Title:
System for integrating mid-range and high frequency acoustic sources in multi-way loudspeakers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention provides a system for integrating sound radiation from mid-range and high frequency sources enabling improved control over the radiation of high frequency sound waves. This acts to minimize the distortion, while enabling compression-loading of the mid-range sound waves increasing acoustic energy. To do so, a radiation boundary integrator (“RBI”) having slots is positioned over the mid-range sound sources acting as a smooth sidewall wave-guide thus controlling the high frequency sound waves emanating from the high frequency sound sources. To allow the mid-range frequency sound waves generated from mid-range sound sources to pass through the RBI, slots are formed within the RBI. As such, RBI may have an outer surface area that may form an acoustical barrier to high frequencies radiating across the outer surface, yet be acoustically transparent to mid-range frequencies radiating through slots in the radiation boundary layer. The RBI may also serve as a volume displacement device to compression-load the mid-range sound sources. To do so, the back surface of the RBI may be contoured to the shape of the midrange sound source thus reducing the space between the two, and loading the mid-range sound sources generating greater mid-range sound energy.



Inventors:
Engebretson, Mark (Encino, CA, US)
Application Number:
09/921175
Publication Date:
02/07/2002
Filing Date:
07/31/2001
Assignee:
ENGEBRETSON MARK
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
181/148
International Classes:
H04R1/28; H04R1/32; H04R1/40; (IPC1-7): A47B81/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LOCKETT, KIMBERLY R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P. (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A sound radiation boundary integrator, comprising: a top portion adapted to provide a substantially flat surface to control high frequency sound waves; a back portion adapted to be juxtaposed to at least one mid-range frequency sound source; at least one slot through the top and back portions, the at least one slot adapted to be juxtaposed to the at least one mid-range frequency sound source; and a porous material substantially transparent to mid-range frequency sound waves within the at least one slot.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATION.

[0001] This application is a non-provisional application claiming priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application, Ser. No. 60/222,026 filed Jul. 31, 2000.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention.

[0003] This invention relates generally to a system for integrating radiation of sound waves from disparate mid-range and high frequency sound sources. This is accomplished by providing a substantially solid boundary to control angular radiation of high frequency sound waves while allowing mid-range frequency sound waves to emit through slots in the substantially solid boundary. The system also acts as a volume displacement to create loading for the mid-range frequency sound waves.

[0004] 2. Related Art.

[0005] Professional loudspeakers and sound systems are designed to control the direction of the sound radiating from its sound sources, or commonly referred to as drivers or transducers. Sound radiating from a high frequency sound source, with the absence of sidewalls or boundaries, will radiate in all directions and possibly wrap around the sound source. This severely limits the predictability and control of the direction of the sound radiation. On the other hand, if boundaries or sidewalls are placed adjacent to the sound source, forming an angle (where the sound source is located at the vertex of the angle), the sound radiation will generally conform to the angle between the boundary surfaces. Thus, one of the advantages with using boundary surfaces is being able to directionally control the sound radiation.

[0006] Another design objective of professional loudspeaker and sound systems is being able to integrate a number of mid-range sound sources adjacent to a number of high frequency sound sources into a housing. To do so, for example, three high frequency sound sources may be position vertically in between two mid-range sound sources that are flushed in two adjacent walls. That is, the three vertically stacked high frequency sound sources are at the vertex of two adjacent walls that are at an angle with respect to each other with two mid-range sound sources mounted into each of the walls. As such, the cones of the mid-range sound sources are, in part, part of the sidewall.

[0007] One of the problems with above design is that the cones of the midrange sound sources form a recess or depression in the adjacent sidewalls that serve as the high-frequency wave-guide. The resulting irregular boundary prevents uniform angular radiation of the high frequency sound waves that pass over these depressions. Another problem with the above design is the limitation on the size of the multiple mid-range sound sources that may be mounted into the two adjacent sidewalls. That is, larger diameter sound sources are desirable over smaller diameter sound sources because they can generate greater acoustic power. However, the upper frequencies generated by the larger mid-range sources can ‘lobe’ or narrow in radiation angle if sources are large compared to the wavelength, due to the finite propagation velocity of sound. To avoid upper mid-frequency narrowing, there is a limit as to the size of the mid-range sound sources, which limits the acoustic output power of the mid-frequency range sound sources.

