Posted on: 14 October 2014 by Ross McSweeny
Custom Control Concepts (CCC) has been using a new ‘Anechoic Chamber’ to test its speakers for business jets equipped with in-flight entertainment (IFE) and cabin management systems.
The process is also enabling the company to begin designing its next-generation audio product.
When I asked Ryan Meredith (pictured), one of CCC’s electrical engineers, why it’s important for IFE systems to have good quality speakers, his answer was simple: “What is the point in watching 4K, 3D, best money can buy video while listening to PA quality, stereo audio?”
CCC thinks the business aviation market is missing a trick when it comes to speakers. Nobody’s yet dared to think outside the box or, should I say, outside the ceiling.
Meredith explains, “Most, if not all, speakers on an aircraft are installed in the ceiling due to wall thickness and speaker size. This is not the best placement for speakers when creating a surround sound system, because the sound is radiating down rather than towards the centre of the room. Take a moment and think about which direction your ears are facing, not up but forward. Especially as it pertains to surround sound, to get the full experience the speakers have to be facing the listener.”
That’s what CCC is using their new Anechoic Chamber to develop. Whilst he couldn’t release any specific details, Meredith didn’t hesitate to confirm that its new speakers “will definitely be thin enough to install in the wall of an aircraft.”
So how does the Anechoic Chamber work?
“There are two steps to an anechoic chamber; isolation and absorption," continues Meredith. "The walls are close to one foot thick and are comprised of alternating layers of material that differ in density. This is to isolate the inside of the chamber from the outside. The inside of the chamber is lined in four-inch thick wedge foam to absorb sounds made within the chamber.
"This isolation and absorption creates a level of silence that most people have never experienced. Step inside our anechoic chamber and you can almost feel the silence. It is so quiet you start to notice the sound of your blood pumping, your stomach gurgling, even the sound of your breathing sounds louder”.
Meredith added, “New prototypes are placed in the chamber with a dual axis shock isolated microphone that monitors frequency response and harmonic vibration. Our engineers then analyse the data and are able to refine their designs for improved sound quality.”
And how long did it take to create the chamber which could change the face of surround sound IFE on-board private aircraft?
“We had been designing our dream anechoic chamber in theory for quite some time, it took a number of hours to draft it once we got the green light on the project but once materials arrived it took ten business days to construct the chamber,” concluded Meredith.
If it enhances the immersive theatre quality audio experience with 7.1 Surround Sound CCC already offers corporate aircraft, Inflight-Online.com can’t wait to see what the new speakers might sound like.
Stephanie Taylor, editorial assistant, Inflight-Online.com