By: Martin Cash
COLE BREILAND / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Simon Potter of the Composites Innovation Centre shows off a prototype of a speaker made with Manitoba hemp.
ARENA concert sound systems deliver a much cleaner sound than they did back in the day.
But there’s room for improvement. For instance, who can ever actually hear the words of the lead singer’s between-song banter?
Daryl Lazarescu thinks he may have a solution and it comes from an unlikely source — Manitoba-grown hemp.
Lazarescu’s company, Pro Sound & Communications, and the Composites Innovation Centre are developing a large-format speaker horn using a hemp-fibre mat to replace the fibreglass material traditionally used in audio speakers.
“The target market is aimed primarily at venues that are a bit more difficult acoustically, like arenas and large churches with reflective walls and surfaces,” Lazarescu said. “The idea is to get the sound on to the listener and away from the reflective surfaces.”
The 96 cm X 66 cm X 117 cm speakers are large enough to contain all of the speech range so that the listener won’t hear the reflected sound.
Simon Potter, a product innovation specialist at the Composites Innovation Centre in Winnipeg, said the CIC has developed all sorts of prototypes — everything from bus doors to motorcycle parts to spectacles and caskets — replacing items made with traditional materials with bio-fibres made with locally grown hemp or flax.
“We’d never done anything with sound-reproduction systems, but we thought it would be very cool,” Potter said.
“We knew hemp had some unique acoustical properties and we thought it might have a warmer sound quality to it.”
Lazarescu says he thinks the results are better than what is commercially available, but he’s waiting for the actual scientific data to compare with traditional systems.
“I’m very happy with the results. It sounds a little better than conventional fibreglass, and once we get the data we will know more,” he said. “Warmer is subjective. Data is quantifiable.”
And Lazarescu knows what he’s talking about. For the past 12 years he’s been in the business of designing and installing audiovisual systems for large facilities from his business, formerly based in Bellingham, Wash.
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By: Martin Cash