I have seen a trend in the online car audio forums lately a lot of guys asking about speaker baffles because they see that water gets into their door panel.
It is much easier for me to type this once instead of a few times a week so here goes:
I use speaker baffles as often as possible in an install but likely for different reasons than most. And I use much different baffles than what you usually see suggested online.
Full range door speakers are most often times infinite baffle speakers. Meaning that they want an infinite amount of airspace with a very strong baffle to separate the front and rear waves.
When on display in the many stores i have worked at we usually mount them on a huge MDF baffle/wall that has 15-30 cubic feet of airspace behind it. This helps tremendously with the sound.
The baffles I keep seeing recommended online are small foam ones that are completely enclosed, less than 0.2 cubic feet airspace. People like these because they will keep the speakers dry, but these kill the mid bass response and when you try to pump the bass on the EQ up to compensate you will likely hear the speakers make a bad popping noise. This is due to too low of airspace. Now if you already have these, or built an enclosure thats too small (like kick panels), I have found it best to port the back of them*, open then up to let the speaker breath and you will notice a dramatic difference in the sound.
*This does not apply to jeep wranglers factory enclosures, testing has shown that those are actually a very appropriate airspace for the location of the speaker in that vehicle particularly.
So what baffles do I use?
well I started with fast rings because they do a few things very well:
- they seal the front wave of the speaker to the door panel and help funnel it through the opening.
- foam pad that goes behind the speaker helps reduce the sound wave bouncing back and causing cancellation (in theory although many will argue against that)
So what are the downfall?
Fast rings are often 1 time use. They have adhesive that you need to attach to the door panel or speaker and a lot of times after changing the speaker out I have had to replace the ring with new ones. This does not work well for a shop that is warrantying a speaker because now i gotta either charge for new rings or resell them and customer shouldnt be paying extra for warranty work.
Also fast rings do very little to shield the electrical connections/terminals at the speaker from water that drips down into almost every door panel of every vehicle.
Below are some pictures of fast rings I have installed in the past. Also note the speaker adapter plates made from ABS and not MDF. (That is a different conversation lol)
So, in this industry, a lot of installers talk to each other and help each other out with tips and tricks. I even run a forum for sharing install tips and tricks: www.Facebook.com/groups/caraudioinstall I have found through talking to other extremely skilled installers that there is a better solution and its a silicone speaker baffle kit made my Metra sold under the Install Bay brand. https://www.franksaudiomotive.com/product-page/install-bay-silicone-baffle-kit When I got my first set in to test with I decided to make an unboxing video and you will see my honest opinion as I am able to see and hold these for the first time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQYjx-TCcec&t=17s Thats about all i have for now.