I'm trying hard not to have this be a "well, DUH!" kinda post, but I gotta say that it is still amazing to me how much we are listening to the BOX, as opposed to the driver. Okay, I know that is why they call it a system, and that is why we spend so much time talking about the all-important cabinet and it's construction, but STILL, I have to remind myself how much of the character of the sound is determined by the box.
I think that many peoples perceptions, even those who have been into audio for quite some time but perhaps never done any DIY or component swapping, is to underappreciate what role the enclosure has.
Okay, so you start with a driver with certain parameters, which then tend to suggest the best enclosure alignment/type, and then work within the practical restraints to build such an enclosure. Or you you work the other way, starting with a favored enclosure design and seeking drivers that work well within. Basic stuff, I know.
The point I have been pondering is how far some manufacturers go to (at least brag of) create a "resonance free" box. I'm all for inertness, at least that is what I have been told I should want, but I wonder how far we want to really go in that direction.
There seems to be some efforts that go to ridiculous and expensive lengths. (Again, many people have to be educated about the labor costs of constructing a proper enclosure, and how much of the price of the final product resides in the cabinet). So how important is it, and where is the point of diminishing returns? (some drivers probably wouldn't even sound good without box coloration!!)
Most large format JBL monitor cabs, for example, are nice heavy beasts, well constructed, but not slaves to the nth degree of inertness.
Give me a really good driver and a reasonably constructed box.
So, from whence came the epiphany?
I, like many of you, have taken a mainstream driver, in this case a 2226, and listened to it in direct comparison with 5-6 different configurations;
a)front loaded horn, (still a nice sound)
b)a 3 cu ft direct radiator, ported
c) a 6 cu ft direct radiator, ported
d) a 23.5 cu ft direct radiator, ported, multiple drivers
e) 3.5 cu ft sealed
f) rear loaded scoop
g)probably a few I have forgotten
Every time, I shake my head and say "it's the damn BOX; to hell with the driver, we're hardly listening to it!" An exaggeration, of course, but it seems like the truth.
There are some corollaries that emerge, and some drivers do perform better in a wider variety of enclosures than others, but IT'S THE DAMN BOX!!
Some of YOUR thoughts?
Okay, I'm done.
Except for infinite baffle....................