You’ve been there. You’re either building your own speakers, or something (or someone) passes by your speaker and snags on the thin fabric, causing a rip. If you think you can use just any colored fabric, well…it doesn’t quite work that way. Speaker cloth is a particular type of fabric that allows sound to pass through, but keeps dust and contaminates from settling on the woofer or sensitive high frequency drivers. It can also add a touch of flair or color to the room and loudspeaker if you do it right.
What is Speaker Cloth Fabric?
Speaker cloth or speaker fabric (it’s also referred to as grille cloth, acoustic cloth, or speaker mesh) is specifically designed to allow for easy sound transmission through the material. The thing is—just about all fabric will let some sound through (called sound transmissibility), but speaker fabric is specially made to equally allow all frequencies through from 20Hz to 20 kHz. It also is available in a variety of colors to match the aesthetics or look a loudspeaker manufacturer (or interior designer) is trying to achieve. Most of the fabric used in speaker cloth or grille cloth is made from synthetic materials or threads (100% polyester is not uncommon) in an open weave pattern where warp threads never come together. This leaves the cloth very open with vast spaces in the fabric. If you looked at speaker cloth closely under a magnifying glass or microscope you’d see lots of square openings for sound to penetrate. Many of these materials are also flame retardant and even mildew proof so that moisture is allowed to pass through and any heat generated from the driver doesn’t build up under the fabric. Most speaker cloth materials have excellent fade resistance, and most can be cleaned with a vacuum brush.
Buying Speaker Cloth or Acoustic Fabric
Speaker grille cloth fabric is sold by the linear yard (in lengths of 36 inches). Grille cloth comes in various widths, but they are typically around 64″. Given this, three linear yards would net you a piece measuring 108″ (3 x 36″) x 64″. In most cases, a linear yard is enough to cover a pair of speakers. If you’re making your own speakers, buying a few yards of grill cloth will cover all but the largest tower speakers. If you’re making acoustic panels (also a great use for speaker cloth), then you may need a considerably greater amount of fabric.