood (sorry for the pun) is engrained within our psyche...
 

AL13N

New member
Nov 29, 2009
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chebby said:
Anyway, let's talk about wood. Love it or hate it.
Love it.

chebby said:
What place should it have in 21st century AV technology?
Pride of place. The fact that most AV products use gloss black make it even more desirable as it helps to soften the look of interior décor.
 

Helmut80

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Jan 8, 2011
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I love wood. there is a lot more variety. always hated gloss black. specifially shopped around for a matte black tv a couple of years back. gloss black is impossible to keep clean, and scratch free. and don't even get me started on gloss white. I mean, oak and pine for the bores, ash black for those stuck in the 90s, and then there is rosewood, mahogany, walnot. I love the 'warm' colours, they can give a room so much.
 

scene

Moderator
Sep 25, 2008
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Wood, love it! See the link on my sig to see just how much wood my av cabinet and speakers contain. Apart from the aesthetic value of wood - it's hard to beat the look and feel of a well polished piece of wood - when properly constructed, by using cross-grained ply, or even mdf/hdf and not forgetting properly seasoned hard woods, the structural properties are marvellous. It's rigid, yet easy to work with and still flexible enough not to splinter or break. Enclosures can be formed accurately with glue, with the guarantee that they will retain their shapes as made. As musical instrument makers have known for centuries, wood adds a timbre and quality to sound that other materials struggle to match.

Yes, to much wood can be a bad thing, just ask the person with the minimalist apartment, with wooden floors just how sound echoes! But it is a well known material that can be easily worked, with fantastic price performance. Long live wooden hifi racks and AV cabinets, wood and veneered speakers in all their guises!
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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I choose wood whenever possible...and like what it does to the sound on stands/racks/platforms etc......he says, as they lace up the straight jacket, and open the door of the padded cell!
 

Craig M.

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Mar 20, 2008
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chebby said:
I don't think it's a generational thing. I know many people a lot younger than I am, who are fed up with plastic and metal and see a real wood finish as a desirable attribute.
i think you've hit the nail on the head. when it's done well, wood has a real air of quality.
 

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