A "Google Street View" for the natural sounds of remote Australia

The Australian Acoustic Observatory project, described by its creators as a kind of "Google Street View of sound," is a new acoustic sensor network of hundreds of microphones and digital audio recorders distributed across multiple remote ecosystems on the continent. The solar-powered system will record animal and natural sounds continuously for 5 years. According to lead researcher Paul Roe of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Ecoacoustics Research Group and colleagues, the observatory will enable scientists and the public to listen to "a galaxy of sounds — it is like the heartbeat of the environment." While scientists will use the data to better understand the ecosystems and how they are changing over time, I bet sound artists have a (ahem) field day with the recordings once the public can listen in. From ABC News:

It was hoped citizen scientists would embrace the hidden animal world that was being captured, along with students and artists.

"For example, we will have citizen science projects where we can kind of search for a particular animal within the soundscape. People can use it to explore the environment to understand what is happening, how does the sound change," he said...

Professor Roe said 400 sensors have been placed across 100 sites in seven distinct eco-regions covering desert, grassland, shrublands and temperate, subtropical and tropical forests.

It might be then that we get birds arriving because there has been some water and trees are flowering, or there might be frogs which are going to call, they are going to come out of the desert and call after rain.

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Man builds 15 ft-tall pianos

David Klavens was told that pianos are made one way, all over the world, and that's that. But he wanted to make an enormously tall piano, "emanating the sound" to the audience instead of the ceiling, so he did.

David Klavins is a pianist who, for years, could not find pianos that made the sounds he imagined in his head. So he began building pianos to his own specifications in a workshop in Vác, Hungary, and they are truly unique creations. To wit: Klavins’ vertical concert grand stands over 15-feet tall, and he actually has to climb a ladder to play it, which he does, beautifully, just for us.

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Livestream killer whale songs and other ocean sounds

Orcasound is a citizen science project (and app) enabling you to listen to livestreams of audio from underwater microphones off Washington’s San Juan Island. Read the rest

The sound of good champagne

Acoustics researchers suggest that it's possible to hear the quality of champagne just by listening to the bubbles form. According to the University of Texas scientists, "There is a well-known notion that the quality of a sparkling wine is correlated to the size of its bubbles, and we are investigating whether the bubble size distribution of a sparkling wine can be obtained from simple acoustical measurements." Many people believe that smaller bubbles mean a better taste. From Smithsonian:

To measure the sounds of wine, researchers used small hydrophones—microphones which can record underwater sounds. They poured California Brut and Moët & Chandon Imperial champagne into flutes and listened in as the bubbles formed. The results suggest that they could indeed hear the fine champagne, discerning that bubbles of this drink are slightly smaller in size, more evenly sized and have more activity than the lower-quality sparkling wine.

More here: "Pop the bubbly and hear the quality" (EurekaAlert!) Read the rest

Podfasters: people who listen to podcasts at speeds up to 300% of normal

I remember the first time a blind friend let me listen in on her screen-reader's text-to-speech narration, a high-speed chipmunk squeal that she had trained herself to decode; I was hugely impressed. Read the rest

WATCH: scorching guitar riff with ACPAD MIDI controller prototype

ACPAD is a touch-activated MIDI controller that can be overlaid on an acoustic guitar face, allowing a range of effects and rhythms while playing. Read the rest

The world's first audio recording is creepy, not made by Edison

At the French site Anecdote du Jour you can listen to the world's first audio recordings, made in 1859 and 1860 by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. The recordings, one of a tuning fork being struck and two of de Martinville singing, are scratchy and thoroughly eerie. All the more so because de Martinville himself never heard them. In fact, nobody heard them until 2008.

The reason we credit Edison with the invention of recorded audio and not de Martinville is that de Martinville failed to invent a way to play back his recordings.

De Martinville's phonautograph turned sound waves into 2-dimensional squiggles on soot-blackened paper or glass. It was meant to be a lab instrument, to help study acoustics, not a method of recording and playing back sound. Apparently, several decades passed before anybody even realized the sounds could, theoretically, be played back.

Via Greg Gbur

Image: One of de Martinville's phonautograms. A recording of a tuning fork made in 1859.

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