Unique audio challenges require unique expertise. There are very few loudspeaker manufacturers, who serve original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), that can design, prototype, test, manufacture, and ensure the quality of a new speaker (or full speaker system). This is especially true when your needs go above and beyond the speakers mass produced for simple sound reproduction in the consumer market. Try searching Amazon for “speakers that can withstand explosions” or “speakers for slot machines” and you’ll quickly see the limitations.
The leaders in loudspeaker manufacturing, like MISCO, have in-house engineers with decades of experience and access to the best technology for design and testing.
Selecting a Loudspeaker Manufacturer
When you’re looking for an audio solution, do some research instead of just picking the first company you find. In the long run, you’ll be happy you did. The company you select must have know-how both in audio and acoustics as well as in your particular industry for you to get the speakers you need. A good way to do this is to simply have a conversation with them. Here are the starter questions you should ask as you explore your options.
What experience does your company have with our industry?
How do you organize and execute the design process?
What testing capabilities do you have?
What are the options for manufacturing locations?
How do you handle quality control?
A speaker manufacturer may specialize in one particular industry (like automotive) which is fine if that’s what you need. More likely you will get better solutions from a company that has created speakers for a wide range of uses. Their engineers will have experience working with different materials and know how to select the right components to deliver the desired characteristics per your specific application.
OEM Audio Design Process and Testing
When you’re asking a loudspeaker manufacturer about how they handle design, inquire about their process for prototyping. What software do they use for modeling and creating detailed drawings? Is 3D printing an option so the iterative process towards a final design can happen faster?
Building a speaker is a mix of art and science. You can model how materials will react together, but until the prototype is built and tested you won’t know for sure. Fortunately, there are now precise tools available to measure a speaker’s performance.
A loudspeaker manufacturer should have a lab of Klippel analyzers to test speakers. Klippel’s measurement tools use microphones and lasers to show an engineer how a transducer is operating at a microscopic level. You should even be able to supply your loudspeaker manufacturer with an audio file of what the speaker will be playing so that it can be tested in the way it will be used in the real world. A Klippel Near Field Scanner uses autonomous robotics to measure thousands of points around a speaker. This type of testing used to take weeks or months but now can be done in a day - with the right tool.
Maybe you need a passive system, or maybe you need a powered system. If your audio solution is going to require an amplifier, make sure that your loudspeaker manufacturer has expertise in that area. A good way to know is to find out if they offer amplifiers appropriate for OEM applications like Class D amps with DSP (digital signal processing).
Back in the day, companies used to rely on Class A or B amps because they historically produced higher fidelity sound. However, advancements in current day electronics have increased the benefits of Class D amps. They are more efficient, produce less heat, are smaller, lighter, and last longer.
Some loudspeaker manufacturers only offer manufacturing in Asia, some only in America, and a very few offer both. The advantages of being able to design and test a prototype in America—and then decide where to manufacture it—means customers have greater flexibility in terms of price per unit, shipping, and security around intellectual property and trade secrets.
An easy check here is to make sure your loudspeaker manufacturer has ISO 9001 certification. This provides proof that the company has rigorous quality controls built into their entire process - from the initial order through the end of line testing of each finished speaker. Be sure the end of line testing is rigorous because that is what prevents defects from getting to you or your customers.
It’s the people, and their expertise and knowledge, that sets one speaker manufacturer apart from another. A thorough conversation upfront should leave you confident in their ability to understand and help solve your audio needs.
If you’d like to have that conversation with MISCO, we’d be happy to talk. Call us at 800-276-9955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.