Research Planephones

Concept: Laura Bianchini e Michelangelo Lupone
Design: Michelangelo Lupone
First presentation: Sound installation Stanze del legno e del metallo, Musica Scienza, Acquario Romano – Rome, 1998.


Planephones are the result of an important research realized at CRM (Rome) regarding qualities and modes of sound diffusion through space. First introduced in 1997 as functional installation, Planephones have found wide use in the acoustic design of concert halls, museums and, above all, as sound elaboration instruments in electroacoustic and computer music compositions.

The term Planephone means 'a plane that transmits sound', this research was conceived to achieve two goals:

  • the uniform and controlled diffusion of sound in space
  • the creation of perceptible (and controllable) differences in sound propagation, based on the material used for their construction. 

Planephones homogeneously diffuse sound in an environment, and the radiating surface, which is  functional to the wavelengths reproduced thus to the frequencies, can assume any shape and can be placed anywhere in a listening space. This allows to design acoustic space in accordance to the specific characteristics of each place, of the type of music being performed and the listening one wants to achieve.

Planephones are conceived  to meet the need of the spatial modelling of contemporary music and they represent a flexible tool for controlling sound spatialization parameters. They can be used in conjunction with normal loudspeaker systems. By designing them in different shapes, different frequency bands and acoustic power can be obtained.

The most significant result of this research is the artistic use of Planephones: they can be considered as a new instrument, capable of investigating and bringing out sound properties of many different materials. Planephones have been made from paper, plastic, iron, steel, copper, brass and wood in a variety of sizes to meet the need of the composer.

Planephones are “works of art” which integrate form, matter, sound, music language and expression.  For the first time works which integrate the relevant aspects of sound and visual perception are conceived thus creating new modes of fruition of the work of art.


Planephones have been premiered at the occasion of Musica Scienza, held at l’Acquario Romano, Rome from1 to 6 June 1998. Installation design: Gianfranco Lucchino