Music, some say an essential part of our souls expression, for others simply an auditory sensation to tap your toes to. No matter which holds true for you listening to our favorite music is an almost universal passion. Providing the driving force for this passion is the greatest technological stalwart in history, the speaker, the trusty direct drive voice coil. It’s a tried, true and simple technology designed to move air, but it is by no means deadly enough.
The other unusual thing about humanities fascination with tunes is the desire to play them on every item we can use to generate noise. Like a Rolf Harris mad scientist it seems there are many other ways to generate noise, dangerously deadly and unusual ways.
The most dangerous of all speaker technology has to be the Tesla coil speaker. This stunning speaker generates bolts of lightning containing millions of volts of electricity. It can even play a catchy rendition of the Ghost Busters theme song. Sounding much like the Commodore 64 Ghost Busters video game soundtrack, very 8bit. The danger and power of these speakers is obvious with the arcs of lightning leaping 6 feet from the coil.
The wire mesh suit worn by the musician is to stop the bolt of lightning giving you that warm and electrified feeling. The speaker itself uses clever electronics and optic fiber to control the frequency of the electrical dis-charge, in turn controlling the tone of the spark. Not hi-fidelity by any stretch of your imagination but amazingly deadly. Video’s included -after the link below- for your viewing pleasure.
Next we have the Plasma Tweeter which uses an arc of high voltage electricity jumping the vertical gap between two conductors, a plasma torch for the welders amongst us. The plasma spark causes a variation in air pressure, causing a shock wave which we in turn hear as a sound. Whatever you do don’t put your tongue on those two terminals.
Finally is The Floppy Drive Orchestra, a purely unusual and hilarious musical instrument. More of a demonstration of how time is best past when living in your parents basement than any kind of contribution to society, this is a light hearted treat. If this doesn’t put a smile on your dial then you will need to pull those pants up a little higher and lighten up.
By no means is this a complete catalog of Deadly and Unusual Speakers, massless speakers alone range from explosive combustion to new variations on static and plasma drivers. Anything that generates a noise has or will be put to use playing our favorite tunes, eventually at any rate. Videos included for your viewing pleasure – After the link below –
Tesla Coil Speaker
Both Tesla Coil Speaker and Plasma Tweeters are forms of Massless Speaker that modulate the spark to create a tone. Massless speakers are an experimental flights of fancy, plasma tweeters are the darlings of the massless speaker world. Using the ionization of gas to create shock waves – creating noise – is not a new idea, William Duddell’s “singing arc” of 1900 is still the basis for many popular homemade models. Tweeters driven by combustion shock waves and other kinds of electrical discharge have also been experimented with. With the potential to have far higher fidelity then normal magnetic tweeters, plasma has much potential but has never developed into much more than a spectacular oddity. They do make for an amazing science demonstration though, and they are deadly.
Plasma Tweeter – Vertical Gap
FLOPPY DRIVE SPEAKER
Old computer parts can often find a use well after their used by date. Normally it isn’t amusing of funny but luckily enough this time it is both. Computers once upon a time relied on small magnet disks, floppy disks. These storage kings of the 80′s and 90′s found a home next to every computer the world over. Eventually a time came when newer, faster, better technology became available, Optical disks and Flash memory but soon your most valuable storage may not exists at all but be based in the clouds.
Star Wars Floppy Disk
Still the drives that were once used to store all of our computer based activities have found a new purpose, musical instruments. By using the read / write heads of the drive to move in unnatural ways a sound can be produced. Not like any other instrument you have heard, possibly not even pleasant but they are hilarious. Different floppy drives can produce a different pitch, depending on the size of the drive, speed of the motor, these and many other factors requires the musician to tune the controller software to the different drives he wants to use. This does also open up the opportunity to use multiple drives to play chords or even have your own electronic orchestra. The first video plays a slightly disturbing rendition of the Star Wars theme song, while the second video takes it to the limit with the (d)iskette (O)rgan.
Phantom of the Floppera