School of Cymatics

The World's First School of Cymatics

Problems with cymatic installation: please help

There is an installation I made with subwoofer, some construction (with aluminium sticks) and plate which is fixed in the middle. Whatever sound I try to play on the computer or through the microphone does not really make any difference - there is not much happening on the plate. I think the problem might be in subwoofer, or the curveness of the plate. Could anybody specify if subwoofers are usable and what thickness of plate should be for this. I can see myself that it does not pick up high frequencies. 


also we have used some car speakers - they all burned, I dont know much about the neccessary parameters for connecting speaker with amplifier. i am connecting with an old sony music center. I have burned 2 speakers so far. 


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I will give you a quick reply for now and then I will see if I can do a longer post (maybe with video instructions) in the future!

Here is what I see from your photos:

- The plate is fixed in the middle which is good, but the problem is then there are bars going from

the center of the plate out to the corners of the device that don't connect directly to any sound source.

The metal plate needs to be connected directly to a sound source in some way - if there is too much

space, too many connections in between you cannot get enough sound into the plate. Also it needs

to be attached to something very firmly with no wiggle room.


The only 2 ways to get a metal plate moving that I have had work are to have it bolted to a

stand in the center and play with a violin bow, thus vibrating the plate directly - or to have it

bolted in the center directly to a wave driver - see this post:   which is connected to an amp and a sound source such as a computer or mic.


The speaker setup you have could be used to generate images I believe, but not with a plate - with a thin membrane

such as latex. If you stretched a latex membrane directly on the circular top of the speaker and then put powders or salt on that, you should get some images. But I don't think your speaker will produce enough sound to get a plate activated.Here is a link to help you find latex (yes most are for clothing but you can use it for cymatics)


Hope that is helpful - let me know if you need more info for your project!



Dear Jodina


thanks a lot for your letter! very helpful! I would love to know more about the plate setup  and try use microphone with it to produce pattterns. I dont think right now I can get the wave driver device soon, as I am now in Russia. Maybe I can use anything instead? I wonder if a speaker with an amp would be enough?


how thin should the plate be? I guess it also has to be perfectly even, polished?


We have actually tried speaker with a plate fixed to it with double tape (plastic plate and a membrane attached to it). 

Please see what happened here:

I think its is not perfect because the membrane was not attached to the cone directly, but to a plate which was then attached to the speaker!








Wow... I admire the simplicity of this set up. I think the rods would be best attached to the outer rim of the cone or better to the cone directly (tricky.) You may be losing sensitivity to vibration by fixing it to the casing of the box / woofer. A subwoofer makes a great DIY water cymatics machine using just the sub and a tray of water. The thiner the plate the better the results as long as it doesn't bend. Other easy DIY options include a drum (place the sub inside a drum, poor salt / powder onto drum skin.) It won't be precise but it'll work. 

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