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Inflatable Loudspeakers

CmdrTaco posted more than 12 years ago | from the roadie-unions-promise-boycott dept.

Technology 207

fm6 sent in an article running at New Scientist talking about new technology that allows Inflatable Loud Speakers. The technology is apparently patented and there's not a lot of technical details, but I have to say the concept amuses me. And I somehow doubt that this technology will ever be used in high fidelity home systems.

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207 comments

Nevermind the inflatable loudspeakers... (-1, Offtopic)

Doktor Memory (237313) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417425)

...I'm still waiting for my inflatable shoes.

*HONK*

Allah Akhbar (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417581)

141 349 634 525 316 562 941
596 847 249 369 111 479 733
971 765 855 441 684 434 222
692 455 056 062 063 492 341
561 794 576 726 626 311 541
593 514 231 435 642 329 055

That makes it perfect... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417426)

...for taco and his inflate-a-mate.

Perfect! (0, Redundant)

Renraku (518261) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417428)

Inflatable loud speakers are great for things like parties involving drugs or alcohol. Now when you pass out you won't take out a speaker (or a hip) when you fall to the ground, but land safely on an inflatable speaker. Might deafen you though if you're out for too long... Other uses could include 'stimulation' of various parts which I won't mention. Mainly pertains to females, though.

Well, just another device (2, Funny)

epsalon (518482) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417429)

you need to blow air into for it to play sounds...
Flute, anyone?

What's my name, bitch?! (2, Funny)

Pope (17780) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417594)

Flute, anyone?

Damn that Alyson Hannigan is sexy...

Re:Well, just another device (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417653)

ahh

My Inflateable Life (5, Funny)

MBCook (132727) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417430)

This should go great with my inflateable couch, pillows, and girl :)

All I need now is an inflateable stero and some inflateable CDs. Seriously though, how cool is this? And wouldn't it be awesome to inflate/deflate them while their ON? Bet that would sound awesome.

Re:My Inflateable Life (5, Funny)

PD (9577) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417479)

This should go great with my inflateable couch, pillows, and girl :)

With all that, I'm surprised that your ego isn't inflated.

Re:My Inflateable Life (2)

Glytch (4881) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417492)

Absolutely right. There's something about the concept of moving an apartment's worth of furniture in a Volkswagen Golf that's just too cool to fathom.

*Sigh* But I have to have lame wooden stuff... oh well.

Re:My Inflateable Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417531)

The VW Golf could carry whatever it wants to. The problem is, most of the time it doesn't actually feel like carrying anything big.

-- Ermie is wonderful

Re:My Inflateable Life (2)

snake_dad (311844) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417671)

*Sigh* But I have to have lame wooden stuff... oh well.

Well, no one is stopping you from blowing *that* up :-)

MODERATORS (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417556)

This is Slashdot. As such, this post should have been moderated "interesting" or "informative".

Re:My Inflateable Life (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417619)

that should leave just enough room for your inflatable girlfriend

that's not the only thing... (0, Offtopic)

lyapunov (241045) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417431)

inflatable that amuses me

Perfect... (0, Flamebait)

owenPS (215051) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417433)

...for all the rock groups that blow.

Like Ralph Nader? (-1, Troll)

KingJawa (65904) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417437)

I always knew he was a speaker. And I think he's loud. And full of hot air.

Yep, Inflatable Loud Speaker all right.

Re:Like Ralph Nader? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417444)

It took you 5 minutes to come up with that?
Pathetic!

Poor roadies? (3, Insightful)

dimer0 (461593) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417443)

Since when do roadies complain of back problems? Is this opening the doors up to elderly women who want to travel with bands and set up stages? A 4x12 cabinet is not that heavy at all, some even have wheels, and most of them have handles. They're not awkward. I used to lug mine around when I was a 120 pound stick in high school.. Ah well.

Also, if these things are so light, it would be funny to see the speakers push so much air that the air-cabinet starts floating away.. I wouldn't dare stack these things, a gust of wind could stop a concert..

This definitely didn't have to change.. I just hope it's a proof of concept, and they'll find something better to apply this technology to at a later time.. (Pool speakers???)

