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The "What is" files:
Sound & Hearing
Woofers, Tweeters
Passive Radiators
Acoustic Suspension
Crossover Networks

Acoustic Suspension

The acoustic suspension principle revolutionised the loudspeaker industry in the late fifties. Based on a mathematical model of woofer behavior in tandem with the air in a speaker cabinet, it provides a way to design a small speaker system (as opposed to the refrigerator sized monsters previously used to get halfway decent bass) with effective, linear low frequency response.

An acoustic suspension, or "sealed box," design, usually employs a woofer with very soft, compliant suspension components, and uses the air sealed inside the cabinet as a spring to return the cone to its "rest" position and control the system resonance. The restoring force of this trapped air is linear in nature, and the use of soft suspension materials reduces any non-linearities due to them. Other common features of woofers designed properly for sealed systems are very long throw voice coils, small diameter, and fairly large diameter cross section surrounds.

In the ideal sized box (for a given woofer), the frequency response will be flat to a fairly low point, often not much above the woofer's "free air" resonance, and then decrease smoothly at lower tones. A slightly smaller box will raise this roll off point a bit, and cause a small increase in the output above that frequency, whereas an oversized box will give a lower final roll off with less output in the octave or so above it.

It is not unusual for speaker using this design to have useful output down to 30 to 40 Hz from a box of only one to two cubic feet or so, which is very easy to place in the listening room.

The limiting factors on bass response will be:

The principal advantages of a well designed acoustic suspension system will be:

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