When it comes to speaker design, there are a lot of choices to make – and one of the most important choices is whether or not to use grills. Well before making such a decision, you should ask yourself: Do speaker covers affect the sound?
Here’s a quick answer:
However, that does not invalidate the fact that most speakers sound better without grills.
So, what’s the big deal with speaker grills? In this article, we’ll discuss the role of speaker grills and whether they cause a difference in how sound is produced.
Why Do Speakers Have Grills?
A speaker typically consists of a cone-shaped diaphragm that vibrates when it receives an electrical signal. The vibrations of the diaphragm create sound waves, which are then amplified by the speaker’s housing.
So why do some speakers have grills?
Grills are there primarily for aesthetic reasons. They help the speaker look more classic.
Speaker covers are also there to make the speaker look more “tough.” Just think about it – when you see a speaker with a big, tough-looking grill, you automatically think that the speaker is also tough.
Of course, not all grills are created equal. But, in most cases, speaker covers are more about the bling factor than anything else.
To Protect the Drivers from Damage
While the aesthetic appeal of speaker grills is certainly a factor in their popularity, the other main purpose of speaker grills is to protect the drivers from damage. The drivers are the part of the speaker that produces the sound, and they are pretty fragile.
If a speaker is not properly protected, it’s easy for the drivers to be damaged by foreign objects. This can cause the speaker to produce distorted or muted sound.
To Keep the Speakers Clean by Keeping off Dirt and Dust
Speaker grills are also there to keep the speaker cone clean and free of dirt and dust. Over time, dirt and dust can build up on the speaker cone and dampen the sound quality.
By keeping the grill clean, you can help to maintain the quality of your speaker’s sound.
To Help In Heat Dissipation
When a speaker is producing sound, especially at high volumes, it also generates heat. This heat needs to be dissipated somehow, or else it could damage the speaker.
The grill helps to create a large surface area for heat to dissipate, thereby keeping the speaker safe.
How Does Speaker Grill Affect Sound?
In the world of audio, there are all sorts of different factors that affect sound quality. But one factor that is often overlooked is the speaker grill.
Yes, the grill that covers your speaker can actually have an impact on sound quality even if it’s hard to acoustically notice it.
Here are the common ways in which the speaker cover can affect sound quality.
Speaker Grills Can Obstruct the Drivers and Muffle the Sound
If the speaker grill is too close to the drivers, it can obstruct and muffle the sound. This is because the drivers need to be able to move freely in order to create the best sound possible.
If the grills are too close, they can limit the movement of the drivers and potentially damage them. To avoid this problem, speaker grills should be at least 2 or 3 inches away from the drivers.
Hard Speaker Grills Reflect Sound Waves and Cause Distortion
While metal grills can look nice, they can cause sound distortion by reflecting sound waves. This can muddle the music and make it sound less clear.
Thick Cloth Speaker Covers Absorb Sound Waves
You may think that cloth grills can solve the problem of reflection discussed above, but too-thick cloth grills can absorb sound waves. This, in turn, can cause highs to be less clear.
In reality, though, the absorption is often unnoticeable unless you are a serious audiophile.
Loose Speaker Grill Can Rattle and Mess with Sound Clarity
A loose speaker grill can cause the speaker to vibrate and create a rattling sound, which can reduce sound clarity.
Individual Grill Holes Can Scatter the Sound
It turns out that speaker grills can actually scatter the sound coming from your speakers, which can impact the overall quality of the sound. While this effect is usually minimal, it can be more pronounced as we’ll discuss in the perforations section.
A thick Speaker Grill Frame Can Cause Diffraction
If the speaker cover is too thick, it can cause diffraction and cause a rougher response for higher frequencies. This is why it’s important to choose a speaker grill that’s just the right thickness.
Since all these factors come into play, speaker designers must be very considerate with the speaker design to ensure that the drawbacks are minimized.
What Effect Does the Shape of the Speaker Grills Have on the Sound?
When it comes to speaker grills, there are two main types: round and rectangular. Both have their own unique benefits that can produce different sounds.
Round speaker grills tend to produce a fuller and warmer sound. This is because the round shape evenly distributes sound waves in all directions. Rectangular grills, on the other hand, tend to produce a sharper, directional sound. This is because the rectangular shape focuses sound waves in one specific direction.
So, which type of grill is better? It really depends on your personal preference.
If you want a fuller and warmer sound, then go for a round grill. If you prefer a sharper and more directional sound, then a rectangular grill is the way to go.
Does the Size and Shape of the Speaker Grill Perforation Matter?
The size of the perforations on a speaker grill can affect the sound in a variety of ways. It can change the frequency response, the sound pressure level, and even the dispersion of the sound.
A speaker grill with large perforations will have a higher frequency response, higher sound pressure, and wider dispersion of the sound. On the other hand, a speaker cover with very tiny perforations will have a lower frequency response, lower sound pressure, and a narrower dispersion of the sound.
Like the entire speaker grill, there are two main shapes of individual speaker grill perforations: round and square and both produce different sounds.
The square pattern will produce more highs and lows, while the round pattern will produce a more even sound.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do Speaker Grills Affect Tweeters Or Woofers More At High Volumes?
If you’re using tweeters that are tuned too bright, the grills can help diffuse the high frequencies and improve the sound. However, if you’re using woofers that are tuned to be bass-heavy, the grills may not have as much of an impact.
Q: Is There A Connection Between Sound Wavelength And Speaker Grills Interference?
Low-frequency sound waves have wavelengths much greater than the grill frame, so interference will not be noticeable. The grills can affect sound waves of shorter wavelengths, but not in an acoustically measurable way.
Q: Is It Better To Buy A Speaker With Grills Or Not?
Due to the fact that speaker grills have little effect on sound quality, choosing a speaker with or without grills is a matter of aesthetics and how protected you want the drivers to be.
Speakers with grills tend to have a more classic look, while those without grills have a more modern look. So if you’re trying to match your speaker to your décor, you’ll want to keep that in mind.
As for protection, grills can help keep dust and other particles from getting into the drivers. so if you live in a dusty environment or are just worried about protecting your investment, you may want to choose a speaker with grills.
Q: What Are Factors to Consider When Choosing Speaker Grill?
In general, there are 3 things to keep in mind when choosing a grill for your speaker.
- The size of the grill should be proportional to the size of the speaker, and the material should be acoustically transparent.
- The perforation pattern should be designed to minimize diffraction and maximize airflow.
- And finally, the grill frame should be the right size- not too thin that it can barely protect the drivers and not too thick that it causes diffraction.
Q: Why Do Most Studio Monitors Lack Grills?
Studio monitors are designed to reproduce accurate sound without adding any coloration or distortion. To achieve this, studio monitors must have a very straightforward and simple construction. This is why most studio monitors lack grills.