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World's Most Powerful Subwoofer 436

dponce80 writes "This $13,000 subwoofer, the TRW 17 from Eminent Technology is billed as the world's most powerful due to its ability to reproduce sounds with frequencies as low as 1Hz. Typical subwoofers bottom out at 20Hz, and while the human ear can barely hear below that point, it is still possible to feel the sound. This particular woofer does not have an enclosure, instead relying on a fan-like design, wafting a cone of modulated air into the room, and effectively turning it into a resonating box, in its entirety!"
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World's Most Powerful Subwoofer

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  • WHAT? (Score:5, Funny)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:04AM (#13939223) Homepage Journal
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:06AM (#13939229)
    Can it blow a woman's clothing off?
    • Nope (Score:2, Funny)

      by Sulka ( 4250 )
      The real question is...

      Can it make someone blow you?
      • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @08:45AM (#13939989) Journal
        It might not blow her clothes off, but you'll probably be able to give her orgasms whenever you feel like

        Google search for 33Hz + orgasm [google.com]
        I put the link first so y'all don't try to call bullshit on me. I read it in an audio magazine (correction: wired magazine [wired.com])a while back. The writer went for a ride along with some bassists who drove around town pushing a button and juicing girls. The driver was saying that part of the reason girls give 'im dirty looks is because they can feel the bass pushing their button.

        As an aside, you may or may not know that serious car bass systems aren't set up to play music per se. They're setup to produce massive SPL, and because of that, they usually wire up a button (which they can press to unleash their thunder (and set off car alarms) while driving around town. For contests they use a remote control and replace windshields/windows/etc with inches of lexan which you can watch flex while the tones are being played.

        All that said, high SPL's in the lower frequencies can cause your lung to spontaneously collapse.

    • No, but you might have a chance with a beowulf cluster of these.
  • Deaf people? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jobber-d ( 225767 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:08AM (#13939234)
    I wonder if this will affect deaf people's ability to 'listen' to music at all. Having a wider range of frequencies should allow for more variations in vibrations, no?
    • Re:Deaf people? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vulturejoe ( 570401 )
      Deaf people do listen to music. It's basically all bass, and you feel the vibrations. If you ever go to a Deaf convention, you'll probably be feeling this music throughout the convention hall.
  • Is this even legal? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GeorgeWright ( 612851 ) <gwright AT kde DOT org> on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:08AM (#13939239) Homepage
    Note: I have not yet read the article because the server seems to be dead.

    Is this subwoofer even legal? International law bans transmitters which are capable of transmitting on the frequency of approx 6 or 7Hz because that's the resonant frequency of the human ribcage. Seems like this could be used as a pretty lethal weapon from the (short) description in the posting.
    • by Anonymous Coward
    • by fmwap ( 686598 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:41AM (#13939358) Journal
      Interesting thought, I've felt the effects before but never done any research...

      According to this article [wired.com], lung collapse can be a effect of freqencies in this range, and that " The lungs may essentially start to vibrate in the same frequency as the bass, which could cause a lung to rupture."

      I vaguly remember hearing about experimentation into using this as a weapon (No, not the Brown note [wikipedia.org]), but more of a lung-collapsing, vomit inducing weapon.
    • That was exactly my thought. Given the fact that the "accepted" frequency threshold of hearing is considered to be around 20 Hz, I don't see any real non-weapon use for this. I would definitely not like to be around that thing. Sometimes you never know when some circuit/system will become unstable and start to oscilate.
    • by ChadN ( 21033 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @05:33AM (#13939524)
      This reminds of a time, years ago, when I went to a petting zoo in Reston, Virginia. They had a pair of Emu in a large paddock, and as I walked up to the fence (about 20 feet away from them), I felt something hit me in the chest. I stopped and looked around; I was alone. I took another step, somewhat hesitantly, and something hit me again.

      I was looking at the Emu, they were looking at me, and the second time it happened, I saw something moving on one bird's chest. So, I decided they must have some sort of air bladder which they could pulse, and warn me to keep away. Which I did. I'm convinced what I felt (assuming it wasn't all in my head) was a low frequency pulse the birds use "communicate", the effects of which I felt right in my chest cavity. I'd love to hear from anyone whose had a similar experience.
      • by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Thursday November 03, 2005 @06:12AM (#13939634) Journal
        I'd love to hear from anyone whose had a similar experience.

