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Giant Sub-Woofer 392

PuceBaboon sent us linkage to an amusing story about building a gigantic custom sub woofer. I was about to yawn until I looked at the pictures of them excavating a 60 cubic meter hole, and laying bricks. This one might be a little outside the realm of reasonable, but it's damn impressive.
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Giant Sub-Woofer

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  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:05AM (#8779242) Homepage Journal
    The question I have is, "why?" Is the guy making up for some other "shortcoming"?
    • by rokzy ( 687636 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:07AM (#8779266)
      yeah he was so upset he couldn't get a first post he decided to build this so he couldn't hear himself sobbing.
    • by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:07AM (#8779271) Homepage Journal

      I think so, but wouldn't it'd be cheaper to just buy an SUV?
    • Re:The "Biggest" (Score:5, Informative)

      by nattt ( 568106 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:08AM (#8779272)
      The horn is an acoustic transformer that links the cone to the air in the room very effectively. For good results, a bass horn has to be very large, on the scale of the wavelength of the notes it's reproducing.

      The bass you hear on your home hi-fi is most likely produced by resonance, something you should avoid if you really want to hear what those bass notes are sounding like. But resonance is cheap! Large bass horns are neither cheap, nor easy, but they sound so much better...
      • Re:The "Biggest" (Score:4, Interesting)

        by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:10AM (#8779295) Homepage Journal
        By observations, church pipe organs seem to be able to produce some pretty low & loud notes. I don't recall seeing any chambers like this in the cathedrals I've visited
        • Re:The "Biggest" (Score:5, Informative)

          by Cheeze ( 12756 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:18AM (#8779375) Homepage
          full-sized church pipe organs are specially tuned. Each pipe plays exactly one note, and the pipe's length determines the wave length. The high ceilings in a church also help.
          • Re:The "Biggest" (Score:5, Informative)

            by Technician ( 215283 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @11:14AM (#8779969)
            FYI, Church organs go to 32 foot pipes. The good ones go one rank further to 64 feet. These are the big folded pipes in back. You won't get to see these unless they have a viewing window to the real pipes. They are not the pretty pipes in front. The 64 footers are almost always folded double or triple (like most brass insturments) because the pipe loft isn't that tall. Due to the shape of the pipe, it's throat, and other attributes, most pipes don't play exactly one pitch. That's why they don't all sound like sine waves or have a flute sound. Some pipes have brass and trumpet sounds instead of flute sounds. This is due to the harmonics generated by many pipes to give them rich fat sounds by design.
            • Re:The "Biggest" (Score:5, Informative)

              by ContraB ( 18852 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @01:40PM (#8781833)
              FYI, Church organs go to 32 foot pipes. The good ones go one rank further to 64 feet.

              32 foot pipes are the largest commonly found, and even then only on very large instruemts. A 64' pitched rank is exceedingly rare. The only instrument I'm aware of (in the US) with real 64' pipes is the one at the Atlantic City Convention Hall (website: ).

              The Washington National Cathedral, in DC, has a 64' pitched rank, but if I recall correctly it's electronic (using speakers), not with actual 64' long lengths of pipe.

              Bear in mind, a 32' pitch C is already below 20Hz, well below what most people can hear. A 64' pitch is more of an impressive "special effect" than anything else.

              Actually, if anyone else can cite another pipe organ with a 64' pitch (US or otherwise), I'd love to hear about it, so I could hear that monster!

        • Those pipe organs have pretty darn long pipes (at least the ones I've seen) and have plenty of length to produce fundamental vibrations at low frequencies.
        • By observations, church pipe organs seem to be able to produce some pretty low & loud notes. I don't recall seeing any chambers like this in the cathedrals I've visited

          That is because pipe organs produce the sound by vibrating the air in the pipe - which you will notice is very long and usually several times wider than the pipes on the other side of the chromatic scale.
      • Re:The "Biggest" (Score:3, Interesting)

        by blinder ( 153117 )
        Actually... with proper use of "bass traps" you can hear real bass out of decent monitors (I'm thinking of nicer monitors... ala Event 20/20's or a nice pair of Tannoy's).

        Using bass traps in the corners of the room, which is where low freq's tend to rest can go a long way in ensuring that the low-end you hear is not the room, but the actual sound.

        Of course bass traps aren't a "fix-all" good acoustic absorption goes a long way as well to stop the slap-back and other nasty room things.

        Ah... but you'd have
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @11:37AM (#8780235)
        I enjoy visiting my audiophile friends and casually mentioning that whatever song is playing sounds a little clipped in the high end.

