Powerful Simulation Software Gives Speaker Designers a New Window on Quality and Performance

11
Sep

To read the entire article featured in Voicecoil by David Burd, PhD, visit: www.mscsoftware.com/voicecoil 

The sound pressure at the front microphone is due to the unit load on voicecoil

The sound pressure at the front microphone is due to the unit load on voicecoil

Most speaker designers use some kind of simulation software to validate their designs before committing to prototypes and production runs. Today’s most popular simulation tools are fairly low-level finite element analysis (FEA) applications that provide basic one- and two-dimensional modeling and simulation. So how much better could their products be if they paired their knowledge and experience with heavyweight simulation tools?

It’s not a hypothetical question anymore. The kind of acoustic simulation tools that were once the exclusive province of automotive and aerospace engineers are now available to loudspeaker designers. The important difference is that these new high-end simulation tools are designed to be accessible to any designer, not just highly trained analysts bristling with doctoral degrees and six-figure budgets. A growing number of reasonably priced, user-friendly simulation solutions put high-end acoustic analysis within the reach of designers who could benefit from high-end analysis but don’t want to make a career out of learning how to use new tools.

Actran, a member of the MSC Software portfolio of products, offers one of these solutions. Consumer product designers use Actran, MSC’s suite of acoustic and vibration simulation software to create audio devices (e.g. telephones, hearing aids, musical instruments and loudspeakers).

Actran model shows a transmission line box loudspeaker

Actran model shows a transmission line box loudspeaker

The pressure map inside and surrounding the loudspeaker is designed at 240Hz

The pressure map inside and surrounding the loudspeaker is designed at 240Hz

Actran enables loudspeaker designers to create 3D simulations of:

  • sound radiation by vibrating structures such as speaker drivers;
  • sound absorption within enclosures;
  • leakage through enclosure walls;
  • absorption by porous materials;
  • the properties of specific materials; and
  • sound propagation in narrow ports and cavities.

Benefits of using affordable high end simulation for loudspeaker designs: 

  • Enables loudspeaker engineers to take a broader view of speaker design including the finite elements (e.g. the drivers and enclosures), the infinite elements (e.g. sound wave emissions), and the underlying physics.
  • Actran shows the whole sound field allowing designers to evaluate the physics and make modifications for higher-performing products. 1-D and 2-D simulation software provide limited accuracy when determining how sound will travel through a 3-D object.
  • Running simulations faster enables loudspeaker designers to modify their designs for optimal performance without increasing prototyping and production costs or time to market. Actran users can create simple scripts to test a wide variety of material properties, eliminating repetitive manual processes.
  • Actran enables engineers to automate computation chains with a specific material property varying among 100 different values to determine the value for optimum acoustic performance. These optimization capabilities represent a significant reduction in prototyping costs. A major loudspeaker manufacturer might build and discard 20 prototypes a week to perfect a design. Actran simulation can reduce that number to just one or two.   
  • Speaker designers can use Actran to simulate any material available to them – and even some that aren’t. For example, consider a designer trying to perfect a new port box shape. He experiments with a variety of dimensions, enclosure and dampening materials. The shape holds promise but doesn’t deliver the sound he suspects it could. Using Actran, he can simply right click on the simulation model to virtually determine what properties he needs out of an enclosure material.

Loudspeaker designs who embrace high-end simulation technology like Actran will have an advantage over competitors: The ability to freely experiment with new designs and materials without inflating costs or delaying production schedules. 

For more information on Actran, visit: http://www.mscsoftware.com/product/actran-acoustics

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