Friday, December 8

Graphene is making a difference, only in an unexpected sector: speaker manufacturing

Graphene has not lived up to expectations. Its popularity came from the hand of an astonishingly wide range of applications in theory, but little by little that potential has been diluted. Still, this material it’s not a complete fiasco. Its peculiar physicochemical properties position it as an ideal candidate for some applications in which it has been making a difference for quite some time.

Interestingly, one of the industries that has welcomed him with open arms is hi-fi. And it is that some high-end speaker manufacturers are using it to fine-tune the diaphragm of their fancier (and often more expensive) headphones and speakers.

In June 2020 I had the opportunity to review the Technics EAH-AZ70W headphones, which use it, and they left a very good taste in my mouth for one reason: the use of this material in this area is not a trick of marketing. In fact, it is fully justified by the only thing that really matters: the physicochemical characteristics of graphene.

Graphene brings us closer to perfect pistonic behavior

As we have explained to you in other articles for more than a decade, and I am sure you already know, graphene is a material that has a regular hexagonal pattern of carbon atoms. This structure is, precisely, largely responsible for the properties that justify its presence in the diaphragm of some loudspeakers.

To understand with some precision what graphene paints here, we need to investigate the concept of perfect pistonic behavior

However, to understand with some precision what graphene paints here, we need to investigate the concept of perfect pistonic behavior. This is quite simply the ideal a loudspeaker should aim for because the ideal diaphragm has to move like a perfect piston.

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And this means that it must not be affected by inertia, and it must not deform in the slightest. How can we intuit this is just a theoretical ideal which in practice cannot be achieved due to the constraints imposed by real-world physics.

However, there are some materials whose physicochemical properties place them surprisingly close to ideal pistonic behavior, such as beryllium or diamond. Graphene is also one of them. In fact, the minimum mass, minimum thickness and considerable stiffness of this material fit like a glove with the characteristics that the diaphragm of an ideal loudspeaker should have.

This is how high-end speakers sound that have used graphene

One of the loudspeaker manufacturers that is using this material in the production of its loudspeakers is the American brand Magico. This company produces some of the most sophisticated speaker enclosures out there, but this is not their only asset; also manufactures some loudspeakers that have a very attractive sound imprint.

The ‘tweeter’ is made using a beryllium dome covered with a thin layer of synthetic diamond, and the midrange and bass speakers are made entirely of graphene

A few months ago I had the opportunity to listen to the M3 model at an event dedicated to high fidelity, and, furthermore, I was able to do so with due calm and for the time necessary to get a fairly accurate idea about its sound performance. Its carbon fiber enclosure and the materials used in the manufacture of its speakers clearly reveal how ambitious this speaker is.

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magical graphene

In fact, the tweeter is made using a beryllium dome covered with a thin layer of synthetic diamond, and the midrange and bass drivers they are entirely graphene. All this sounds good, but sometimes the apparent technological sophistication of a device is not aligned with its real benefits. It is not the case. These speakers have an objectively outstanding sound. And largely responsible are its graphene speakers.

The resolution, dynamics and timbre of these speakers are outstanding

What struck me most about them was their amazing Level of detail in the entire spectrum of audible frequencies, but, in addition, their dynamic capacity is beyond any doubt and they manage to respect the timbre of all the instruments with enviable precision. On the other hand, the sound pressure level at which they were expressed was considerable, and, as a bonus, they did not cause me the slightest listening fatigue.

In all probability they are one of the best speakers that we can find in the world market, but this brand has a downside. A very big one: the price of their loudspeakers puts them out of reach for most users. In fact, the M3 model is priced slightly more than 100,000 euros per pair of loudspeakers. What a pity that so few people can enjoy them.

Images: Magical

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