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Monday, October 05, 2009

True wireless speakers emerge with Audium

The main problem with "wireless" speakers is that they aren't - you end up replacing the speaker cable with a power cable, which can give you some advantages but really isn't the point.
Now, a Bristol startup aims to provide true wireless speakers with an audio amplifier that uses just 5% of the power of traditional amplifiers.
Audium Semiconductor has developed an amplifier architecture that can run for nearly a year off 4 C size batteries, with the first device, the AS1001, aimed squarely at wireless speakers. The architecture uses patented techniques to minise both fiexed power losses and output dependent variable power lossses with a low switch rate in the modulation.
"Traditionally audio amplifiers have only reached quoted efficiency figures at maximum output, which is like building a city car that's only efficeint at 200mph," said Huw Davies, chief commercial officer at Audium.
Altough 4 C sized batteries are still quite large, there is plenty of space in traditional speakers, giving them the flexibility to be placed anywhere in the house. With surround sound speakers there is a different challenge, as these are already small and adding the batteries would double the size of the units, but there are design tradeoffs there where styling will make a key difference. The rear surroundsound speakers also only account for 4 to 5% of the sound, so could use less batteries.
The company has rasied $8.5m for the design and development of the chip in 0.18um 30V digital technology at TSMC, and is planning a stereo device for wireless MP3 docking stations, and then looking at the automotive market.

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