When listening to music at work or watching TV at home while other people are sleeping, it’s convenient to have a speaker that only delivers sound in the user’s direction.
“A” speaker does exactly that. It’s parametric speaker, that is, a speaker that sends audio only to those people who want to hear it by creating a narrow beam of sound, in much the same way that a laser creates a beam of light to focus on a precise area. Instead of producing ordinary sound waves with a single, moving electromagnetic coil and cone, “A” generates ultrasonic waves (high-frequency sound waves) that are then turned into audible sound waves. Users can connect “A” to mobile devices, stereos, TVs or any other audio sources via a 3.5mm mini-jack.
“A” ships in September in two versions: “A” Junior at $550 and $890 for “A” Original. But early bird Indiegogo backers can get Junior for a $350 pledge or Original for a pledge starting at $550. Its makers hope to raise $30,000 by April 17. Junior is half the size of Original and its beam of sound is tighter and its volume is lower than the larger Original. Junior is designed for shorter-range usage than Original.
Many consumers may find “A” speaker handy. But it’s hardly the first product to use similar directional sound technology, following devices including Wakē. The average consumer may also be perfectly happy to use headphones instead.
Those looking for hi-fi-quality sound should also look elsewhere, in part because “A” has a limited range for low frequencies. “A” diffuses low frequencies in the very middle of its beam and the user has to aim it right to hear the speaker. The speaker also offers only bridged mono sound, mixing the left and right channels from stereo input. Consumers looking for a wireless speaker also have to look elsewhere, at least for now, because a wireless version won’t arrive before 2017.