If you’ve ever stood in line for a movie to ensure you got a seat smack dab in the middle of all the theatre’s surround sound speakers, you’ll appreciate the idea behind the Flexound Pulse: a redesigned theatre chair that gives every audience member their own private surround sound experience no matter where they end up sitting.
Movie theatres are struggling to compete with the ever-increasing capabilities of home theatres coupled with first-run movies now premiering on streaming services. Enhancing the overall experience has been a mostly successful way to lure audiences back: Oversized lounge chairs have replaced the often sticky and occasionally broken folding seats in many theatres across the country. Finland-based Flexound wants to take that idea one step further.
The walled design of the Flexound Pulse not only means that audience members will have an added level of privacy to help minimise distractions during a film, it also facilitates the chair’s ability to surround each person with a private soundscape. Using a vibrating soundboard and drivers built right into each chair’s cushioning, the Flexound Pulse can deliver audible frequencies that feel like they’re coming from several different directions (recreating a 5.1 speaker setup) as well as inaudible frequencies as low 500 Hz that can be felt throughout the body. You may not realise it, but one of the main reasons a movie theatre experience is so satisfying is because of all that bass you feel in the theatre.
It’s a novel idea that’s fundamentally different to how movie theatres have been designed and built for decades. In addition to making every seat in the house the best place to sit (at least when it comes to sound), the Flexound Pulse theatre chairs require less power to operate and produce less sound overall, so you’ll never hear what’s happening in the theatre right next door in a multiplex. Just wearing headphones to a movie could arguably provide the same effect, but turning your head changes where all the sounds are coming from in relation to the screen (unless your headphones offer motion-tracking), which is a problem that doesn’t affect how the Flexound Pulse delivers sound.
If you want to try the new surround seating for yourself you’ll need to book a visit to Finland or Malaysia — very few movie theatres have adopted the Flexound Pulse seating at this point. The company is accepting preorders and hopefully audiences around the world will get to experience it soon.