Could transducer technology be the savior for the sound limitations associated with today’s flat panel TVs? Recently, several integrators seeing the new LG Electronics super-thin OLED TV debated the best way to offer companion audio to go with the flat panel TV. The pros and cons of using in-ceiling, in-wall, soundbar and on-wall options were all on the table, but so was and old school technology that seems to be re-emerging as a possible aesthetically pleasing OLED TV audio solution: transducers.
Indeed, soundbars emerged over the past several years as the de facto audio solution for flat panel TVs with no ability to offer quality (or even barely audible) sound. But that was for TVs that were 2-inches deep. Now with OLED technology like the LG units, the TVs are less than ¼-inch deep.
Domonic Ballew at InvisAudio in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., says transducer technology is the solution.
“Today’s new TVs help explain the need for our system,” says Ballew bluntly. “I believe speaker-less audio is the next major trend in audio. You can put two transducers in the corner of a room connected to a rheostat audio controller and make a decent whole-house audio system. In home cinemas, you can make the walls themselves into speakers.”
InvisAudio has been making transducers since 1976. In 1983, the company patented a high-powered transducer technology capable of producing 200W peak performance, ranging down from 20Hz to 20,000Hz. The units convert the physical wall behind the flat panel into a giant speaker. For that matter, transducers can literally turn any surface in a speaker, from a window to a tile wall. Other companies making transducer technology for the industry include Clark Synthesis, Aeria, Earthquake Sound, Stealth Acoustics and James Loudspeaker.
Less than $3,000, 2 Hours to Install
“You can put four transducers on each side of the TV… eight in total… install it in less than 2 hours for less than $3,000,” says Ballew. The InvisAudio system uses a patented black webbing as the mounting plates to hold the transducer in place. When the drywall is installed, it literally sucks the mounting plate to the wall. The entire wall itself vibrates to emanate sound. Obviously, the system is best suited for new construction with open wall studs. The wiring scheme can be in parallel or in series. Ballew says it is ideal to integrate the system with a powerful amp that can drive lots of power, but he has paired the system with an entry-level Onkyo amp with solid results.
The power of the transducers give clarity to the audio well beyond what integrators can get from invisible in-wall or in-ceiling speakers that are hidden behind a thin layer of plaster, according to Ballew.
“Designers and architects love it, but most of them do not know the capabilities of transducers, or have any knowledge of particular audio brands,” notes Ballew. “They want walls and ceilings with no clutter. With transducers, you are not compromising the sound quality. Likewise, very few homeowners or commercial end users know this technology exists.”
InvisAudio currently installs its own systems for end users and performs room equalization on every system, but Ballew says the company is looking to establish a dealer network. The company’s high-end fully waterproof solution has been installed in bathroom mirrors and showers, swimming pools (for a synchronized swimming team), a fountain, panes of glass in hotels, and even on a 50-foot catamaran boat. Ballew has even done a dedicated surround sound home theater with 50 transducers behind the walls.