Tonewoods 101

As TV's Todd Hoffman from the show Gold Rush would say, "Yeah, I know what wood is, but what the frick is a tonewood?" We've been asked that more than a few times now, so we figured it was time to clue all of you in as to what the frick a tonewood is and why it's important to what we do. Well, sit back and strap in, we're about to drop some knowledge on you.

The Audio Industry's Dirty Secret

Lesson one: First things first. We're all in agreement that speakers should sound good, right? Right. Well, the materials most commonly used in speaker manufacturing these days (i.e. plastic, MDF, metal, etc.) actually prevent your music from sounding as good as possible. So why do other companies make speakers using these materials? It's cheap and easy. Throw together a plastic box in some factory overseas, stuff it with sub par electronics, mark it up several hundred percent, then sell it as a high quality speaker. Oh look, we just described Beats by Dre's business plan.

Enter Tonewoods

Since the goal of both an instrument and a speaker is to produce the best, richest sound possible, it only makes sense to design a speaker using the same materials that are used to design the instruments that created the original sound. That main material is natural, organic, sustainable wood. Certain types of wood are frequently used to build instruments as they have specific mechanical properties, such as stiffness, elasticity, etc., that allow them to reproduce sound perfectly. These kinds of woods are known as, well, tonewoods. Wood varieties such as spruce, yew, walnut, maple, mahogany, and koa, are all commonly used to make instruments and are thus part of this 'tonewood' group. Ever seen high-end instruments such as a Fender Stratocaster or Stradivarius violin made out of plastic? Yeah, neither have we. So why should the sound produced by those instruments be played on a speaker made from materials (cough, plastic, cough) that actually reduce the richness of the original sound?

Our Tonewoods

We've chosen to use four different tonewoods in building our speakers: American Black Walnut, African Mahogany, American Black Cherry, and American Hard Maple. These tonewoods have a lengthy history in the musical industry, so we figured they were a good place to start. As each tonewood type is slightly different from one another, they each act almost as natural equalizers, sounding slightly different, highlighting different subtleties of music similar to how the Dance, Rock, Classical, or Jazz equalizer settings on your music player does. Basically, it makes our speakers sound better.

Tonewood Quiz

So which tonewood is right for me?

Take our Tonewood Quiz and find out which tonewood will best resonate with your lifestyle and your music.

SEE TWQ Results ›

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