[0008] Therefore, there is a need to integrate radiation from the mid-frequency and high frequency sound sources to better control the angular radiation of high frequency sound waves. Furthermore, there is a need to improve the acoustic power or energy that may be produced by the mid-range sound sources.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] This invention provides a system for integrating sound radiation from mid-range and high frequency sources. This provides improved control of the angular radiation of mid-range and high frequency sound energy. To improve this control, a radiation boundary integrator (“RBI”) having slots for mid-frequency through-radiation is provided over the mid-range sound sources to serve as a smooth, wave-guiding side wall thus controlling the angular radiation of high frequency sound waves emanating from the high frequency sound sources. In the past, this type of sound control was done without the use of wave-guiding surfaces covering the mid-frequency sound sources, such that the angular radiation of high frequencies conformed to the contours of the cones or diaphragms of the mid-range frequency sound sources, compromising both the frequency-directivity and the quality of the high frequency sound energy. The RBI is acoustically solid to high frequencies radiated across the outer surface, yet acoustically transparent to mid-range frequencies radiating through the outer surface. To allow the mid-range frequency sound waves generated from mid-range sound sources to pass through the high frequency wave-guiding surfaces, slots are formed within the RBI.

[0010] Besides integrating the mid-range and the high frequency sound waves, the RBI may be used to compression load the mid-range frequency sound waves to improve the acoustic power output of the mid-range sound sources. This is accomplished by providing a back surface of the RBI such that it faces the mid-range sound sources and may be contoured to conform to the shape of the mid-range sound source or speaker. This reduces the space between the back surface and the sound source. The reduced space compression-loads the mid-range frequency sound sources, enabling greater mid-range frequency sound output.

[0011] Other systems, methods, features and advantages of the invention will be or will become apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features and advantages be included within this description, be within the scope of the invention, and be protected by the accompanying claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] The invention can be better understood with reference to the following figures. The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. Moreover, in the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.

[0013] FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional side view of two radiation boundary integrators masking the respective mid-range frequency sound source.

[0014] FIG. 2 is a front view of two radiation boundary integrators according to the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, having three vertical high frequency sound sources in between the two boundary integrators.

[0015] FIG. 3 is a front view of a radiation boundary integrator having foam in each of the slots.

[0016] FIG. 4 is a side view of a radiation boundary integrator illustrated in FIG. 3.

[0017] FIG. 5 is a bottom view of a radiation boundary integrator illustrated in FIG. 3.

[0018] FIG. 6 is a rear view of a radiation boundary integrator of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3.

[0019] FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view along line 7 in FIG. 6.

[0020] FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view along line 8 in FIG. 6.

[0021] FIG. 9 is a front view of an alternative embodiment of a radiation boundary integrator.

[0022] FIG. 10 is a front view of an alternative embodiment of a radiation boundary integrator.

[0023] FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a radiation boundary integrator incorporated within a speaker housing.

[0024] FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a series of speaker housings illustrated in FIG. 11 stacked together.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0025] FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate a Radiation Boundary Integrator (RBI) 50 masking over two midrange frequency sources 40 on each side. Three high frequency sound sources 41 positioned vertically between the two RBIs 50. The RBI may provide a substantially solid boundary for the high frequency sound waves produced by the sources 41 and may allow mid-range sound waves from the sources 40 to be emitted through slots 43 in the RBI 50. This way, the RBI 50 integrates the sound waves radiating from both the high and mid-range frequency sound sources for better control and to minimize distortion of the high frequency sound wave front shapes because the high frequency sound waves pass along a substantially flat surface.

[0026] The high frequency sound sources 41 generate high frequency energy or sound waves, which propagate across the two RBIs 50. The surfaces of the RBIs 50 are angled relative to each other with the exception of a leading section 45. The leading section 45 forms a smooth transition to the substantially flat and solid portion 60 of the RBI 50. This way, the two RBIs 50 are adjacent to each other forming an angle relative to each other functioning a smooth wave-guide for the high frequency sound waves generated by the sound sources 41. That is, the two RBIs 50 are at a predetermined angle to control and direct the high frequency sound waves emanating from the sound sources 41. The predetermined angle between the two RBIs 50 depends on an application, which may vary from about 60° to about 100° and, in particular, about 90° for use in an auditorium setting. Depending on a particular application, the predetermined angle may be chosen by one of ordinarily skill in the art to optimize the performance.

