Cooley On Cars
Making car speakers go awayThe future of car speakers is looking invisible.
From the monster stereos of the 70s to the 5.1 home theater systems of the 90s and 2000s, to the slim soundbars of today, we generally like to proceed to see less soundgear if we can. But interestingly, speakers figure as prominently as ever, if not moreso, in cars. They're popping up everywhere, more of them and really proud, and bossy, and obvious. Which makes no sense. Why do I have to have so much real estate and prominence given to something that I can't even see? Luckily, the trend is starting to cut the other way. More and more designs trying to get rid of speakers, or at least flatten and invisibilize them, if you will, so that other, more important design cues can take over the interior without giving up good sound. [MUSIC] Car Tech, and tire supplier, Continental, has a pending technology that will try to create speakers out of other parts inside the car. It basically keeps the moving electromagnetic coil part of a speaker, but uses it to vibrate some other part of the car, not a speaker cone. Like a door panel, maybe the windshield, a trim panel on the dash. Google recently bought up a UK startup called Redux that has been working on turning screens into speakers. They set little sense but the idea that your car's center display screen could also be a center channel speaker, that's pretty cool. Warwick Audio has a technology called HPEL, high precision electrostatic laminates. It uses electrical signals fed through a sandwich of conductive sheets to make the whole mess vibrate rather than doing so with a bulky magnetic coil. Again, a lot less space used. [MUSIC] An interesting paper published in 2016 by researchers of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Details how the entire headliner of a car, can be turned into a sub woofer. And that same institute they have developed a paper thin speaker sing graphine the holy grail of nano materials research. Well, you don't need to wait for that to come true. Just buy a modern Toyota FJ Cruiser, which already has a speaker system in the headliner. It's not a subwoofer, but more of a mid-range using two drivers mounted up in there above the upholstery. Or get one of a number of 2013 and newer Mercedes that have FrontBass. That's a technology where they mount a subwoofer in the front firewall stamping. Just beyond your feet. You're never gonna see that speaker unless you do automotive carpet for a living. Now with all this technologies, I hope you've noticed a few overall trends bubbling up. First of all the idea of better packaging, obviously a speaker that takes up less size front to back And it has less weight from an old fashioned magnetic coil design. That allows you to have a lighter car that has less bulk taken up that can be used for something else in the cabin, and it's always something better than a speaker. The next thing is dispersion. A lot of these flat speakers really go after the idea of better more even sound dispersion across all frequencies, so they are disappointing in terms of where they aim. Which often leads to you need more speakers to aim everywhere. Flat speakers hopefully can move away from that trend. And the third thing going on here is the power efficiency. Every car designers trying to save every drop, not just every gallon of. Gas, and a speaker that can give you the same sound pressure level and fidelity with fewer watts is gonna put less load on the battery, and therefore the alternator, and therefore save a little gas. [MUSIC]