Re:Poor roadies? (3, Informative)

fgodfrey (116175) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417491)

You obviously haven't tried stacking a medium to large sized PA. I've helped set up stacks of TurboSound speakers 3 high/3 wide + subs (ok, I know, that's not an enormous setup, but it's not for your bedroom either) and while they have wheels, they are quite awkward and heavy. However, I strongly suspect that these speakers will sound pretty bad at high volumes when the bladder starts to vibrate, but hey, I could be wrong. They would certainly look interesting, though :)

Re:Poor roadies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417550)

I hear ya, I've stacked turbo too, we own EAW at 200lbs per cabinet, groundstacking takes a lot out of you.

mikeyB

Re:Poor roadies? (2, Funny)

spudnic (32107) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417522)

Actually you may have hit upon a great idea... Fill them up with helium and let the speakers float above the crowd! Talk about trippy.

Quick, patent it!

Re:Poor roadies? (3, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417601)

Most of them, actually. It is, litrally, backbreaking work.

Bear in mind also that speakers often have to be hauled to *hights.* The wheels are useless then. With inflatables you haul could haul 'em up deflated and inflate them in place. Windage wouldn't be a problem, they would be cabled in place, * just as they are now.*

One more factor is space. Did you know that when you buy a box of breakfast cereal the cereal itself only costs you about a quarter? Transporting the BOX takes up much of the rest of the price. A Smaller and lighter transport package means less space and fuel needed just to haul the buggers around.

I have hauled my own PA. It's a pain in the neck, back and elsewhere. I'd love an inflatable rig.

I've also worked on a professional crew, and let me tell you, hauling your own PA around is NOTHING compared to hauling in, setting up, and hauling out, two truckloads of speakers, day, after day, after day.

Come to think of it, I've never known a roadie who DIDN'T complain of back trouble. It's the main reason for retirement.

KFG

Re:Poor roadies? (1)

Mandelbrute (308591) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417618)

Also, if these things are so light, it would be funny to see the speakers push so much air that the air-cabinet starts floating away..
Looks like the roadies still have a job, they'll just need a lot more duct tape!

If you shift the frequency of the sound down a bit (maybe with a bit of compression too) pumping the sound out of helium filled speakers shouldn't be a problem.

Waterproof? (1)

Schrodinger's Mouse (466881) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417446)

If they were waterproof, or water-resistant, they'd be very popular with outdoor venues - don't have to worry too much about the rain that way. That said, if they were waterproof, there'd be some moron trying to use them in his swimming pool.

Re:Waterproof? (1)

spudnic (32107) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417532)

From the article it appears that the inflatable part is the box. The drivers are mounted on a board that has several air bladders attached to it in case one pops during the conert. Now who would make a game of popping the speaker cases at a concert? Hmmmm?

Re:Waterproof? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417585)

That said, if they were waterproof, there'd be some moron trying to use them in his swimming pool.

That actually sounds like a cool idea!

yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417448)

"Loudspeakers", huh?
Is that what you crazy kids call it now?

Helium? (5, Funny)

infinite9 (319274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417460)

If you fill them with helium, will your music sound like the chipmonks?

Re:Helium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417501)

If you fill them with helium you had better attach a little note to them reading Please return to sender.

Re:Helium? (1)

dimer0 (461593) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417519)

I don't get it.

Re:Helium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417536)

If they were filled with heliem, they'd float away, necessitating a note telling where to send it if/when it comes back down to earth.

Re:Helium? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417558)

helium gas is actually lighter than our normal air. air is made up of several different gasses and vapors, including oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and sperm vapor.

Sperm vapor is very heavy, as the sperm themselves like to swim downward.

Helium is technically "anti-sperm", and as a result, swims upward. This is why helium balloons appear to float - it's actually the tiny sperms in the sperm vapor trying to swim away from the ground.

Re:Helium? (1)

The_Shadows (255371) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417561)

Ohhhh.... that's an absurdly easy way to store your speakers in an out of the way place. Mobile flying speakers!

Re:Helium? (1)

MikeyNg (88437) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417620)

If you fill them with helium, will your music sound like the chipmonks?


