What are those personalized audio cones above me at the museum?
November 23, 2009 8:14 PM   Subscribe

What are the personal/individual audio cones are museums called? Is it possible to make one at home relatively inexpensively?

I can't find any information on them. This may be because I don't know what they're called, and so I couldn't really adequately look to see if this has even been asked before. Regardless, these are sort of halves of spheres that hang from above and project audio onto guests of museums. You also sometimes see them at internet and computer gaming cafe's.

So, what're they called?
How do they work?
Can I make one relatively cheaply?
posted by codybaldwin to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A different style of directional audio is used on these HSS speakers, which I've experienced at the old Microsoft museum, but they've since taken them out so there must've been something wrong with that approach.

Here are some speakers that you're asking about. Looks not too hard to make a crude version yourself, just get a hemisphere of plastic and then suspend an upward facing speaker slightly above the center point.
posted by Diddly at 8:28 PM on November 23, 2009

Best answer: Parabolic speakers. You could try making one if you have a small speaker cone, a fairly large parabolic dish, and some know how. They're pretty neat. They basically mount the speaker inside the cone, facing up. The sound bounces up against the cone and then is directed straight down. The commercial ones I've worked with work amazingly well, but they work best over carpet. Over tile or hard surfaces they reverberate.
posted by cosmicbandito at 8:52 PM on November 23, 2009

Best answer: Mrs. range spent a summer, long ago, building these for Brown Innovations, which looks like it's still in business making them. They're definitely a little fidgety to build, but should be doable. It's important to find a good reflector (hemisphere/paraboloid/etc) and you need a loud, very directional speaker so that the sound follows the path you want, rather than leaking (eg) down and to the sides.
posted by range at 7:08 AM on November 24, 2009

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