Sonos Snaps Up Innovative Transducer

Published On: April 12, 2022
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Sonos Snaps Up Innovative Transducer

A new driver design promises radical space savings without sacrificing capability, so Sonos bought the company.

Sonos Snaps Up Innovative Transducer

  • I’m an AV enthusiast, equipment reviewer, photographer, videographer and drone pilot. I’m also a THX-trained video calibrator with extensive experience reviewing consumer displays including TVS, projectors, monitors and smartphones.

Netherlands-based audio technology startup Mayht has been acquired by Sonos for $100 million in cash. The likely incentive is that Mayht holds numerous patents on a new transducer design that promises to radically reduce the size of a speaker system with a novel twist on a force-canceling design.

Speaker technology is bound by the laws of physics. To make a lot of sound, a transducer needs either plenty of surface area i.e. the size of the driver, or plenty of excursion, which is how far the driver moves in and out.

Mayht's transducer design, which it calls "Heartmotion" does not break any laws of physics. Instead, it repackages the core components of a speaker driver in a manner that maximizes space savings—10X vs. traditional transducers (says the company). All while leveraging the benefits of a dual-opposed, force-canceling design, which includes the elimination of vibrations that could otherwise be transmitted to a speaker's enclosure and create distortion.

The brilliant thing about dual-opposed configurations is that you can split the surface area between the two drivers. And with the force cancellation, you can rely on an increased excursion for added output. It’s a win-win. On their own, dual-opposed driver designs are nothing new, the configuration is used to create compact subwoofers.

What makes this new transducer so innovative and space-saving is how the motors are incorporated into the design. There are dual voice coils for each of the two drivers, four in total. Instead of connecting to the center of the driver like with a typical cone, these connect to the edges of the driver. The result is that the motors to push both drivers take up the same amount of space as the motors to push one driver.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's a comparison between a typical cone transducer and the Mayht design. If the performance truly is the same, then it's pretty clear why Sonos took such a keen interest in this tech.

A new driver design promises radical space savings without sacrificing capability, so Sonos bought the company. e584c69d heartmotion driver
According to Mayht, these two drivers have the same capability

“Mayht’s breakthrough in transducer technology will enable Sonos to take another leap forward in our product portfolio. This strategic acquisition gives us more incredible people, technology and intellectual property that will further distinguish the Sonos experience, enhance our competitive advantage, and accelerate our future roadmap.”

Patrick Spence, CEO Sonos

Those with casual or greater interest in transducer design will recognize that this is a rearrangement of known quantities, and pragmatically speaking Mayht is not making any snake oil claims. It has cleverly come up with a new motor design based on existing technology and either obtained or applied for as many patents as it can to make it proprietary.

Want real-life examples? According to the company, a 3.5" Heartmotion driver is equivalent to a conventional 8-inch driver in output. It also weighs a lot less, up to 5X less according to the company.

Even though the driver arrangement is dual opposed, the technology is available with three configurations including bidirectional firing, front and side-firing, as well as strictly front firing. This is achieved with internal ductwork that can redirect the displaced air, thus providing flexibility in product design and allowing the heart motion driver to be used as would a conventional driver.

Now that Sonos Owns this technology, there is a question of how broadly it will be applied. On the Mayht website, you'll find numerous suggested applications running the gamut from soundbars and smart speakers all the way up to professional sound reinforcement and PA systems. It's certainly possible that Sonos would license this technology for applications outside of its core product focus, or that Sonos will expand the range of products it offers.

It's always nice to see new ideas and new technology in a category as fundamental to AV as audio transducers. It remains to be seen what Sonos will do with Mayht's Heartmotion driver but if the result is better sound from a smaller package then it's sure to pay off since that's clearly what consumers want.

One final note. It's remarkable (to me) that Bose, which is literally owned by MIT, is being left in the dust in an area where it could be considered the OG innovator of shrunken speakers. But with this power move, Sonos seems poised to pioneer a new wave of miniaturized speakers offering surprising performance. Only time will tell!

  • Marvin8
    2023-06-12 00:34:56

    Sonos will bury it. Never to see the light of day.

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