Traditional speakers, the kind that sits on your bookshelf, produce sound by applying an electrical audio signal to a voice-coil, which vibrates rapidly back and forth, thus moving a diaphragm, which pushes air resulting in an audible tone.
The design has not changed much over the century since the invention in 1925. However, VETR Audio, two brothers – one an engineer, the other a designer – from Phoenix, Arizona, wants to change the way audio is heard (and seen) with their PANL1 Speaker System.
The speakers were designed using a 1.3mm-thick carbon-fiber panel tacked to a brushed aluminum stand, which pump-out 48-watts per channel at a frequency range of 48 to 20,000Hz. Rather than housing tweeters and subwoofers in an enclosure, the speakers utilize exciters (or transducers) to vibrate the carbon-fiber panels to produce sound.
As such, these are limited in their ability to produce low-frequency bass like traditional speakers due to their large flexible membrane and enclosure. However, to overcome that limitation the PANL1 may be paired with a subwoofer.
If the design seems familiar, it’s probably because it’s similar to an electrostatic loudspeaker (ESL), which vibrates a diaphragm material suspended between two stators. Are VETR’s PANL1 designed in the same way? It’s not clear – the technical detail is certainly lacking – but I bet my bottom dollar they share similar properties, as you can produce sound vibration using nearly any material sandwiched between two stators.
Nevertheless, VETR is currently crowd-funding their PANL1 speakers on Kickstarter, passing their target goal of $10K in less than 24 hours, making for a successful run. Those who want to get their hands on the system can pledge $299 and up, which gets you a pair of PANL1 speakers as well as the subwoofer.
What do you think? Is this a valid speaker design? Or is it sending little conniptions through your auditory system?