To answer your two part question:
1) On, (at least in my case)
2) Science (at least in the case of my speakers).
1) I keep the grills on my speakers, mostly for aesthetic reasons, as I think the speakers look much better with them on. (However, if I felt that they impacted the sound in any way, I would probably remove them.)
2) My speakers, the Eggleston Works Andra II's, have very thin grills, that was specifically designed to have very, very little to no effect on the sound. (The grill fabric is basically a single layer of very thin cloth, and is attached to a very thin metal frame, that attaches magnetically to the face of the speaker.) However, I can easily believe that a thick foam speaker grill could indeed have an affect on the sound. Therefore, I do believe that there is a science to speaker grill design.
My two cents worth anyway.
Almost the same thing with woman, mostly for aesthetic reasons:-)
On my Dynaudio C1's the soundstage is much better without the grills on but my Mission/Cyrus 782's it didn't seem to make a difference. Personally to me both look better without the grills
you're spot on--having the grills off does almost always make an audible difference. my own experience is that most speakers sound better with the grills off, and i note that a number of high-end manufacturers (e.g totem, revel) don't include grills as standard on many models. i recall a particualr instance in which a friend of mine could not figure out why his meticulously restored, just-serviced klipsch heresies sounded so bad. after fumbling around for awhile, we realized that the grills were incredibly opaque--thick cloth over dense wooden baffles--and that removing the grills made a huge difference, as if a veil had been removed.
There are no grilles on my ESP speakers. The fabric covering is permament, so comparison is not possible. An obvious choice by the speaker designer to have you not listen without the fabric.
I prefer the appearance of my N802's with the grilles on and that's the way I listen. There is a difference (slight) between clothed and naked but I've become accustomed to the sound with the grilles on. Someone else may hear it the other way.
My Triad System 3 speakers are designed to be used with the grilles in place. The drivers are staggered in depth on the baffle and the grille provides the tweeter with a certain amount of controlled directivity. They don't sound right at all with the grilles removed.
So, my answer would be specially designed grilles are science and not snake oil. OTOH some grilles provide an enhanced appearance without undermining the performance of the speaker which I would also rate as good design.
I have Vienna Acoustic Bach Baby Grand speakers and after six months of listening without grilles, I put them back on. They stage a little more precisely, bass goes deeper and is more controlled, but mostly they seem more balanced top-to-bottom. And I am less nervous about my housekeeper dusting them every two weeks.
My brother in law has those same speakers and I will admit to me they sound better with the grills off (for most of what say with your grills on except for the bass). I guess it may also have to do with the total system synergy and the room they are in.
Interesting post I'll admit.
BTW my C1 grills are on when my grandsons come over (came way too close to loosing a tweeter because of a thrown wooden coaster).
the only good reason to leave grills off is the prevent the lousy veneer from fading everyw exhcept under the grills. i've seen speakers cabinets fade faster than you can imagine in rooms with average light.
The only reason to leave grills off is that almost every speaker sounds better without them. Try to imagine how obstructing the sound waves can improve the sound. My Mini Utopias did not come with any, have wooden shields that fit over them for protection when being moved.
Richard Vandersteen says grills should stay in place. The speaker is voiced WITH grills.
Say, here's a thought: trust YOUR ears with YOUR gear in YOUR room with YOUR preferred music. Why assume there's one right answer for all? And some speakers may be "voiced" with grills on, but not in your room with your gear and your ears.
My Ushers are voiced with the grills off-so thats how I listen to them.
Say, here's a thought: trust YOUR ears with YOUR gear in YOUR room with YOUR preferred music.<<
Your answer makes far too much sense and requires actual listener participation.
Please remember you are dealing with neurotics most of whom learn everything in magazines and online forums.
Thanks in advance.
I know Vandersteen feels strongly about that. I owned his 2Ci speakers (which were great), and taking those grilles on and off would be no easy task
Not sure why a thread usually ends up with someone being condescending and mean spirited. Of course I, and most anyone interested in audio, set our systems up to our liking and our listening taste and our satisfaction That doesn't mean discussion is a bad thing and we are all neurotics and stupid.
I was interested in the opinions of many of the knowledgable people on this site, as to whether or not they think a speaker can actually (you know... scientifically, using physics) tune a speaker with its grille to improve its fidelity. Of course it sounds different with the grille..my stereo also sounds different when I hear it through a door or wall.
And finally, learning through magazines and online forums is a good thing...reading is good.
Yes, there are Totems and Revels that don't include the grilles, and others like Paradigm with their "specially designed grilles" and don't recommend using their speakers without them. That is why I was interested in the group's feeling on grilles, and their experiences.
Thanks for your input
Are Stereophile speaker measurements done with grills on or off? Do they say?
It was a joke Rsasso.
And apparently a very poor one.
All is forgiven. Let us enjoy the music
Let's muddy the waters even more. When I first took the grilles off my speakers (and this was after having them for quite a long time), I found foam plugs in the four (2 per speaker) vent ports at the bottom of the speakers. These are apparently used for shipping.
Taking those out, I found the speakers too "twangy" and singing voices a bit shrill. The bass lost some of its tightness, and the soundstage became diffused. Grilles on, grilles off...still not right.
So I jammed the foam plugs back in, and all is well. They sound great again.
So I jammed the foam plugs back in, and all is well. They sound great again.
The plugs aren't just for shipping; they're also for helping match the speakers' bass output to the room, and change the amount of bass damping (cone excursion control). Evidently leaving the plugs in place creates a happy match between your speakers and your listening room.
When the plugs are removed, it changes the tonal balance, the room loading, and creates more wave energy that could also disrupt the soundstage. Removing port plugs *definitely* loosens the bass by reducing the damping, which makes the fundamentals sluggish with more overhang, which would influence the specificity of the soundstage.
THANKS! I had actually spoken to the speaker distributor, who told me they were for shipping purposes only and should "definitely be taken out". I thought I was losing my ear for music entirely. James Taylor sounded like Mickey Mouse and James Blunt was a shrill little girl. I felt a little silly thinking these speakers only sound good with packing material stuffed in them. Your explanation makes perfect sense.
By the way, have you seen such a thing (provided foam plugs) in any other speakers for the purposes you mentioned?....because I have not.
My HSU sub has double ports and comes with a foam plug. The sub can be used 2 ways.
Maximum extension and Maximum output. There is also a backpanel switch which should match the plug configuration.
If the plug is to be installed for shipping, it may be to limit woofer cone movement and possibility for damage? Unless it's open box, I can't imagine anything crawling in there!