Hackaday Prize 2022: A Plasma Tweeter For Ultimate Clarity

In the world of audio there are a huge variety of esoteric technologies which are rarely seen. One such is the plasma tweeter, a type of loudspeaker which generates sound by modulating a small electrical discharge. The benefit of this design comes in its delivering the closest possible to a point audio source, in effect the theoretical ideal speaker for treble frequencies. They’re a little hazardous due to the voltage but aren’t too difficult to make, as demonstrated by [Mircemk] whose version uses a recycled power pentode tube — which is how it showed up in the Hack it Back round of the Hackaday Prize.

It can be thought of as a cousin of the Tesla coil, with the same resonant oscillator but no capacity hat. Instead the top of the coil ends in a point, from which in the perfect speaker a ball of plasma replaces the Tesla’s impressive sparks. In this case the pentode is joined by a high-voltage TV line output transistor as a bias supply, which is in turn modulated with the audio through a small amplifier. It sometimes needs the plasma teasing out of it through discharge to a screwdriver, but the result is a very effective and clear plasma tweeter.

If plasma tweeters interest you, we’ve featured them before.

18 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize 2022: A Plasma Tweeter For Ultimate Clarity

      1. Actually, Ozone emission is one of the main problems with plasma tweeters and all previous manufacturers, as well as the current producer of the Corona tweeters have come up with intricate ways to minimize exposure. You seem to have no experience in this domain …

  1. I remember back in the late ’70s trying to build a “Flame Speaker” from an article in a vintage Popular Mechanics I believe, it was a clean crisp sound but that was so long ago that I forgot how I did it now

  2. Treble so clean it disinfects too! For all the germs in the house take this cymbal crash!
    I remember seeing the Ionnovac in old zines of the era. The name DuKane takes me back to grade school.
    ” Turn the filmstrip to the next frame when you hear the beep”.

  3. Remember the Bull Magnat plasma tweeters..omnidirectional “massless” tweeters from 4kHz up to whatever.

    The best hf transducers in the world. But then there’s that ozone….

  4. The German speaker company Magnat that introduced a speaker with a plasma tweeter 30 years ago. It sounded amazing and was one of the speakers I ever heard. Unfortunately it emitted ozone.

  5. He claims “amplitude-frequency characteristic is almost linear from 7KHz up to 20KHz”. That’s only 1-1/2 octaves. No actual distortion measurements are given.It’s a nifty hack, but I very much doubt that it’s a quality audio transducer.

    1. I use my gorgeous Acapella ION TW1 S in Marbella and My Hill Plasmatronics in Norway With the Largest collection in the world,of Oil Cooled Class A Tube Amps from Audio Power Labs I am supremely happy !

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