There’s no doubt that car audio has gotten better over the years, but there haven’t been many big changes. Enter LG, which wants to use thin vibrating panels to make the dashboard, roof, and pretty much any other surface in your car into a sound-making surface.
This is possible with the company’s new “Thin Actuator Sound Solution” product. TASS uses film exciters instead of the separate parts, materials, and coil exciters found in traditional speakers. It’s a similar method to what LG already uses in its thin OLED TVs, which pulse their screens to make a sound.
The passport-sized panels made by TASS are only 2.5 millimeters thick, which is 10 percent of what a typical car speaker is, and 30 percent as heavy.
Because they are so small, you can hide them in almost anything hollow to add to the overall sound profile inside. LG says it worked with a big audio company to make TASS, which will be shown for the first time in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
It seems like an elegant and efficient way to save resources, space, and weight. This last one is a big deal because modern cars don’t need to be heavier. From what the company said:
Its small size and unique shape make it possible to install it in different parts of the car, like the dashboard, headliner, pillar, and headrests, without changing the sound quality for the people inside. The built-in nature of the device not only makes it possible to get rid of speaker grills, but it also makes better use of space by freeing up the space normally taken up by car speakers without affecting sound quality.
LG Display has also left out rare earth elements like neodymium (Nd), which are usually used in regular speakers. This makes the speaker more eco-friendly.
The big question is, of course, how good these panels will sound in real life. The technology has been well received in high-end TVs like the Sony A95K, but most people who buy nice TVs are probably going to spend more money on soundbars or more dedicated audio setups with low-range power that would blow any TV out of the water anyway.
In a car, however, the effect of sound coming from any surface gives people the chance to experience real surround sound. Maybe it could be mixed with traditional speakers to give it both presence and power.
LG says that TASS will be sold to the public in 2023, which means that cars will have it next year. As usual with these kinds of supplier announcements, we don’t know what cars those will be yet, but we’re interested to find out.