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Turn Any Surface into a Speaker

If you've worked on the residential side of AV, you might be familiar with Induction Dynamics' SolidDrive technology, which turns nearly any surface into a loudspeaker. For the past two years, SoundTube, sister company under MSE Audio Group, has focused on selling the innovation to commercial installers.

If you've worked on the residential side of AV, you might be familiar with Induction Dynamics' SolidDrive technology, which turns nearly any surface into a loudspeaker. For the past two years, SoundTube, sister company under MSE Audio Group, has focused on selling the innovation to commercial installers. Last month, its job got a little easier when it announced that the SolidDrive line was approved by Underwriters Laboratories for general applications (UL1480) and plenum ceiling (UL2043) use.

SolidDrive uses a hidden sound transducer to transmit acoustical energy through a surface, for a practically invisible loudspeaker. According to SoundTube director of sales Duke Ducoff, the innovation came from declassified sonar technology that removes the phase response from the loudspeaker. Unlike previous versions that had to be placed in the center of a wall, SolidDrive can be installed almost anywhere on a hard surface, including glass. "When you put a SolidDrive on glass or a table, you feel a slight vibration; but if you put a glass of water on that same table, you won't see a ripple in the water," says Ducoff. With an SPL of ± 3 dB on the surface, and a provided load of only 8 ohms to any given amplifier, the only materials Ducoff admits SolidDrive won't work on are plaster, concrete, triple-pane glass, and thicker slabs of granite or marble.

The company originally sought UL1480 rating, but also ended up with UL2043. "UL1480 is a general requirement for Underwriters Laboratories," says Ducoff. "In a nutshell, it means the installer can't electrocute themselves or set themselves on fire." Ducoff says the SolidDrive's metal enclosure helped attain UL1480, as well as UL2043, which judges whether a speaker would spread smoke if there were fire in a plenum.

AV pros have already adopted SolidDrive in the commercial market. "Most of our sales have been in the digital signage area," says Ducoff. Other applications include retail stores, high-end hotels, court room systems, clean rooms, and hospital operating rooms. The uses and installations of SolidDrive, from between the plastic panels of an escalator to behind the wood paneling of a jury box to pew-back systems in houses of worship, have even surpassed SoundTube's expectations. "It seems our consultants and our integrators are coming up with better ideas than we ever did," Ducoff says. AV pros will have plenty more opportunities to innovate SolidDrive applications; the UL approvals are currently being added to every available SolidDrive model.

Kimberly R. Griffin



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