Celebrating 20-years, Amina Technologies is a manufacturer of invisible speakers used in a wide variety of ‘architecturally-sensitive’ settings, from décor-chic retail shops to restaurants and nightclubs, from modest to the most opulent residences, and even luxury ships – all where quality sound, space and dispersion is paramount yet the speakers must be completely concealed, not even a seam can be showing.
The basis of the Amina loudspeaker is its Distributed Mode Loudspeaker (DML) design which makes it unlike any conventional loudspeaker, but rather more like an acoustical instrument. The technology employed is based on Bending Wave Theory, the principle workings of soundboards within instruments, like the strings of a guitar, violin or piano transferring the vibration via a bridge to the soundboard, which in turn projects the sound into the room, radiating evenly in all directions.
With DML, the company’s patented electronic neodymium exciters set in motion tens to thousands of tiny sympathetic vibrations all over a planar soundboard. The vibrations excite adjacent air molecules which come together with Amina’s tuning and Opti-drive and Opti-damping techniques to create full-bodied, omni-directional sound, just like the instrument, filling the room evenly, corner to corner. This ‘spread-source’ technology differs greatly from cone-driven loudspeakers which are ‘point-source’ technology.
So how does an AV integrator determine when to opt for spread-source versus point-source? Amina Technologies Worldwide VP of Engineering Technologies and VP of Sales for the Americas Keith Vanderkley says that its helpful to first understand these two properties and how they behave under the laws of physics that govern sound. “The laws don’t change – they apply to all forms of sound. It’s the way the sound is produced that changes the playing field,” said Vanderkley. “Think of standing in a room with a piano being played versus a recording of that piano in a room. The two are experienced completely differently, because the sound is produced through different mediums.”
“All loudspeakers are transducers, converting an AC voltage into an analog’s acoustic pressure wave that oscillates above and below constant atmospheric pressure, ultimately moving the eardrum in our ears, which causes us to hear sound. It’s what happens in-between the two actions that determine how we hear that sound – anywhere from close to original, to outside of critical distance which is unintelligible,” added Vanderkley.
“Reflections created by objects, walls, floors, ceilings play a huge role as to how we perceive sound. There is so much that comes into play, that it would take a volume of books to explain,” he continued. “The most important objective in sound is to have the listener experience it as close as possible to the original and maintain its intelligibility.”
“Traditional speakers (point-source) create a phase dependent wave, converting an AC voltage (phase) into an analog’ s wave of positive and negative pressure (phase) emanating from one point in time, in space. Reflections that bounce off walls and ceilings arrive back having travelled different distances, and their phase relationship might not be the same as the original, adding both constructively and destructively to the direct soundwave. This colours the sound, compromising sound quality and intelligibility, especially in mid and far field, where the listener is further away. Additionally, point-source speakers develop the amplitude at the centre of the cone, losing 6 dB of acoustic power per doubling of distance as it propagates without reflections in the near field,” said Vanderkley.
Amina speakers are not designed to take the place of critical listening point-source loudspeakers, aimed at a ‘sweet spot’ in a dedicated, acoustically balanced space where the audiophile will enjoy its sonic performance. A properly voiced and time-aligned loudspeaker should indeed provide an incredible sonic experience on-axis, whilst two speakers placed in a stereophonic arrangement can create width, depth and height to create a 3-dimensional sound stage.
Rather, the Amina technology is ideal for applications where quality sound and coverage, concealment, space and protection from elements are key factors. Once installed and covered, and sealed in their own environment, the Amina speakers are impervious to moisture and corrosive elements, and never “go out of fashion.” They change with the décor. Coverings can include wet plaster skim (2mm), stucco, wood, leather, natural or man-made veneers and laminates, making the speakers ideal for residential, commercial, marine settings and more.
Vanderkley reports that integrators are using the Amina speakers not only for whole-house installations such as dining, kitchen, living rooms and hidden home theatre, but also indoor swimming pools, outdoor Lanais, churches, classrooms, cruise ships and yachts, personal wellness rooms and gaming spaces.