        Female emus do that booming thing a lot - it's their way of communicating. They do have an air sac on the lower curve of their neck, but it's hard to spot if you don't know what you're looking for because their feathers hang down over that part of their necks.

        The noise they make is low and loud, and I'm not surprised you felt it. If you're out in the bush on a quiet night, you can hear them from kilometres away.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          ..the pentagon has quarantined all emus and classified their use as weapons.
    • -1 troll!

      The server being dead is no excuse for not having RTFA. Have you even heard of mirrordot.org?
      Also, your idea reeks of urban myth.
  • by cloudkj ( 685320 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:09AM (#13939240)
    I felt a great disturbance in the Apartment Complex, as if millions of neighbors suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced by my giant subwoofer.
    • I felt a great disturbance in the Apartment Complex, as if millions of neighbors suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced by my giant subwoofer.

      You must be confused...I think This [boingboing.net] is the Woofer you're looking for.
  • It's so powerful, it blew out Google's servers!

    > ping www.yahoo.com
    Ping statistics for
            Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),

    > ping www.google.com

    Ping statistics for
            Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 0, Lost = 4 (100% loss),

  • OMG! (Score:3, Funny)

    by alphapartic1e ( 260735 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:12AM (#13939252)
    Quick, someone tell Howard Stern, so he can reenact that scene in "Private Parts" where he told that lady to sit on the subwoofer.
  • Military uses? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zog The Undeniable ( 632031 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:12AM (#13939254)
    Sounds like the old arsequake [museumoftechno.org] concept has been resurrected. For those who can't be bothered to read the link, various armies have tried to find a bass frequency that, aimed at enemy soldiers, would cause them to involuntarily lose bowel control. Of course, as bass is omnidirectional, you need to make sure your own troops have earplugs or a full enema beforehand ;-)
    • I think on the Myth Busters they called it the "Brown Note". They subjected Adam to a massive stack of speakers trying to get him to shit, but it didn't work.
      • Re:Military uses? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lisandro ( 799651 )
        IIRC, they placed him in the middle of a circular arrangement of woofers, pointing towards the center. Depending on the frequency, number of speakers and radius, the soundwaves could very well cancel themselves, dampening the effect. Even then, he came exhausted from the experience as the soundwaves forced air in and out of his lungs.

        Just pointing out the testing method perhaps wasn't the most adequate. According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], they only tested three frequencies below 20hz; a low sweep between
        • As you pointed out, if you use several sources the soundwaves can reinforce or cancel eachother. To do a sweep from 1-25 Hz would mean you have to move your sources in accourdance with the frequency. Just a few points on the curve that you can calculate beforehand would be much simpler.
    • For those who can't be bothered to read the link, various armies have tried to find a bass frequency that, aimed at enemy soldiers, would cause them to involuntarily lose bowel control.

      Woot, the brown noise [moviewavs.com]
    • Excuse me whilst I wipe the tears from my eyes.

      Wait - those aren't tears! That's not my eye!
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_note [wikipedia.org]

      If Cartman can do it, surely the military can.
    • Ehm... correct me if I'm wrong - I don't think earplugs will make a difference. How are they going to prevent your bowels from being punched out of control by low frequencies?
  • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:17AM (#13939271) Homepage Journal
    That way you will end up with a haunted computer room [physicsforums.com]!
  • Site is down already but here is the Google cache link []
  • Resonance (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Crouty ( 912387 )
    Can anyone tell what volume of air would have 1:1 resonance at 1 Hz?
    I found some frequencies where my bathroom has resonance (propabaly 1:2 harmonics), but I am sure it is much to small to have resonance at frequencies below a few Hz.
  • by 1nhuman ( 597328 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:24AM (#13939300)
    Check out the USB version: http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/accessories/5de e/ [thinkgeek.com]
  • Oh bull. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:27AM (#13939311)
    I recently went to an art museum where there was a little piece of electronic equipment attached to a huge subwoofer that was moving at 1hz, slowing down to about .5hz, and back to 1hz again. If you put your hand up close to it, you could feel a slight breeze, but you couldn't hear a damn thing. It was created more for the visual effect of seeing the huge speaker cone moving in and out at a slow speed.

