The quality of sound produced by a speaker is an important aspect that determines the overall listening experience. Whether speaker grills affect the sound quality is a hotly debated topic in the audio world.
The speaker grille itself does not affect the sound quality significantly. However, if the grille is not designed or installed properly, it can vibrate and cause distortion, which in turn affects the sound quality. A well-designed grille should not interfere with the speaker’s sound.
Why is a speaker grill a big deal, and should you have one? This guide will detail the role of a speaker grill and its effects on sound impact.
What Is The Role Of A Grill On A Speaker?
We all see the perforated shield on the front of amplifier cabinets or speakers and try to peek through the holes but never wonder why it is here.
A speaker grill, dust cover, or speaker cover are the same thing and have the primary function of protecting the internal components and driver elements from dust and foreign particles.
Drivers are the most fragile component of a speaker; it effortlessly gets damaged by physical disturbance and delivers distorted sound waves. Moreover, when producing sound at a high volume, a speaker generates more heat. The speaker grill provides a large surface area for heat dispersal and prevents internal heat damage.
Car speakers are at higher damage risks since they are in continuous motion. The presence of a speaker grill protects the internal components from wear and tear. Besides forming physical protection against foreign elements, the grill protects the speaker amplifier from UV rays.
On the other hand, studio speakers are for stationary use and must be as accurate as possible. That is why we don’t have a protective mesh grill. However, they need regular cleaning.
You can take off the grill if you want, but you will need to clean the internal components and drivers regularly. If you have curious kids or pets in the house, ensure a speaker grill since their little fingers or claws can damage the fragile driver.
A speaker grill doesn’t affect the sound quality to an evident degree; it’s a win-win condition. Here are the benefits you get with a speaker grill;
- Dust particles accumulating inside the speaker can cause long-term damage. The speaker grill ensures the internal components are safe and deliver high acoustic quality.
- The speaker grill’s mesmeric design gives the speaker an aesthetic appeal and makes it look new.
- The growing heat inside the drivers can damage the speaker or even result in short circuits. Speaker grills keep the speaker at room temperature with a large surface area for heat dispersal.
How Do Speaker Grills Affect Sound?
The answer is neither yes nor no. The grill’s placement and material are vital in determining sound quality. Even if the grill has a large surface area design, the impedance to sound waves will be affected.
The fabric itself doesn’t affect the tone. However, the thickness of the cover frame can surely disturb the sound quality. The sound waves have a certain penetration tendency through which they can pass through different materials.
The lower the Hz, the thicker the material it can pass through (Hertz is the measure of speed sound waveform travel per second).
For example, a 1000 Hz sound wave can travel through 13.5 inches on max, while a 10000Hz can pass through 1.3 inches. Besides Hertz, another consideration is diffraction. Diffraction is the bending of sound waves around an obstacle.
The covering fabric shouldn’t be thick enough to cause diffraction. However, the thickness of the cover can cause sound waves to bounce back. The thickness of a 1000 Hz sound wave should be at most 13.5 inches.
Besides the thickness of the cover, its placement is likely to cause sound diffraction. If the grill is loosely fitted, it will cause vibration and interfere with the amplifier sound.
The speaker grill affects the sound waves in the following ways;
- Even though it is negligible, the grill adds resonance to the surround sound.
- If the grill is loosely fitted and the sound is on volume, it will result in a rattle.
- If the fabric is riveting, it will absorb the passing sound waves and reduce their strength.
- Diffraction can cause phase reversal, comb-filtering, and unusual resonance frequency by reflecting sound waves toward the cone.
Factors That Affect The Degree Of Sound Impact
A lot comes into consideration when examining what affects the degree of sound impact. The following things majorly affect the degree of sound impact;
Type Of Speaker Grill (Hard Vs. Soft):
The presence of a speaker grill has always been a considered factor. The majority argues not to have it, while others prefer to have it since it protects the speaker from physical traumas. More than the design, the type of grill plays a role in the sound disturbance. We have two standard types; hard and soft covers.
A rigid speaker grill will make it hard for the sound waves to pass through or even bounce back and cause diffraction. Soft speaker covers, however, will allow the sound waves to pass easily without reflecting.
Besides the type of speaker grill, the fabric is also a consideration. Thick or tautly stretched material will reflect the sound waves or absorb some, while transparent or mesh fabric will allow the sound waves to pass effortlessly.
Type Of Speaker (Bookshelf, Floor-Standing, In-Wall):
Bookshelf, floor-standing, or in-wall are all designed to produce sound. Yet, there is a reason “High-Quality” products are expensive. More than the type of speakers, its built-in quality, working efficiency of crossover, and sound cone affect the acoustic quality.
The higher the quality, the more accurate and bassy the sound. Since floor-standing speakers have large cabinets, they deliver three-dimensional room-filling sound. In short, they are best for large rooms.
Bookshelf speakers, on the other hand, maximize sound and deliver a deep bass response in small or medium-sized spaces. In-wall speakers are expensive but deliver multiple-dimensional sound.
Room Acoustics And Placement Of Speakers:
Just like adjusting the antenna delivers better signals, changing the placement of speakers will also make a difference. By changing the position, you can change the clarity, midrange, quality & quantity of bass, depth & width of the soundstage, and overall tonal balance of sound.
The rule of thumb suggests keeping the speakers 2-3 feet away from the adjacent wall. It helps minimize diffraction and reflection. The angle of speakers should be in-ward (towards the listener) to deliver richer bass and natural sound blending.
Quality Of Speaker Components
While investing in a speaker, you should ensure the components. Whether driver, cone, diaphragm, or tweeter, each has its value in its shoes. Experts suggest extensive drivers produce louder sound but don’t improve the sound quality.
The cone’s shape is a critical factor in sound performance and quality. Cone’s pulp composition and density affect the deadness, contributing to better sound quality.
So as far as the question regarding the speaker grill’s effect on the sound quality concerns, the answer will be it depends. Grills can affect the sound quality, but the impact will depend on the specific grill design, material, and speaker design. A poorly designed or built grill will impact sound by muffling or distorting the audio.
On the other hand, a well-designed grill made of appropriate material can help improve the sound by protecting the speaker and preserving sound quality.
Long story short, it is advised to double-check/read the speaker grill design and material it is made of when evaluating the overall sound quality of a speaker system.