BBC-style thin-wall cabinets. Why so special?
What underpins the BBC's thin-wall cabinet philosophy (and I was surprised to read that exact word in one of Harwood's papers recently) is the observation that a perfectly cast bell will ring on for many seconds. Conversely, a bell with a hairline crack will sound leaden and hardly ring at all. It's the same with cabinets: if the panels are all rigidly glued together then at some critical frequency or other a note or notes in the music will trigger the cabinet's natural structural resonance. In such a rigid structure, there is nothing that can be done to suppress the ringing - and each time that note reappears, it tops up the ringing which then becomes a permanent drone underneath the music.
Originally Posted by Gan CK
Conversely, in a thin-wall cabinet, the lossy joints (i.e. removable baffle/back and the generally 9-12mm thin panels used throughout the box) each act as an acoustic hairline crack. They inhibit the build-up of resonance. Simple as that really!
Now, let's not kid ourself that it is possible to kill cabinet resonance stone dead. It isn't. Not with any approach to cabinet design because the sound pressure inside the cabinet is huge. What the thin-wall approach does is to move unwanted resonances downwards in amplitude and frequency so that they are adequately buried below the music and then pushed down in pitch. Note that I said adequately. Providing that the resonance, be it from the cone, cabinet or even recording - whatever the source - is x dBs below the fundamental, the BBC proved that it was completely inaudible. Once inaudible to trained listeners on all types of music/speech, that is the end of the matter. Inaudible to the trained listener is as good as the solution needs to be. It is neither necessary nor cost effective (nor good engineering) to continue pushing for a degree of theoretical excellence that nobody can appreciate but everyone must pay for. That pragmatism keeps our speaker affordable - and sounding natural.
What we seem to be lacking in the industry today is the good old fashioned common sense that was abundant when serious researchers with zero commercial interest (i.e. the BBC) had their hands on the tiller. Thank goodness that they thoroughly documented their efforts for posterity since physics, acoustics and our hearing are the same now as fifty years ago. Now it seems we are all conditioned by marketeers to chase theoretical perfection which is far, far beyond what our ears can reliably resolve.
Alan A. Shaw
Harbeth Audio UK