Anybody remember "Sensurround"?

Sensurround was the now-obsolete low-frequency sound enhancement system for motion picture exhibition developed by Universal Studios in 1973 for “Earthquake”. The most detailed information I have been able to Google seems to be HERE.
I have an interest in acquiring one of these systems if there are any laying around rusting and getting dusty. Any leads will be appreciated.

I don’t know for sure, but if it is the bone rattling bass that you want, a good home theater system with 2 or more sub-woofers would probably give you the same effect.

Crap, if it is for that theater that is in the link in your sig, a home theater system isn’t going to cut it. If you want a used system, I don’t know, maybe check with 60s and 60s era theaters that are closing or being replaced with modern theaters. Sorry.

Don’t forget Roller Coaster!

I recall that there were two HUGE speakers in the back of the theater to make that rumbling. You want to acquire those?

Right you are Adam! Dingdingdingdingdingdingdingdingdingding.
I do want to use one of these things at the PARKWAY but not for the reasons you probably think; they won’t work unless you are projecting one of the handfull of movies (Earthquake, Roller Coaster and a few others) that have the additional optical sound track that activates them. What I want to do is “enhance” the audio experience of the pipe organ by adding a seismic dimension. I would not use the system to simply amplify the lower frequiencies being produced by the pipes. Since the organ presently has no 32’ pitch pedal ranks, I plan to add one of the several available electronically synthesized versions. I would use the Sensurround (at reasonable levels) to augment or replace the speakers used with such sound modules. I might also use it simply as a “seat shaker” (again at reasonable levels since the theatre is full of fragile decorative plaster). Because the entire orchestra level of seating will be reconstructed, it will be possible to “isolate” the floor and seats from the walls using some sort of energy attenuating materials, allowing the effect to be felt in the seats but sparing the walls and ceiling.
I seem to recall when Sensurround came out that it did indeed include some sort of solenoid shaking element in addition to the purely audio speakers, but I have been unable to confirm that recollection. Or maybe the easiest way to accomplish all of this is just ask to use one of Anna Nicole Smith’s vibrators.

Gawd, I saw that in the theater. It reminded me of 3-d movies that put in unneccessary scenes to show off the effect. I remember they showed one of those swing rides that make pretty much no noise, and they have it rumbling like a freight train.

I saw Earthquake twice in the theaters, the second time just to experience the bodily assault of Sensurround (certainly not for the writing and acting).

The third movie shown in Sensurround was the World War II epic Midway (1976).

The fourth and last: Universal used Sensurround for the theatrical release of their TV movie Battlestar Galactica (1978).

What would Eric Rohmer movies have been like with the addition of Sensurround?

I suppose that’s no worse than the omnipresent “space rumble” that the Star Trek franchise is so fond of.

The only sensurround movie I saw was Midway. a rather mediocre WWII film with lots of incorrect stock footage such as a panther jet crashing in a ramp strike in a movie set in 1942.

RedDawg: Even if you can find a Sensurround system somewhere, I’d be surprised if it could easily or cheaply be rendered serviceable and reliable. Speaker cones and diaphragms deteriorate over time, and it might be more difficult and expensive to fix an old system than get a new one.

You may want to look into the Butt Kicker, a shaker that’s mounted into each seat. Although I infer from your hope of finding disused 25-year-old equipment that you’re not exactly rolling in cash. So equipping 800 seats with new hardware may be out of the question.

I assume you’re also aware of the many theatrical sub-bass arrays that could be bought off-the-shelf? They’re scalable: you could start small and add more speakers and amps as finances permit. That’s probably the simplest and least expensive option, if you can’t locate a mint Sensurround array somewhere.

I’ll be interested in learning about your progress. I’m a Bawlamer native and went to the Parkway as a child. When did it close as a cinema?

(BTW, you might want to point out the the Webmaster that although the site has a link to a map, it doesn’t give the address anywhere!)

I hope this helps. My brother used to work for WED (now WDI) the design arm of the Disney empire. He had told me that the technology for Sensurround had come from the same devices used in the Voyage to the Moon attraction at Disneyland.

I did a quick Google on this but struck out. Still, Disneyland recently remodeled Tomorrowland and took the aforementioned attraction out, so you never know…

The Low Frequency Effects (LFE) channel included in DVDs and movie theater audio tracks performs a similar job. Really, just build your own beefy subwoofer setup, divert an amplified LFE channel to it, and you have essentially the same thing.

Not really, not in my experience (and I own speakers going back to the late 50s). In general, if they weren’t abused, and are kept fairly well stored (i.e. not outdoors, and not in excessive humidity), speakers will last for a very long time. The thing that usually deteriorates is the foam surrounds (generally good for about 15-20 years before requiring replacement), used on many, if not most, woofers (and some midranges) from the 70s through today. These can be replaced (assuming you can find the right size) for a fairly reasonable price, and can even be done as a DIY project.

The LFE channel in today’s digital soundtracks is not really the same as Sensurround. Sensurround consisted mostly of infrasonic sounds (i.e. under 20 Hz) designed to shake the theater. LFE sounds (the .1 in Dolby digital 5.1) will shake your theater to a lesser extent, but are engineered to be audible. And a “beefy subwoofer” would not be nearly enough to fill a movie theater of the size we’re talking about - you’d need several.

Sensurround speakers would probably make kick-ass subwoofers, though if you used them for LFE, and should be capable of enough SPL to fill even a large theater.