At ISE 2019, Audio Excellence, the sound system division of UK-based film screen brand Screen Excellence, will unveil a new sonic concept for large TVs and solid screens that is engineered to create the illusion that the sound is emanating directly from the center of the hard-surfaced screen, where in actuality the speakers are placed elsewhere in the room. The solution is so unusual that the company has named it “UFO” (for Unidentified Flying Object) as a tribute to the local RAF Bentwaters, England extraterrestrial incident of 1980.
Audio Excellence’s UFO is in keeping with the professional cinema practice of placing the center-, left-, and right-channel speakers on the same horizontal plane and behind the acoustically transparent (AT) film screen. This allows dialog and action be experienced as intended by the movie makers, further contributing to “the suspension of disbelief.” Recognized as a pioneer of today’s modern AT film screen, Screen Excellence CEO Patrice Congard has also designed and developed audio products that have set industry benchmarks.
Embodying his philosophy of audio technology—including his patented approach to layout logic and signal routing known as “The Congard Code”—in 2016 he brought to market the Audio Excellence home cinema sound systems. These consist of compact, high-sensitivity, high-SPL on/in-wall loudspeakers, amplifiers, and DSP controllers. For surround sound applications—and to complement the AT screen—the systems maximize the initial “wave-front” of sound, delivering more realistic bass with every seat in the room being the sweet spot.
Earlier in his career, working under Dr. Christian Heil at L-Acoustics, Congard played a major role in the development, design, and commercial launch of the V-Dosc and ARCS systems which transformed the landscape of loudspeaker design for live sound reinforcement.
“In 1996 I left the sound reinforcement industry to focus on what I perceived as the main issue facing home cinema installations: the conventional, solid projection screen was a physical barrier to the proper appreciation of a movie’s sound track,” Congard said. “This has been solved with a new breed of woven, acoustically transparent projection screens.
“However, today, as flat screen TVs grow in size, they become a trending alternative for the drop-down projection screens traditionally used in a media room. Yet, this immediately presents a problem: How can the sound come from the image displayed on a large rigid solid screen, like a flat panel TV?”
While Congard prefers to wait for the ISE event to completely reveal the solution to this problem (stand 1-Q110), he offered the following facts about UFO:
- UFO will be limited-range speakers with frequency response ranging from 100Hz–20kHz.
- UFO is compatible with traditional speakers that will be used as surrounds, subs, etc. Audio Excellence will potentially consider a limited number of licensing opportunities.
- The technology is scalable; therefore, licensees can achieve price points in line with the segment of the market they serve.