Subwoofer grills are important to any audio device, including speakers and subwoofers. They serve as protective shields to prevent harm from external objects. However, many think about whether they put the grill on or off. This also leads to the question do the subwoofer grills affect sound quality.
Although the subwoofer grill, also known as the cover, can affect the sound, the impact is usually minimal. In addition, the impact depends on the quality of the subwoofer, the grill, the grill design, and the material. A subwoofer grill can affect sound quality in various ways, including attenuating high frequencies, interfering with airflow, and resonating or vibrating.
If the grill material is dense or has small perforations, it may attenuate or reduce high-frequency sounds. This can result in muffled or subdued sounds. If the grill does not have free airflow, it can negatively impact subwoofer performance and cause distortion. To achieve clean and clear bass, the subwoofer needs proper airflow. Ensure that the grill is properly attached to the subwoofer. A grill can resonate or vibrate if it is not attached properly.
In this article, we will talk about the Subwoofer grill’s purpose, types, and impact on sound performance.
Different Types of Subwoofer Grills
Depending on the type, material, and design, subwoofer grills will likely cause resonance or rattle. This section covers the types of subwoofer grills available to make it easy to choose the best one and prevent sound distortion.
Perforated Metal Grills
Perforated speaker grills are manufactured using sturdy metals like silver, stainless steel, and cast iron, as the name suggests. These types of grills are popular due to their durability and sleek appearance.
They offer an ideal solution for guarding speakers and subwoofers against external harm and preventing debris from entering the subwoofer cone. Perforated metal grills are constructed by drilling small holes in a thin metal sheet. These grills improve the longevity of the subwoofer by protecting the voice cone from scratches and tears. Perforated metal grills are a popular choice for heavy-duty subwoofers used in car audio systems or high-powered home theater setups.
As far as its impacts are concerned on sound quality it is minimal. The small holes or perforations allow sound waves to pass through with minimal obstruction. Although the specific grill construction and design play a key role. High-quality grills are designed to ensure it only protect the grill, add aesthetic value, and do not impact the sound. On the other poorly installed designed grill will definitely impact the sound.
A cloth subwoofer grill, or a soft subwoofer grill, is the most common type available. These grills are made of soft fabrics, such as stitched or woven. We often see cloth grills on computer speakers, and guitar amps, home theater speakers.
A cloth subwoofer grill protects the subwoofer from physical damage as well as doing a decent job of preventing dust and debris to reach the drivers.
A cloth subwoofer grill is considered the best option among all types due to its lightweight and ease of removal. Cloth or soft grills also known for their excellent acoustical transparency means they do not interfere with the sound.
Depending on the type, a cloth subwoofer grill might also be scratch, dust, and water-resistant. However, you might experience sound reflection if the fabric is thicker.
The thicker fabric sends the sound waves back to the cone, resulting in phase cancellation, comb-filtering, and strange resonance. The grill might add resonance and rattle if it is loosely fitted and sound is played on higher volume levels.
Plastic Subwoofer Grills
Plastic subwoofer grills are the same as perforated metal grills, differing in the material. These grills efficiently protect the subwoofer from scratches. However, they are likely to tear out due to physical trauma.
A plastic subwoofer grill affects the sound quality on a lesser scale than a perforated metal grill. The holes allow drivers to bring in and out air and deliver a deep bass response. However, the grill causes sound wave reflection and rattles.
You can construct a plastic subwoofer grill by cross-hatching thin plastic strips or drilling small holes in a plastic sheet. The widely used material for plastic speaker grills is high-grade PVC.
If the name sounds new to you, here is a brief. Frameless subwoofer grills are magnetically attached for on-the-go attachment and displacement instead of permanent screw attachment. Frameless subwoofer grills come in both square and round shapes.
However, the presence of an external magnet significantly impacts the sound quality. As you know, a subwoofer uses different built-in magnets to deliver a range of tones and frequency responses.
The external magnet present in the subwoofer grill will cause the sound waves to interact with external magnetic fields. As a result, the double magnetic field interaction will drop the acoustic quality. If the magnet is highly power-pack, it will cancel out the effect of built-in magnetic fields.
We love to add personalized features to our speaker or subwoofer collection. Depending on the material used, the design, and the installation, custom subwoofer grills might or not cause sound distortion.
