Do speaker enclosures matter, outdoors?
June 7, 2005 1:43 AM   Subscribe

I am building a stereo system designed to be used out of doors. Do speaker enclosures matter?

As far as I have read, one puts a speaker in an enclosure primarily to avoid phase cancellation. It seems to me that this only matters if you are using the speaker indoors, where the out-of-phase signal could reflect off a nearby wall; outdoors, I imagine, it simply radiates off into the distance. I would rather not do more construction than necessary; what are the likely consequences if I simply point the speakers in the right direction and bolt them on with L-brackets?
posted by Mars Saxman to Technology (3 answers total)
Likely consequences? No / poor bass, for starters.

Basically, the sound waves "bend" around the edge of the cone / frame (the ultimate physics of this is rather complex, but picture it like you're swinging around a corner), and meet the out-of-phase waves from the back doing the same thing. The effect is most pronounced at low frequencies.

People spend their lives designing the "ultimate" loudspeaker enclosure. For any theoretical single speaker, the ultimate is the so-called "infinite baffle". Imagine a sheet of non-resonant (infinitely damped) material, infinitely large, with an infinite amount of open space front and back, and the speaker mounted at the centre.

Big, isn't it? Certainly won't fit in your backyard...

A very rough rule-of-thumb to obtain a slightly more manageable value of 'infinite' is to multiply the diameter of the speaker cone by 3, and take that as the size of a board to mount the speaker in. So, for a 12" cone, mount it in the centre of a 3'x3' board.

Leaving out the fact that any non-theoretical realistic speaker is probably designed to be mounted in a cabinet of a certain volume, it'll sound the best it can. Except when you're standing along the axis of the board...
posted by Pinback at 3:10 AM on June 7, 2005

Speakers sound notoriously bad outdoors because there are no walls to reinforce the sound ,the best compromise is a horn loaded type speaker. good luck with your design.
posted by hortense at 9:45 AM on June 7, 2005

Thanks for the information; I started building an enclosure earlier this evening.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:58 PM on June 7, 2005

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