This is a personal journal in exploring the 'tuning' of wood cups for a magnum v4 driver. totally random and unorganized, for educational purposes only.
mission statement: do the mag justice by building a cup to maximize musicality, naturalness and expression of emotion in music. Specifically the development of a wood cup that has little to no 'wood color' but retains wood's natural affect on sound,
Ideal headphone would have a variation of the grado style presentation with more natural e/q and smoother, with more extended and better defined low end and a nicer 'atmosphere' rather than a rip your face off sound or just an 'in the band' sound. I want to be the band ! and feel what they feel, not watch. music is not a spectator sport. it is part participitory, 'be the band', but mostly for me, it is a vehicle to be sent out from worldly cares. It is magical and agree with aldous huxley when he says, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible, it music.
the underlying assumption is that the cup that holds the driver is a complex and subtle little carrier and needs to be finely tuned to a particular driver in order to achieve anything approaching musical and/or reference qualtiy headphones that do not fatigue over long term listening sessions.
And cup tuning is the art of maximizing synergy and potential of a particular wood cup (in this case) and driver.
The basic method is simple. Listen to a raw wood without finish in several different cup geometry's. Get acquainted with its vibe, note it's strong and weak points, as well as those of each cup geometry (particularly length of cup, mass and wal thickness)
Once you have chosen your favorite raw wood cup sound, you can make assumptions about why you like that particular cup (length, shape, thickness etc) or you can just proceed to the next step which is applying a finish. And know that cup tuners that have come before you have already established that the finish plays a big role in final sound.....
So the goal of finishing is to retain as much of the raw wood sounds' nicer qualites while simultaneously negating as many of the raw woods sound 'problems'......This is how to judge the success of your finish treatment. I have found that the finish generally does take a quality of two down with it and does fix a quality or two of it's problems. I've never succeeded in never losing a quality and negating all the negatives with finish. So it's an imperfect science, but it's still a powerful tool in the cup tuners bag o' tricks and shouldn't be left unused. A wood cup needs all the help it can get to sound musical, natural, and free of wood color.
What wood should the cup makers of the future utilize. Stick to hardwoods. Stick to diffuse porous woods (most hardwoods are) and not ring porous woods
pic showing ring porous (left) and diffuse porous (right)
To further increase your chances or musical cups, concentrate on those diffuse porous woods with medium to large pores. Larger the better. This is what seems to give breath to sound. Small to small medium pore woods tend to sound hard and/or strident. Avoid hardwoods that are too light and soft (low density) as they tend to sound too airy and can lack punch and impact (32 or less)
those that are most likely to yield musical cups ime:
limba, avodire, mango, iroko, zebrawood. I have only heard 2 of these. The other wood that theoretically should yield good results if the above criteria are valid is east indian rosewood as it is diffuse porous with large pores, but I didn't have luck with it. I admit I only tried it in one cup length, and I have since found that length of cup is critical, so perhaps in the right length I could have gotten that rosewood to work. Just goes to show how one of these major variables that is out of line can ruin the whole synergy and tuning of cup. Either that or the rosewwood was too dense, which is another suspicion of mine that such woods are less likely to yield natural sounding cups. This is an immature science however.........
Here is a compilation list of various woods (all diffuse porous unless noted)
Species Density lbs/ft
Cedar, Western Red 23
Sequoia Redwood 26
Spruce, Sitka 27
Port Orford Cedar 30
hardwoods medium density:
Mahogany, honduran 34 large pores
Bigleaf Maple 34
Walnut 36 semi ring porous small pores
Black Limba 37 medium to large pores
Avodire 38 medium pores
Teak 42 semi ring porous
Koa 41 small pores
Mango 43 medium pores
Iroko 42 large pores
hardwoods very dense/hard:
Maple, hard 45 small pores
Rosewood Brazilian 53 small pores
zebrawood 54 medium pores
Pau Ferro 55 small pores
Wenge 57 large pores
East Indian Rosewood 57 large pores
Bubinga 58 medium pores
Cocobolo 67 small to medium pores
Ebony, Macassar 69 small pores
Ebony,gaboon 69 small pores
kingwood 74 small pores
Bloodwood 78 small pores
African Blackwood 78 small pores
cup tuning is serious fun !
sense of humor and love of music only requirements beyond this point.....enter here if you dare.....
Edited by thelostMIDrange - 2/7/12 at 4:46pm