New TV speaker technology promises better bass

The basic design of loudspeakers, especially the large versions that reproduce deep bass frequencies, has changed little in the past 80 years. Now, a California start-up is building much smaller speakers that produce deep bass sounds in tiny places, such as inside flat-panel television receivers.

Tymphany, a Cupertino startup, is focused on reproducing low bass sounds in a completely new way. Rather than employing a single, large cone-shaped diaphragm pushing air out straight ahead, Tymphany's engineers have lined up a series of smaller diaphragms in a tube with one driver at each end.

Every other diaphragm moves in sync, in a push-pull manner like an accordion. The bass is pumped out through open ports along the sides of the cylindrical speaker box.

Tymphany's speaker design, described last week in a report by Wired News, is called the Tymphany LAT (for Linear Array Transducer). The company's smallest speaker case is only 5in in diameter, yet each one can deliver the bass output of two 10in traditional bass speakers. Tymphany also makes a more powerful speaker enclosure that is seven inches in diameter.

Wired said the opposing drivers provide another advantage over single-diaphragm bass speakers: They cancel out the thumping vibration that, as much as size, has kept subwoofers out of electronic devices such as televisions and computers. That vibration can easily shake apart sensitive electronic circuits or cause the head of a disk drive to bounce across the drive's surface.

Keep an eye out for Tymphany speakers to show up in a number of applications. Wired reported that car audio maker Alpine Electronics is already buying them for car stereo installations, and Klipsch Audio is considering them for a range of its audio products, including compact sound systems for MP3 players.