Akoustic Arts A Directional Speaker

The Akoustic Arts “A” is one of the more unusual-looking speakers you will encounter, with its honeycomb of mini transducers (200 in all). But looks aren’t the only thing unusual about this speaker. Rather than spray sound in every direction like a conventional speaker, the A projects sound in a focused beam. As the Paris-based company likes to say, it’s “the speaker that only you can hear.” And it appears to be off and running. By mid-April, Akoustic Arts had raised more than $200,000, exceeding its Indiegogo funding goal by 662 percent in less than a month. We spoke with founder and CEO Ilan Kaddouch to learn more.

S&V: How did the concept for the A directional speaker come about?

IK: We wanted to revolutionize the traditional listening experience, so we created a technology to redefine personal audio. The A is a directional speaker that creates a highly targeted beam of sound, the same way a laser creates a beam of light. You hear sound only when you’re inside the beam. Outside of the beam, there is no sound whatsoever.

The A makes it possible to have multiple speakers playing different audio content in the same space. You can listen to what you want without disturbing people around you. It’s like listening to headphones without the headphones.

S&V: The description online says the A is based on ultrasonic technology. Can you explain how it works in simple terms?

IK: The A uses integrated electronics and software to create a highly directional beam of sound that can be focused on a target area, the same way a laser creates a beam of light. The technology is based on a physical phenomenon that transforms ultrasonic sounds (that are naturally directional) into audible sounds. [A more detailed description can be found on indiegogo.com.]

S&V: Akoustic Arts has two models: the A Original and A Junior. How are they different, and what is the U.S. pricing?

IK: The main difference between them is size and the width of the sound beam they project. The A Original costs $1,000 and is about 8 x 8 x 1 inches (with 200 transducers); its beam is up to 48 inches wide, and it plays up to 90 decibels SPL. The A Junior costs $600 and is about 3.5 x 3.5 x 1 inches (with 37 transducers); its beam is up to 25.5 inches wide, and it plays up to 70 dB SPL. On the back of each speaker is a yellow A Core module with a jack for power and a minijack audio input. The module also has an updatable pilot card inside. So if you buy an A this year and want to upgrade to Wi-Fi in 2017, you just change the Core.

S&V: So a wireless version is in the works?

IK: Indeed, a wireless Wi-Fi-based version is in process but the details have to remain secret for the time being.