Speaker cloth is the fabric that covers the grill, or the removable front, of the speaker cabinet that hides the speakers inside and gives the cabinet a finished look. Synthetic fibre is best for speaker cloth because natural fibres may relax over time and cause the cloth to sag. In addition, natural fibres are not usually acoustically transparent, meaning they will prevent some higher frequencies from making it past the grill cloth.
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Acoustic Grill Cloth
It is best to purchase speaker cloth manufactured specifically for use on speaker grills. This is called acoustic grill cloth. This cloth is made from synthetic fibres that do not stretch. The fibres are smooth so that sound waves are not impeded by them, thus ensuring acoustic transparency. Acoustic grill cloth comes in black, grey, brown and some lighter natural shades. Buy this cloth at acoustic supply stores, some electronic supply stores and fabric stores, as well as online.
If you cannot find acoustic grill cloth, find some single-knit polyester at a fabric store. This fabric is made from smooth synthetic fibres, and the acoustic transparency is preserved. It is somewhat more stretchy than acoustic grill cloth, but it can be stretched over the speaker grill and glued so that it does not sag. This fabric is much less expensive than acoustic grill cloth and comes in a larger variety of colours.
Sometimes speakers need to be installed in an environment in which they are prone to damage, such as in rooms where small children play or in outdoor concert arenas. In this case, consider installing steel mesh over the grill of the speaker to protect it from damage. You can purchase varying strengths of the mesh from acoustic supply stores or from hardware stores. It is easy to work with, cut, and form, and it can be painted. Install steel mesh over the grill of a speaker, then cover the mesh with acoustic fabric to hide the mesh.
Keep in mind that, since steel is not acoustically transparent, some sound quality will be lost since the mesh is directly in front of the speakers. However, if the speakers must be protected, it is a good compromise for protection and aesthetics.
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