Surprisingly enough, yes it will. Helium is lighter than air - less dense. The reduced density would raise the pitch accordingly.

Re:Helium? (2)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417680)

Would it? The sound waves might possibly travel faster through helium because they don't have to vibrate as much mass, but would it change the pitch? The pitch is the vibrational velocity of the medium. I don't see how just a lighter medium would cause the pitch to rise.

Or to put it another way, the cone of the speaker is moving the gas at a certain rate. What would cause the gas to accelerate to a different rate?

Now, it's possible that you would get better high range out of the speaker in a lighter medium, because the speaker doesn't have to move as much mass. Just like I can vibrate a feather about the same rate as a small rock, but I couldn't vibrate a 5 pound weight very quickly.

Awkward (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417461)

"Ellula's speakers resemble brightly coloured audio beach balls and are aimed at the home, for use with portable stereos and computers." They're ones to talk about things being awkward..imagine having beachballs for speakers. As if our desks weren't unstable and crowded enough already, we now have the option of using brightly colored beach balls for speakers..just great if you have kids..they'd spike the 'beach ball' into another room!

Re:Awkward (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417608)

This makes absolutely no sense to me. Inflatables are clearly a pointless gimmik for most home use.

The Greatful Dead, on the other hand, might well have loved these things to pieces. Literally.

KFG

spEakers (1, Interesting)

Matrix12 (242932) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417462)

This technology would be great for rave parties. Inflatable speakers would transport easily, and be easy to leave behind. And you could shoot lasers and lights through them ;)

Good for clubs, and gigging in general, I guess.

.\\12

patented? (2, Funny)

stickb0y (260670) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417463)

The technology is apparently patented and there's not a lot of technical details

I thought the patent process requires that the inventor disclose information about how the product works, and after the patent expires the public can use it freely. Isn't it opposed to a trade secret, where the inventor doesn't get protection if someone else reverse-engineers the product or happens to invent the same thing independently?

Re:patented? (4, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417488)

thats correct, the tech. details are disclosed in an american patent(can't speak for other countries, but its probably the same)
If this is a patented item, as opposed to patent pending, you should be able to go th the US Patent and copyright website and look them up.

Re:patented? (1)

jedwards (135260) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417504)

There isn't a lot of information in the New Scientist article.
There should be more info in the patent [espacenet.com]

Watch out for ricocheting guitars (4, Funny)

MagnaMark (468484) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417465)

A speaker driver is mounted in a flat, rigid board bonded to a large bladder. When the bladder is inflated, it expands to form a box shape resembling a speaker cabinet.

I'd like to see the first time someone tries to dramatically smash their guitar against the speakers at the end of a set.

Predicted by Sluggy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417466)

Hey, the sluggy.com comic has a character from the future who's job is to research "Inflatable Technology".

The problem was, they used his Inflatable Time Machine(tm) to travel into the past, and it sprung a leak, stranding them.

from the article (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417472)

Inflatable loudspeakers could blow out roadies
so now rock bands will want to set up there own system? including filling them full of air? what about the speaker itself, will that suddenly get lighter?

talk about trying to market to a problem that doesn't exist, sheeesh.

if all things are equal(same sound quality, etc,etc,etc...) then there only advantage is less storage space. Which is a cost savings advantge.

Perfect for... (1)

trilucid (515316) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417473)


those impromptu van parties! Gotta have sound? No problem... you're at the beach anyhow, blowing up rafts and such, why not just toss in the speakers with 'em?

Of course, you may run into trouble with those knife-wielding locals who stop by to "ask you nicely to turn it down"... oops, we lost another one, better get the pump out again. Anybody got a tire patch?

Today must be silly invention day; first we've got those funky cell phones, then the uber-watch that runs Linux, now inflatable speakers to go with it all... I'd better stock up on my geek t-shirts now :-)

XAO-3 (1)

dankjones (192476) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417477)

This will come in handy if Good year ever brings back the XAO-3 Inflatoplane [nasm.edu]

Nellie Furtado (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417478)

"I'm like the speaker, I want to float away"

WHAT?!?! (1)

anzha (138288) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417483)

And no one has mentioned filling them with helium yet...how disappointed I am! Watch them speakers float around...lol. For those tripping it'd be even more amusing.

