Sony made its OLED display into a speaker to take TV audio to a whole new level
By now you’ve probably noticed, most TVs are designed with picture quality in mind above all else—including sound, which is arguably just as important to our viewing experience. Not only does a composer’s music add emotional impact to a show or movie, but even discrete sounds, like raindrops or crickets chirping in the background, can change the atmosphere by imbuing a sense of realism. Meanwhile, built-in speakers are commonly tinny, weak, and mono-directional. The reason for this is simple. To oversimplify things a bit, rich, full sound is developed by large speakers, which push sound waves from a flat surface. The larger this surface, the fuller the sound, and in the quest for bezel-free flatscreens, speakers are often the first casualty.
But what if it didn’t have to be this way? What if we could have TVs engineered like smooth sheets of glass that didn’t sacrifice sound along the way? If it sounds too good to be true … well, it’s not anymore. The solution Sony came up with is so simple it’s going to change the way we experience sound on TV entirely.
Remember that large, flat surface, the one that’s necessary for speakers to create rich sound? You know, the one that’s minimized to make room for that other giant flat surface: the screen? See where we’re going here? Sony BRAVIA OLED TVs have done something remarkably simple in theory, yet complex in design. They turned that big, beautiful sheet of glass (the screen) into the speakers.
The gist of what Sony calls Acoustic Surface technology is simple. Behind the OLED panel are four actuators which cause the screen to vibrate imperceptibly, emitting sound waves. The subwoofer, meanwhile, is built into the easel stand hidden behind the display, rounding out bass and deep tones.
However, because the speakers on Sony BRAVIA OLED TVs are now working with a surface area greater than any other modern television, they can get a little more creative. By pairing the Acoustic Surface technology with an algorithm designed to interpret what’s on the screen, Sony BRAVIA OLED TVs can project sound directly from its visual source. Voices are emitted directly from actors’ mouths, a conversation takes place from multiple sources, a speeding car literally zips across your screen. Those crickets in the background can chirp from a different area of the speaker than the foreground noise, creating a realistic sensation of depth and texture.
Because OLED screens (as opposed to LCD panels) are constructed with fewer layers, Acoustic Surface technology is currently only possible on OLED displays, and only available on Sony BRAVIA OLED TV. OLEDs allowed them to reimagine the basic structure of speakers themselves, and challenge the primacy of the display. Not only do Sony BRAVIA OLED TVs possess rich, full speakers, but they’re also the most technologically advanced, adding a layer of tactility to robust sound. It all makes for an immersive viewing experience with picture and sound in perfect harmony.
Sights & Sound: Inside the ‘Acoustic Surface’ Powering Sony’s First OLED TV
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Even when it’s turned off, Sony’s BRAVIA OLED A1E 4K HDR TV is a work of art. The set’s barely-there bezels and back-mounted stand mean there’s nothing to distract you from the 8.2 million OLED pixels that feed this stunning screen. From the front, there are no visible speakers, stands, buttons or lights — just a phenomenal picture. Glowing embers, twinkling stars, and neon lights shine as if hovering in deep space with hardly a speaker grille in sight.
But it’s the hidden technology in the BRAVIA OLED A1E that makes it a feat of both art and engineering. At Sony’s EVOLVE event in New York City, video artist Kaz Shirane played with these themes (and a handful of A1E TVs) in his newest walk-through installation. As visitors passed through the work’s central mirrored tunnel, they were treated to a majestic kaleidoscope of deep space imagery and pulsing omnidirectional sound. To pull off this optical illusion, Shirane embedded seven A1E TVs inside the installation’s latticed igloo of mirrored surfaces. The secret to delivering sound, though, is all thanks to the A1E’s ingenuous speaker-less design.
Even though Shirane’s piece is driven by 4K HDR video of the cosmos and a soundtrack, the installation isn’t outfitted with speakers. In a clever twist, Sony has designed the surface of the BRAVIA OLED to double as a sound source. The picture is the sound. This innovative audio setup, called Acoustic Surface, uses four actuators affixed to the back of the panel to turn the entire screen into a sound-emitting structure.
“I wanted to make an interactive space that, in some way, people could design by themselves,” Shirane explains. He has created similarly intricate installations in the past, but the BRAVIA OLED A1E brought streamlined convenience to his work. “I always use mirrors, but the light, the color, and the sound are really important. Before, I had to use speakers, and the speakers were so big. With this installation, I didn’t have extra parts and I didn’t have to run cables. ”
Naturally, this kind of technology means the BRAVIA OLED can do things no other TV can do. Thanks to the vibrating units behind the panel, sound can move from side to side within the picture and be isolated to certain parts of the screen. Dialogue and sound effects emanate directly from onscreen objects, providing an audio experience that’s as immersive as the video. And they vibrate the screen so delicately that the movement isn’t even visible to the human eye.
