An unusual marriage of acoustics and art
February 2, 2012
Meyer Sound Laboratories in Berkeley makes audio equipment, especially high-end speaker systems. The company has been doing this since 1979 and its clients include Cirque du Soleil and Celine Dion.
Recently, though, Meyer Sound has moved into an interesting terrain which merges sound manipulation with visual art.
Yesterday, I was visiting Helen Meyer, who runs the company with her husband John, (both pictured above) and Helen took me into an adjacent building which houses a new product entitled the "Libra Acoustic Image System."
When I walked into the building, all I could see were beautiful, enormous canvases on the walls -- displaying the photography of local artist Deborah O'Grady. In the first room, the walls were covered with desert landscape and the acoustics, which were clean enough to hear several conversations going on at once, belied the terra-cotta flagstones on the floor and high ceilings. In the second, which was adorned with images of galactic nebulas, also by O'Grady, the sound was more lively. A chamber music concert would have worked perfectly in the space.
There wasn't a scrap of wire or a piece of sound-absorbing foam to be seen. That's because the technology that precisely controls the way the space sounds is embedded in the works of art themselves. The technology is being patented by Meyer Sound.
A Berkeley restaurant has already commissioned the sound optimization art from Meyer Sound and O'Grady. Noisy restaurants strike me as being the perfect place for this invention. They'd also add brightness and audio optimization to otherwise noisy and drab manufacturing plants: An earlier prototype of the panels which currently exists in a manufacturing space on the Meyer Sound campus provides a good example of this application of the technology.
Sound control has never looked so pretty.
More info about Libra to be found here.