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Concrete speakers sound like a strange idea

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July 12, 2011

The 'Exposed' speakers are made of concrete, and utilize horn loudspeaker technology (Phot...

The 'Exposed' speakers are made of concrete, and utilize horn loudspeaker technology (Photo: Shmuel Linski)

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We've seen a number of unusual speakers before, such as the Whamodyne glass speakers or Solid Acoustics' dodecahedron speakers, but concrete speakers are definitely something new. It's definitely not a very popular material for audio systems, but Israeli designer Shmuel Linski would like to change that with his "Exposed" concrete speakers, each of which weighs 123 pounds (56 kg). They're just one part of his line of unusual creations, that include a concrete coffee maker and a concrete canoe.

Most speaker casings are made of solid wood or MDF (medium-density fiberboard), while the cheaper models utilize plastic, but non-resonating concrete doesn't seem to be the right material for transmitting sound. "When concrete meets sound, it might distort the sound because the concrete is very stiff," Linski explains. "The speakers might therefore sound strange." Why make loudspeakers that sound strange? The designer gives a rather unclear explanation, saying that the Exposed speakers are capable of "invoking a sense of nirvana for concrete lovers and audiophiles."

To design the speakers, Shmuel used horn loudspeaker technology. The driver, located at the top of the speaker, is linked through a 96 cm (38 in)-long externally-lined pipe, with a large horn-shaped bass port at the bottom resembling a megaphone.

The concrete speakers are Linski's graduation project at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan, Israel. There's no word on any possible commercialization of the product.

His other concrete projects are also unusual. The "espresso solo" is an espresso-making machine in a concrete casing, and the Orca concrete canoe was made for a concrete canoe-building competition held last year in Israel.

'Orca' is a concrete canoe (Photo: Shmuel Linski)

More information about Shmuel Linski can be found on his personal website.

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7 Comments

Well, it's not new. A Swedish company named Rauna made concrete speakers in the 80's and early 90's. Here's one model: http://s622.photobucket.com/albums/tt302/RaunaLeira/?action=view¤t=leira.jpg&newest=1 Search the net for Rauna concrete speakers for more information.

Håkon Augensen
12th July, 2011 @ 10:10 am PDT

The concrete canoe is not new. Just a small ferro cement hull that was very popular in the 70's and 80's

Paul van Dinther
12th July, 2011 @ 04:47 pm PDT

Yes it's not new. ABC Radio in Melbourne Australia developed a concrete enclosure with Tannoy speakers in 1969.

They were so efficient that the compression waves from the speakers were so great that they could bring on feelings of extreme nausea and even a heart attack.

Needless to say they had to be limited in their volume

The Mouse That Roared
12th July, 2011 @ 06:08 pm PDT

Actually, a major British speaker component manufacturer (Wharfedale or KEF probably, I'm not sure) published around the world in the very early 1960s (I saw it here in Australia in Radio, Television, & Hobbies magazine - later Electronics Australia - now defunct) designs for the DIY speaker enthusiast using standard cast-concrete pipes as the enclosure on the basis that acoustically, concrete pipe was about as dead as it gets. A purpose-built, thick-walled concrete enclosure would make a great sub-woofer until the subsonic frequencies started the inexorable return of the enclosure to its component concrete 'dust'.

LeW in Sydney

LeW
12th July, 2011 @ 06:19 pm PDT

Concrete speakers... ahem.. The speakers are not concrete, the cabinets housing them are.

And concrete speaker cabinets have been made - well before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

But I do have a thing for casting concrete into glass smooth molds - as the grain size of the cement is SOOOOOOO fine, that it takes on a glass surface finish.

Very nice.

AND for the record, people have made ferro cement aircraft too. I have seen the ferrocement hang glider made and flown.

The ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition (NCCC)

http://content.asce.org/conferences/nccc2010/

Mr Stiffy
12th July, 2011 @ 08:45 pm PDT

There's a misconception in this article "non-resonating concrete doesn't seem to be the right material for transmitting sound"

The last thing you want in a speaker system is resonance (an exception is the ported speaker where resonance is used to damp the woofer at its natural resonant frequency thus preventing it from destroying itself and smoothing out the bass).

You want resonance in a musical instrument because you're CREATING sound but any resonance in the speaker system will colour the sound in an arbitrary way. Speakers REPRODUCE sound, they're not supposed to create it. That's why MDF is better than plywood for speaker boxes, MDF has uniform density but plywood has natural resonances because of the grain.

Concrete's been used for decades as pointed out elsewhere.

warren52nz
13th July, 2011 @ 02:40 pm PDT

Gee, wonder how the concrete would sound.

It is a rear loaded horn, but not particularly long, and the resonating chamber behind the driver is not well designed (too small, and cylindrical).

I would guess that it rings like a bell with considerable shout at various frequencies.

It has wonderful potential, but this appears to be a poor execution.

I built some concrete speakers based on the "Frugal Horn" and they sound tremendous.

mashimisha
25th July, 2011 @ 10:45 pm PDT
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