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Sound


— Science

Software identifies bat species based on their calls

Everyone knows that it’s possible to identify different species of birds by their vocalizations, but did you know that it’s also possible to differentiate between different types of bats based on their echolocation calls? Well, now you do. So far, however, there hasn’t been a standardized system of doing so – it’s been left up to individual human listeners to decide on the closest match. That may soon no longer be the case, though, as the new online iBatsID tool comes into use. Read More

Scientists prove it's the same old song – only louder

If you suspect that songs today tend to sound the same, it turns out you're right. A group of Spanish scientists looked at a huge database of songs and analyzed their trends, publishing their results in the scientific journal Nature. What they found was proof positive that, over the last few decades, songs have progressively gotten louder, decreased their pitch transitions, and generally become more homogeneous. Read More
— Good Thinking

Novel system guides the blind by turning images into music

Sensory substitution devices work by converting one type of sensory input into another – examples would be systems such as CASBLiP and EYE 21, which allow the blind to “see” by assigning sounds to images. Now, a team of researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have created a similar wearable device, known as EyeMusic. It “employs pleasant musical scales to convey visual information,” and could one day help the visually impaired more easily perform tasks that the rest of us take for granted. Read More
— Children

Heeee-ya: Dragon Grip puts 1970s kung fu in the palm of your hand

Imagine if you could accompany all those cool new moves you've just learned from Mortal Combat or reruns of Bruce Lee's finest celluloid moments with some genuine sound effects ... it would be like actually being in the game or movie. With a Dragon Grip in your Fist of Fury, that's precisely what's on offer. The joystick-like device is pre-loaded with fighting sounds inspired by the cheesy-but-classic kung fu movies of the 1970s like Enter the Dragon, that had all the kids in our neighborhood running around barefoot and shirtless with red lipstick wounds painted across their chests. Read More
— Music

iZotope Iris - a new sampling re-synthesizer that lets you visually transform sound

If you've ever dabbled in the creation of crazy sound effects for home movies, other-worldly audio to complement the battle sequences in a new alien gaming app or strange new loops for digital dance music, you quickly start to appreciate just what a complicated process sound design can be. What with noise generation, pulse and velocity modulation, parallel and series filters, and various other filters, oscillators and envelopes to contend with, the process can hardly be described as fun. A new sample-based synthesizer suite from iZotope seeks to change all that. Both a powerful tool for design pros and an enjoyable and easy way for newbies to dive in and experiment, Iris allows users to manipulate, tweak and layer sounds using the kind of visual editing tools you might find in graphic design packages and discover otherwise hidden sonic treasures. Read More
— Good Thinking

“Noise sponge” cuts jet engine noise at the source of combustion

Anyone living near an airport will tell you that combustion engines can be pretty noisy things. The combustion process in jet and other industrial engines can generate sound waves so powerful they can cause intense pulsations that can shake the engine and accelerate mechanical failure. Using a sponge-like material, researchers at the University of Alabama have managed to significantly quiet combustion at the source, providing the potential to make work environments safer, extend the life of valuable equipment, and maybe let those living near an airport sleep a little easier. Read More
— Music

Vibrating stool puts drummers in touch with their bottom end

The thunderous punch of a bass drum is the time-honored foundation on which all of rock 'n' roll is built. That thud that hits you in the chest and moves your whole body … it taps into a deep and primal place in our subconscious. But while the crowd is enjoying the power of the bass drum amplified through huge sub-woofers, the poor drummer himself is usually hearing a poxy, paper-thin, bassless pop from a tiny onstage foldback speaker. Trying desperately to feel the bass, they often turn the onstage monitors up to ear-splitting volumes, but you just can't get that kind of low end out of small speakers. Enter the BC2 (formerly known as the BumChum) from Britain's Porter and Davies - a simple two-part system that takes the bass drum signal and literally shakes the drummer's butt with it through a vibrating stool. Read More
— Good Thinking

Japanese team invents device that silences the overly-wordy

For those who don't suffer the talkative gladly, a pair of Japanese researchers may have come up with just the thing - a portable device that can painlessly jam a person's speech from up to 30 meters (98 ft) away. Ingeniously dubbed the "SpeechJammer," you aim it like a gun and, if it's anywhere near as effective as the Delayed Auditory Feedback exhibit I tried at my local science museum, it works like a charm. Read More
— Science

Alexander Graham Bell’s first sound recordings restored to life

Recently, and for the first time in living memory, sound recordings made in 1881 at Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory Association have been heard aloud. The experimental phonographs made by the association where Bell worked alongside instrument-maker Charles Sumner Tainter and chemist Chichester A. Bell are thought to be the oldest preserved sound recordings intended for playback. Read More
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