    So a subwoofer with a 1hz capability is nothing to get excited about, you could do that with a wide variety of subwoofers. And achieving such a low, inaudible frequency sure as hell doesn't make it the world's most powerful subwoofer.
    • Re:Oh bull. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by HD Webdev ( 247266 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:46AM (#13939370) Homepage Journal
      So a subwoofer with a 1hz capability is nothing to get excited about, you could do that with a wide variety of subwoofers. And achieving such a low, inaudible frequency sure as hell doesn't make it the world's most powerful subwoofer.

      Those low frequencies at a high enough power can effect things quite a bit.

      I remember years ago I was in a town where there were serious problems people were having with objects falling off of shelves and other similar places. (These objects would only last a few days in places that they had been in for years without problems)

      It turned out that it was a new local Wind Power Generator that was to blame. It's very low Hz wasn't audible in the slightest, but when it's wavelength matched up with {whatever} object, it caused quite a serious effect.
    • Re:Oh bull. (Score:2, Informative)

      by Alien Being ( 18488 )
      No, you have it wrong. The artist's woofer wasn't large enough (and probably wasn't baffled properly). It wasn't a woofer at all, just a moving cone.

      It's all about creating enough air pressure to be felt/heard. A 12" fan can move much more air than a wall full of 12" cones.

      The limitation of most acoustical drivers is that by design, they need to reciprocate and most of the power is wasted in accelerating and decelerating mass. The best analogy I can think of is that of a modern helicopter compared to th
    • by Quadraginta ( 902985 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @05:41AM (#13939546)
      I have built a woofer that produces sound at zero hertz! It operates on very little power, too.
    • This thing will make a difference, but only if powered by an amp that goes at least to 11.
    • Re:Oh bull. (Score:4, Informative)

      by lakin ( 702310 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @06:34AM (#13939685)
      And *that* is what is special about this woofer. Here [eminent-tech.com] and here [sonicflare.com] explain it all. Basically, its very hard to move much air at such low frequencies with cone subwoofers (as you saw), so they instead the fan pushes the air with the angle of the blades being adjusted to produce the frequencies.
  • by zuki ( 845560 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:33AM (#13939329) Journal
    Although there are several patents already held in the field of military and defense-related technologies for ultra-high intensity infrasonic weapons capable of destroying concrete structures from a distance (it's rumored to be able to do far uglier things to the human body), and this since the early 50's, there are some other considerations to keep in mind when attempting to use such a monster subwoofer at home or in a small enclosed space.

    Without taking the time to quote the exact sources, it is known (another urban legend?...) in the field of both professional studio and live sound that certain subsonic frequencies are likely to inflict severe punishment to the human body, from memory I seem to recall 3 Hz causing nausea, loss of equilibrium and balance, some other frequencies nearby incontinence or cardiac arrhythmia, and one in particular (??...) rumored to be fatal at certain elevated sound pressure levels. All of this between 1 Hz and 25 Hz. (someone please take the time to dig up the precise data and papers on this?...)

    Further, it should be understood that most audio mastering engineers will severely filter out any frequencies below 25 Hz as a matter of habit from the old mastering vinyl days, but also as those sounds do 'cloud up' the 'bottom end' audio in final mixes, and possibly because some of them are aware of the inherent risks posed by having those stray frequencies played at very loud volumes in enclosed areas.

    Although this piece of gear sounds like it could be terrific, it may also pose a very real threat to its users if operated improperly. So far, we're not even talking about the possibility of inflicted hearing damage from exposure.

    YMMV, as always, and most certainly in this case, batteries definitely not included.
    • Further, it should be understood that most audio mastering engineers will severely filter out any frequencies below 25 Hz as a matter of habit from the old mastering vinyl days

      This is because - on vinyl - the lateral deflection of the groove is proportional to frequency (as well as amplitude). So for the same volume, low frequencies cause a groove to take considerably more space on the disk than high frequencies.

      This is addressed by attenuating low frequencies (and boosting high) before recording, and

  • by grantdh ( 72401 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:36AM (#13939339) Homepage Journal
    This reminds me of a classic Stan Freberg skit - one of the "Herman Horne does Hi Fi" - where he lampoons Hi Fi hobbyists of the 50's - he's just described a full on sound system, but without speakers:

    Interviewer: But what about the speakers?

    Horne: The whole house becomes a speaker, you move into the garage!

    (snip a few lines)

    Horne: As you and your wife sit of an evening, shivering in your garage....

