May 12, 2021 3 min read
Whether you are using aBluetooth speaker to jam out to music in your home, or wireless headphones to listen to an educational podcast on the way to work, speakers have become a ubiquitous part of our lives. While many people attribute the popularity and usage of headphones to the invention of the Sony Walkman in 1979, its central idea came from the early loudspeaker - a device that converted electrical signals into sound and amplified it in a given space.
Compared to their predecessors, modern audio speakers feature sleek designs and offer a variety of functions that would have been difficult to imagine a hundred years ago! Want to learn more about the evolution of the modern speaker? Keep reading to find out more.
An Invention That Arose Out Of Necessity
The invention ofloudspeakers is actually a natural progression following the introduction of telephones in the 1860s. While German inventor Johann Philipp Reis can be credited with inventing the first loudspeaker, it was only capable of producing clear tones and not understandable speech. It was not until 1877 that electric loudspeakers became capable of producing intelligible speech when Alexander patented his invention alongside his telephone.
However, since early loudspeakers relied on compressed air for amplification, the sound quality was poor and volume control was restricted. As a result, in 1925, Chester W. Rice and Edward W. Kellogg perfected and patented the moving-coil loudspeaker (also known as a dynamic loudspeaker), which used electromagnets to amplify sound and greatly improved the loudspeaker's capabilities. This technology was integral to the development of modern speakers and is still used today.
Early demand for loudspeakers came from movie theatres and music concert halls, as they helped to boost music and speech production over a large space. Nevertheless, when television and radios became popular in homes, so did the demand for home speaker systems.
As a result, manufacturers began developing and improving stereo systems for commercial and home use. This led to the introduction ofwireless and Bluetooth speakers. Wireless technology made it possible to transmit sound over long distances, made speakers portable, and allowed for more visually appealing designs. With the incorporation of Bluetooth, audio speakers became a staple in social gatherings! Whether you are at a picnic or at the beach, aBluetooth speaker can instantly improve the mood with some music.
Other advancements to the modern speakers also included improving the dynamic drivers (the part responsible for converting electrical signals into sound) and using different materials to enhance the sound quality. TheTransparent speaker, for example, is made of aluminum and tempered glass and features custom-designed drivers that provide studio recording quality that is crystal clear and accurate to the original sound.
Similarly, headphones were invented to fulfill a need to free up the hands of telephone operators. Following this, an improved headphone design was developed for military use by the U.S. Navy and was used extensively for radio communications during both of the World Wars. It took until 1958 when John Koss, a musician and founder of Koss Corporation, decided to develop stereo headphones that transmitted music and made it available for public use. These headphones featured the typical earbud design which was then popularised by the Sony Walkman.
Now,earpods, an enhancement of wireless headphone design, are all the rage. Their compact size allows for easy transportation without compromising on sound quality. The best part is that you no longer have to deal with tangled wires that seem to get more tangled as you try to tease them apart!
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