With growth comes challenges, however, and Sonos recently began looking for an easier and more accurate way to validate speaker component quality levels, many of which are made of flexible materials that are difficult to measure. One of these is a damping mechanism known throughout the industry as a spider, a piece of fabric covered a phenolic resin and then pressed over steel dies into a corrugated shape, giving it a complex geometry and part profile best described as a sine wave.
Tony Ferraro, transducer mechanical engineering manager at Sonos’ Boston, MA facility says the spider is an important part of sound quality, and is analogous to an automobile suspension, in that it controls oscillation of the cone assembly. The spider also helps control the position of the cone and voice coil relative to the speaker frame and transducer motor assembly.
“The issue with inspecting a spider is that it’s relatively soft, so if you use a height gauge or some other type of contact method you’ll distort the part and end up with inaccurate results,” he says. “Because of that, we were largely relying on inspection data from our suppliers, who measure the spider with radius gages, calipers, and similar subjective methods. We needed a more reliable way to validate the product.”
Audiophiles and casual listeners alike agree: it’s awesome equipment. The Sonos PLAY smart speaker system lets you listen to jazz in the kitchen, classical in the den, and heavy metal in the garage, each room by itself or all at the same time. So whether you want a wholehouse Gojira jam or a little Don Henley with friends on the patio, Sonos brings music to places that were once silent.
It’s not all about music. Sonos offers a home theater system as well, one that’ll have you ducking for cover each time Luke Skywalker pulls out his lightsaber. The Sonos PLAYBAR produces crisp, clean dialogue and memorable sound effects, while the SUB generates bone-shaking bass. Add a pair of PLAY speakers to the back and you’ll have a surround sound system sure to make the neighbors jealous. Best of all, Sonos is wireless, making it easy to grow your system one room at a time. Plug a speaker into the nearest wall outlet, update the configuration on your smart phone or computer, and you’re ready to rock.
The equipment was installed shortly after the demonstration in early 2015. Ferraro had previous experience with traditional inspection equipment such as optical comparators, but this was the first time he’d used something “this advanced.” After a one-hour training session, however, he was showing coworkers how to use the equipment, although he admits the VHX-5000 has far more untapped potential. “Learning to use the basic functionality is pretty straightforward, but we’re probably only using 10-percent of the instrument’s actual capability.”
It was also the first opportunity he’d had to use high-end metrology equipment as part of the product development cycle, something that aids greatly in the company’s push towards continuous improvement. “The status quo isn’t good enough, especially for a company that is growing by leaps and bounds,” Ferraro says. “You need good technology if you’re going to compete in today’s market. KEYENCE is part of that.”