CES 2020: End of magnet-driven speaker tech for cars?

CES 2020: End of magnet-driven speaker tech for cars?

This new system exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show 2020 works by exciting select surfaces in the vehicle interior to produce sound. (Credit: CES)

Is the beginning of the end for conventional magnet and cone-based speaker systems? It probably is.

Automotive company Continental and audio company Sennheiser have come together and developed a speakerless audio system for a vehicle interior. This is an amalgamation of Sennheiser’s AMBEO 3D audio technology with Continental’s Ac2ated Sound system, which is being showcased at CES 2020, Las Vegas.

Conventional speakers produce sound when an electrical signal (music from a CD for example) is applied to a coil which has been placed within a magnet. The diaphragm we see is connected to the coil inside and when it vibrates, sound is produced.

This new system exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show 2020 works by exciting select surfaces in the vehicle interior to produce sound. The result, the companies say, is breathtaking 3D sound reproduction that envelops passengers in an incredibly detailed sound.


With this technology, many components are unnecessary because the surfaces in the vehicle vibrate just like speaker diaphragms. (Credit: CES)

The companies further add that as compared to regular sound systems, Ac2ated Sound enables a reduction of weight and space of up to 90 per cent. Apart from high-quality audio, it is a suite for electric vehicles where saving space and weight is the top priority. Conventional audio systems weigh up to 40 Kg but by using these newer technologies.

Conventional magnet-driven speaker technology hampers good sound dispersion and imaging which doesn’t give the best audio reproduction. Audio engineers have to work very hard so as to not get the audio to sound like it is coming from one point. This new technology could very well be the answer to getting widespread and immersive sound.

With this technology, many components are unnecessary because the surfaces in the vehicle vibrate just like speaker diaphragms. Actuators cause components such as the A-pillar trim, door trim, roof lining and rear shelf to vibrate so that they emit sound in different frequency ranges.

Not very long ago, electronics giant Sony introduced a new sound reproduction technology in some of their high-end OLED TV sets. Called Acoustic Surface, the screen is effectively the speaker. Certain portions of the screen have actuators fixed to the back of the screen and this turns the entire screen into a speaker.

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