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Speaker Grills(covers) vs. Foam covering Headphone Drivers

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I always take off the removable grills on my speakers, always thought they muted the sound. In fact, I usually leave them in the closet and only put them on the speakers when I have clumsy guests over. The grills main function appears to be to protect the speakers from physical harm or dust, at the expense of sound degration.

My question is: What is the main function of the foam that's in front of the headphone drivers? Does it negatively effect the sound too or does it have a "tuning function" in that it corrects the response of the drivers?

Stop me from taking out the foam/cloth in front of the drivers of my 580s and 7506s!
post #2 of 12
I've seen some speaker reviews that actually report on the differences with and without grilles. Some manufacturers actually advise you to leave them on, as they are designed with the covers in mind. Don't know how your headphone mod will sound, but I hope you let us know...
post #3 of 12
it can if it is thick enough or perhaps made of something else....?

i would assume that it is there for protection of the driver, its quite a fragil thing, and comfort.
post #4 of 12
Quote:
Does it negatively effect the sound too
or does it have a "tuning function" in that it corrects the response of the drivers?
I would say both. The position of the driver relative to the ear makes the biggest difference in perceived sound. The size, thickness and material of the pads affect this. I am sure that drivers are "pre-tuned" to compensate for using pads. In other words, in order to get a "flat" sound, the driver might be slightly bright to compensate for the damping the pad material might bring, or vise versa.
post #5 of 12
I don't think the drivers in phone's are designed to compensate for the foam cover. That would be a difficult thing to accomplish. I have removed the foam in HD 490's,HD 545's, and CD1700's and it improved the sound in all cases. Especially the 490's, which have a particularly thick piece of foam. It improves the mid and treble of the phones I have done it to. All those phones had a rather dark sound to them before the mod and improved without the foam. (I have not done it to my CD 3000's as they sound balanced to me, allready, and I think they would be too brite without the foam in place.)

It is somewhat easier to compensate for a grill in a speaker design, as the tweeter is almost always more efficent then the other drivers, and is frequently padded down with a series resistor to match levels. A tweak of the rtesistor and the tweeter is slightly louder to account for the grill fabric absorbtion. (You still have the diffraction issue, though.) Headphones don't have that option.
post #6 of 12
Depends...I'd bet in most hi-end headphones the earpads were definitely considered in sound testing since they woulda just placed the headphones on some dummy so it wouldn't have been so difficult.

The Etymotic filter for example serves both as protection and to alter the sound. It isn't that difficult for headphone manufacturers to test their phones with earpads in place. Grado probably does it too since they have changed design over years with sound changes in mind. Wheter or not a user prefers one sound to another is a different story.

The HD490 stunk with or without pads...so I can't really say if they were designed with even the human ear in mind.

Finally speakers look MUCH cooler with grills off...while with headphones they'd look like they were tampered with. But seriously headphones present such a closer sound to the ear anyways, you should probably experiment with other components before doing irreversible changes.
post #7 of 12
Quote:
TimD said...

The HD490 stunk with or without pads...so I can't really say if they were designed with even the human ear in mind.
LOL! Maybe they were designed for Trokkliens?

And I like my speakers w/ covers on better than off.
post #8 of 12
I like my HD580s much better with out the foam padding. It lets more treble come through, making them sound less dark compared to my grados.
post #9 of 12
umm...voyager, why do you NOT want to borrow my Sporta Pros??
post #10 of 12
It is easy to test a headphone with the foam inplace. It is incredibly difficult to fine tune the driver in the headohone to alter the sound. There is very little you can do to a driver to alter it's frequency response, short of adding parasitic elements into the circuit, such as caps and inductors. If it doesn't give you the frequency response you want, you go back to the drawing board. You must redesign the driver. I don't know of any manufacturer that will go to that trouble, because the foam rolls off the top end a DB or two. And the guy who decides what foam to use and when is rarely the guy who designed the driver. (Grado may be the only exception , they are a small company.)
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
"I like my HD580s much better with out the foam padding. It lets more treble come through, making them sound less dark compared to my grados."

Voyager - how did you remove the foam? There is a linen border underneath the foam, did you remove that too? Seems like you have to tear or cut them out.
post #12 of 12
BenG: I think Voyager is referring to the thin foam piece at the bottom (under the earpads), that covers the driver area. Assuming the padding is the same on the 580 as the 600, you pop off the earpads and that piece of foam is underneath. On the HD600, when you remove that piece of foam, there is thin cloth material covering the area around the driver but not the driver itself, so the driver will be exposed to dust and dirt.
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