Bugatti Chirons, Diamond Tweeters, and Unobtainium

By almost complete accident I happened across an article titled "Bugatti's $2.6 Million Supercar Has Diamonds In The Speakers." Needless to say, I had to read this article. Was this, I thought, about speakers with tweeters made from diamonds, or simply a diamond mounted somewhere in or on the tweeter, or the speaker, as an ultimate measure of luxury? Basically, it sounded like the audio equivalent of a diamond ring. The lure of the title was too much to bear and I had to know more...

AR-Interior.jpgThe article started well enough, briefly explaining that the traditional materials tweeters have historically used suffered from distortion and these diamond tweeters were supposed to help solve that condition. Yet the article also implied the use of "exotic" materials for drivers was nonsense. Note the following excerpt: "But diamonds? What were the alternatives considered when designing these tweeters, unobtainium and kryptonite?"

The article seemed to equate that tweeters made from diamonds were more a measure of luxury for a $2.5 million hyper car than any sonic quality such driver designs might provide. My guess is the author of the article was not and is not an audiophile or a technically savvy engineer.

The fun continued when I scrolled down to read the comments. I suppose some of the opinions shouldn't be too difficult to predict. One poster thought that diamond encrusted toilet paper would be next. Another detailed the $60.00 investment he made for his car audio system from K-Mart. On the other hand, one comment praised the article and another referenced B&W 800 Diamond series speakers, which are made with diamond tweeter material.

AR-Accuton-Driver.jpgWhat is most telling in the article was not the fact that a $2.4 million, 1500 horsepower Bugatti Chiron was using advanced technology for the sound system; it is more the fact that such technology is unknown to so many who might read the article. It seems unlikely that the average person reading about this automobile has even the slightest inkling of modern high performance tweeter design. And there's the rub.

Maybe the central issue are the circumstances surrounding our industry - the pervasive disconnect with the general public about what audio can really accomplish sonically and how those accomplishments are achieved. Put two audiophiles together and have them discuss tweeter design. One might prefer a conventional design and the other might prefer designs using diamonds for the rigidity they provide. I'd say it's unlikely that either of the two would accuse the other of being overtly ostentatious because they have diamonds in their speakers. I also doubt that the term "unobtainium" would ever arise.

AR-Chiron.jpgPersonally, I think the article failed to see the larger picture, perhaps even having nothing whatsoever to do with tweeters or even sound systems in cars. I have a friend who has a Ferrari, two Maserati's, and a couple other sports cars. Anytime I have ever gone for a ride in the Ferrari, the sound system was never turned on. Having a 12 cylinder 600+ horsepower engine basically sitting right behind your head, listening to the sound that engine makes this WAY more fun than any stereo would ever be. So if I had the chance to even ride in, not to mention drive a 1500 horsepower Bugatti Chiron, I just don't think the stereo system would matter all that much - diamond tweeters or not. I'd be much more interested in seeing if I could achieve the rated 261 MPH the car is claimed to reach in "standard" mode. Listening to the stereo would likely be pretty far down the list, next to changing tires.

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