xMEMS aims for mobile audiophiles with silicon-based microspeakers
xMEMS Labs out of Santa Clara, California, is aiming to replace century-old coil-based speaker technology with silicon-based microspeakers, and has launched three Solid-State Fidelity solutions for use in upcoming true-wireless earphones, in-ear monitors, digital hearing aids and other audio-packed wearables such as smart glasses, VR headsets and sleep buds.
"Unlike conventional coil speakers, our speakers are monolithic, with silicon membranes offering far better material stiffness and exponentially faster impulse response than conventional speakers, resulting in the superior sound performance of xMEMS Solid-State Fidelity technologies," said the company's VP of Marketing and Business Development, Mike Housholder.
The silicon membrane in the patented solid-state speaker effectively replaces the paper or plastic diaphragm in conventional speaker driver design, and is claimed to be some 95 times stiffer for improved clarity in the mids and highs while the silicon architecture also delivers 150 times faster impulse response for improved precision. Meanwhile thin-film piezo actuators do the job of the coil and magnet to excite the silicon membrane and produce sound waves.
The lightweight high-performance speaker – one example tips the scales at just 56 mg and measures 1 mm thin – should allow for more room inside housing for bigger batteries or onboard sensors like microphones, and the overall design is said to eliminate the need for speaker matching and reduce calibration requirements, and offer much improved spatial audio imaging than conventional dynamic drivers. It can also meet IP58 standards for resistance to dust and moisture.
Since the xMEMS microspeakers make use of standard semiconductor processes, the company says that they can be produced "rapidly, uniformly, and cost effectively at scale." Now, the market availability of three new Solid-State Fidelity solutions has been announced.
The Cowell is billed as the world's smallest solid-state micro speaker and is heading for both wired and true-wireless earphones spaces as a two-way design incorporating a 9-mm DD woofer.
The company's Montara microspeaker is currently featured in the Mimitakara 6EB Active Hearing Aid, and xMEMS has now launched the Montara Plus solution – which is reported to be the world's highest-output MEMS microspeaker, and is being pitched as a full-bandwidth transducer for high-resolution in-ear monitors.
Combining the best qualities of open and closed earbud designs, the Skyline DynamicVent rocks a DSP-controllable vent for active ambient control. Closing the vent results in the best listening experience and bass response as well as the highest passive isolation. Opening the vent allows sounds from the outside in so that listeners aren't so cut off from the world around them, while also reducing occlusion effects (where the wearer's footsteps or voice are amplified).
"The market for MEMS micro speakers is expected to follow a similar trajectory to MEMS microphones," said market analyst Peter Cooney of SAR Insight. "Consumer demand for high-resolution, spatial, lossless streaming audio represents a generatinal shift in audio content that requires a similar evolution is sound reproduction. Solid-state fidelity is able to create a more accurate reproduction of the source audio and a vastly superior listening experience."
Source: xMEMS Labs
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