Research & Development: Diffraction

We've discussed how sound leaves a loudspeaker. We've also discussed the performance-robbing impediments that it meets on the way to your ears, from room anomalies to flaws in the speaker design itself. (And we've seen how Paradigm innovations have worked to defeat those flaws through intensive research and development.)

Diffraction is the term used to describe how sound might reflect and break up when its waves leave the driver and immediately collide with elements of the speaker itself, such as the baffle, the edge of the enclosure, or the grille.

Because the drivers have to sit inside an enclosure, and the sound has to leave the enclosure, it's almost inevitable that there will be some diffraction. Problem is, diffraction creates obvious sonic interference, reducing accuracy and muddying detail. It's like tripping right out of the gate.

Because it's impossible to fix errors of diffraction once the sound has left the driver and encountered the obstacle, Paradigm engineers realized that to eliminate diffraction, they had to apply innovative design solutions to the loudspeaker itself.

Thus, Paradigm loudspeaker enclosures are always designed to eliminate as much edge diffraction as possible. Baffles and enclosure edges are kept well out of the way of the wide dynamic soundstage produced by the drivers. Designs are tested closely for sound radiating patterns and interference in our massive anechoic chamber.

Paradigm loudspeaker grilles, which sit directly in front of drivers, are specially designed to be completely passive and never interfere with radiating sound patterns. Grille frames always have soft outer edges and fit flush to ensure there are no reflective edges in the way of the sound.

(Many people choose to display their loudspeakers "grille off," showing off the drivers directly, and completely eliminating the risk of grille diffraction.)

Another tool you can use to eliminate diffraction in your listening room is Anthem Room Correction (ARC) Technology. ARC uses precision microphone measurements and advanced algorithms to "remove" the effects of diffractive room anomalies like reflective surfaces and furniture, which can muddy low frequency response. By eliminating these room-based diffractors, ARC helps produce a more natural, better-blended and less reflective soundscape.

By engineering the elimination of major sources of diffraction, Paradigm loudspeakers achieve superior resolution over a wider radiating area, with less distortion and more detail.