A few weeks ago I came across Kobakant’s documentation on kitting a speaker. Their tests were inspired by Piem Wirtz and Karla Spiluttini’s research called betaKnit, who’s design process and findings inspired me to try knitting a speaker myself, and possibly incorporating it into a larger piece.
The volume that these speakers produce is very low, which is interesting because it enables a closeness, softness and ‘touch’ which is already a quality of many knitted fabrics. The example that betaKnit provides is a Sound Hoodie, a wearable incorporating knitted speakers close to the ears.
To make the speaker, I used the circuit from Kobakant. In the first test I made, I knit copper thread into a small mesh, placed a small piece of paper underneath to act as a membrane, and a neodymium magnet under that. I used the Adafruit PAM8302A amplifier (bought from Electrokit).
It doesn’t sound as clean as any good quality speakers, but it produces sound - through knitting! which is amazing! I’ve shared a few videos with sound down below.
The next step I took was to improve the sound quality of the speaker by testing different knitted patterns and shapes and different membranes. Here are some examples, including knitting every other row with copper thread (as suggested by betaKnit), knitting copper thread along with normal yarn, knitting the copper thread as a second color with a Fair Isle pattern, different sizes, shapes…
The sound quality and volume increases when manually pressing together the membrane and the magnet, which makes sense since those components in a speaker should be ‘airtight’. It would make sense to make a pocket or holding system for the magnet, similar to what others have tried.
When knitting a very tight knit, the knit itself acts as a membrane and a paper is no longer needed. This is my favorite test so far because the speaker is the knitting itself, and no other materials need to be added besides the magnet.
Turn the volume up to hear the music, it’s very low but it’s there!
Next, I’ll work on integrating several speakers at once into larger knitted pieces, and adding pockets for the magnets.