THX’s New Audio Engine Makes Every Seat The Best One In The Room
An audiophile can spend thousands of dollars on one speaker—a multi-driver tower that can produce a broad range of frequencies … Continued
An audiophile can spend thousands of dollars on one speaker—a multi-driver tower that can produce a broad range of frequencies clearly at high decibel levels. But even the best speaker, or an entire home theater full of them, will typically sound its best in only one spot: the sweet spot. THX has designed a speaker, the Steerable Line Array, that produces up to eight sweet spots. No matter where a person sits, he’ll hear near-perfect audio. THX expects to sell the Array as part of custom installations soon and will eventually license it for other companies to use in their own TVs and audio systems.
Housing: The Array can fit inside a long cabinet, and a six-foot-long, 1.4-inch-tall gap in a wall or TV stand is all that’s visible. Forcing sound waves through a narrow slot channels them into a stronger, more direct path, the same way water sprays more powerfully out of a slotted nozzle than an open one.
Speakers: THX packs more speaker drivers into the Array than any equivalent system. In the cabinet, 92 speaker drivers generate sound. Two rows of 30 low- and midrange drivers fire sound into the gap from above and below, while 32 outward-firing tweeters handle high frequencies.
Amplifiers: To fit so many speakers into the Array, THX developed a new kind of amplifier. A 100-watt amp aligns with each driver; each powers up only when its driver needs to fire and uses just one tenth of a watt when inactive. Less power means less heat, allowing THX to cut bulky heat sinks.
User Interface: During setup, viewers use a smartphone or a computer app connected wirelessly to the Array to map their home theater. Seats are tagged as sweet spots for the Array to target. In future iterations, the speaker system will be able to locate people on its own using infrared sensors.
Signal Processor: A dual-core processor decodes audio signals. Based on the predefined sweet spots, the processor determines when drivers will fire. To hit the leftmost of three sweet spots, for instance, the processor will fire the leftmost drivers, delay, fire the ones farther in, and so on. The delay bends the sound toward the target.
Cabinet length 6 feet
Price Not set