Dyson Zone: Sound Engineering
Dyson engineers do the impossible, balancing advanced filtration technologies with precision acoustic engineering and delivering high-fidelity, immersive audio on the go, without compromising on performance.
Expertise in audio and electroacoustics isn’t new to Dyson. From across our sensing, electronics and acoustics teams, Dyson engineers pooled their experience on the Dyson Zone project, to deliver high quality audio and an innovative new approach to ANC.
Following five core principles, the Dyson Zone noise-cancelling headphones draw upon decades of experience in acoustics and advanced expertise in audio to deliver an exceptional immersive listening experience. Many audio developers rely on a golden listener; this has become common practice across the audio industry, where a trained individual determines what ‘good’ sounds like. Dyson engineers opted to take a more scientific approach, led by audio research and validating the resulting specification targets with extensive user trialling.
Engineered for ultra-low distortion
All speakers, whether in headphones, cars, laptops or loudspeakers are aiming to replicate a specific audio wave – that of the input signal, the music or sound that the user wants to play. An exact replica isn’t possible, so all speakers experience some level of distortion – it could be significant and noticeable, or not at all. Distortion is the difference between the original signal input and the output produced by the headphone. The bigger the distortion, the more audible it may be.
The speaker driver and electronics, mechanical system, materials, and acoustics have been carefully designed to minimise distortion. The driver output is further equalised by intelligent signal processing 48,000 times a second which combines with the noise cancellation to neutralise harmonic distortion to inaudible levels across the full frequency range (0.08% @ 94 dB @1 kHz).
Advanced noise cancellation
11 microphones feature within the product. The Dyson Zone™ ANC system uses eight microphones which monitor surrounding noise 384,000 times a second. The Dyson Zone offers up to 38 dB of noise cancellation from 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
Feedforward and feedback systems, known together as hybrid ANC, cancel noise in real time, using microphones to monitor the target sound and cancelling it by generating an “anti-noise” signal. The “anti-noise” sound wave mimics the noise that reaches the eardrum but as a mirror image, cancelling the noise and preventing the eardrum from moving.
Faithful, full-spectrum audio
The Dyson Zone™ goes beyond the audible to reproduce frequencies from 6 Hz – 21 kHz, ensuring every note or word is heard. It is more difficult for audio reproduction to be accurate at the extremes of the speaker’s frequency range, so by going beyond human hearing, the Dyson Zone achieves greater clarity across the audible portion of the spectrum. Such a broad frequency range is down to the electroacoustic engineering system engineering and base components: 40mm, 16 ohm, neodymium speaker drivers sit at the heart of the audio system.
Scientifically tuned to hear more detail
Tinny, smooth, sparkly, edgy, dull, blanketed…the adjectives used to describe audio are endless. Many understand the meaning behind the terms, but rarely do consumers know why the audio sounds this way, or what to look for in the specification to choose or avoid certain audio styles. From the outset, Dyson engineers wanted to ground product development in science, developing an audio specification rooted in literature backed up a trained listening panel of 10 people, and extensive, global user trials.
Using extensive acoustic analysis of how humans perceive sound, Dyson have created a unique EQ setting that optimised the frequency curve for a more exhilarating audio experience. At every stage of the development process, prototypes were put to test in the real world in extensive user trialling, to confirm the preference of listeners aligns with the numerical specifications determined through literature and research. Overall, Dyson’s trained listening panel participated in a total of 5,400 minutes of testing, more than 500 individual trials.
Dyson engineers developed three different audio profiles that prove most popular with listeners to personalise their experience: Dyson EQ (enhanced), Bass Boost (bassy) and Neutral (flatter response curve).
A note on telephony:
The Dyson Zone™ incorporates an additional microphone for telephony, allowing phone calls, voice recording and voice control. The telephony microphone combines with the feed forward ANC microphone to provide dual microphone beamforming. Beamforming creates greater clarity of voice transmission by combining the signals from each microphone in a way that allows the system to reject noise from behind and to the sides of the wearer.
Immersive listening in complete comfort
Detailed research into head and face geometries meant engineers could measure how the Dyson Zone air purifying headphones would sit on and perform on different heads– informing the clamp force of the headband, the geometry and materials of the visor, the adjustability of the machine and much more. The ear cushions are purposefully flatter than conventional ear cushions for both passive attenuation and comfort, and the cushions are angled to align with the ear for optimal comfort.
Any lack of balance between the left and right earcups challenges Dyson’s goal of delivering a highly immersive listening experience. To accurately position an instrument in a stereo mix, it is important that the left-right matching is very good at all frequencies – when the seal to the head varies across individuals due to head size or shape, the balance at specific frequencies, and therefore the stereo image, may sound off to different people. Testing with a broad range of head shapes and sizes in our acoustic chambers, as well as with our listening panels in real-world scenarios recreated in our bespoke listening room, ensures our engineers are confident that the L-R balance will be optimal no matter the wearer.