Sounding out a new concept in speakers

The world’s first cardboard hi-fi speakers were launched this week by UK audio technology specialist NXT.

The company has used its SurfaceSound system to turn the traffic cone-sized cardboard assemblies into home stereo quality loudspeakers.

Developed in conjunction with packaging manufacturer DS Smith, the speakers are designed to offer a low-cost, lightweight product that can be used for parties and barbecues where expensive cabinets could get damaged. Specially treated to make them splash-proof, they weigh less than 1kg and can be flat-packed.

They have a power rating of 6W – which according to the manufacturer is ‘loud enough for a house party’ – and connect to any standard hi-fi amplifier with a power output of 10W-50W.

Cardboard is the latest in a string of unusual materials and surfaces to which NXT has successfully applied SurfaceSound. This uses small motors known as ‘exciters’ to drive complex vibrations over rigid surfaces, creating resonance dense enough for quality sound.

NXT will market the speakers under the SoundpaX name, and the company is negotiating with audio equipment companies over distribution of the product, which will sell for around £30 a pair. The firm also hopes to sell the concept to relevant consumer brands, which could place their own logos and designs on the cardboard to create ‘themed speakers’.

A second generation of SoundpaX is due for release by the summer. This will incorporate its own amplifier and may feature new sizes of speaker.

While SoundpaX is likely to provide a quirky showcase for NXT’s technology, the Cambridgeshire-based company’s major ambitions lie in the lucrative automotive and consumer electronics sectors.

Its systems are being tested by several major car manufacturers and electronics companies including Matsushita, Philips and Siemens.

NXT this week posted a wider interim pre-tax loss of £7.2m, but said it has £16.5m in the bank – enough to meet its requirements.

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