The high-end audio industry is relentless in its pursuit of better sound and nothing beats beryllium
Beryllium’s unique qualities as an acoustics material have long been treasured by audiophiles. Its exceptional stiffness-to-mass ratio is far beyond that of aluminum or titanium, enabling it to deliver much greater high frequency, lower distortion and overall superior clarity. But beryllium’s high comparative cost and fabrication challenges posed a major hurdle to greater market acceptance. That was then.
Over the past decade, Materion’s Electrofusion operation, based in Fremont, California, has developed rolled foil beryllium for acoustic applications and reduced the manufacturing costs. These advances strengthen Materion’s position as the world’s only supplier of pure beryllium acoustic components under the Truextent® brand.
Last year, Electrofusion introduced a family of ready-to-install compression driver diaphragm assemblies under the BeX™ brand. The assemblies include a pure beryllium dome, a polymer surround for extended lifespan without sound degradation, and an aluminum voicecoil to minimize the overall mass.
Electrofusion has been focused on the professional audio market but is beginning to expand into the high-end consumer and automotive hi-fi markets as interest in acoustic beryllium expands.
“We are getting closer to our customer base, doing co-branded marketing and advertising, establishing formal partnerships, and having discussions with a number of major players,” says Materion Truextent Product Manager Steve Willenborg. “We are creating very strong champions for the material.”
One of those advocates is Ken Berger, co-founder and CEO of VUE Audiotechnik and an icon in the professional audio industry. VUE and Materion signed a partnership agreement last year to develop a family of compression drivers (often seen suspended in line arrays at concerts and in theaters) and explore other applications of acoustic beryllium and other advanced materials available through Materion.
“The potential now exists for beryllium-based transducers to expand beyond just the high end and into broader sound reinforcement applications,” says Berger. “People who know audio want beryllium in their high-end systems,” says Willenborg. “The road to mass production requires us to continue to lower our own production costs to allow lower end-product pricing. If we can continue to do that, the market is virtually unlimited.”