Saturday, February 21, 2009


Author: Ian Cunningham


The OmniVox is a rather unique product that is designed for use in situations where normal cone speakers would not be suitable, or high multidirectional sound is needed. This small device is not actually a speaker, but will turn a surface into a speaker. Place this on a boardroom table and you have one massive speaker!

OmniVox Unit

The OmniVox is a simply constructed device, but with some clever use of a highly advanced 'smart material'. The implementation of this is the FeONIC technology that is highly touted on the packaging. This works by inducing a magnetic field, which is able to expand and contact the material very accurately - which in turn vibrates the surface material at a specified frequency from the reaction of the heavy unit.


Specifications of the OmniVox unit

  • Volume Output : 80dB @ 1m on MDF Mono
  • Typical Bandwidth : 200Hz - 16Khz
  • Dimensions : 80mm Diameter, 35mm High
  • Weight : 880g
  • Input : 3.5mm Stereo Jack plug input
  • AC Adapter : AV100-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Amplifier Dimensions: 73x51x25mm

The unit is a fairly hefty weight (of almost 1kg), which is required to get a loud response from the surface the unit is placed upon. The unit is compatible with any audio source utilising a 3.5mm jack, so you can easily use this with PCs, projectors and virtually any other device.

Included Items

What you get in the package

  • OmniVox Unit
  • Amplifier
  • RCA Cable
  • AC Adapter
  • Selection of AC Adapter Plugs
  • 3.5mm Stereo Jack Cable
  • Carry Bag
  • Storage Case

This is heavily designed for use with a laptop, or a person on the go. A travel carry case is included which carries all of the items whilst on the go, as well as a set of plugs for the AC adapter (meaning you can use this in most countries).

For some strange reason, the included small carry bag is not big enough to carry more than a few cables, or the omnivox unit alone. The storage case on the other hand does a great job of safely transporting the omnivox kit around.

Installation and Configuration

Configuring the OmniVox to play sound is a very simple one. Simply Plug the AC Adapter into the mains, the power cord into the small amplifier box, and then connect the amplifier to the OmniVox unit and the audio source with the respective cables.

The OmniVox Amplifier Unit


The performance of the OmniVox unit

I have now been using the OmniVox unit for over a month of testing and evaluation, and I have been surprised by the performance from this plucky little device. I am currently using this with my main desktop PC as the audio source, as well as a portable minidisc player.

To simulate the effect of using this on a boardroom table, I used a large dining room table (enough to sit 8 people comfortably), and then placed the OmniVox in the centre. The volume was set to about 50% on my computer, and then various audio types played:

  • Speech playback : Clear, with minimal distortion
  • Sound Effects : Clear, although sometimes tinny
  • Music : Reasonable clarity on medium volumes, but lacking all base
  • Mixed DVD Movie : Speech is clear, but lacks clarity

When used in conjunction with a PowerPoint presentation or speech, the OmniVox fulfils its task of reproducing sound via a surface. The sound was distributed pretty much evenly around the table, and everyone sitting round it would be able to hear it at a good volume level.

The sound quality varies widely on different surfaces, with solid wooden tables producing the best sound, with glass coming a close second. Several metal surfaces were tested, but mediocre results were achieved. The quality of the sound reproduced is of course nowhere near that of a good sound system, but this works on completely different principles, as well as being optimised for speech and presentation situations. Bass is severely lacking from any surface tested, as would be expected.

Overall conclusion of the OmniVox

I am very impressed with the OmniVox unit, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. I can see huge potential with the technology of the unit, but the OmniVox as it stands is very limited in its market.

As a presentation aid, the OmniVox does as it claims to, and does a very good job at that. The unit is however, priced at £200 at present, which does limit the unit to a select audience. If you are after a solution to use in a shop display, or in a board room meeting with a projector/laptop, then this would probably be ideal.

If OmniVox Systems could implement the OmniVox unit or technology into other mediums and devices, they could be on to a winner. As this system works very well on glass, shop display windows could take advantage of this system if it were slightly modified. Customers could be presented with information from the "shop window", without having any external speakers.

Of course, other moral implications would have to be worked out, due to sound 'spam'. If an OmniVox unit was actually built into boardroom tables as opposed to a standard low quality speaker system, I am sure this would also be a hit.

No comments: