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MEMS Microphones Busting Out All Over
6/24/2014

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HD MEMS microphones are hot
IHS divides the market into low signal-to-noise (SNR), high SNR and very-high SNR microphones and forecasts that the fastest growing segment of the MEMS microphone market will be the very-highest performing models (dark blue) propelling the MEMS microphone market over $1 billion for first time in 2014 -- and is on-track for $1.37 billion by 2017. Click here for larger image
 (Source: IHS)
 



HD microphones are biggest trend
The biggest trend in MEMS microphones, according to IHS is the market for very-high-end MEMS microphones (which are commonly called high-definition or HD) achieving greater than or equal to 64dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), which IHS predicts is the fastest-growing portion of the MEMS microphone market -- expected to generate more than 50 percent of the revenue by 2017. HD microphones will propel MEMS microphones past the $1 billion revenue mark in 2014 for the first time, up 24 percent from $837 million in 2013 and headed for $1.37 billion by 2017, according to IHS. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of all MEMS microphones is 18 percent, but for HD microphones the market is growing more quickly at 40 percent CAGR, Marwan Boustany told EE Times, an IHS senior analyst for MEMS and sensors in mobile and consumer technology. In terms of units, 5.4 billion will be shipped in 2017 up from 1.9 billion in 2012, Boustany said.

'Very high SNR microphones give much more richness to the sound,' Boustany told EE Times. 'And this is not just pure speculation -- we know from the manufacturers that have already adopted it that it is a very fast growing segment -- because of the value of good audio in a handset, whether is for phone calls, whether its for good quality audio when you are taking a video or to support voice commands -- microphone manufacturers are really beginning to appreciate this.'

According to Boustany smartphones, tablets and laptops -- with Apple and Samsung leading the pack -- are still the driving force behind MEMS microphone adoption, all of which are moving to multiple HD microphone setups. HD MEMS microphones have a higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), which together with a higher maximum sound-pressure level (SPL) provide a wider dynamic range -- the main impetus to growing at the fastest rate in 2014, according to IHS, especially for noise cancellation and beam steering. IHS also argues that the burgeoning new markets for Internet of Things (IoT), medical and wearable devices -- including smart-watches and smart-glasses -- will multiply the demand for MEMS microphones in the future.

The market for HD MEMS microphones with the widest dynamic range was first adopted by Apple for its iPhone 5 -- to improve the accuracy of voice commands to Siri. Samsung added them to its Galaxy S4 and Note 4 models to improve the accuracy of its voice recognition applications. In fact, 96 percent of HD MEMS microphone revenue was due to Apple and Samsung in 2013, according to IHS. Now other vendors, including Motorola in its Moto X, are following suit. Even automobile makers are now choosing HD MEMS microphones to improve the accuracy of their voice commands, and hearing-aid vendors such as GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) whose LINX hearing aid uses multiple HD MEMS microphones to cancel ambient noise, improve clarity and to allow the hearing aid to double as a Bluetooth headset for listening to music.

According to IHS, HD models are mostly for mobile phones (70 percent), then tablets (13 percent), MEMS microphones in headphones that manufacturers supply with their smartphones (9 percent), in laptops (6 percent) and wearables (2 percent).
IHS divides the market into low signal-to-noise (SNR), high SNR and very-high SNR microphones and forecasts that the fastest growing segment of the MEMS microphone market will be the very-highest performing models (dark blue) propelling the MEMS microphone market over $1 billion for first time in 2014 -- and is on-track for $1.37 billion by 2017. Click here for larger image (Source: IHS)

 

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R_Colin_Johnson
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Re: Unidirectional MEMS Microphones
R_Colin_Johnson   7/29/2014 3:45:38 PM
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Not sure about the Harmon model, but have made inquiries. Will get back to you soon.

D Cowan
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Re: Unidirectional MEMS Microphones
D Cowan   7/29/2014 3:14:21 PM
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Yes, we'll definitely see SNR continue to improve and at lower price points. What is even more important, in my mind, is that a unidirectional MEMS microphone with high SNR can replace multiple-microphone arrays - today. That means, even if the per unit cost is still at a premium, the value prop still makes sense. At a high level, one device means the  total system is easier to design and manufacture, less space is taken up on an already tight motherboard, and there will be fewer points of failure (not to mention lower power, heat, etc., etc.). I'm just wondering about uptake of the Harman product though because I haven't seen much written about it to know how well it works.