Re:WHAT?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417621)

Not only that!

The voices of all the singers would increase in pitch so that every song sounded like the
Chipmunks.

Surround sound? (1)

serial frame (236591) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417489)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these...!

No, really. A set of them, inflated with helium and suspended with cables...could make for quite the sound experience. Also imagine the possibilities of using them in urban areas in emergency situations where information may need to be conveyed to a large amount of people.

Re:Surround sound? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417513)

Imagine
John Lennon

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Inflatable Technology (4)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417493)

And I thought that the story line in Sluggy Freelance [sluggy.com] was a joke

Now I am starting to get scared.

RealSpeakers (3, Funny)

Dolly_Llama (267016) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417499)

I'll to get some to entertain my *inflate* *inflate* girlfriend..

inflatable speaker go boom (2)

trb (8509) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417500)

And if you want your bass to go boom, you over-inflate them.

A.D. 2001 (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417507)

Inflatable Speaker was beginning

Captain: What happen??
Crewman: Someone set up us the helium!!
Crewman: We get signal. Main screen turn on.
Captain: It's you!!
Cats: How are you gentlemen??. All your speaker are belong to us!!
...

For great justice!!

Whole new meaning to... (1)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417508)

blown speakers. Guffaw.

I blew my speakers. (1)

AX.25 (310140) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417509)

Literally.

Extra lame stuff to pass the lameness filter.

Soundtube (2, Informative)

aethera (248722) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417523)

I've worked with some SoundTube products before. They were excellent. We used thew in several hanging locations and on the ground in theme parks, so they received a 70 volt distributed PA signal. They played a mix of classical and pop music all day. Sound quality was not excellent, but certainly very good. They were very power efficient and very durable. Bats, Birds, Bees, rain, manure, even lawnmovers attacked these things on a daily basis and they still worked great. One of the nicest outdoor PA speakers I ever worked with.

To the contrary (3, Troll)

Bud Dwyer (527622) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417524)

And I somehow doubt that this technology will ever be used in high fidelity home systems.

I fancy myself something of an audiophile, and I can say with all certainty that the inflatable loudspeaker is the most exciting new development in the home audio world of the last 5 years.


Last month's issue of Home Audiophile Review carried an interesting article on the possiblities of the new, inflatable enclosures. Essentially, we will be able to get distortion down to unheard of low levels. The possiblities presented by speaker enclosures in novel shapes is also interesting. Imagine a spherical, or for that matter, tetrahedral, enclosure. You can't do that with wood. Another plus: the enclosures could be filled with nitrogen so as to minimize corrosion of the internal speaker components, thus lengthening product-life and improving sound quality.

Bull Shit (4, Interesting)

HEbGb (6544) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417605)

I don't believe it for a minute.

Distortion down to 'unheard of low levels'? Hype city. There is absolutely no plausible mechanism to support this claim. As for transdcuer shapes, such as tetrahedral, it's almost completely irrelevant as far as sound quality goes.

Loudspeakers don't have a limited lifetime because of corrosion. It's usually fatigue of the constituent materials, of which an inflatable plastic would certainly be about the worst.

These might be a good gimmick, but nothing more. I think their egos need a bit of deflating.

They're apparently using NXT flat panel techniques. No wonder this is so full of mindless hype.

Re:To the contrary (2, Interesting)

kwhilden (25492) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417622)

As a very dedicated audiophile, I can't imagine that inflatable speakers could sound good at all. Can you say uncontrolled cabinet resonance? The biggest problem with wooden box speakers is the resonance from the wood creating unwanted coloration in the sound. I don't think it is possible to brace an inflatable speaker enough to reduce resonance to any significant degree.

As far as building tetrahedral speakers out of wood, check out these from Acoustic Reality [av-reality.com] . I happen to own a pair, and resonance control is outstanding. They also sound great and are very cheap by audiophile standards.

btw, I am audiophile lunatic... ugh.
KW

hes a troll! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417666)

do a google search for bud dwyer and see who he really is.