“To make sound, it’s a combination of how big the speaker is and how much you move it,” explains Philip Jones, Product Technology Manager at Sony Electronics. “If I have a small speaker, I have to move it a lot, quite a significant distance to make sound. With a big speaker, a big surface like this, you can move it microscopically.”
Those little vibrating units are most effective when it comes to high-end and midrange frequencies—things like voices, the squeal of tires, and the crack of a bat. For beefy bass, the Sony BRAVIA OLED A1E’s One Design stand features an equally innovative touch.
Because the set is so slim and sleek, there’s little room inside the panel for its powerful X1 Extreme processor and input ports. Those essential components are instead housed inside the One Design stand. But that’s not all that’s hidden within this hidden support system. The stand houses a rear-firing subwoofer, helping provide the low-end thump for on-screen explosions, rolling thunder, and bass-heavy soundtracks.
“As TVs get bigger, there’s a bigger separation between what’s going on on the screen and where the sound comes from,” Jones says. “If you have the speakers at the bottom of a 70-inch TV, we’re talking about a three-foot difference between the image and where the sound is coming from. Now it all comes from the screen.”
An OLED TV doesn’t need the sometimes-bulky backlight system an LED panel needs to create images. Because OLED panels create their own light without a backlight system, they can be very thin. That super-slim screen is essential in order for the Acoustic Surface’s actuators to work their vibrating magic.
“It’s a lot like a pair of planar headphones,” Jones explains. In the realm of headphones, planar models are often the most-expensive options due to their sonic fidelity. “The challenge is, how do you move the plane, which in this case is the screen. In a headphone, you can do electrostatic technology, you can do it with magnets. But this is vibrating glass.”
For a skilled artist like Shirane, this combination of amazing picture quality and innovative sound design make for the ultimate multimedia canvas. For the rest of us, it adds ups to something just as dazzling, exciting, and engaging: finally, there’s a new way to watch television. “We call it ‘image without distraction,’” says Jones, “It’s a lot more realistic and a lot more delicate.”
Seeing and hearing is believing. Check out sony.com for a closer look at Sony’s groundbreaking BRAVIA OLED A1E 4K HDR TV.
This article was developed by WIRED Brand Lab on behalf of Sony Corporation of America.
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sound processing technologies in Sony TVs
Even with the best picture quality, bad sound can spoil the whole viewing experience. Sony TVs use unique, advanced sound processing technologies to ensure your entertainment is uninterrupted, while multi-dimensional sound immerses you in the action on screen. Here we talk about the purpose of each technology and what TVs of the 2020 line use it.
Acoustic Multi-Audio™ Technology
Available on the following models: ZG9 | ZH8 | XH95 (55″, 65″, 75″ and 85″ screen sizes) | XH90 (65″, 75″ and 85″ screen sizes)
Acoustic Multi-Audio™ makes the screen appear to act as a speaker. At the same time, the sound exactly matches the image, which provides a truly complete immersion. The XH95 and XH90 models use full-range speakers at the bottom and two audio positioning speakers at the back of the TV, which point upwards. They create the effect of sound coming from the screen. In the ZG9 modelthere are four forward-facing speakers at the top and bottom of the screen, which are used in place of sound-positioning tweeters, and a subwoofer for rich bass.
With the ZH8, this technology can do even more. This TV uses an optional innovative frame tweeter. Here, the frame vibrates imperceptibly to the human eye, due to which the sound accompanies events on the screen. Along with a frame tweeter, this TV uses two front-firing speakers and two subwoofers to deliver full and rich sound.
Acoustic Surface Audio+™
Available in the following model: AG9
Acoustic Surface Audio+™ technology places actuators behind the TV that vibrate to create sound that moves with the picture m. Two additional subwoofers provide powerful bass and a spatial effect that allows sound to move from one part of the room to another. Imagine that you are in a concert hall, and at the same time the sound comes at you from different directions. This is the multi-dimensional sound effect that Acoustic Surface Audio+™ technology provides.
In center speaker mode, this effect is especially strong. Simply connect an amplifier to the output jack on the back of your AG9 TV to transform it into a high quality center speaker for your home theater.
