Revolutionizing the way we “experience audio in all forms of transport” – CEO of UK start-up Warwick Acoustics
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British audio technology company Warwick Acoustics was founded in 2002. The company, which is a spin-out from the University of Warwick’s School of Engineering, first entered the high-end headphone market. range in 2018.
Since the launch of the Sonoma Model One helmet system, the company has won more than thirty global awards for its helmet products. It now aims to disrupt the car audio market with its electrostatic speaker technology.
Auto Futures recently met with Warwick Acoustics CEO Mike Grant to discuss their expansion plans.
The startup recently exited “stealth mode” and is now entering the automotive sector after a five-year R&D program.
“We continue to grow our world-class engineering team of over 30 – led by a group of executives with over 150 years of experience in the technology and in-car audio industries at brands such as Sony, Bose, Harman Automotive, Meridian Audio, McLaren Automotive and Jaguar Land Rover,” says Grant.
Warwick Acoustics’ electrostatic technology vibrates the air using a thin, multi-layer conductive membrane. This technology provides an enhanced acoustic experience.
“Excellence in the design of electrostatic transducer technology is our daily bread and it is the technology that underpins our electroacoustic panels for automotive applications. We have spent over a decade researching and developing this technology revolutionary and patented The ideal loudspeaker transducer would have zero mass, respond infinitely quickly to any signal, have no distortion, and be perfectly linear over its entire operating range.
the technology that best exemplifies these characteristics is electrostatic,” says Grant.
“In its simplest form, our electrostatic transducer module vibrates air using a charged, conductive multi-layer membrane thinner than a human hair, suspended between two thin, electrically conductive stators. This results in the diaphragm moving in response to the audio signal thereby generating an acoustic output. Due to the low mass of the moving diaphragm, it responds very quickly and precisely to changes in the audio signal, resulting in clear and extremely accurate sound reproduction,” he adds.
Historically, electrostatic speakers were only available as large floor standing units or as relatively large headphones. These products are relatively fragile and sensitive to heat and dust.
“Our unique approach to transducer design allows us to produce transducers that are significantly smaller than today’s state-of-the-art transducers for a given output power level and are significantly more robust against heat, water and dust than was previously possible to achieve,” says Grant.
The technology also enables a more personalized and immersive listening experience for users.
“These features, together with a range of proprietary analysis tools and manufacturing processes that we have developed, enable us to uniquely shape the frequency response and directivity of audio output to deliver exceptional acoustic experiences in a variety of different situations and environments.”
The Sound of the Future – Loudspeaker Solutions for OEMs
Warwick Acoustics is now turning to the automotive in-car audio market. Grant says its electro-acoustic panels offer significant benefits to the entire vehicle system for OEMs, drivers and passengers, compared to using conventional audio technology.
“Similarly, electro-acoustic panels are up to 75% lighter and consume up to 75% less energy, characteristics that are particularly beneficial for electric vehicles, where every gram and watt counts in determining range. of a given vehicle.”
Electro-acoustic panels also give automotive designers and engineers more freedom in speaker placement and cabin integration.
“Unlike conventional loudspeakers, electro-acoustic panels can be molded into a variety of form factors and incorporated into almost any interior surface design. This creates additional space in the vehicle cabin for passengers, as well as the freedom for automakers to innovate visual interior design, creating new and distinctive in-cabin experiences,” he said.
Since OEMs are very concerned about making their vehicles more environmentally friendly, this technology can help them achieve their goals.
“As automakers set key sustainability goals, including decarbonizing their supply bases to become carbon neutral, Warwick Acoustics’ electro-acoustic panels offer game-changing loudspeaker solutions for automakers to achieve these goals through the use of materials that are 100% by mass recycled and recyclable,” explains Grant.
Additionally, electro-acoustic panels do not use any rare earth elements, which is what conventional loudspeakers rely on in the manufacturing process.
“With strong financial support, we are at the start of a very exciting journey.”
In the longer term, sound and the whole acoustic environment look set to play a vital role in the driverless future.
“Headrest noise canceling technology is likely to become a feature of all cars in the future, as electric vehicles become more prominent and autonomous. Electro-acoustic panels are particularly well suited for noise cancellation. noise due to their membrane having such low mass, as they can react very quickly and precisely to produce the anti-noise signal needed to cancel out unwanted ambient noise.
Now that it is no longer in “stealth mode”, the company is about to enter a period of growth and expansion.
“We are now ready to expand rapidly into the automotive sector, as our electrostatic panels are in their development stage ready for application. The technology is being deployed in proof-of-concept and testing stages for several automakers, and we are making very significant progress in this area. With strong financial support, we are at the start of a very exciting journey and look forward to sharing more news with
you in due time,” he said.
Finally, we asked Grant what he thinks the driving and passenger experiences will be like by the end of the decade.
“2030 is obviously a key milestone for the industry, as many countries around the world will work to only allow the sale of electric vehicles by then. or luxury, is how to redefine their relationship with customers in this new environment,” he says.
“A major element of this relationship is sound – whether it’s the throaty sound of a V12 engine, the quietness and smoothness of the ride, or the quality – or simplicity – of the entertainment delivered in the Indeed, as electric vehicles are inherently much quieter than older ICEs, the role of sound management in the vehicle is becoming increasingly important.
“Today we see car manufacturers innovating in different ways. Some pursue a reductionist approach to interior design in order to provide a calm and seductive cabin experience and seek smooth, high-quality audio to support this approach. We see others looking to replicate the raw, guttural approach of a high-performance internal combustion engineer by feeding artificial sound into the cabin. Still others provide different acoustic feedback (eg, spaceship-like sounds) as the vehicle accelerates and decelerates,” Grant adds.
“I am extremely excited about the future,” he concludes.