    Brilliant stuff - if you've never heard Freberg's "Herman Horne" skits, you absolutely HAVE to get them - it fits so well with modern hobyists/geeks/obsessive types:

    Horne: They can sit there and watch their husband suffer with old equipment that has been obsolete for at least a week! :)

  • Digital audio is filtered to remove all sounds below 20Hz before going onto CD, as that increases the dynamic range of remaining frequencies, so unless you have access to the original high bit rate studio recordings, you won't tell much difference.
    • Surely that's what decent graphic equalizers are for?
    • Not true (Score:4, Informative)

      by wodgy7 ( 850851 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @05:39AM (#13939542)
      Most digital audio is not filtered below 20 Hz. That's a myth that persists for a variety of reasons. In the days of vinyl, audio was consistently high-pass filtered because even with the standard RIAA equalization, deep bass produced excessively large grooves. Microphones are sometimes filtered to remove rumble, but in cases where the lowest frequencies are important, such as movie soundtracks, the lowest frequencies are generally preserved, subject to limitations of the equipment, such as AC coupling capacitors. Placing a filter at 20 Hz also has potentially audible drawbacks since the phase shift of the filter will easily extend an octave higher (40 Hz).
      • Re:Not true (Score:3, Informative)

        by hackstraw ( 262471 ) *
        That's a myth that persists for a variety of reasons.

        No, its just wrong. The upper end is capped, but that is due to the limitations of a 44.1KHz sample rate, and it is capped again in the analog stages because its just noise up there.

        I have a CD that was recorded in 1978 digitally by Telarc. It is the 1812 Overture with cannons and whatnot. It goes down to 4 Hz. The CD also has warnings on the cover.

        I've seen on the net a list of CDs that go way low in the bass region. I believe 4 was about the lowes
  • by smackdotcom ( 136408 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:37AM (#13939346)
    ...but we get a subwoofer that can shake your fillings out. Sigh. On the up-side, I'm sure I'll get a chance to report back to Slashdot as to what one of these things feel like once my college-age (and apparently half-deaf) neighbours procure one and do their damndest to shake apart this poorly-built condo complex.
  • by NicenessHimself ( 619194 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:38AM (#13939351)
    Imagine a Beowoofer Cluster of these!
  • Pimp my ride (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JohnGrahamCumming ( 684871 ) * <slashdot@jg[ ]rg ['c.o' in gap]> on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:43AM (#13939362) Homepage Journal
    As regular viewers of the excellent MTV educational show "Pimp My Ride" will already be informed Xzibit and colleagues recently installed a 12,000 Watt subwoofer in one of their patient's vehicules. The subwoofer itself is here: http://www.cardomain.com/sku/MTXT992244 [cardomain.com].

    Despite being a WASP I must add that the car post-transformation was "phat".

  • by smash ( 1351 )
    Who's going to be the first one to install it in their car?



  • by NeedleSurfer ( 768029 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:54AM (#13939396)
    Not only you don't hear those frequency they actually feel like vibration, very low vibration, disturbing vibrations. Plus since EVERYTHING you happen to listen to has been recorded on gear thats doesn't reproduce frequencies below 20HZ, and even then, it's perfectly and uterly useless, for 13000$...

    I've worked in studios, I've been consultant for studios and even built some, many project and home studios and 3 commercial studios (no commercial studio is built alone so count me part of a team on those). No studio, none, is equiped to deal with such low frequency for obvious reasons, comfort and audibility being the 2 most obvious, so even if your subwoofer reproduces frquencies below 20hz you will never know it.
    • Indeed. The only way to play common audio through them would be generating new harmonic content from the 20hz+ material (like an aural exciter). I'm not quite sure if that would work well at all.

    • This thing is dumb for other reasons. You know what you call a 100 dB signal at 0 Hz? A stiff breeze. All this thing is doing is spinning the blades like a normal fan to give you your ability to work the fluid (air). Then, the spinning shaft is vibrated axially at whatever frequency to give you the "sound" at that frequency. Looking at the response curve here:

      http://www.eminent-tech.com/graphics/RWimage2.jpg [eminent-tech.com]

      You can see that at most frequencies, the signal is fairly noisy. But as it goes down to 0 Hz,
  • by vectorian798 ( 792613 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @05:02AM (#13939422)
    Correct me if I am wrong but power is measured in Watts...and usually for speakers and subwoofers, you need to look at RMS Power Consumption. For example, the Creative Gigaworks 750 pumps out 750 Watts RMS in total - it is billed as the most powerful computer speaker set.

