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John Sheerin got Apple to use horns!
John Sheerin got Apple to use horns!
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Old 6th February 2018, 11:46 PM   #1
Patrick Bateman is offline Patrick Bateman  United States
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Default John Sheerin got Apple to use horns!

I love reading patents. Most of what I learned about the Danley products was from reading their patents. Today I noticed that John Sheerin, a longtime forum member, has snuck horns into Apple's new loudspeaker:

Patent US20170280231 - Loudspeaker with reduced audio coloration caused by reflections from a surface - Google Patents
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Old 7th February 2018, 12:26 AM   #2
Pano is online now Pano  United States
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John Sheerin got Apple to use horns!
Interesting. Some some reason tho, I coldn't see the drawings.
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Old 7th February 2018, 12:29 AM   #3
planet10 is offline planet10  Canada
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John Sheerin got Apple to use horns!
Try here: Patent Fetcher - Patent Fetcher PDF Request Form

dave
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Old 7th February 2018, 12:40 AM   #4
jackinnj is offline jackinnj  United States
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John Sheerin got Apple to use horns!
I thought that I was the only Audio-DIY'r who trolled the US Patent and Trademark Office -- but mostly for things related to chemical coatings!
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Old 7th February 2018, 01:20 AM   #5
Patrick Bateman is offline Patrick Bateman  United States
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Here's my attempt to translate the patent into English:

Click the image to open in full size.
This is a Lexicon SL-1. It uses a ring of drivers to create a directivity pattern via beam steering. If you'd like to learn more about beam steering, read my thread here: Beer Budget Beam Steering
Last I checked, the SL-1 is onobtanium. You can't buy it.

Click the image to open in full size.
This is a Beolab 90. It preceded the SL-1. It uses a ring of drivers to create a directivity pattern via beam steering. It sells for $85K, and IMHO, is an absolute bargain. IMHO, Beolab is giving these away because they want to be acquired by someone else. If this speaker was sold by a "hifi" company, it would be $500,000 a pair. It is the best loudspeaker I've ever heard. B&O Beolab 90 - adjustable directivity by DSP

Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.
This is an Apple homepod. It uses a ring of drivers to create a directivity pattern via beam steering. It sells for $350 - 0.4% of what the Beolab 90 sells for. To paraphrase Marc Andreesen, "DSP is eating the world."

Click the image to open in full size.
Here's the high frequency array from the Apple speaker. As far as I can see, Apple hasn't divulged what the drivers are. They appear to be similar to the AuraSound Cougar; a one inch full range.

The use of a one inch full range might seem odd, but consider that there's SEVEN of them. That means that they can be combined to behave like a driver with a diameter of about 2.8", but with output as high as 20khz.

Take a look at the Beolab 90 thread for more info. But basically it works like this: At the low end of the array, every single driver is active. So you get the displacement of a 2.8" woofer. But as you go higher and higher in frequency, each driver is sloooowly rolled off until only one driver is active. In a nutshell, the array behaves like a 2.8" woofer at the low end of the array, but at the high end of the array, it behaves like a single unit.

The 'secret sauce' is using individual amplifiers and DSP on every single channel. Completely impractical in 2008, but becoming affordable in 2018.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

If you look at the patent, it also appears that the speaker can vary the vertical beamwidth.

This gets a bit trickier, but if I had to hazard a guess, I'll bet the woofer in the ApplePod has a discrete amp and DSP for each of the voice coils. This means that you could "overlap" the array at the bottom of the speaker and the woofer at the top of the speaker to narrow the vertical beamwidth.

Conversely, you could tweak the frequency response of the woofer and tweeter array to WIDEN the vertical beamwidth.

Put all of this together and it actually has some features that the $85K Beolab 90 doesn't have! (Last I checked, the Beolab 90 can only vary the horizontal beamwdith. That may have changed; when I auditioned it, it was still a work-in-progress.)

I find all this fascinating though! We're reaching the point where loudspeaker software is enabling things that were absolutely unheard of ten years ago.

I wonder who's next?

Also, kudos to John Sheerin! This is exceptionally inventive.
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Old 7th February 2018, 05:31 PM   #6
cph2000 is offline cph2000  Denmark
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+1 nice post!
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Old 7th February 2018, 05:48 PM   #7
kaputt is offline kaputt  Germany
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Interesting. For me the beolab 90 was the worst speaker I heard in a while. One note bass, no highs, boring mids, distorted upper mids. The gagdget of directional control didn't make up for that.
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Old 7th February 2018, 08:07 PM   #8
pcgab is offline pcgab  United States
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John Sheerin got Apple to use horns!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Bateman View Post
I find all this fascinating though! We're reaching the point where loudspeaker software is enabling things that were absolutely unheard of ten years ago.
I just noticed there is a larger woofer near the top of the unit, I was wondering how the hell it was going to make any decent sound low enough to not sound like a tin can array.

This is really interesting, thank you, as always for posting these thought provoking tid-bits.

So the horn/waveguides at the bottom are using the flat surface the unit will be set on as part of the horn? or firing up towards the listener?

I didn't read the patent very deeply as yet, obviously.
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Old 7th February 2018, 08:13 PM   #9
pcgab is offline pcgab  United States
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John Sheerin got Apple to use horns!
was going to copy and paste some text from the patent, but the pdf's are just images. annoying.

section 0091 is what I was going to quote.

Sounds like they are using the tabletop, or base to reflect sound to the listener. Interesting...
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Old 7th February 2018, 10:27 PM   #10
planet10 is offline planet10  Canada
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John Sheerin got Apple to use horns!
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcgab View Post
I just noticed there is a larger woofer near the top of the unit, I was wondering how the hell it was going to make any decent sound low enough to not sound like a tin can array.
I think the woofer must sit in an enclosure not seen in the Apple supplied transparent images. We will need to wait till someone does a take apart.

A 4 woofer is capable of bass. How low in such small volume we will see.

Measurements will also start to come in.

I also expect someone to hack the hardware & software.

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