Thin Speakers Get Lean, Loud And Lovely

July 13, 2012
There is a wide array of speaker technologies being developed with a focus on lean footprints and loud output.

Speaker technology can be most interesting and always proves to be a never-ending quest for something indescribable. The reason for that is one concept: analog. The end of the function chain for any audio component is that analog-only device known as the human ear. Also there’s the fact that the only way to make something audible (not just a physical sensation) to human organisms is to move air in greater or lesser degrees, depending on the needs of the analog ear.   

These days, judging by the way you can hear a person’s personal-listening headphones from a block away and over a train passing by, demand for “loud” is on the rise. In addition to being capable of handling high sound-pressure levels, speakers need to fit into those compact portable packages. Transducers USA meets these challenges with its piezo ceramic MLCT series speakers. Measuring a lean 30 mm x 20 mm x 1.5 mm and delivering a whopping 80-dB output, MLCT series speakers may just be the thinnest and loudest speakers in their class.

MLCT series speakers measure 30 mm x 20 mm x 1.5 mm and pump out 80-dB sound levels.

Churning out 80 dB with a mere 16V driving voltage keeps power consumption in the milli-Watt range. That paired with a waterproof design and anti-electromagnetic properties make the components suitable for use in digital products, household appliances, voice repeaters, music players, and just about any app where big sound is needed in tiny spaces.

Other specs include a frequency range from 300 Hz to 20 kHz and an operating temperature range from -20°C to +70°C. Price is around $2 each in production quantities. For more info, call Transducers USA at (888) 921-6400 or contact them via email.

Speaking of paper-thin speakers, we can go back to April 1, 2009 when the BBC news reported that researchers and engineers at Warwick University in the UK developed ultra-thin speakers that could be used as speaking posters. Essentially they could replace public address systems in any number of sound reinforcement applications. Initially forged from a piece of tin foil and some baking paper by Warwick University professor Dr. Duncan Billson, the speaker system is dubbed flat, flexible loudspeaker (FFL).

Wrap this speaker around a lampshade or other objects to deliver sound anywhere in the home or office.

December 2009,Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) developed and displayed arrays of very small, bendable loudspeakers that that can be used to create high-fidelity speaker systems of almost any size. Called FleXpeaker, the components are formed using standard printing techniques and can later be cut into any shape necessary with a pair of scissors. Of note,FleXpeaker technology won the 2009 Wall Street Journal Innovation Award in Consumer Electronics. And today it’s finding its way into a number of apps such as audible posters.

2009 Wall Street Journal Innovation Award in Consumer Electronics winner FleXpeaker can form flexible posters that deliver high-quality audio.

So there is a wealth of speaker technologies out there to choose from and even more on the horizon. Next step, try to find something worth listening to. ~MD

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