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Graphene speaker technology promises 50% more battery life for your portable audio devices

Graphene speaker technology pr...
Wonder-material graphene can make for such lightweight speaker membranes that they'll require vastly less power to run
Wonder-material graphene can make for such lightweight speaker membranes that they'll require vastly less power to run
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ORA's super-thin membrane is 98% graphene by weight, and extremely lightweight while maintaining rigidity
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ORA's super-thin membrane is 98% graphene by weight, and extremely lightweight while maintaining rigidity
Pre-production GRAPHENEQ speaker cone.
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Pre-production GRAPHENEQ speaker cone.
Wonder-material graphene can make for such lightweight speaker membranes that they'll require vastly less power to run
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Wonder-material graphene can make for such lightweight speaker membranes that they'll require vastly less power to run

Montreal-based tech startup Ora Sound believes it has a design and process that could bring graphene-based speaker membranes to the mass market. Insanely lightweight and strong, the Grapheneq speaker cones could extend battery life on portable devices by up to 50 percent.

The lighter a speaker membrane gets, the less energy it takes to move it back and forth to create sound – and the more responsive it can be. That means longer battery life and better sound reproduction.

Ideally, everyone would be making speaker cones out of graphene. Heck, ideally, we'd be making just about everything out of graphene, as its material properties are simply ludicrous. It's the strongest known material in the universe, with extraordinarily light weight and excellent conductivity. It dominates in pretty much any field it competes – but mostly in the lab, as it's currently difficult and expensive to produce, to the point where the global graphene market was only worth about US$25 million last year.

We took a look back in 2014 at the first graphene speaker ever assembled in a lab, which was already giving impressive results on frequency response tests. Now, a Montreal-based tech startup is pushing to get graphene speakers onto the market.

Ora's patented technology is called Grapheneq, a membrane that is 98 percent graphene by weight, bonded together with oxygen and other additives to form a laminate material.

Pre-production GRAPHENEQ speaker cone.
Pre-production GRAPHENEQ speaker cone.

On top of its excellent frequency response and damping characteristics, Ora claims it's so light that portable audio devices using Grapheneq speaker membranes could get twice the battery life they do with existing materials.

In terms of manufacturing, Ora believes it's got things sorted out, saying that it "can be formed using a simple industrial process directly into the cone and dome shapes used in loudspeakers." The company sees these lightweight units as drop-in replacements for typical speaker membranes.

Without a product to speak of at this point, Ora is shopping the idea around to consumer electronics companies, looking to become a key supplier. It would certainly be a big deal if these guys can get graphene speakers to a price point that works for the market, but we imagine it's going to need to demonstrate some very compelling performance to make it worthwhile for manufacturers to switch over from much cheaper paper or mylar membranes.

Source: ORA Sound

4 comments
KungfuSteve
While this material has good potentials... it was clearly and Totally lost.. the moment that company made it a Ported speaker. Anyone who knows the difference between ported and sealed speakers.. and who has heard them... can easily tell you have horrible that "Fake Bass" port destroys the natural sounds that were meant to be heard. Id put my 1960s EPI 100v against them any day of the week, to blow them out of the water. In fact, they far succeeded everything that I saw at the high-end audio/video shop that Id visited recently... including their +$3000 range speaker sets. You see.. its not just about how light and fast something moves. There is Far more than that simplistic BS going on in a high quality speaker. Poor magnetic strength in the drivers... is but one of the huge factors at play. Heres a tip... Lift the speaker up. If its so heavy, that you have trouble holding it out at fully extended arms length for more than a few moments... then you probably have a winner. Once the 80s hit... speakers MFGs went total ECO and opted for higher profit - by ripping the consumer off with Absolute Garbage. Rather than 2 quality drivers... they put 4 to 6 low quality drivers in... making it look interesting... but producing far Inferior sound. The reality... is that you Need more power, for better sound quality. There is no way around that. UNLESS, you are talking about headphones. At that scale.. there is almost no energy draw needed, to produce incredibly accurate reproduction of the source material. Listen to a true Audiophile headphone set... such as Sennheisers HD series (model 500 or above)... and be prepared to have you mind blown. You will swear that your entire surround sound system is ON... Totally fooled me... as I dove for my B-channel at 2 am... while starting a movie up. The Paper cones on my EPIs 8 inch drivers, outperformed my 200 watt per speaker : Techniques 12" three ways. And they have beat speakers costing thousands of dollars.. that use exotic materials such as Kevlar, in their cones. The cone itself.. is a Fraction of the reason for good quality output / reproduction. Of course... the dumb masses are mostly flocking to the advertised names: Bose, and Beats... that its laughable how horrible that both of those rip offs really are. Someone who paid through the nose for a new set of Bose headphones heard my ancient Sennheiser HD500's .. and almost cried. They cost less than a fifth.. and sounded 20x better.. not to mention, Far more comfortable, and durable. I later upgraded to the 590s, and holy hell... I couldnt believe how much better it got. I can only imagine what their top end mega-dollar sets sound like. Once you get a single taste of the real deal... there is no turning back. Funny thing is... My EPIs cant play as loud as the Techs... and I do love loud music... BUT... in moments of listening, I was so much in audio bliss... that I didnt even care about the volume levels being lower. Its like eating crap ice cream... -vs- the good stuff. You can eat 2 bowls of the crappy stuff... and not feel satisfied. But with the good stuff... you can have 3 spoons worth... and be totally fulfilled.
Brad Wood
I won't defend Bose and Beats---the former more marketing than substance, and the latter more a fashion statement than a functional product---but Steve's argument that magnets have to be heavy to be high energy neglects a whole class of materials, rare-earth magnets, especially those using neodymium.
Mark Salamon
I'm wondering if a graphene membrane would also enable planar and electrostatic speakers to be more accurate and efficient. The low-mass strength of a graphene speaker membrane might even make it possible to create an electrostatic subwoofer with nearly perfect reproduction of bass octaves.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
A graphene product coming to market is the real milestone. There is not much value added here. The real value is in production experience. There should be a lot of products coming to market that couldn't be made before.