Music to Your Ears: New Transducers Meet Electrostatic Headphones

Brett Marmo, Xi Engineering; Martin Robert, WAT, UK

Electrostatic transducers offer enhanced clarity, less distortion, and a wider bandwidth than transducers in conventional dynamic-driver headphones, but they are only seen as high-end alternatives. The precise manufacturing requirements make electrostatic transducers prohibitively expensive to produce and hinder mainstream commercial viability. Engineers at Xi Engineering and Warwick Audio Technologies (WAT) developed an easy-to-manufacture electrostatic transducer with multiphysics modeling and simulation apps. Using simulation involving a structural-acoustics-MEMS coupling, engineers were able to capture the highly nonlinear behavior of the high-precision electrostatic laminate (HPEL) transducer used in headphones and optimize its performance.

Sound pressure level in dB (thermal color surface) and membrane displacement in mm (rainbow color surface) from a fully coupled acoustics and MEMS simulation solved at 5000 Hz.