Glass speaker panel makes directional audio personal
Hong Kong-based hearing/acoustic tech company Audfly has been working on a nifty glass-panel directional-audio speaker since 2019, and has now launched on Kickstarter to bring the Focusound unit into production.
Using ultrasound for directional audio certainly isn't new, and the general idea is that the listener could be immersed in a personal sound bubble without impacting on others in the room, and without having to wear headphones. But the Focusound team says that being able to do so via a transparent glass surface translates into a first-of-its-kind device.
The result of years of research and development, the speaker is actually made up of two components. There's the multi-layered glass panel that's home to a bunch of tiny "vibration units" that direct the audio over a narrow field to the listener. The 14-inch panel is housed in an aluminum frame, comes with a hinged stand for adjusting angles and, given its see-through nature, the speaker could also host family photos around back without affecting audio delivery.
And there's a driver box for connecting source devices such as a television, computer, games console or smartphone via cable or Bluetooth. The system also employs "an exclusive Multiple SoundZone Algorithm" for the promise of "a full-range sound effect and spatial audio experience for the listener." The frequency range is given as 300 Hz to 20 kHz, sound pressure level is 74 dB and total harmonic distortion is less than 10%.
That said, the company does admit that "the Focusound sound quality is decent, but is not going to blow away audiophiles because the focus of Focusound product is more on directional sound than it is on pure fidelity."
The speaker is being offered as a single unit for a Kickstarter pledge of US$329, or a pair for $419. The expected retail price for a Solo unit is $699, while the Duo commands $969. If all goes to plan with the remainder of the already-funded campaign, shipping is estimated to start in June.
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With a reasonably sized panel these are said to fill a space with sound. DML panels are good with upper and mid frequencies but require a large panel for lower frequencies or work better with a hybrid system with a woofer to fill in the lower range like MartinLogan do with their electrostatic speakers.
You'd have consider if the cost for the glass versions is really worth it compared to traditional bookshelf speakers from your favourite brand