Boom! New chip adds more punch to mobile device speakers

NXP MegasoundGirl

Your next smartphone or tablet may have richer, deeper sound even with the small speakers usually found in such devices. On Tuesday, NXP Semiconductors introduced a new integrated circuit and algorithm that boasts five times more output power for sound. Even better, the sound boost won’t damage the speakers, claims NXP, because the chip uses a current-sensing amplifier to dynamically monitor and adjust for the speaker temperature and movement.

Here’s how NXP says this works, along with a short video to provide an idea of the chip’s capabilities:

“Because the speaker is fully protected, the system can deliver significant levels of extra power to make the sound louder and better than before. The TFA9887 optimizes the audio signal based on the movement of the speaker, something no other system is capable of, using the full capabilities of the speaker without pushing beyond the limits. An advanced clip avoidance algorithm monitors audio performance and prevents clipping, even when the power supply begins to sag. Bandwidth extension increases the low frequency response well below speaker resonance.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbeR6gfO8Y4]

The concept is appealing: As mobile devices have quickly evolved with advanced features and functions, some of the basics have been overlooked, particularly, I think external speakers. If I can get richer, deeper and louder sound on my phone or tablet speakers, I’m all for it.

One of the main drawbacks of my Galaxy Nexus smartphone is the speaker. Music and voice calls sound great on headphones but terribly soft through the external speaker. Even with just a little background noise, I sometimes can’t hear the phone ring, for example.

I don’t expect music to sound great from the phone’s speaker, but even watching a movie or video is difficult without headphones due to the low sound output. While NXP’s hardware solution won’t address the low sound in my current smartphone, I’m looking forward to hearing it in a new one.

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