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SOUND WAVE OF THE FUTURE\Static conducts firm's slim speakers.

Byline: Deborah Adamson Daily News Staff Writer

Picture this: A cozy study filled with the strains of classical music with nary a speaker in sight.

But wait. The lampshades in the corner and bookends on the shelf aren't your ordinary furniture. In Claus Zimmermann's world, they're stereo speakers capable of blasting the paintings off the walls.

Zimmermann's company, MZX Inc. of Newbury Park, plans to make and market a new kind of electrostatic speaker that is thin as cardboard and just as light. It can be curved to fit just about any form.

"This has the potential for changing the entire technology of speakers," said the 54-year-old co-owner and former Navy captain, whose company plans to set up a manufacturing facility, perhaps in Newbury Park, in six months.

With the increasing popularity of home theaters - which require plenty of speakers around the house - consumers are looking for smaller units that save space and blend better with decor, said Louise Boundas, editor in chief of Stereo Review, a trade publication in New York City.

She said the smallest conventional speaker she has seen - containing a cone, magnet and a voice coil - is Bose's 2.5-inch jewel cube. But it requires a 14-inch cubical module to capture bass sounds that elude the small speaker.

Zimmermann's product uses a different technology: static electricity.

Two sheets of conductive material, such as metalized plastic, sandwich a nonconductive material like foam rubber. It's put in a frame and perforated aluminum electrodes are added. When the stereo sends audio signals to the electrodes in the speaker, sound comes out of the perforations.

While there are other electrostatic speakers in the market, Zimmermann said his company's product is different. It's thinner, less expensive to build and the basic construction is different.

Zimmermann says his unit can accommodate bass frequencies and crank out volume levels exceeding 100 decibels.

It also uses less energy for the same audio output. If 10 to 25 watts on a conventional speaker is needed for a volume of 90 to 110 decibels, Zimmermann's unit uses only two to five watts for the same output.

Its slim size is attractive to personal computer makers and cellular phone companies, Zimmermann said, some of which are in talks with MZX for the unit.

The company could not yet say what the retail price range would be.

But Brent Butterworth, editor of Home Theater, a specialty publication in Malibu, has his doubts.

"Everyone's got something that's just amazing and very seldom does it turn out to do all the things that they claim," he said. What MZX is doing "sounds like a huge leap beyond electrostatic technology. They have to prove it to me."



Photo (Color) Claus Zimmermann shows a thin stereo speaker that his company MZX Inc. plans to manufacture and market. Tina Gerson/Daily News
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:BUSINESS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 6, 1996
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