The Impact of MEMS Speakers in Audio
In this article for Voice Coil focused on MEMS loudspeakers, Mike Klasco (Menlo Scientific, Ltd.), reviews a bit of the history of the technology and previews the evolution and impact on the audio industry in general. As Klasco explains, the consumer electronics industry at-large has been able to digitize and shrink most of the device components and electronics. But one of the last remaining barriers is the speaker - it remains comparatively heavy, bulky, and restrictive. But now, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are promising to change all that in the largest volume applications, such as smartphones, headphones, portable speakers and automotive applications. The article examines MEMS devices in general, provides a basic explanation of how the various types of MEMS speakers work, and what commercialization challenges are ahead. As the first MEMS speakers are now becoming viable commercial products, Klasco also discusses their practical applications, unit costs, and acoustical strengths and weaknesses. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, December 2019.