CES 2017: ESS Laboratories AMT422 Headphone with Heil Air Motion Transformer
I always go to the ESS booth. I tend to fing the sounds I hear as just okay, but I'm always impressed by the unusually interesting and innovative approach to designing transducers.
For exampole they showed this Heil designed Transar speaker five years ago at the Newport show. A novel but failed product. None the less, I found its workings quite interesting. You can read more about it and see a video of it in action in my ESS report from that show.
Last year at CES I stopped by their booth and found they had a prototype headphone that used a Heil Air Motion Transformer driver. I didn't report on it at the time as it was pretty poor sounding. This time around, however, they brought a pre-production unit and it was much better. So much so that I asked for a sample when available.
Heil Air Motion Transformers are an unusual transducer. The driver itself looks like a ribbon folded like the pleats of an accordion, which is placed in a magnetic field in such a way that as the audio current is passed through the ribbon, the pleats squeeze together and are pushed apart depending upon the signal applied. It's a little counterintuitive, here's the Wikipedia page to explain.
The new ESS AMT422 (~$550) is a full sized, sealed headphone. It expected to be available in Marcha and will come in a light and dark color scheme.