R_Colin_Johnson
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Re: Unidirectional MEMS Microphones
R_Colin_Johnson   7/29/2014 2:53:42 PM
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According to the analysts, all the high-end smartphone makers are going for as much SNR as they can get, and are willing to pay the premium price they demand. The reason is that the voice recognition and noise canceling algorithms work so much better, low-volume voice calls are easier to understand and the quality of the soundtrack on video recordings is even more important than the video quality. Of course, like everything else, as volume production ramps up and prices go down the other-than-top-line-models will start to adapt HD mics too.

D Cowan
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Unidirectional MEMS Microphones
D Cowan   7/29/2014 1:07:11 PM
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In January Harman announced unidirectional analog and digital MEMS microphones with SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) up to 68 dBA. Have you come across anyone designing these in yet? If a single MEMS microphone can replace multi-mic arrays for noise cancelation, it should speed adoption by significantly reducing the cost and space required within the target device. Thoughts?

R_Colin_Johnson
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Re: What is the breakdown of AMICs vs DMICs?
R_Colin_Johnson   6/30/2014 12:12:08 AM
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All your arguements for digital outputs are valid, and in fact the first startup's first microphone (Akustica) had digital outputs. Unfortunately, its kind of like the VHS versus Beta video take war--if you can remember that far back--everybody was already set up for analog mics (electrets) so much so that even Akustica has had to acquiesce a prodeuce analog models. But I am with you, and think hat eventually all MEMS mics will be digital. 

AZskibum
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What is the breakdown of AMICs vs DMICs?
AZskibum   6/29/2014 3:57:51 PM
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It would be interesting to know how far digital microphones (DMICs) -- MEMS mics that include the A/D converter -- have penetrated within the overall MEMS mic market. From an interface perspective, integrating the A/D into the same package as the MEMS makes so much more sense -- especially for applications requiring many microphones (beam-forming arrays, etc.). From the perspective of the audio processor at the receiving end, the two-wire PDM data & clock interface from a DMIC is so much easier to handle than a low-level analog signal, that it's probably well worth the extra cost of the MEMS mics with built-in A/D converters.

Kinnar
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Re: Which is the major cunsuming applicaton of MEMS Mic?
Kinnar   6/26/2014 2:12:58 PM
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Oh that's an answer with fact figures; my estimation was based on the observation of my own. But yes it is very true that MEMS Mics will be having more chances of acceptance in other left out application with possible use of it for betterment.

R_Colin_Johnson
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Re: Which is the major cunsuming applicaton of MEMS Mic?
R_Colin_Johnson   6/26/2014 12:13:42 PM
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Your are right too. Even though there are MEMS mics with HD quality, here is the breakdown on where they are used today (according to IHS)-- mobile phones (70 percent), tablets (13 percent), MEMS mics in headphones that manufacturers supply with their smarphones (9 percent), laptops (6 percent) and wearables (2 percent).

 

Kinnar
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Re: Which is the major cunsuming applicaton of MEMS Mic?
Kinnar   6/26/2014 12:08:26 AM
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You are right many applications of MEMS Mic array are under development in many different areas, in the filed of mechanical engineering, environmental science, medical electronics etc. Soon many products will be in the market using MEMS Mic arrays. Although these Mics are still not being tried as conventional microphones that are used in live performances. 

R_Colin_Johnson
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Re: Which is the major cunsuming applicaton of MEMS Mic?
R_Colin_Johnson   6/25/2014 6:13:36 PM
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Beside smartphones, tablets all use MEMS microphones, also many PCs are switching over because they can locate mutiple MEMS in the bezel for noise cancelling and beam stearing. Apple's smart watch due this fall will use MEMS microphones also video camera, still cameras and digital recorders are all moving to MEMS mics. For the next generation, wearables will use MEMS mics and portable medical devices and the list goes on.

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