Re:To the contrary (2)

Chris Johnson (580) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417690)

Um...

The only reason you'd want a spherical enclosure is because the _outside_ of a sphere produces the evenest response. Unfortunately the inside is the single worse shape for an enclosure you could have.

Plus, in general terms, wall rigidity is enormously important for a speaker enclosure. Now, there's two sides to this: on the one hand you want vibrations to be damped down effectively, and in this the inflatable might even wind up with some advantages. Unfortunately the other side is that walls are rigid for a reason.

You could do a dipole this way by using the inflatable for the back wave, but there's barely any difference between that and NO enclosure at all. These equate to just the driver sitting there. The worst aspect, bar none, is bass and dynamic impact. Treble, diffraction and cabinet coloration might be improved somewhat over cheap plywood- but at what cost?

Sorry- you've been spun. These aren't the speakers you've been looking for. Move along..

Home use - pool stereo (1)

WillSeattle (239206) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417526)

Hmm. Seems to me, this solves the problem of how to get those heavy speakers set up for bands.

But another intriguing use would be for California and Florida - pool stereo systems. Just get a good protected cable and a splash guard with drain, and float the system in the pool.

Man, that would make one cool video!

Im filling mine with helium... (0)

happyhippy (526970) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417529)

...so they float about the room.

This Brings New Meaning... (2, Informative)

dbCooper0 (398528) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417535)

to: Damn - I just Blew a Speaker!

Seriously, I (as a musician with a little experience building cabinets for 18" and smaller drivers), seem to remember that the heavier, the better - at least for Bass Enclosures.

I doubt there is a valid market.

The day has passed since JBL rocked with alnico magnets - you could walk into a music store with a notepad and tape measure, then go back you your garage and cut up some 3/4" or 5/8" particle board, and save big bucks. No patent infringement - I didn't sell 'em - no, really! ;-)

track meets (1)

AnimeFreak (223792) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417539)

This would be a benefit to my brother's track club as instead of having to assemble and store clunky hard shell speakers, we can inflate these speakers and I doubt they'd take very much space.

It would be a benefit to me too as I am usually the one who has to set up such things.

oh the ideas! (1)

mrsmalkav (33086) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417543)

Now all we need are inflatable music-making-devices and we can have a party in a bag!

How about creating a new form of boat parties where you ship out and set up the speakers floating in the water and you can swim around the sound for a totally Debussy-esque experience.

How about one of those bouncy inflatable houses that you see at fairs? We could have the COMPLETELY inflated house! (No golf shoes please)

YAIP (Yet Another Inflatible Pun) (5, Funny)

The Iconoclast (24795) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417544)

Pump up the Jam! Pump it Up! Pump it UP!!

Terminology is wrong (5, Funny)

dwlemon (11672) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417545)

"..rock groups need roadies to hump.."

No. Those are groupies.

We could keep sharks away from the shore... (0)

happyhippy (526970) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417549)

...by putting the speakers on the water and blasting shit pop at them.

here's the patent info... (3, Informative)

chthonicphage (125011) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417554)

Patent Number: WO0154541 (UK)
Publication date: 2001-08-02
Inventor(s): WIENER DAVID
Applicant(s):: SOUNDTUBE ENTERTAINMENT INC (US)

A speaker assembly (100) is provided including a rigid front speaker mounting element (102) defining at least one speaker mounting opening (103), at least one speaker driver (104) coupled to the at least one speaker mounting opening (103) of the speaker mounting element (102), at least one flexible bladder (106) at least partially forming the sides and rear of the enclosure and coupled to the speaker mounting element (102), and a valve (108) coupled to the flexible bladder (106). The flexible bladder (108) has a first wall portion (110) and a second wall portion (112) defining a substantally air-tight interior space (114) therebetween and may take any desired shape when inflated. Together, the speaker mounting element (102) and the bladder (106) form at least one interior chamber (116) at least partially surrounding the speaker driver (104). The valve (108), which provides a substantially air-tight seal when closed, is in fluid communication with the interior space of the flexible bladder (106) and can be used for inflation and deflation of the bladder (106). The bladder (106) is inflatable by providing either pressurized gas or expandable foam within the interior space. Alternatively, the bladder may be formed as a plurality of independently inflatable cells, or may be evacuatably-formed from a material having shape retaining memory properties. After use, the bladder (106) enclosure may be removed from the speaker mounting elemet (102), and deflated for reuse, or disposed of.

