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Apple Invents a Suspension System for Low Rise Micro Speakers


On February 5, 2015, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Suspension System for Micro-Speakers," which says it all. Apple has been working on advancing iDevice and Mac speakers for years. Today's patent application generally relates to a speaker assembly suspension system for low rise micro-speakers.


Apple's Patent Background


In modern consumer electronics, audio capability is playing an increasingly larger role as improvements in digital audio signal processing and audio content delivery continue to happen. There is a range of consumer electronics devices that are not dedicated or specialized audio playback devices, yet can benefit from improved audio performance.


For instance, smart phones are ubiquitous. These devices, however, do not have sufficient space to house high fidelity speakers. This is also true for portable personal computers such as laptop, notebook, and tablet computers, and, to a lesser extent, desktop personal computers with built-in speakers. Such devices typically require speaker enclosures or boxes that have a relatively low rise (i.e. height or thickness as defined along the z-axis), as compared to, for instance, standalone high fidelity speakers and dedicated digital music systems for handheld media players.


Apple Invents a Speaker Suspension System for Micro Speakers


Apple's invention is directed to a speaker assembly suspension system for low rise micro-speakers.


An embodiment of the invention is a speaker assembly (e.g. a speaker driver) including a frame, a magnet assembly, a sound radiation surface, a suspension member and a voice coil. The magnet assembly is positioned within the frame and the sound radiating surface is suspended over the magnet assembly by the suspension member. The suspension member may have a top side connected to a bottom face of the sound radiating surface and a bottom side connected to the magnet assembly such that it extends in the z-height direction of the speaker driver.


The voice coil may extend from the bottom face of the sound radiating surface such that it is aligned with a magnetic flux gap formed within the magnet assembly. The suspension member may be resilient such that it can expand and contract in the z-height direction in response to movement of the sound radiating surface. In addition, the suspension member may be confined to an area below the sound radiating surface and within a footprint of the sound radiating surface such that it does not extend radially beyond the perimeter of the sound radiating surface. In this aspect, an acoustic radiation surface area of the sound radiating surface may be improved, e.g., increased.


In some embodiments, the speaker assembly may be a micro-speaker assembly which is integrated within a portable audio device. In this aspect, an acoustic output port of the speaker assembly may be aligned with an acoustic opening of the portable audio device such that sound generated by the speaker assembly may be output from the portable audio device.


Apple's patent FIG. 3A noted below is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of a speaker assembly; FIG. 3B is a top plan view of the sound radiating surface of one embodiment of the speaker assembly along line 3-3' of FIG. 3A.



To review Apple's patent application for more specifics and detailing, see patent application 20150036866.


Patent Credits


Apple credits Pablo Vietes, Suzanne Hardy, Christopher Wilk, Alexander Salvatti, Scott Porter and Justin Crosby as the inventors this patent application which was originally filed in Q3 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.


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