Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?

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JLM

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Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« on: 11 Aug 2022, 01:08 pm »
Drivers push as much sound into the box as out.  The amount of echo and sound pressure in the box is extreme with the vast majority of it coming out via a port or bleeding through the drivers themselves.  Yet little thought seems to go into the box shape.  Cubes and spheres have to be the worse for echo.  Stuffing and lining seem to be the only consideration.  Single driver designs are the primary exceptions that use rear loaded horns, pipes, or transmission lines. 

Much finesse has been put into amplification and source design, even the drivers themselves.  Why not cabinet designs?  Instead we use cheap MDF and focus on veneers/finishes. 

The same could be said for the listening rooms.  Thousands are typically invested in gear, just to end up in a horribly compromised space (the other enclosure). 

Rant off.

Peter J

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Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #1 on: 11 Aug 2022, 01:31 pm »
Drivers push as much sound into the box as out.  The amount of echo and sound pressure in the box is extreme with the vast majority of it coming out via a port or bleeding through the drivers themselves.  Yet little thought seems to go into the box shape.  Cubes and spheres have to be the worse for echo.  Stuffing and lining seem to be the only consideration.  Single driver designs are the primary exceptions that use rear loaded horns, pipes, or transmission lines. 

Much finesse has been put into amplification and source design, even the drivers themselves.  Why not cabinet designs?  Instead we use cheap MDF and focus on veneers/finishes. 

The same could be said for the listening rooms.  Thousands are typically invested in gear, just to end up in a horribly compromised space (the other enclosure). 

Rant off.

Box design has been addressed in a few ways, most notably open or semi-open baffle. I have a pair of Gershman Acoustics speakers that are triangular rather than rectangular. There's a
 Canadian manufacturer that claims their undulating interior via stacked lamination has benefit. Assuming production is a concern, both material and design are going to figure into the cost-to-build equation.

 I'm afraid there are precious few who would recognize and be willing pay for something exotic in the way of construction technique. After all, audio nerds are a tiny speck on the retail radar.

Listening rooms? How many real estate listings make mention of such a thing? Home theater rooms maybe. At best it's a nod to marketing with not much regard for acoustics. Again, a blip on the overall radar.

If you've got some ideas on the speaker design front, I might be willing to explore with you as that's the only way things advance.

Tyson

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Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #2 on: 11 Aug 2022, 03:42 pm »
Poor box design and poor integration into a typical listening space.  Those 2 things plague box speakers.  This is the primary reasons I switched over to high quality OB speakers and never looked back. 

Well, that's not quite true.  After I got my OB speakers in the downstairs system, I DID go back to box speakers when I built out an upstairs system.  And it was just as much of a disaster as it always is.  Now I'm back to full OB speakers.  Lesson learned.

charmerci

Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #3 on: 11 Aug 2022, 05:32 pm »
Well it depends on if you're speaking about mass market or not. Andrew Jones says on a video (can't remember where) that, working for a large company, when you spend a few extra bucks on better crossover parts, the cost raises the price by a much higher factor. So you're passing on the costs to the consumer. Very few are willing to pay much more (hundreds) for a slight improvement.

Every decision is a compromise. If it's good enough and the vast majority can't tell or don't care, it goes out the door. The people on AC can't support the mass market. We're the rare exception, not the rule.

Early B.

Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #4 on: 11 Aug 2022, 06:16 pm »
Well it depends on if you're speaking about mass market or not.

Exactly. Cost is the main driver. High-end speakers are where you'll find innovation in enclosure design. For most of us, painted or veneered MDF boxes are good enough and fit within most decors. If the cabinets are suitably damped and well-braced, it shouldn't be a problem.

charmerci

Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #5 on: 11 Aug 2022, 06:49 pm »
Exactly. Cost is the main driver. High-end speakers are where you'll find innovation in enclosure design. For most of us, painted or veneered MDF boxes are good enough and fit within most decors. If the cabinets are suitably damped and well-braced, it shouldn't be a problem.


I spent about $20 bracing and dampening and less than a couple hours a pair of $90 DCM speakers and I noticed and appreciate the difference. Would most people notice or care about that change? HA!

SET Man

Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #6 on: 11 Aug 2022, 07:52 pm »
Drivers push as much sound into the box as out.  The amount of echo and sound pressure in the box is extreme with the vast majority of it coming out via a port or bleeding through the drivers themselves.  Yet little thought seems to go into the box shape.  Cubes and spheres have to be the worse for echo.  Stuffing and lining seem to be the only consideration.  Single driver designs are the primary exceptions that use rear loaded horns, pipes, or transmission lines. 

Much finesse has been put into amplification and source design, even the drivers themselves.  Why not cabinet designs?  Instead we use cheap MDF and focus on veneers/finishes. 

The same could be said for the listening rooms.  Thousands are typically invested in gear, just to end up in a horribly compromised space (the other enclosure). 

Rant off.

Hey!

    Actually spheres is the perfect shape for speaker enclosure. No parallel line and no sharp edges on the outside. But not easy to make and mostly only work with ported or sealed design which I'm not much a fan of.

    With that said, it bring to what you've mentioned... transmission line and rare horn loaded are my favorite. Well, that's no surprise there since I'm using single driver with back horn loaded here. The bass sounds more tuneful and natural to me than bass coming out from a little hole in the speaker.

