Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Sound

The Hidden Radio And Bluetooth Speaker is a very simple canister-shaped Bluetooth speaker ...

Bluetooth speakers are not particularly complex devices in terms of operation - you just pair them with a Bluetooth-enabled device, adjust the volume and enjoy the sound. However, a duo of industrial designers have created the Hidden Radio And Bluetooth Speaker in an attempt to make it even simpler and more intuitive. The unit is also claimed to offer an impressive 30 hours of battery life.  Read More

Artist Nik Nowak has converted a Japanese mini-dumper into a 'sound tank' that pumps out 4...

Do you like car stereos with good, thumping bass? I mean, do you really, really like them? If so, you might be appreciative of "Tank," a creation by Berlin artist Nik Nowak. The fully-functioning tracked vehicle sports six 12-inch mid-range drivers, three 18-inch subwoofers, four tweeters, and pumps out 4,000 watts of gut-wobbling sound - just think of it as an acoustic assault vehicle.  Read More

A schematic of an acoustic diode, showing how the elastic spheres are able to convert the ...

When it comes to the sound-proofing of buildings, most people likely think of using materials that simply absorb the sound waves in a noisy room, so they can't proceed into a neighboring quiet room. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), however, are taking a different approach. They have created something known as an acoustic diode, that only allows sound traveling through it to go in one direction. If incorporated into building materials, such diodes would let sound travel from the quiet room to the noisy one, but would simply block noise transmission in the opposite direction.  Read More

The Steampunk Plasma Speaker's resonance coil creates an electromagnetic field sufficient ...

So, you've downloaded some songs by Abney Park (one of the world's few steampunk bands) onto your Datamancer laptop or your Old Time Computers-accessorized PC ... do you just listen to them through the built-in speakers? Not if you're Polish tinkerer Conscious Flesh. He has created a speaker that not only looks delightfully mad-Victorian-scientist-esque, but it actually produces sound using plasma discharges. Nikola Tesla would definitely approve.  Read More

The 'Exposed' speakers are made of concrete, and utilize horn loudspeaker technology (Phot...

We've seen a number of unusual speakers before, such as the Whamodyne glass speakers or Solid Acoustics' dodecahedron speakers, but concrete speakers are definitely something new. It's definitely not a very popular material for audio systems, but Israeli designer Shmuel Linski would like to change that with his "Exposed" concrete speakers, each of which weighs 123 pounds (56 kg). They're just one part of his line of unusual creations, that include a concrete coffee maker and a concrete canoe.  Read More

The experimental EYE 21 system assigns sounds to objects, allowing blind people to be awar...

Engineers from the Research Center for Graphic Technologies at Spain's Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) have created an experimental system, that allows the blind to be aware of their surroundings through the use of sound. Called EYE 21, it consists of a pair of sunglasses with two built-in micro video cameras, a computer, and a pair of headphones. It's similar to sonar systems that have been used to achieve the same goal.  Read More

A new type of hydrophone, inspired by the ears of orcas, is reportedly much more sensitive...

Given how poorly light and radio signals are able to travel underwater, sound is still the best medium for wireless undersea communications. Conventional underwater microphones – or hydrophones – have their limitations, however. One of their main problems is that the deeper they go, the less sensitive they become. Scientists from California’s Stanford University have now found a solution to that problem, in the form of a hydrophone that is designed to perform like an orca’s ear.  Read More

Owners of vehicles that exceed local allowable noise levels could start automatically gett...

It’s a situation that everyone has experienced – you’re walking down the street, when a vehicle drives by that’s so loud, people cover their ears and cast angry glances at the driver. You assume that it’s illegal to use a muffler that’s so ineffective, or to have a stereo turned up that high, but if it is ... how come so many people seemingly get away with it? Well, part of the reason is manpower. While speeders and red-light-runners can be ticketed in the thousands using automated systems, actual police officers need to go out and manually check cars and motorcycles for noise violations. The designer of Noise Snare, however, claims that his unmanned system can automatically detect and identify overly-audible vehicles.  Read More

'Quelching' noise as well as light and translucent, a combination that has been lacking in...

Heavy curtains made from thick material such as velvet are often needed to keep noise out of indoor environments, but Swiss researchers have come up with another option. The Empa researchers, in collaboration with textile designer Annette Douglas and silk weavers Weisbrod-Zurrer AG, have developed lightweight, translucent curtains which are five times more effective at absorbing sound than their conventional counterparts.  Read More

Owsley “Bear” Stanley, pioneering audio engineer for the Grateful Dead, died in a car crash near his home in Australia on March 13. The sound designer, artist, and counterculture icon was perhaps best known for producing massive amounts of LSD during the psychedelic 1960s. But it was his groundbreaking sound work that may have the most lasting effect on rock musicians and audiences.  Read More

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