If you’ve ever been to a party in a big concrete room, you must remember how terrible the sound was. That’s because concrete is one of the worse acoustic absorbers, it causes a lot of echo. Despite this property, some clever engineers have made speakers whose housing is made of concrete, and it reportedly sounds fantastic.
Drew Stone Briggs of newly incorporated audio company Master & Dynamic is the mastermind behind the project. He teamed up with architect David Adjaye to not only design an acoustically tuned speaker, but a sleek one to boot.
A sculpted speaker
Typically, most of the speaker’s housings or resonance chambers are made out of lightweight materials such as wood or plastic. A good speaker chamber has thick walls and internal braces that make it air tight and rigid. You really don’t want the speaker cabinet to vibrate. Ideally, you want all the speaker’s energy to push out as sound.
Concrete is great in this respect because it’s stiff. Damn stiff. By lining the interior with a soft material, the speaker is able to have very low distortion. What’s more, the engineers used a modified form of concrete which has a handful of polymers embedded inside besides the typical rock and gravel.
The tapered design acts like a horn which expands to a wide, flat surface in the front. This minimizes the area in the back of the speaker cabinet but maximizes the sound that gets pushed out. Again, it’s about managing reverberations.
“This speaker is not about the traditional idea of making boxes, but about a directional form. We created a new geometry for this speaker. A new geometry of sound,” said Adjaye, the architect behind Washington D.C.’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Overall, the damping properties of the MA770 speaker are so good you can reportedly play it at full volume without causing the table or floor to vibrate. Other features include:
- Measurements – 410mm x 510mm x 245mm, 16kg
- Wireless Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 with BLE
- Connectivity – Chromecast built-in, Bluetooth 4.1 with BLE, 3.5mm Auxiliary Analog, TOSLINK Optical Audio
- Streaming Services – Chromecast enabled applications including Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, Soundcloud, Deezer, and more
To make the speaker streamline, each unit is cast and cured in a mold. It’s then broken in half to create a seamless effect. The surface is shaped with a rotary tool so the speaker has a nice grainy texture.
M&D’s first speaker weighs under 40 pounds, which is pretty good for a block of concrete, albeit hollow.