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Soundtrack from the wallpaper

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 15 June, 2004  (Company News)
The home cinema market has long offered consumers who don
However, anyone wanting to combine superb visual images with stylish audio isn’t as well catered for – the speakers of high-end surround systems seldom harmonize with the décor, to say nothing of the jumble of cables. If you have long wished you could make the speakers disappear behind the wallpaper, you now have the opportunity to do so with the help of a revolutionary sound system called purSonic®. This system comprises loudspeaker surfaces that can be conveniently fitted behind wall paneling and yet still offer listeners a first-class sound experience without a single speaker cabinet in the room. This remarkable innovation is the fruit of a joint development by Siemens AG and Überlingen, Germany-based polyurethane specialist Puren Schaumstoff GmbH in collaboration with Bayer MaterialScience AG, suppliers of the polyurethane raw materials for the product.

The secret of the invisible “walls of sound”, which are available with outputs from 20 watt sine to 360 watt sine, is based on a simple principle. In contrast to traditional loudspeakers, they do not emit sound from points, but from plastic surfaces roughly the size of tabletops and only seven millimeters thick, which emit flexural wave oscillations by means of small coils on the reverse side.

“This functional principle means not only that purSonic® soundboards are uniquely flat, but also that they have remarkable acoustic properties,” says Hans Bommer, Managing Director of Puren Schaumstoff GmbH. For example, purSonic® soundboards have larger emission angles than traditional speakers. This produces a crystal-clear sound, even in acoustically difficult rooms, and also ensures enhanced, room-filling 3D acoustics throughout the room – and not only at a single “sweet spot”, as with conventional speakers.

“A year and a half of intensive development work in materials technology was required to produce such excellent acoustics and fantastic sound literally from within your own four walls in first-class quality,” explains Hans Bommer. You can’t predict which mechanical properties make a plastic panel sound “good” using formulas, especially if other challenging requirements, such as for example lightness and resistance to air humidity, also have to be met. Moreover, purSonic® soundboards have to work perfectly in shower, bath and spa areas, without the sound quality being affected by the steam.

In addition, they must be resistant to all the auxiliary materials used when they are installed. It is important to ensure, for example, that the panels can be wallpapered over without any problems, and that wood veneer or mirrors can be applied. “We had to perform countless experiments,” continues Bommer. “However, it was clear from the start that polyurethane was the material of choice for this project. Polyurethanes can be fine-tuned to optimally fit different applications using building blocks of isocyanates and tailor-made polyols from Bayer MaterialScience.”

Puren’s creative minds were able to attain their goal using a special polyurethane material which they developed from the polyurethane raw materials Desmophen® and Desmodur® from Bayer MaterialScience AG, and they were given hands-on support by polyurethane specialists from Leverkusen. An especially long time was spent fine-tuning the material to achieve an optimum cell structure.

The “walls of sound” from Überlingen are controlled using a special Siemens digital processor, which makes allowances for the properties of the surface material behind which the soundboard is fitted. This patented sound processing method gives the user a wide choice of surfaces (plaster, wallpaper, tiling) while ensuring consistently outstanding acoustic results. However, the soundboards are so robust that they can be fitted by builders just like plasterboard in drywalls or sloping ceilings. Walls can then be reinforced, smoothed, wallpapered or plastered as normal. The minimal installation depth ensures that retrofitting is no problem, if you would rather hear more harmonious sounds emanating from the wallpaper than the noise of the neighbors.
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