If you opt for a customized metallic subwoofer grill, it will likely affect the sound quality. In contrast, if you opt for a customized plastic subwoofer grill, it will also affect the acoustic quality in an inaudible manner. A mesh fabric grill is the best option since it adds little to no resonance and rattles.
Besides the material, pay attention to the design and installation of the subwoofer grill. The subwoofer grill causes sound distortion if installed improperly despite having the best construction material and design.
Impact of Subwoofer Grills on Sound Quality
As discussed earlier, the grill doesn’t cause sound distortion, but the improper installation, material, and design do. Here we have covered the impact of subwoofer grills on acoustic quality from every angle.
The measuring unit for frequency response is Hertz (Hz). Sound frequency travels uniquely. The higher the frequency range, the thinner the material it will pass, while lower sound frequencies can pass solid material effortlessly.
If the subwoofer grill is thick, only low frequencies will pass through, while the high frequencies will withdraw back. For instance, a 20 Hz frequency response can pass through 678 inches of thickness, while a 2500 Hz will only pass through 5.4 inches.
You are less likely to notice the inference since it is in an inaudible manner. Besides the thickness of the material, the frame and installation may interfere with the sound acoustics.
As you know, the role of the subwoofer driver is to convert audio signals’ electrical energy to mechanical by air movement. Every time the driver converts the audio signals, it brings in and out the air. The subwoofer, as a result, produces a deep and rich bassy sound response.
With the air particles that enter the subwoofer and reach the driver, there comes dust and debris. Not having a subwoofer grill allows dust particles to enter the subwoofer. As a result, they accumulate around the driver.
A subwoofer grill helps block the pathway of dust and debris and improves the driver’s performance for a better and richer sound response.
If you know the working principle of a subwoofer and its components, you must comprehend the role of a driver. A subwoofer uses significant drivers (woofers) that produce accurate and more profound sound waves.
As discussed earlier, the primary role of a subwoofer grill is to protect the internal components from physical trauma and block the dust and debris accumulating around the driver element.
A subwoofer grill allows the driver to work more smoothly and efficiently, producing more profound and accurate sound quality.
The foreign particles will reach the voice cone upon removing the subwoofer grill. Moreover, the internal components will be exposed to sunlight; long-term exposure can damage the driver element.
Aesthetics and Personal Preference:
For this point, we have mixed opinions. One majority prefers having a subwoofer grill, while the other half doesn’t find the grill aesthetically appealing.
In our opinion, you should not remove the grill based on the following reasons;
- The grill protects the subwoofer from physical trauma.
- The subwoofer grill prevents dust and debris from accumulating around the driver.
- The subwoofer grill blocks the exposed UV sunlight from reaching the driver element and decaying it.
- Even if the grill affects the sound quality, it will be in an inaudible manner.
On the other hand, if you remove the subwoofer grill, you might face the following issues;
- On removing the grill, the voice cone is more likely to get damaged due to physical trauma.
- The exposed frame lets the UV light reach the driver and voice coil, resulting in strange resonance.
- Dust and debris are more likely to accumulate around the driver element. It, as a result, hinders the driver from producing an accurate bass response.
- If the accumulated dust mass around the driver and voice cone is massive, the subwoofer will produce excessive vibration as it fails to move the coil.
Ultimately, keeping the subwoofer grill or removing it is up to you. The amount of acoustic interference and sound distortion a grill causes is inaudible. However, you are likely to experience more drawbacks by removing the grill.
So after analyzing and talking about all the essential aspects, it is clear subwoofer grills impact the sound. How much it will impact depend on the quality of the subwoofer itself, grill design and material. It is also recommended to experiment with Putting Grill On and off and analyse how it sounds.
The grill affects sound in several ways, and the primary way is impacting the subwoofer’s frequency response. A grill with a solid structure can cause diffraction, which is the bending of sound waves around the edges of the grill. This leads to uneven frequency response and leads to peaks and dips in the audio output. Alternatively, an open or perforated grill allows sound waves to pass through more freely.
In addition to frequency response, the grill can impact the driver’s performance and bass response, Aesthetics and Personal Preference. A grill with improper design and airflow makes the driver work hard to produce sound waves that can impact sound clarity and performance.
If you are confused about any point, I recommend reading the above section, where we discuss all the points in detail.