Depends on the speaker and the grill. Off for most for sound..looks are secondary unless you date porn stars. Then it's grills off.
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1) When I'm being taken away from all that ails me in this world via my system, I don't see the speakers, so the question is moot.
2) My speakers didn't come with grills, so again, moot.
3) If I had speakers with grills, just the thought that the grills would interfer with the sound would be enough for me to loose them.
All the best,
Depends on the speakers. When I had the original Dyn C1's they sounded much better with the grills off (soundstage got wider and ever so slightly clearer sounding). Then I upgraded to the C1 Signatures and the grills on or off made very little difference. I usually left them on the Sig's to keep the dust off the drivers. My current speakers have no grills.
Strongly depends on the speaker. Vienna Acoustics pays particular attention to the design of their grills for use on or off. In some case, they say the sound could benefit with them on and the enthusiast should experiment thusly. Isn't that part of the fun of this hobby?
90% of my listening is done with the grills on.
I use a pair of Silverline Preludes with grills off, but the sound is still pretty good with them on (parties, fear of driver poking). I have a beef with much of the speaker design world in that some drivers are very fragile and can be easily dented...Magico tweeters...how happy would you be if some party goer stuck their finger in that tweeter? My Preludes have screens over the tweets so I worry less, but still...some protection for these things seems appropriate and should be designed in somehow without sonic penalties.
If your system has been set up to a threshold level of accuracy and retail resolution, then removal of the grills will definitely improve things enough that you will want to take them off. I am still using a pair of Snell B Type full-range 5-sided speakers since 1993 and have tried them on and off in my system as it evolved. I never was able to hear a difference until this year when I finally got the message about isolation platforms for every component and power supply and proper cable separation. Only after giving every component its own maple platform sitting on iso-blocks and an assortment of brass footers, Terra Stones, Herbie's Rollers, etc. gleaned from the used market, was I able to actually hear more detail when the covers were off and to crave it when they are on. Until you address the system set-up issues that lower the noise floor that interferes with the low-level details, the difference might be inaudible to you as it was for me until I finally got my system to basic fundamental audio set-up integrity.
I really don't need the grills on my Preludes as they do have screens on the tweeters...I dust the woofers from time to time as tiny dust particles do not deserve to ride around on my drivers. I put new grill cloth on my sub as it had been damaged by the previous owner, and I can't imagine it blocking anything under its 50 hz or so frequency range...so it stays.
Bifwynne, that reminded me of a friend who lost a pet boa constrictor. He searched everywhere with no luck. Thought it may have gotten outside, so he notified the neighbors to be on the look out for it, and that it was pretty much harmless. Then one day he was moving his JBL L100's (grills were removed) had felt something funny with one of them. He removed the bass driver and found his snake. It crawled in through the bass reflex tube towards the warmth.