[0027] As to the number and configuration of the slots 43, FIG. 2 illustrates four slots 43 formed within a RBI 50. Each slot may be configured into an elongated rectangle and formed on each of the four quadrants. For example, in the (1) upper right, (2) the upper left, (3) the bottom right, and (4) the bottom left. With regard to the width “W” of the slot 42, their size may range from one-half inch to 1 inch. The distance “D” between the two slots 43 may range from two to four times the width “W”. Thus, an example configuration have support D=W ×(two to four). If W=1 inch, then D may be between about 2 to 4 inches. In this embodiment, width “W” is about {fraction (13/16)}-inch (about 2.0 cm) and distance “D” is about 2-{fraction (9/16)}inches (about 6.5 cm). The height “H” of the slots 43, may be configured to substantially equal to the diameter of the mid-range frequency sound source 40.

[0028] Although the above example illustrates three high and four mid-range frequency sound sources, any number of mid-frequency or high frequency sound sources may be used. And by way of background, a mid-frequency sound source 40 generally produces frequency energy between approximately 200 Hz and 2000 Hz. The high frequency sound source 41 generally produces frequency energy above 1000 Hz and may refer to such devices as transducers, drivers, and speakers.

[0029] FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate slots 43 running through the RBI. However, the slots 43 may act as a cavity that may interfere with high frequency sound waves passing along the top surface 60. To minimize such an effect, as illustrated in FIGS. 3-8, each of the slots 43 may be filled with a porous material 48 such as foam so that the RBI 50 acts like a substantially solid boundary layer for the high frequency sound waves generated by the source 41. That is, foam pieces 48 may be shaped to fit the slots 43, and may be inserted into the slots 43 in order to create a substantially solid acoustic surface for the high frequency energy generated by the high frequency sound source 41.

[0030] The foam 48 may be substantially transparent to mid-range frequency sound waves, however, to allow such waves to pass through the slots 43. This way, the foam 48 may be substantially solid acoustically to high frequency sound waves to substantially block high frequency sound waves normal passing across the foam from passing through the same slots. An example foam piece may have porosity between 60 PPI and 100 PPI. A foam section, having a porosity of about 80 PPI, may be ideal for appearing transparent to mid-range frequency. Besides foam, any porous material may be used.

[0031] FIG. 3 illustrates the right side “R,” the left side “L,” and the base “B” of the RBI 50 that may be sized to substantially mask or cover the mid-range frequency sound sources 40 and to provide a substantially solid boundary layer for the high frequency sound waves from the sound sources 41. In this example, the right side “R” may be greater than the left side “L” so that the space between the two RBIs 50 expand in the lateral direction and also in the vertical direction. In one example implementation, the right side “R” may range from 16 inches to 18 inches. The left side “L” may range from 15 inches to 16.5 inches. And, the base B may range from 7 inches to 9 inches.

[0032] In particular, as illustrated in FIG. 7, the skin of the RBI 50 includes a top portion 60 and a back portion 62. In between the top and back portion may be foam 64 as well, so that the RBI 50 made of such assembly is acoustically inert for damping purposes. This keeps the RBI 50 from being resonant and hollow sounding. One of the advantages of using foam in the middle is that it reduces the weight of the RBI 50. The foam in the slots further serves as a low pass filter for the higher frequencies of the mid-range sound source. These frequencies may pass through the slots and perhaps interfere with the high frequency sound waves from the sound sources 41. That is, the foam in the slots may prevent distortion of the higher frequency sound waves generated by both the high and mid-range frequency sound sources.

[0033] The top and bottom portions 60, 62 may be made of a variety of materials providing an acoustical boundary to the high frequency energy generated by the high frequency sound source 40. Alternatively, as illustrated in FIGS. 3-8, the skin of the RBI 50 may be vacuum formed from plastic.

