Even at the risk of losing some business, we are committed to adapting alternative materials that will ultimately help preserve the environment while offering high quality, more affordable products that add beauty to the home without accelerating the loss of our natural resources.

Cosmetics Are Nice, But Our Conscience Says, "No"

Chris Byrne | NHT Loudspeakers

Earthtoys Article -
Even at the risk of losing some business, we are committed to adapting alternative materials that will ultimately help preserve the environment while offering high quality, more affordable products that add beauty to the home without accelerating the loss of our natural resources.

Cosmetics Are Nice, But Our Conscience Says, "No"
Chris Byrne, NHT Loudspeakers 

Most speaker manufacturers are continually asked by dealers and occasionally end-users for a selection of product with cabinets constructed using wood veneers. In fact, the increasing demand for "lifestyle" systems has sparked an interest in wood finishes that I feel we must address.

Though I can't speak for everyone, the feeling from NHT is and will remain, "no." Believe me; we try to accommodate our friends whenever possible. However, when faced with the prospect of helping to shrink forests, supporting illegal logging, and the all-too-real extinction of many species of plant and animal life, we as both a company and world citizens are forced to take the high road, even at the expense of offending some of our clientele.

Since their inception, loudspeaker cabinets have been constructed from wood, and for good reasons: wood is easy to work into shapes and has acoustic properties that improve performance. In the early days, lumber from oak and walnut trees was the prime material, but, as price became more of an issue, medium density fiberboard (MDF) became the material of choice, along with particle board laminated with real wood veneers.

As industrialization evolved, the demand for exotic woods increased, further threatening the declining number of the world's rain forests. In order to combat both high manufacturing costs and the depletion of raw materials, the industry, during the 1990's, began developing plastic veneers that feature the appearance of high quality, rare wood, but was in fact manufactured from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Unfortunately, PVC-based laminates contain carcinogens, rightfully leading to their rapid removal from the market.

Loudspeakers consume a lot of wood, regardless of whether they are covered with exotic wood veneers, but most of our traditional speakers are constructed with MDF, or medium-density fiberboard. MDF is typically made from saw-cutting waste that results when wood is milled. Chips and sawdust are ground and mixed with resin before being formed into boards by using heat and pressure.

Any loudspeaker manufacturer will tell you that MDF is very dense, is cut with precision, and is for the most part acoustically inert. What we feel is as important as MDF's acoustic properties is the fact that it is essentially waste; a byproduct of common "farmed" wood such as pine or fir.

Unlike MDF, wood veneers, beautiful and exotic though they may be, are mostly derived from the world's few remaining rain forests, and have absolutely no effect on sonic output, only the libido.

NHT focuses much of our new product R&D efforts on experimentation with unique materials. For example, the BMC (bulk molded compound) employed in our new Xd line is constructed of polyester resin, fiberglass, some bits of wood, and even metal powder. This mixture does require tooling to create the proper shapes, but natural resources are left as is.

BMC, when carefully designed and constructed, can be acoustically inert, offering a practical, long-term solution to overuse of wood, and in some cases, metal. But, wood veneers are about aesthetics, not performance, so we are constantly experimenting with new finishes comprised of polyester-based, solid particle paints. These decorative finishes require a substantial amount of hand-polishing to achieve their striking luster; however, this process allows us to skip the use of solvents.

Looking forward, we are working with new solid color stains that may offer the appearance of fine wood furniture without having to sacrifice the fine wood itself. Whatever the result, our position on the environment is firm: even at the risk of losing some business, we are committed to adapting alternative materials that will ultimately help preserve the environment while offering high quality, more affordable products that add beauty to the home without accelerating the loss of our natural resources.


Since it was founded in 1986, NHT® has continually challenged the notion that the very best sound reproduction must come at a premium price. NHT takes pride in designing and marketing loudspeaker systems that provide a lifetime of listening pleasure. Its products from past to present speak volumes of NHT's dedication to sonic excellence. For more information, visit www.nhthifi.com. NHT (Now Hear This) is a brand name of Rockford Corporation®. Rockford Corporation is based in Tempe, Ariz. and is a publicly traded company under the NASDAQ stock symbol ROFO. NHT's website can be viewed at www.nhthifi.com  and www.rockfordcorp.com 

 

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