ILaB Blows Industry Away with Award-Winning Audio Technology

This past May, the cloud-based communication giant Cision’s website published an article loudly proclaiming, “TCL 9 Series RAY•DANZ Soundbar with Dolby Atmos Receives iF DESIGN AWARD 2020 For Its Unique Design Featuring TCL’s Innovative Acoustic Reflector TechnologyOne.” The award-winning audio technology in that Soundbar was developed right here in the DSP Valley ecosystem by the young team of sound engineers at ILaB.

First collaboration, first prizes

The RAY•DANZ soundbar is the first product to use ILaB’s in-house developed audio technologies, the XBowFlector. As the Cision article announced, the soundbar won”best in show” at IFA 2019 (Berlin) and CES 2020 (Las Vegas) along with several other awards.

This XBowFlector IP is owned by the ILab, who has also started licensing it, in different executions, to various ODM. This makes it possible to create the best sound bars in their class at a very attractive price.

“When we demonstrate the immersiveness of our XBowFlector-based soundbars, the first reaction of our visitors is usually one of disbelief.  The single small form-factor soundbar generates sounds all around — generating leaves rustling in the far left-corner, birds fluttering at the far right top of the room, while the falling rain can be heard throughout the room.  More than once, a visitor will get up to check if there isn’t a multi-speaker setup hidden away behind the curtains… only to find an empty room except for our soundbar.”

Philip Loubele, CEO ILaB

 Award-Winning Audio Technology: XBowFlector

For a sound reproduction system, user expectations include a good, immersive sound with a wide sweet spot and good speech intelligibility. XBowFlector technology was developed in order to achieve this from a compact form factor (such as a soundbar).

This XBowFlector technology has a sophisticated arrangement of speakers and reflectors to produce a wide, natural and immersive sound experience with a single soundbar unit.

Operation principle
An internal view of the firing speakers and reflectors used in ILaB's award-winning audio technology

The basis of XBowFlector technology is a 3 channel speaker system: two side channels and one center channel, located between two reflectors.

Every channel is reproduced by 1 or more drivers (depending on implementation). In a compact execution, these combinations of drivers reproduce mid- and high frequencies. For bass, an external sub-woofer or internal woofer is required.

The side channels

The drivers of the two side channels are angled towards a well-calculated and defined reflector.  The reflector beams the sound from the drivers towards the sides under a well-defined angle. This angle is determined in such a way that in typical living room the sound is beamed to the walls and reflected towards the listener. The combination of the shape of the reflectors and the directivity pattern of the drivers makes sure that, while all frequencies are beamed, the higher frequencies are more focused to the sides. These high frequencies are thus reflected by the side walls.

Listeners perceive this high frequency as coming from a sound stage much larger than the size of the XBowFlector device. The mid frequencies—which are less beamed—makes this a homogeneous sound stage.

An additional benefit of the XBowFlector technology is the enlarged left and right channel separation due to the outward beaming.

Visual descriptions of how ILaB's award-winning audio side channels beam high frequency cues to create a homogenous soundstage

This high channel separation in combination with the reflected high frequencies cues contribute to a large natural sweepspot, in contrast to today’s mainstream virtualizers.

The center channel

The final cherry on the audio cake is a dedicated front firing loudspeaker system is used to reproduce the center channel, with accurate voice positioning and high voice intelligibility.

A depiction of how the center channel beams sound directly to the listener

About ILaB

ILaB is a young company of ex-Philips audio experts who are passionate about audio and strive to develop novel and innovative audio concepts.

Despite being a young company, we are a very experienced team with a long track record. In the past, we have earned our spurs as head of the Audio Innovation (R&D) lab at Philips and Gibson, of which we became independent in 2018. Today, with our audio expertise and facilities, we support well-known audio brands worldwide, and market our own innovations and IP – for sound bars, smart speakers, and headphones – under a licensing model.

Visit ILaB at their website and follow them on LinkedIn

* TCL is a leading brand in the global TV industry and wants to become a leading player in the audio market by using innovative audio technologies.  To do this, they’ve created TCL entertainment solutions. ILaB was selected as a launching party to make this possible.  

This article was written by the iLab Team and edited by Jane Judge

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