Over the past decade, new types of audio products have been continuously developed, such as sound bars, true wireless earbuds, wireless noise-canceling headphones, and smart speakers. Despite these innovations, the underlying technology that creates the sound we hear has largely stayed the same over the past hundred years. However, that could change if Resonado Labs has something to say about it. Based in the US and South Korea, the company has patented a new method of creating drivers – the core component at the heart of every speaker – that dramatically reduces space requirements.
Resonado calls the technology Flat Core Speaker (FCS) and, as the name suggests, it can be used to create speakers with a much smaller overall depth, increasing the number of locations that speakers can be installed. Erikc Perez, Resonado co-founder and chief marketing officer, says FCS achieves these benefits without sacrificing sound performance.
Traditional electrodynamic driver (left) and Resonados FCS driver Resonado Labs
Conventional speaker drivers use an electrodynamic architecture in which an electromagnet and voice coil are placed under a diaphragm. When electrical pulses are sent through the magnet, the voice coil moves and the diaphragm vibrates, creating the sounds we ultimately hear. Resonado’s FCS technology doesn’t reinvent this wheel so much as it reshapes and rearranges the components.
Instead of using a donut-shaped magnet that surrounds a cylindrical voice coil, an FCS driver suspends a flattened voice coil between two bar magnets. This arrangement keeps the diaphragm flat, rather than the deeper, cone-shaped shape that normal drivers require, while also distributing the voice coil force more evenly across the surface of the diaphragm.
Unlike more exotic alternatives to electrodynamic drivers such as planar magnetic or electrostatic drivers, FCS uses the same materials as traditional speakers. This helps bring the cost of FCS-based speakers much closer to that of traditional designs, Perez said.
Resonado Labs doesn’t make speakers – although it has released a crowdfunded proof of concept – and prefers to license its FCS patents to companies that can take advantage of its benefits.
Our first real taste of what FCS can do will come later this year. Thanks to a partnership with China’s Soundlab, we will see vehicles equipped with FCS speakers. Airstream, the legendary US RV brand, has also committed to using FCS components in its 2022 line of touring coaches.
However, Resonado has its sights set on a whole spectrum of audio products for the mass market, from sound bars to smart speakers. Recently, a new version of its driver called FCS Bidirectional was developed that allows a single magnet / voice coil motor to drive two horizontally opposed diaphragms at the same time. This design could offer the same space-saving benefits as the recently released KEF KC62 subwoofer, but in an even smaller package.
The microscale FCS drivers can also be used in large headphones. Because the FCS drivers cannot take on circular shapes, they can provide a larger diaphragm without increasing the amount of space in the headphone earcups. In theory, they can also be used in earphones.
In two tempting conceptual designs, Resonado showed what a smart loudspeaker equipped with FCS could look like and took a look at a pendant light that integrates an FCS dual-core loudspeaker.
The only real question at this point is how do FCS speakers actually sound compared to traditional cone cone designs. Hopefully we’ll get our hands on an FCS equipped product soon so we can keep you informed.