    The article mentions that the subwoofer can bottom out at 1Hz, which is certainly amazing, but let's get our terminology right here - this is frequency range, not power.
  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @05:06AM (#13939442) Homepage Journal
    All your bass are belong to us!
  • check out this: http://www.eminent-tech.com/tonearm.html [eminent-tech.com]

    That tonearm sells for something like $2,500. It features a captive air bearing -- there's no "ball bearing" in there. I think it has an airpump so that the thing rides on a cushion of air, like an air hockey puck.

    Here's a system that is similar (in some ways) but works with water as the fluid: http://www.kugel.com/ [kugel.com]
  • Apparently, the editor (samzenpus) doesn't know the difference between the POWER and the FREQUENCY of a speaker.
  • Now I can have the phatist phucking Escalade in the hood!
  • The Inside Scoop (Score:5, Informative)

    by JRSF0 ( 928106 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @05:56AM (#13939590)
    I'm the guy who originally dug up the Eminent over at http://www.sonicflare.com/ [sonicflare.com] before I wrote the companion article on ohgizmo.com (which looks dead from a quick and painless /. death...). I'm a blogger, not an engineer, so I really have no idea what I'm talking about (par for course, right) but I did talk to the creator Bruce Thigpen a few days ago about his crazy invention: Yes, it's real. Yes, you can "hear" it below 20hz. No, it doesn't blow women's clothes off...yet. The way the TRW 17 (Thigpen Rotary Woofer model #17) works is the fan spins at a constant speed but the fins themselves rotate back and forth to change the frequency. Also, you don't just set this up in your living room and crank up the volume. It has to be installed in an adjacent space like your attic or basement which then becomes the actual subwoofer enclosure, firing through a chainsawed hole into your main listening room. The TRW was demoed at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest a couple weeks ago and the reviewers from established audio publications were actually frightened as the walls started to pulse in and out at about 10Hz. Wimps. But the surprising discovery was the sound wasn't booming or nasty, just frighteningly "there." The TRW 17 is advertised with +/- 4dB of distortion which is awesome for any subwoofer, let alone one that covers 1Hz to 30Hz. And here's the good news: Bruce told me there's a cheaper version in the works. Not cheap like free beer, but not 13 grand. Also, there is a car version in the works that, no doubt, has Luda all hot and bothered. A "normal" version is also planned -- normal like a subwoofer the size of a refrigerator but still better than converting the den into a boom machine. So you know, no actual music was played at the RM audio fest. It was purely a proof of concept, though it's claimed to work perfectly for music and HT. I haven't talked to Bruce in a few days (no doubt rappers are all up in his biz after I posted it on Monday) but I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of the TRW 17 soon. Pictures of installations and live reports: http://www.sonicflare.com/archives/eminent-tech-tr w-17-part-2.php [sonicflare.com] Josh
  • ...if it goes up to 11.
  • Either these guys have solved the problem of fan noise that has plagued computers for years, or those 17" whirling blades (and the motor that drives then) are going to make a hell of a lot of white noise along with the brown. This certainly doesn't appear to be an audiophile device to me.

    I'm interested in how the device actually works though, since the sound could be generated by reversing the speed of the fan every cycle, or by altering the angle of attack (which strikes me as a much better method since it
  • by Joao ( 155665 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @11:55AM (#13941296) Homepage

    > as low as 1Hz. Typical subwoofers bottom out at 20Hz, and while the
    > human ear can barely hear below that point

    Nobody can hear anything in frequencies that low. Even 20Hz is quite a stretch. A few people may be able to hear 20Hz, but those are very few. Its just like those tweeters you see advertized that can go as high as 50KHz, when only very few people, mainly very young girls, can hear as high as 20KHz.

    > This particular woofer does not have an enclosure, instead relying on
    > a fan-like design, wafting a cone of modulated air into the room, and
    > effectively turning it into a resonating box, in its entirety!

    Assuming the resonant frequency of the room is the same frequency of the sound being produced, that could work. But move to another room with a different resonant frequency, or try to produce other frequencies not in the room's resonant frequency range, and the sound quality deteriorates to crap.

All seems condemned in the long run to approximate a state akin to Gaussian noise. -- James Martin