They still do...but they are expensive...for the most part...but I definitely hear ya
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Thiels are also veneered.
I was talking to a speaker company about 6 months ago. I was in the market for new speakers and they were on my short list. He informed me that he was raising the price of the speakers $500 at the end of the month because the cost of wood was going through the roof. The speaker we are talking about is a tiny 30" floorstander that at most used 8 square feet of cherry veneer and less than 1 square foot of solid cherry. At the time cherry veneer was selling for $0.75 a square foor and solid cherry was going for $6.00 a board foot. Now, if we add 33% percent for waste and milling the total cost of cherry would have been $15.96. Also, there might have been a half sheet of MDF used in each speaker. I can get cheap MDF for $8.00 a 4'x8' sheet and good quality stuff for $12.00 a sheet. So the total cost of wood in each speaker $21.96. Granted, assemble and finishing does add a lot to the cost of the speaker, but I was told the the reason the speakers going up was because the wood was going up. I watched the prices of cherry veneer and solids for the next 6 weeks. Veneer went up $0.05 and solids went up $0.50. Does this justify raising the price of the speakers by $500.00? In addition, speaker manufacturers buy their stock in bulk so they are paying about 25% less than I do.
Most people don't know what's involved in woodworking. They think that Home Depot is the best source for wood. Well, the red oak they sell is garbage; low grade inferior crap good for burning in the fireplace. In addition, they sell of for about $16 a board foot if you buy wide stock. I pay about $5.00 a board foot after planing for good quality red oak. And, try to buy something like birdseye maple at depot. If they did sell it expect to pay around $40.00 a foot!
Latest prices for cherry : veneer $0.85 and solids $8.00 a foot. Add 33% for waste and that's $1.14 for vaneer and $10.64 for solids; still not enough to justify that $500.00.
I completely agree that the Klipsch Heritage line are gorgeous. I've owned each of the speakers you mention, as well as LaScala's and all were finished quite beautifully, and lend themselves well to refinishing. While you are refinishing them I'd suggest swapping out the stock wiring harness with some quality silver wires like DH Lab for a big difference in performance. Also, I've found the use of various types of weather-stripping and sealant goes a long way in sealing up the enclosures on the Heresy's and did help the bass response. On the Forte's I think you just have the drivers to seal up. I did replace my Heresy backs with 3/4 inch MDF which also helped bass, though doesn't look quite as integral as the original plywood back. I haven't seen them in person, but by reputation and his chosen profession, Terry Cain, of Cain & Cain certainly would be one of the finest examples of applying master carpentry skills and solid wood construction to speaker building. Those who have seen his speakers have said they are second to none in construction and finish. Silverline also comes to mind as having an amazing level of finish and build on their speakers, as does Soliloquy (I currently have a curly-maple pair of 5.3's that are impeccably finished and gorgeous to look at).
The biggest problem with affordability on real-wood venner is the quality. Not all wood-veneers are the same, if the blade is somewhat dull in the stripping process it can cause cracks, also, knots can cause problems, and what might be a beautiful peice of wood for crafting a table or carving, might turn out to be total crap for veneer work. Most logging companys will sell wood for veneer but wont let the buyers cut in the wood, so they have to gauge the quality on the outside and endcuts alone.
There is also the issue of matching veneer, if yer doing a set of speakers you better use veneer off of the same log, or the pitch, hue, and markings might be a little off, and the speaker set will no longer maintain that "Togetherness".
Say you are making a set of 30inch tall speakers, and it takes you 20 feet of veneer to cover them both, and the veneer stock you bought is only 30 feet of veneer, well, you have 10feet left you can cover some monitors in, and whatever is left over is usually just conna be trashed as it will not perfectly match another stock of veneer of the same wood.
Plastic veneer is stamped out and you can mismatch stocks of the same ink stock and have perfectly matched speakers, plus it is way cheaper.
Just remember, that veneer-pack you can get at WoodCraft is usually leftover from larger products, and you will be hard pressed to find 2 pieces from different stocks that really match well
Real wood veneer is fantastic though isnt it? Vienna Accousics speakers look every bit as good as they sound, the also use a process to wrap the veneer over corners, which is not something you find often. I think lexus does the same on thier dashboards, and that is about it.
Try Tyler Acoustics -- stunning and flawless woodwork. The cabinets are thick and solid -- almost like a rock. These speakers are American craftsmanship at its best. When the speaker is at high volume I can barely feel any vibration coming through the cabinet. Not only that but Ty uses some of the best components money can buy -- I own a pair of Tylos and am no longer thinking of upgrades.