What do microphones have to do with us?

10mm Omni

Our primary work is in the jet propulsion landscape with ultra-high efficiency, composite-cycle turbines. So what do microphones have to do with that? Well, here’s an explanation of sorts.

Believe it or not, the need came from our work in, wait for it…jet engines! In addition to strategic design overhauls, we continually look for ways to optimize our propulsion cycles for better performance and efficiency. Inspiration came from the likes of tuning a musical instrument. The thought went as follows: why not study the acoustic frequencies of various components in operation and see if correlations can be made?

The thinking continued that potential correlations could inform a “tuning” process, so to speak. Any tuning process requires listening, at first. We measured the acoustic envelope with an array of microphones and proceeded to analyze the data. For a time, nothing made sense. We were not sure what to look for, especially for a system as complex as a jet engine. But with persistence, patterns began to emerge, and the so-called opportunities to “tune” components emerged. A few quick parametric changes resulted in a 3% performance improvement, and nearly 5% efficiency gain, just by “tuning.” Small numbers, indeed, but we knew this technique could be scaled up to achieve potentially significant results. The problem was, we were listening to a narrow frequency spectrum, a limitation of the microphones used, and to really listen to all of it, we needed a much larger, complex network of acoustic array sensors: dozens upon dozens of high-performance measurement microphones with extremely wide frequency pickup capabilities. Our options narrowed quickly with a price-tag too steep for a small startup.

But as the saying goes, limitation is the mother of creativity. Could we do something better ourselves? Enter a rabbit hole. Seven months later, admittedly shooting in the dark many times, we arrived at the beginnings of our own measurement platform. We are presently moving into the final stages of testing a small set of our measurement microphones, well under budget. Early tests, to our surprise, are almost on the dot for the needs. We’re excited for how this might shape and accelerate our development roadmap.

Somewhere along, we thought, why stop here? How about developing microphones for civilian use? We found an opportunity, engineering a blend of characteristics, including low self-noise, transparent frequency response, high sensitivity and reasonable dynamic range – all within a small form factor, affordable price-point, and carbon-negative American manufacturing wherever possible.

We’re just getting started and our ears are open. Music, nature, speech, machine: sound is an integral part of the human experience. We’re thrilled for what’s in store! Are you?

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