Couldn't really agree more harp......Although I've played and built other instruments with laminates that do just fine, the soundboard especially of an autoharp seems to be a loser in laminate. At best it's okay, but the sound quality difference in spruce is significant. I think it may be in the overtone/harmonics which are so much greater than on guitars or even hammered dulcimers that does it. I'm not saying that laminates are great, but they seem much less noticeable on other instruments.
BTW, I love that pgrase....."Fire in their wood"....yeah...really nice!