The acoustic suspension (or air suspension) woofer is a type of loudspeaker that reduces bass distortion caused by stiff mechanical suspensions in conventional loudspeakers. It was invented in 1932 by Edgar Villchur, and brought to commercial production by Villchur and Henry Kloss with the founding of Acoustic Research in Cambridge Mass.
The acoustic-suspension woofer uses the elastic cushion of air within a sealed enclosure to provide the restoring force for the woofer diaphragm. Because the air in the cabinet serves to control the woofer's excursion, the physical stiffness of the driver can be reduced.
Unlike the stiff physical suspension built into the driver of conventional speakers, the trapped air inside the sealed-loudspeaker enclosure provides a more linear restoring force for the woofer's diaphragm, enabling it to oscillate a greater distance (excursion) in a linear fashion. This is a requirement for clean and loud reproduction of deep bass by drivers with relatively small cones. Acoustic suspension cabinets are not entirely airtight. A small amount of airflow must be allowed so the speaker can adjust to changes in atmospheric pressure. A semi-porous cone surround allows enough airflow for this purpose.
Acoustic suspension woofers were once very popular in hi-fi systems, due to their low distortion. Compared to bass reflex cabinets, acoustic suspension has a flatter frequency response and slower rolloff below their resonant frequency. Bass reflex cabinets are generally more efficient, however.
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