Canon's Speakers Will Spread The Sound With Mirrors

Japan commands the market for stereo equipment--except in speaker systems. Oddly, Japanese companies have never won brand recognition in quality speakers. Canon Inc. wants to change that. And it figures it has a secret weapon: the optical knowhow in Canon cameras.

Last month, Canon took the plunge into the U.S. speaker market, unwrapping two products in the $300-to-$450 range. Their claim to fame is in greatly expanding the area within which listeners hear well-balanced sound. This is done with acoustic mirrors developed in Britain by Hirokazu H. Negishi, Canon's European research chief. Bowl-shaped reflectors have been tried countless times, but such simple reflectors produce "wishy-washy" sound, says Negishi, because they just scatter sounds. His solution: use optical principles to sculpt the reflector so that it focuses sound as a camera lens handles light.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.