Audiophiles, grills on or off?

I’m speaking, of course, of the cloth covers on my speakers. Will I get better sound with them on - though logic seems to say that this will muffle the sound - or with them off - logic speaks with many mouths, and says the manufacturers should have planned for this.

Right now I’m playing around with them off, though I wonder if I’m going to run into trouble with dust going where it’s not supposed to go. I’m guessing not, but you never know…

FWIW, my front speakers are Cerwin Vegas (I forget the model numbers), and my center and surround speakers are Infinitis.

The types of speakers I know about (Sound Reinforcement/Studio Monitoring), usually take the grill into account according to promotional material (meaning I have not done tests myself).

You shouldn’t run into any problems with dust getting in anywhere, since that’s what the dust cap (the center hemisphere thingy in the center of the speaker cone) is for.

It is interesting to note that many monitoring speakers do not have any type of cover/grill. I doubt anyone would buy SR/PA speakers without some type of cover/grill, so there is probably some tradeoff between necessity and sound quality.

IMHO, it makes no discernable difference (as 99.9…% of the stuff audiophiles go on about), but I would argue that the speaker was designed with everything taken into account.

I have a pair of Angstrom Legatos.

The manufacturer is very clear in their recommendation that you operate the speakers without the covers for best sound quality.


Properly designed speaker grills make no difference to sound that I can hear. I run Hales Design Group Transcendence 8’s. I run them with the grills off because they look so good that way.

There are some grills out there that make a bit of difference. It is also important to note that, being able to hear “some” diffence with/without grill doesn’t mean one way is better than the other. As long as the grill is not so poorly designed as to cause noticable diffraction problems, the most it would do is cause a VERY slight drop in high frequency loudness. Your ears would very quickly get used to the difference in tonal balance.

Many people don’t realize that a slight slope in a speaker’s frequency response isn’t very noticable or objectionable. Two speakers can have the same response specs, +/- 3db 20-20k for instance and be very different to listen to. If a speaker very gradually changes it’s response over a wide freqency range, it generally is almost unnoticable. If a speaker has the same amount of non linearity but over a short frequency span, especially in the 500-2000hz area, it can be very annoying. I’ll try to draw a picture.


Is much better than
********************** * **************

same amount of total deviation, but the second one is much worse to hear. Speaker grills (almost) never cause response changes like this.

However, not to burst your bubble, but worrying about this on Cerwin Vegas isn’t probably all that productive. They just aren’t that accurate to start with.

Eh, I figured as much. Still, they’re something until I have the cash to get something even vaguely resembling real audiophile speakers…

Speaking of which (to hijack my own thread), how much difference is there (generally) between, say, $14K/pair speakers and $3-5K/pair speakers?

I sent a reply to your listed email with my phone number in it, but don’t know if that is a real one or not… Mine is real in the little box under my posts. I would be happy to exchange phone numbers and spill my guts on different priced speakers all ya want.

I’ve listened to most everything from 1k to 40k. (What’s at my house now is 10k a pair)

The short answer is there are 4k speakers better than 10k speakers, and 10k speakers better than 30k speakers. But, generally, the best of each price range gets progressively better as the bucks go up… The trick is knowing who makes the best in each price range. In fact there are some VERY good speakers in the 600-800 range.


The real answer depends on your own ears testing it. This is the answer to every speaker question. And unless you are prepared to part with all of your money, don’t ask a real audiophile anything, they are completely insane. (They do, however, have damn good sound systems. But insanity of the sort they have is way too high a price to pay.)

Guilty, I have the sickness. When dealing with an audiophile for buying advice there is only one safe way.

You say, “I have exactly THIS much money to spend, help me find the best sound for THIS much money.”

Don’t let us influence how much THIS much money is.