MEMS Microphones: What Its Future Holds

Since the debut of MEMS microphone, its market has been growing.

The world’s huge smartphone shipments have accelerated the market growth for microphones because almost every smartphone uses at least one microphone. Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable devices are emerging applications for MEMS microphones.

It’s foreseeable that in the next few years, MEMS microphone will have good application prospects in smart watches, smart glasses, smart homes and buildings, and vehicle voice control.

MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) microphones are based on MEMS technology. It has stable performance, not affected by temperature, vibration, humidity or time of usage. Its outstanding performance makes it widely used in the electronic products.

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High performance means high cost. For consumers, price is always one of the most concerns.

Price trend of MEMS microphones

Generally, the cost of MEMS microphones is decreasing, which benefits from the increasingly advanced technology.

In fact, the price competition has been quite mild over the past few years.

It’s mostly because the leading MEMS microphone suppliers have not reduced their prices to fight over market share.

In addition, there’s a strong demand for high-performance MEMS microphones in smart phones.

High performance, for MEMS microphones, means product premium, which to some extend slows down the cost decreasing trend.

However, it’s still a mystery where the price will go. No one can be sure if the price will declines mildly just stays what it is now.

The S/N (signal-to-noise ratio) of MEMS microphones is currently at 65-66dB level, with only a few manufacturers at 70dB high-end level.

However, developing high-performance microphones requires a lot of money and time. So many enterprises are unable or unwilling to increase investment to improve performance.

Sadly, if the crucial performance problem can’t make a break through, the manufacturers can only fight the pricing battle by providing lower prices.

This is especially true in the case of lower end MEMS microphone. This is why manufacturers of MEMS microphones keep rolling out products with better performance to improve the average product price.

How to increase the price competitiveness of MEMS microphones?

Just like other semiconductor products, the cost of a MEMS microphone depends on wafer cost, chip size, and yield rate.

Complex manufacturing processes can lead to some manufacturing problems, thus increasing wafer costs and reducing yield rate.

Therefore, it’s effective to reduce the cost by reducing process steps and adopting some reliable methods of manufacturing.

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New packaging and testing methods have become the focus of many MEMS sensor manufacturers. Packaging accounts for a large part of the cost for the entire cell.

Therefore, reducing the cost of the microphone is largely equivalent to reducing package costs. Besides, the overall testing efficiency in China is low, which limits the development of MEMS sensors. Therefore, those who steps further in testing can seize the chance to control the yield rate.

To ensure the price competitiveness, manufacturers can also make efforts in reducing the sizes of microphones and the S/N.

On the one hand, small-sized MEMS microphones will be more popular in the market. Manufacturers need to invest more into making the microphone smaller to gain a bigger marker share.

On the other hand, improving signal-to-noise ratio is also a key factor which manufacturers can depend on to make the microphone stable competitive without reducing price.

What do you think? Feel free to contact us or leave a comment. We’d be glad to hear from you.

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