Acoustic Surface Audio™
Available in the following model: A8
Acoustic Surface Audio™ technology also turns the screen into a speaker. Two innovative drive mechanisms behind the TV vibrate gently to create sound that moves through the picture. So dialogue and special effects come from the right place in the soundstage, while two subwoofers reproduce low-frequency sounds. This screen audio technology is designed to make movies, TV shows, and games more realistic, so you can fully immerse yourself in the action in every scene.
Width balanced speaker
Available in the following models: XH95 (55″, 65″ and 75″ screen sizes) | XH90 | XH81 | XH80
X-Balanced Speaker technology is new for 2020.
TV speakers used to be round. They reproduced sound well, but their installation required large TV cabinets that took up a lot of space. Over time, TVs became flatter and began to use thin oval speakers, but the sound quality deteriorated. Our new unique X-Balanced Speakers are specifically designed to deliver the high quality sound that comes from ultra-slim TVs.
Available in the following models: ZH8 | A8 | XH95
Our environmental adaptation technology automatically adjusts the sound and picture settings according to the environment in which the TV is used.
The environment of a room can make a big difference in the sound. For example, curtains absorb it, and objects in front of the TV distort it. This can ruin the viewing experience, which is why we made sure that the ZH8, A8 and XH9 TVs5 recognized obstacles ahead and adapted the sound to the characteristics of the room.
This also applies to the image. In traditional TVs, the brightness of the image remains the same and does not depend on the lighting in the room. As a result, the picture is often too dark or bright. Thanks to environmental adaptation technology, a built-in light sensor is used. Based on information from this sensor, the TV adjusts the brightness level by increasing or decreasing it to provide comfortable viewing conditions in bright and dark rooms.
Available on the following model: X70
ClearAudio+ is a set of audio processing technologies that automatically adjusts the sound settings no matter what you watch. With optimized quality and improved separation of sound sources, music, dialogue and sound effects practically surround you, and you feel like everything is really happening.
Do you have an older Sony TV?
Some of these technologies are also found in our older models. In addition, we constantly update the firmware to improve our products. For example, Dolby Atmos integration for the built-in speakers of our 2018 and 2019 TVs is now available on select models with the Android™ 9 Pie firmware update. With Dolby Atmos, sound comes from the top and sides of the case, and you can more realistically hear objects moving above your head. It’s like the multi-dimensional sound you hear in a movie theater, but now it’s all happening in your living room.
Finally, all of our TVs, new and old, have sound modes that you can use to enhance your entertainment experience. Just open the sound settings section on your TV and select one of the modes “Standard”, “Dialogue”, “Cinema”, “Music” or “Sports”. Standard mode is good for regular broadcasts, dialogue mode is good for content that has a lot of speech. Cinema mode optimizes surround sound for movies, Music mode creates dynamic sound like you’re at a concert, and Sports mode makes the TV simulate a large space, like a stadium, but commentary is heard clearly.
Click here to view the full range of Sony TVs.
Replacement of Sony-bravia TV speakers – Calling a technician from a service center
from 430 r
Replacement of Sony-bravia TV speakers
Cost of service – from 430 rubles
Repair with you
Departure within 30 minutes
TV plays an important role in a person’s life – it is difficult to imagine evening rest and weekend leisure without it. Therefore, any breakdown is frustrating, especially if the sound on the TV is gone. This problem can occur for various reasons, some can be fixed on your own, but often repair or replacement of components is necessary. You can turn off and on again the TV and sound system, a failure may have occurred. If the sound does not appear, then repair is needed. Usually the missing sound is a consequence of a breakdown in the TV’s sound system, but what exactly is broken can be determined by a profile master. You may need to replace the TV speaker or repair it, but first you need diagnostics. In any case, you should not carry out manipulations inside the TV yourself – this can lead to additional damage.
The main causes of no sound on the TV
TV sound system problems fall into three categories: manufacturing, electronic and mechanical. If the sound disappears shortly after purchase, then the cause may be a manufacturing defect, a marriage or incorrect assembly is possible. In this case, warranty service will help. Electronic defects include problems with the board or processor, software failure, or corrupted firmware code. But most often the sound disappears due to mechanical failures. These include the following types of damage:
- liquid has entered the speakers;
- sound reproducing device struck or dropped;
- turning on the speakers at maximum volume damaged the cone;
- the service life of the acoustic system is long and natural wear has occurred;
- broken or damaged cables, contacts, internal components of the speaker.