    Of course you can go open baffle and forget about the box all together. Personally I haven't heard a properly set up open baffle in a real home setting so I can't say how I feel about it. Although I've some at the show but still somehow they didn't captivated me enough. So, if anyone in NYC area have open baffle speaker and wouldn't mind me stop by to check them out please let me know.

     Well, at the end of the day... whatever float your boat man.
Buddy
« Last Edit: 11 Aug 2022, 08:55 pm by SET Man »

FullRangeMan

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Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #7 on: 11 Aug 2022, 11:31 pm »
Poor box design and poor integration into a typical listening space.  Those 2 things plague box speakers.  This is the primary reasons I switched over to high quality OB speakers and never looked back. 

Well, that's not quite true.  After I got my OB speakers in the downstairs system, I DID go back to box speakers when I built out an upstairs system.  And it was just as much of a disaster as it always is.  Now I'm back to full OB speakers.  Lesson learned.
+1.
Other awful structural issue of boxed speakers is that it emit sound only to front.

jules

Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #8 on: 12 Aug 2022, 03:46 am »
Has anyone ventured into 3D printing for speaker cabinets? It would seem to have creative potential, allowing complete 3D design freedom while being less complex than CAD cutting and lamination processes.

AllanS

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Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #9 on: 12 Aug 2022, 04:02 am »
  The M4 Sapphires I recently bought were the least researched and least agonizing audio purchase I’ve ever made.  And to date they’re the most expensive single item I’ve bought for any system.  I’m sure I bit hard on some of the hype but what sold me was Clayton’s story about how he came to open baffle design.  It just resonated with me (pun not intended but I’ll go with it).
  I’m not a speaker designer and I’m challenged to hear much difference between tubes and transistors let alone speaker cables plugged in backwards, but the Sapphires just sound right to me.  I know they’ll sound that much better once I tame the room.  How much of that is OB vs good execution?  I don’t know but it’s enough to know I like them.

S Clark

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Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #10 on: 12 Aug 2022, 04:11 am »
I really find this entire bashing of box speakers a bit silly. 
Very well designed box speakers can sound.... excellent.  Open baffle can also be great, but they don't have an exclusive grip on "best".

FullRangeMan

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Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #11 on: 12 Aug 2022, 04:40 am »
I could prefer a boxed Bass Reflex enclosure in the bass with a efficient 15'' driver, enclosure are useful only for making bass.

Letitroll98

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Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #12 on: 12 Aug 2022, 10:34 am »
Well heck, I'm just putting everything out on the curb later today.  All hope it's lost.  The illusion I had of Erich Kunzel  with the Cincinnati Pops actually playing in my room with my secondary TV centric system yesterday must have been just that, an illusion.

TomS

Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #13 on: 12 Aug 2022, 11:36 am »
I really find this entire bashing of box speakers a bit silly. 
Very well designed box speakers can sound.... excellent.  Open baffle can also be great, but they don't have an exclusive grip on "best".
Amen  8)

AllanS

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Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #14 on: 12 Aug 2022, 11:51 am »
Though I like the Sapphires I’m not parting with the Philharmonic BMRs.  They sound amazing to me also.  I wonder though if box resonance, if not well controlled, really only becomes an issue at higher SPL.  Even resonance suggests a range of sensitivity.

JLM

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Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #15 on: 12 Aug 2022, 12:57 pm »
Most enclosures are simple rectangles.  Loudspeakers are often sized to fit the drivers on the front baffle and meet a simple volume formula.  Floor standers usually end up acting more like a pipe than than the intended sealed or ported design.  Sound bounces off the back wall and out through the thin walled driver cone. 

Open baffles are mindlessly simple.  Most musical instruments don't radiate sound front and back so the concept isn't valid. 

Bob2

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Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #16 on: 12 Aug 2022, 01:13 pm »
Jeff, you're a retired engineer. Know more about all this stuff than most people. Design your own.
I'm betting you have some ideas.

S Clark

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Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #17 on: 12 Aug 2022, 01:52 pm »

Open baffles are mindlessly simple....
Yeah, anyone can do it..  :roll:


DannyBadorine

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Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #18 on: 12 Aug 2022, 02:16 pm »
I'm enjoying this thread.  I wish I was a better wood worker and could make the inside of my speakers more complicated to address these concerns because I think there's something to it.  But even rectangle loudspeakers that are properly braced and constructed still probably have less problems than the rooms that they are placed in most of the time.  However, that doesn't mean that we can't improve the internal construction of them.

RonN5

Re: Why are loudspeaker enclosure shapes so dumb?
« Reply #19 on: 12 Aug 2022, 02:42 pm »
I currently own Spatial M3 Sapphires....open baffle...great speakers.  Prior to these I owned Salk Veracity ST (dual 6" seas midwoofers, RAAL tweeter, transmission line)...also a great speaker...extremely solid to the knuckle test....Sapphires and the Salks sound more alike than different and neither speaker commits any real offense.

When I think about "box speakers"...it seems to me that a lot is going on: concrete cabinets, aluminum cabinets, multi layer Baltic birch cabinets, and speakers with built in dsp to offset whatever resonances may show up in a room.....to name a few.

The issue is that these efforts to make lower resonance speakers costs more money and the trickle down to lower priced models is slow.  I suspect that this is why people ending up trying so many speakers at home...to find the one that really works best in their space and with their gear.

And there are people like me...I just like changing it up every now and then and trying new things...sometimes it works toward better sound...and sometimes not...but the journey can be as enjoyable as the destination.