What are the advantages of speaker grilles?

To grille or not to grille: that is the question. On this episode of Ask The Expert we explain why bare is best, discussing the advantages of going 'au naturel' when it comes to loudspeaker coverings.

2023_Dynaudio_AskTheExpert_Ep08_TheAdvantageOfGrilles_02.44min_Cover

In this episode of Ask The Expert we're looking into what speaker grilles bring to the table in terms of aesthetic versus acoustic considerations, as well as what modern 'smart grilles' can offer.

Don't forget that without your questions, there'd be no Ask The Expert, so be sure to let us know what's on your mind via the 'Send us your questions' form at the bottom of this page, and we'll try to include it in a future episode.

 

What are some of the advantages of using grilles versus not using grilles?

If we consider what purpose grilles perform, it's first and foremost to protect the drivers, the secondary benefit being a change in visual appearance of the loudspeaker. In terms of sound, it's rather simple – all Dynaudio loudspeakers are tuned to sound best without the grille.

The reason for this is that anything in front of the drivers will inevitably affect the sound. In terms of sound performance, this is more often than not a detrimental effect. For that reason, at Dynaudio we tune our loudspeakers without the grille on.

Each Dynaudio speaker comes with a grille that you can choose attach, either to protect or to change the appearance, but it will sound somewhat worse if you attach the grille.

What affects the sound coming out of the speaker when you attach the grille is obviously the cloth itself, but also the frame that the cloth sits on. Because the sound from the speaker drivers travels across the front of the speakers – and around the speakers – the sound hits the frame of the grille, which in turn causes diffraction of the sound going into the room, and ultimately unwanted distortion effects.

Therefore, even without a cloth, the grille would still affect the sound. No matter how good the cloth is, the frame itself will still somewhat impact the sound. To reiterate: a Dynaudio speaker will sound better without the grille.

There are of course different types of cloth, and different qualities of cloth, and what's important is how "open" that cloth is i.e how acoustically transparent it is. All of the cloth that we use on Dynaudio speakers is, of course, extremely acoustically transparent, and that is something that is taken into consideration when designing speakers.

One of the speakers where we went to extremes in that regard is the active Focus speakers. On Focus, we included a small sensor on the front of the speaker, so that when you attach the grille the speaker detects that the grille is on. This then automatically activates a custom EQ curve, wich we designed to compensate for the grille sitting in front of the drivers. With this EQ curve activated, the speaker sounds much more similar to when you don't have the grille attached, making as little impact to the sound as possible.

So, we are very careful with how we design grilles, and often we integrate them into the design of the speakers.

But… if you want the perfect sound, take off the grille!

 

Send us your questions

Don't forget to submit your questions to our experts via the form below – they might just get featured in a future episode of Ask The Expert!

 

2 comments

Dynaudio Magazine

Dynaudio Magazine is our universe of sound and music-related articles, videos, and podcasts, covering everything from loudspeakers and technology to extraordinary people, and our very best tips and tricks.

Analogue vs. digital crossovers

Analogue vs. digital crossovers

This time on Ask The Expert, we'll be discussing whether digital crossovers really are an improvement over analogue crossovers or not. And, as you mig...

Plugging the port on only one speaker. Go or no-go?

Plugging the port on only one speaker. Go or no-go?

On this episode of Ask The Expert, we're going to tackle a couple of questions relating to asymmetrically-shaped and asymmetrically-treated listening ...

Using an external DAC with digital, active speakers – is it necessary?

Using an external DAC with digital, active speakers – is it necessary?

A surprisingly common question topic, on this episode of Ask The Expert Otto briefly clears up any confusion surrounding external DACs used in conjunc...