Friday, March 1, 2013

Baffle Step Compensation / Does the shape or size of the baffle affect my sound?

    I was recently asked about something called Baffle Step Compensation Then followed up with the next question does the shape of the enclosure affect the sound?

    If you click the link, you'll learn a bit about BSC.  What the article doesn't really get into is how many makers compensate for it and where it's applied.  Yes the outside baffle, (not enclosure), but baffle shape can affect sound.
    Note the frequencies that it affects which are in the upper range.  You can sometimes see this in high end speakers when foam is placed around the mids and tweeters to dampen them and allow the sound to be more pinpoint.  I found SALK to have a better explanation of BSC.  This is why it's key to have your highs pointed at your head.  The the high frequency sounds are highly directional.  This is why many tweeter makers will apply a lens to help disperse the sound.  A horn loaded tweeter can do even more but you compromise the size and place you can place such an object.

    To eliminate this, some makers will remove the baffle entirely like this popular B&W speaker. Notice that they even used truncated frames and large beveled edges on the sides of the woofers.  In this setup, the woofers may be crossed over as high as 350Hz which would still make them subject to some of the BSC rules, (depending on baffle size of course).  Some makers will surround the tweeter and mid-range area with felt or foam.  On many of the speakers the treatments would be removable so you could play with your options as many audiophiles like to do.  An L-Pad in the crossover would do the same thing as well.  Then again, music is subjective.  You may enjoy the added brightness by the effect.

    BSC doesn't affect lower frequencies like that of subwoofers.  The wavelengths are just so much larger that it doesn't matter.  Which leads to the next question, does ENCLOSURE shape affect sound.  The short answer is NO, only the volume matters for subwoofers that is.  as for a speaker or satellite that plays in the upper frequencies, it can have great effect. Heat and cold have an even greater affect on your system. More on that next week from SpeakerBuilder Magazine.

Co-Founder of Robot Underground
Patrick Chandler