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How TEEC EFLs Work


Electrostatic for the People
It’s not just artwork. This frame has mono speakers built in, meaning you can hang your speakers just like you would a picture of grandma.
It’s not just artwork. This frame has mono speakers built in, meaning you can hang your speakers just like you would a picture of grandma.
Courtesy TEEC

Traditional speakers are typically bulky contraptions with components like magnets, coils and cones. If you're not familiar with basic speaker technology, check out How Speakers Work. You'll see that speakers make sound by vibrating the air in front of a diaphragm to create sound waves, which our ears can hear.

A speaker's diaphragm size varies depending on the kind of sound you want to create. Big, boxy subwoofers feature diaphragms that might be a foot or more in diameter in order to reproduce low bass frequencies. Tiny tweeter speakers, on the other hand, might only be a few centimeters in diameter, which gives them a faster response time that's great for making high-pitched, high-frequency sounds.

Small or large, these rigid, relatively chunky speakers might be fantastic built into the side panels of your car. But there's no way they're suitable for, well, a sweat suit. To that end, TEEC tapped a different kind of speaker tech – electrostatic. You can read more about electrostatic speakers in Do those tall skinny speakers work differently than regular speakers?

Electrostatic speakers are nifty devices in their own right. They're a speaker sandwich of sorts, with an ultra-thin diaphragm bookended by electrically conductive metal grids, also called stators, which give the speakers a robust, sturdy structure. Tiny spacers leave just a bit of air between the diaphragm and the stators.

The stators receive alternating positive and negative charges that correspond to audio input, which in this case is the music signal. This alternating charge happens very quickly, and as it occurs, the highly charged diaphragm moves from side to side, just like a magnet that's attracted to its opposite. The wiggling diaphragm, of course, moves air and creates pressure waves we can hear.

Electrostatic speakers often contain diaphragms made of inflexible graphite. And because of the high voltage in the stators, proper distance must be maintained between all components; otherwise, you'll see a gorgeous (but highly dangerous) pyrotechnics display in your living room.

To make flexible (and non-fiery) speakers, TEEC borrowed some concepts of electrostatic speakers and added, well, their own twist.