If it worked, I bet smaller bands could use this. (3, Interesting)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417555)

Think of all the bands that can't afford to fly their equipment around. Now they could.

I bet there is some really interesting things that could be done with this technology.

For instance, could you change the response of the speakers by adding more air pressure inside of the enclosure? Seems like you could easily tune for each song if you wanted to.

Re:If it worked, I bet smaller bands could use thi (0)

happyhippy (526970) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417562)

So youll see big hairy roadies blowing into them between songs!

Almost Certainly Bullshit (5, Informative)

crucini (98210) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417563)

The audio world is crawling with hopeful inventors who don't understand much about sound and electro-accoustics. I've had the privilege of seeing many of these "inventions" first hand. The article failed to address the key issue behind "inflatable speakers": rigidity. In a vented box, which is the most common type of low-frequency and very-low-frequency system, the walls need to be pretty rigid to prevent distortion and energy loss. If these inventors have some way to make a balloon as rigid as 3/4" birch plywood with closely spaced transverse braces, the article doesn't mention it.

The only kinds of speaker enclosure that aren't concerned with rigidity are those that simply enclose rigid horns made of fibreglas, plastic or wood. In these situations, the enclosure merely protects the components from dust, water and damage and does not serve an accoustic funciton. JBL among others has realized this and is making a series of touring speakers which are simply frames of metal tubing with no side walls. Again, inflatable walls would add nothing to such a system.

As for the "beach ball" idea, this can be interpreted in two different ways, due to the lack of detail in the article. If you make a conventional (sealed or vented box) speaker system with spherical form, it will have a sharp resonant peak related to the diameter of the sphere. This peak can be reduced by increasing the absorbent material inside the enclosure, but still reflects a design mistake. A sphere is the worst possible shape for a conventional speaker enclosure. A second application of a sphere is to place it in front of a speaker (possibly a tweeter) creating in effect a radial horn. By careful positioning, two or even three transducers could share one sphere. An inflated beach ball could work for high and even mid frequencies. As the frequency gets lower, however, the need for rigidity of the sphere increases. In general, the sphere should be hard and rigid.

Such a system will never work as well as separate, properly designed horns for the separate transducers. Its only benefit is visual gimmickry and possible cost savings.

Well... (2)

11thangel (103409) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417652)

Just because they are LOUDspeakers doesn't mean they have to be QUALITY speakers. They just have to be LOUD.

Re:Almost Certainly Bullshit (5, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417654)

If these inventors have some way to make a balloon as rigid as 3/4" birch plywood with closely spaced transverse braces, the article doesn't mention it.

I think most of us probably have an image of some cheap inflatable pool float, but we don't really know what materials this is made out of or what pressure it is inflated to. Put it this way, what if the enclosure were made of tire rubber and inflated to 250 pounds pressure, with cross braces etc? It would probably be pretty rigid.

Now, I doubt that scenerio that I just laid out would give you any weight or cost savings, but it's an idea of how this might go if that used more interesting materials. :)

Indoor/Outdoor (2, Funny)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417567)

In my church, they would be easy to hang from the top of the ceiling. (I can't imagine what it's like lifting a 30lb speaker all the way up there!)

For outdoor concerts, they could be filled with helium, and allowed to float. Wouldn't it be awesome to see the speakers fluttering in the wind!

And, in my living room, I might get 5 small ones to hang from my ceiling fan.

I can't wait!

The Next Development.... (1)

emmetropia (527623) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417570)

Inflatable amps and mixers! Maybe even rack-mount inflatable effects, and instruments too. It would bring on a new wave of "air guitar" players.

A practical application... (1)

paulychamp (131799) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417574)

Finally! What I want is one those Washington Redskins Blow-up chairs that come with their own inflatable pump with BUILT IN sound!

Now watching games with dad is twice the fun!

