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How Underwater Sound Systems Work


Author's Note
Senior Staff Writer Robert Lamb
Senior Staff Writer Robert Lamb
HowStuffWorks 2009

I dearly wanted to work a bacta tank reference into this article, but alas there's only so much room for silliness in an article. This is especially true when the science involved is so fascinating. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting this one to stir my mind all that much, but I found the science of underwater acoustics really fascinating.

I'd like to thank Clark Synthesis President Bill Phillips for taking the time to chat with me about underwater sound system technology. He was nice enough to straighten me out about some of the finer points. When personally testing out speaker installations for the U.S. Synchronized Swimming Team, he likes to play some Vivaldi on both air and underwater speakers, dipping his head in and out of the water until the sound quality in the pool matches that at poolside. I love that commitment to sound quality.

Oh, and if you'd like to explore the underwater sounds of composer Michel Redolfi, I encourage you to explore the musician's official Web page. You can also sample his sounds on his YouTube page.

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Sources

  • "Indoor Swimming Pool Hosts Underwater Opera Show." Oddity Central. May 6, 2011. (May 22, 2012) http://www.odditycentral.com/news/indoor-swimming-pool-hosts-underwater-opera-show.html
  • Clark Synthesis. "Diluvio™ Underwater Loudspeaker." 2012. (May 22, 2012) http://clarksynthesis.com/clark-synthesis-products/aq339-aquasonic-underwaters-speaker/
  • Goodwin, Jenifer. "Underwater, Humans Hear Through Their Bones." Health Day. May 24, 2011. (May 22, 2012) http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=653235
  • Harris, Daniel. "Underwater Music I." Daniel Harris Music: New Music for New Listeners. (May 22, 2012) http://danielharrismusic.com/Underwater_Music_I.html
  • Helmreich, Stefan. "Underwater Music: Tuning Composition to the Sounds of Science." July 6, 2001. (May 22, 2012) http://web.mit.edu/anthropology/faculty_staff/helmreich/PDFs/underwater%20music.pdf
  • The Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce. "25th Silver Anniversary Underwater Music Festival." (May 22, 2012) http://www.lowerkeyschamber.com/underwatermusicfest.htm
  • Lubell Labs. (May 22, 2012) http://www.lubell.com/
  • Maurer IV, John A. "Research in Underwater Sound With Focus on Musical Applications and Computer Synthesis." Stanford University. 1998 https://ccrma.stanford.edu/~blackrse/h2o.html#audible
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "Sound travels faster in water than in air." Nov. 17, 2011. (May 22, 2012) http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/sound.html
  • National Physical Laboratory. "Underwater Acoustics." (May 22, 2012) http://www.npl.co.uk/acoustics/underwater-acoustics/
  • Phillips, Bill, president of Clark Synthesis. Personal interview. May 22, 2012

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