Loudspeaker grills on or off - what's your preference ?

I am running two systems in different rooms.One contains Quad 2805 electrostatics and the other one is my vintage kit which I alternate between Rogers LS 3 5 A s and Focal Profil  77 floorstanders.The other day I removed the grills on the Focals after a couple of years with them on.Did some toe in and put some bungs in the bass ports which I haven't really experimented with.

Was pleasantly supprised how much better they sounded with their grills off.Just more transparent.I can't do this with the Quads or the Rogers.Will be keeping them bare.

For the technically minded on the forum do grills marginally detract from sound quality ?

Also do you have a preference........on or off ?

Any comments most welcome 

Original Post

Depends. Some grills seem to make a negative difference, especially the denser materials, but some don't. ATCs these days come with an open mesh grill that seems to have very little effect, at least on the sound - they can have a deleterious effect on your eyes.

Personally, I keep the grills firmly on my speakers - my two teenaged sons are likely to have a far greater impact on the sound than any grill could ever have!

 

The main potential problem with grilles is not the cloth but the frame. The latter interferes with the dispersion characteristics of drive units.

My Kudos Titans were designed to run 'bare' and have a Nextel coated baffle, which was designed to enhance dispersion characteristics.

John.

if grills are causing reflections/interference, then they are crap design and would call into question the competency of the designers. The same could be said for ported loudspeakers but thats another matter...

the metal mesh grills on the ATC SCM11s have the lowest loss of any grill martin has ever measured, he said.

I would like to see the results of a truly scientific 'blind' test. My suspicion is there would be little, if any, preference for 'grilles off'. I personally believe it to be one of life's great urban myths (along with quite a few others in the world of hi-fi!!).

I voiced my speakers to measure flat with its acoustic cloth grills on.  I achieved that to within +/- 1dB(C) from 1300Hz to 16000Hz measured with 1/3 oct white noise.  With grills off there is a very small rise, no more than 1dB, above 8000Hz ,  but they sound more open & finely detailed with grills off & thats the way I use them for serious listening.   They are replaced when not in use and for casual listening for domestic harmony purposes.  

J.N. posted:

The main potential problem with grilles is not the cloth but the frame. The latter interferes with the dispersion characteristics of drive units.

My Kudos Titans were designed to run 'bare' and have a Nextel coated baffle, which was designed to enhance dispersion characteristics.

John.

Keilidhs and Linn speakers of a similar vintage were designed to be frameless. The grilles (Old school in Valhalla) are transparent-sounding to these ears. 

The issue of protection is not a given. My father managed to stick his elbow into a woofer and knock the voice-coil off true through the grille cloth whilst tickling one of our kids.

Mike-B posted:

I voiced my speakers to measure flat with its acoustic cloth grills on.  I achieved that to within +/- 1dB(C) from 1300Hz to 16000Hz measured with 1/3 oct white noise.  With grills off there is a very small rise, no more than 1dB, above 8000Hz ,  but they sound more open & finely detailed with grills off & thats the way I use them for serious listening.   They are replaced when not in use and for casual listening for domestic harmony purposes.  

are your tweeters flush mounted?

jon honeyball posted:

are your tweeters flush mounted?

Flush,  they are all flush mounted.   If you are looking at the profile picture & wondering, the tweeters have soft felt rings that reduce reflections,  they sharpen up imagery & more so when grills are in place.

PMC 23s,

  • On in the first month or two when they are running in (they definately sounded better with them on during that stage).
  • Off after that
  • On again after the first baby arrived.
  • Off on Friday nights when I have the place to myself for a few hours.

I do sometimes feel they sound better with them on. I suspect this is the psychological effect of the grilles making the eye tell the ear that the sound comes from the whole speaker making them sound bugger than when the grills are off and you know that sound comes from 2 fairly small drive units.

Grilles will inevitably have some effect on the sound passing through them, though how audible will depend on the grille: foam, cloth or metal mesh, taughtness, thickness and size of holes each contributing to both dispersion and sound level, particularly as frequency increases. Some speakers are designed and set up to be used with grilles on, and so likely to sound at the best the designers could achieve with them in place, while others are designed grille off but grilles added for cosmetic or protection purposes but sounding better without.

Of course, as the effect is most likely to be evident at highest frequencies, it might be expected that opinions as to whether the difference is noticeable would vary with the age of the respondent, with the oldest least likely to report hearing a significant difference...

To the OP, you mention toeing in as well as taking grilles off - was your assessment of how they sounded without grilles specific to the grilles, i.e before doing the toeing in, or after having considered the effect of toeing in? I ask simply because you didn't state, and of course changing of their angle can make a big difference. 

Adam Zielinski posted:
Tony2011 posted:

Some people say they don't look good naked and I have never tried to "undress" my Ovators but it would interesting if someone, who has done it,  posted a picture. In the best possible taste, please.

That's almost encouraging speakers' pornography

Easy, Adam. Down boy! 

Tony2011 posted:
Adam Zielinski posted:
Tony2011 posted:

Some people say they don't look good naked and I have never tried to "undress" my Ovators but it would interesting if someone, who has done it,  posted a picture. In the best possible taste, please.

That's almost encouraging speakers' pornography

Easy, Adam. Down boy! 

If you youtube Naim Ovator S400 you can watch a cone-shaking video clip of grille free S400's.

G

GraemeH posted:
Tony2011 posted:
Adam Zielinski posted:
Tony2011 posted:

Some people say they don't look good naked and I have never tried to "undress" my Ovators but it would interesting if someone, who has done it,  posted a picture. In the best possible taste, please.

That's almost encouraging speakers' pornography

Easy, Adam. Down boy! 

If you youtube Naim Ovator S400 you can watch a cone-shaking video clip of grille free S400's.

G

Cool

Innocent Bystander posted:

To the OP, you mention toeing in as well as taking grilles off - was your assessment of how they sounded without grilles specific to the grilles, i.e before doing the toeing in, or after having considered the effect of toeing in? I ask simply because you didn't state, and of course changing of their angle can make a big difference

 

They did sounded marginally better with Grills off.But I think putting the bungs in and toeing really tightened things up. especially the bass which tightened it up.As Timmo mentioned in an earlier post would we really be able to tell in a grills on and off blind test ?

 

 

 

 

 

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