With the reveal of WA’s game-changing audio in prototype cars just months away, Autocar was offered exclusive access to the company’s MIRA laboratories, to hear how the new products work – and sound – and to meet the multitalented team bringing them to production.
The results are astounding, and the products’ instantly perceivable ability to “breathe new life into music” is just one of their advantages. WA’s much experienced head of programmes, Graham Landick, claims the WA system can save as much as 75% of the electric power needed to work an equivalent conventional system in a premium car. It can also save up to 75% of a conventional system’s weight – a matter of 6-8kg – which is a huge saving in today’s ounce-conscious car business. Just those two advantages can usefully boost the electric cruising range of a current EV.
WA also claims ease of packaging as one of its key advantages. Its speakers’ thinness, lightness and flexibility of shape mean they can be fitted integrally into a car’s trim surfaces in the ideal positions for the best sound quality. “In presentations to OEMs, we’ve learned that there’s a big advantage in having car designers present,” says Ian Hubbard, WA’s chief commercial officer. “When they see the new packaging opportunities, their eyes light up.”
Other advantages? WA’s easyto-position electrostatic speakers are particularly suited to noise cancellation applications because their low-mass membranes respond very quickly and precisely to changes in ambient noise. They also suit the creation of personalised sound zones for a car’s different occupants, a customer demand that is just beginning but likely to increase.
Finally, the sustainability story: WA’s electrostatic panels are almost entirely recyclable and contain none of the poisonous or hard-to-handle rare earth materials often found in magnet/voice coil transducers. This advantage will become increasingly important to car makers as they strive to decrease their products’ environmental footprint.