xMEMS Microspeakers Should Start to Arrive in Headphones Later This Year

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MEMS or microelectromechanical systems have been around for some time and the technology has allowed for the miniaturisation of a wide range of things. If you’re not familiar with MEMS, then the quick version is that it’s a way of making movable parts out of the same type silicon used to make semiconductors out of, in the same kind of fabs. xMEMS is a company that has specialised in making what the company calls microspeakers using MEMS technology and the first headphones based on its microspeakers should arrive later this year. The company was demoing a 3D printed mockup together with an OEM manufacturer called Vencer at Computex and we got some hands and ear on time with them.

The 3D printed units aren’t what you’d call amazing looking and the fit was far from perfect, especially as the foam eartips that were installed didn’t form a proper seal for yours truly. As such it was impossible to make any kind of sound quality judgement on the show floor, but it would appear that MEMS earphones share a lot with balanced armatures, in that a good seal is needed for them to sound good. The demo unit connected via USB-C and what’s not in the picture, was a rather big and unsightly three button control unit on the cord, which also contained a CX31988 audio codec from Synaptics. One interesting aspect of MEMS speakers is that they can be used in both open and closed modes, where the open mode would be used for things like having phone calls or instead of enabling ambient mode on ANC type earbuds. The closed mode would work like a normal pair of driver units inside your earbuds. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for a final product to arrive and put it through its paces, but we weren’t given any indication on when retail products could be available, beyond sometime later this year.

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