[0034] RBI 50 also serves as a volume displacement device creating a loading for those midrange frequencies originating from the mid-range frequency sound sources 40. This effectively attenuates the higher frequencies, while improving the efficiency at the lower mid-range frequencies. The back portion 62 of the RBI 50 may be juxtaposed to the cone of the mid-range sound source 40 without coming into contact with the cone. The space in front of the sound source 40 may be substantially closed except for the transparent slots in the RBI 50. As such, RBI 50 compression loads the mid-range frequency sound source by making a substantial portion of the cone surface oppose a solid surface leading to the slots 43 allowing for a transparency of the mid-range frequency sound waves. In other words, the acoustic load in front of the cone is greater with the RBI masking the sound source 40 when compared to operation in open air without the RBI 50. This effectively transforms the diaphragm surface to a larger equivalent air mass, thus increasing the efficiency of the acoustic system at the lower frequencies.

[0035] In general, the mid-range frequency sound sources do not operate at frequencies where it may not be efficient. That is, as the effective size of the diaphragm becomes bigger it is less efficient at high frequencies than at lower frequencies because the total mass of the air load on the front of the diaphragm at higher frequencies is substantially greater. As such, the mid-range sound sources here generate more mid-range frequency to take advantage of the improved efficiency.

[0036] In FIGS. 4-8, the back portion 62 may be formed to substantially mirror the cone and the dome shape of the mid-frequency sound sources 40. To minimize the interference at the upper range of the middle frequencies, the back portion 62 may be configured to be as closely adjacent as possible to the mid-frequency sound sources 40 without the cone of the mid-frequency sound sources 40 touching the back portion 62 when the cone vibrates. For example, the back portion 62 may be separated from the mid-frequency sound sources 40 by 0.2 to 0.4 inches. The distance between the back portion 62 and the mid-frequency sound sources may be about 0.375 inch.

[0037] In FIG. 8, the slots 43 gradually expand from the back portion 62 to the front portion 60 of the RBI 50. For example, an acute angle φ may be formed between the two outer surfaces of two slots 43, and the slot 43 may expand at an acute angle α. In this example, the acute angle φ may be between about 30° and about 50°, and in particular about 40°. The acute angle α may be about 15° to about 25°, and in particular about 20°. Alternatively, the slot 43 may expand in a curved line to provide a smooth transition or expansion from the back portion to the front portion.

[0038] FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate alternative slots that may be formed within the RBI 50. That is, the number of slots and configuration of the slots may vary in size and shape to achieve the desired result of having the surface of the contour RBI 50 being substantially acoustically solid to high frequency sound. For example, FIG. 9 shows a smaller circular slot 100 filled with foam within a larger circular slot also filled with foam. FIG. 10 illustrates six slots 104, 106, 108, 110, 112, and 114 within the RBI 50, where each of the slots 104, 106, 108, 110, 112 and 114 has a smaller width than the slots 43. The RBI 50 may also be configured to have one continuous slot such as a slot forming an “O,” “S” or “Z” shape.

[0039] In general, the size of the slots may be optimized if the area of the slot or slots is too large or if there are too many slots. Thus, the foam inserts may not be adequate to form a substantially solid acoustic surface for the high frequency sound waves. If the area of the slots is too small, or if there are not enough slots, then there may not be enough slots for the mid-frequency sound to pass through the slots.

[0040] FIG. 11 illustrates the RBI 50 used in a line array speaker configuration 70 masking midrange sound sources. This way, the invention may also be able to direct sound radiation to a predetermined area. That is, listeners seated within a predetermined area would receive substantially the same quality of sound as other listeners at other locations within the same area. This feature is particularly advantageous when used in large area performance environments, such as auditoriums where there are many listeners.

[0041] FIG. 12 illustrates, the RBI 50 used in a line array speaker configuration 70 arranged vertically. This example implementation may be referred to as a line array speaker system because these speakers can be stacked one on top of another, creating an array. These speakers typically are suspended from overhead, forming vertical lines of transducer arrays within their original bandwidths bass, mid-range and treble. By forming those individual lines and curving these speaker arrays, improved dispersion uniformity and better control of the radiated sound may be realized. The sound radiating from the array of loudspeakers may be further improved by improved integration of the sound radiation from the mid-range and high frequency elements by providing a substantially solid boundary for the high frequencies while allowing the mid-frequency sound to be emitted through that solid boundary by way of slots in front of the mid-frequency speakers. This arrangement may also act as a volume displacement device to improve loading and efficiency of the mid-range frequency elements.

[0042] While various embodiments of the application have been described, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that many more embodiments and implementations are possible within the scope of this invention. Accordingly, the invention is not to be restricted except in light of the attached claims and their equivalents.