Booyah.
-Paul

Unclear on the concept. (4, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417575)

If you could make speakers and enclosures out of lightweight materials, it would have been done long before now.

They're made out of 3/4th-inch plywood to take the stress of constant packing and unpacking.

I predict the first tour that tries to use these things will end up with what looks like the first all-duct-tape speaker enclosures by the end of the trip.

--Blair

Inflatable furniture. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417578)

Mmm ... just the thing to listen to while sitting on my inflatable couch.

Dammit... there they go again... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417582)

those kids in their souped up hot-air balloon, flying all around the block, with their rap music blaring... You can hear the bass for miles...

There used to be a time when the sound those kids could make was limited to volume/carrying capacity of a honda civic.

It won't catch on (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417584)

They'll never be as comfortable as a lilo

No High-Fidelity Home Systems? (1)

Skyfire (43587) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417597)

It looks like from the article that these speakers are designed to be used for touring concerts. If these are high enough quality for that, I should hope they would be high enough quality for a home system.

Cool Ravers will love this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417604)

THis will make throwing those underground raves of mine even easier!!!

Maybe I Am Being Negative But... (1)

PhreakinPenguin (454482) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417609)

Where exactly are the inflatable speaker wires going to plug into?

Hype city (4, Insightful)

HEbGb (6544) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417623)

I think it's time to deflate the hype surrounding these things a bit.

They basically use an inflatable structure (not unlike a beachball) as a loudspeaker enclosure, and attach a flat-panel loudspeaker to the front. Voila.

Performance of these will be questionable, at best, and they will certainly not have the performance they're claiming. Utter nonsense. They've provided absolutely nothing to support their claims.

Loudspeaker enclosured are designed to be rigid for a reason - they're essentially used as baffles and resonant structures, that, when properly designed, will provide a reliable, efficient, output of sound. An inflatable loudspeaker will not have any rigidity, thereby eliminating its use as a baffle, and severely diminishing low frequency performance. Second, the fact that the air will be expected to leak over time will change the resonant structure significantly, eliminating any possibility of consistent performance, if it even could be attained in the first place.

Now, an inflatable loudspeaker might be a nice gimmick, but it will absolutely not be a performance product. Not even close.

This is all hype, folks, nothing to see here - move along.

Oh, they're apparently VC funded? Go figure with the outlandish claims!

Re:Hype city (1)

PhreakinPenguin (454482) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417630)

So if I undertsnad right...you are claiming shananigans. I do believe this is a valid case of shananigans.

add this.. (1)

sewagemaster (466124) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417626)

looks like my blow up doll can now react to what i give it!

Hrm.. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417636)

this'll be great for lan parties, some camping bitch annoys you, just pop his speakers.

watch out! (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417639)

hear a needle falling ...

another dimension to blowing-the-speakers-out!

*boom*

Dodecahedral speakers (2)

os2fan (254461) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417649)

I recall reading in some book about "Design for the real world" about putting cheap speakers into the faces of a dodecahedron produces good sound. Nothing came of that, and I doubt if anything will come of this.

I think it has more to do with buyer perception than gee-whiz technology, although it could have some application for bands on the road or PA events.

overnight workstations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417651)

Sorry, I'm sure this will get me bad karma, but I need a quick response...

Anybody got a URL for a hardware vendor that will sell me a Linux workstation and ship overnight?

One of the boxes here just went tits-up. I don't have time for a whitebox solution, we need this tomorrow.

Re:overnight workstations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2417687)

didn't know I was posting AC...log in wasn't working

"Inflatable loudspeakers could blow out roadies" (1)

aclarke (307017) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417662)

I thought the point of loudspeakers was to blow out MUSIC...or did this mean that "inflatable loudspeakers could blow out [of] roadies" (yuck!)? I guess the latter would solve the question of how to inflate the speakers.

Their multiple-bladder design reminds me of the Titanic - see how well THAT concept held water/air/whatever...

But, but... (3, Funny)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 12 years ago | (#2417669)

What will raveGrrrls stand on top of to dance? What will dweebBoyz jump from to crowd surf? My whole '90s world -- gone!

At least I'll always have my tribal tattoo.
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