        Then I go hit on the wife while the guy spends an hour fiddling with the dials and sliders.
    • Re:The "Biggest" (Score:5, Informative)

      by junklight ( 183583 ) <mark AT junklight DOT com> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:09AM (#8779286) Homepage
      these guys build custom home cinema installations so this was either for a client or I think their own demo to show off what they can do....
      • by Lev13than ( 581686 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:30AM (#8779483) Homepage
        these guys build custom home cinema installations so this was either for a client or I think their own demo to show off what they can do....

        I'm still not convinced. Does anyone have an .mp3 recording of the room? I want to hear the difference between that setup and my laptop's speakers.
        • The best thing to do would be to record your laptop and the room on one of those digital voice recorder thingys and then you would be comparing like with like....
    • The question isn't "why" but rather, "How long before we see this setup on MTV's Cribs?"
  • Oh my (Score:5, Funny)

    by v_1_r_u_5 ( 462399 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:05AM (#8779244)
    Howard Stern would have a field day with this puppy!
  • drool... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:05AM (#8779247)

    Oh man.. that room with Motorhead's [] Boneshaker DVD [] and some Fort Garry Dark Ale [].

    All that'd be left are greasy, bloody smudges.

  • Oh man... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hugh-know-who ( 716929 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:06AM (#8779256)
    I can hardly wait for someone to put it in their car, and drive through my neighborhood at 3 am...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:07AM (#8779267)
    There in lies the secret to cold fusion
  • Dare I ask (Score:3, Funny)

    by Illserve ( 56215 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:08AM (#8779275)
    What those apparently puddles of yellowish brown liquid in the pics near the bottom are? Just how powerful is this thing anyway?

  • Old News (Score:5, Funny)

    by somethinghollow ( 530478 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:08AM (#8779277) Homepage Journal
    This MUST be old news. From the looks of the shwank pad, it must be the 70s. This is where pot will get you. Making giant subwoofers. Oh wait... pot will get you sleeping on the couch or laughing about things that aren't funny.

  • Biggest? (Score:2, Funny)

    by mal3 ( 59208 )
    Is this really the biggest? I heard somewhere Larry Ellison had an inground pool in his basement that he had turned into a subwoofer.

    • Re:Biggest? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by InsaneGeek ( 175763 ) <> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:29AM (#8779476) Homepage
      Yea, I'm pretty sure Ellisons old lap pool beats those guys: tories/2003/07/21/focus1.html?t=printable

      A candidate for the "bored with extreme wealth" category, though not yet a grandpa, is Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. When he revamped his Pacific Heights home a few years ago and wanted to eliminate a lap pool on the bottom level, Green convinced him to turn it into a massive subwoofer instead.

      Green said that when he and Ellison played Jurassic Park to test the system "the part with the dinosaur stomping actually lifted us up out of our seats. (The sound) was moving eight inches of concrete" on the floor.
  • by ravind ( 701403 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:11AM (#8779298)
    ...scientists are predicting Southern California could be in for a major earthquake [] this spring or summer.
  • by CarrionBird ( 589738 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:11AM (#8779299) Journal
    Hotblack quated as saying, "You call that a woofer??"
    • Obligatory DNA text (Score:5, Informative)

      by RexHowland ( 71795 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:14AM (#8779339)
      The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy notes that Disaster Area, a plutonium rock band from the Gagrakacka Mind Zones, are generally held to be not only the loudest rock band in the Galaxy, but in fact the loudest noise of any kind at all. Regular concert goers judge that the best sound balance is usually to be heard from within large concrete bunkers some thirty-seven miles from the stage, whilst the musicians themselves play their instruments by remote control from within a heavily insulated spaceship which stays in orbit around the planet - or more frequently around a completely different planet.

      Their songs are on the whole very simple and mostly follow the familiar theme of boy-being meets girl-being beneath a silvery moon, which then explodes for no adequately explored reason.

      Many worlds have now banned their act altogether, sometimes for artistic reasons, but most commonly because the band's public address system contravenes local strategic arms limitations treaties.

      This has not, however, stopped their earnings from pushing back the boundaries of pure hypermathematics, and their chief research accountant has recently been appointed Professor of Neomathematics at the University of Maximegalon, in recognition of both his General and his Special Theories of Disaster Area Tax Returns, in which he proves that the whole fabric of the space-time continuum is not merely curved, it is in fact totally bent.
    • by Analogy Man ( 601298 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @11:00AM (#8779827)
      I was surprised to see how far I needed to scroll down the posts before the first HHGuide reference.

      When I first saw the concrete work, I thought it was the bunker for the listeners and the woofer would be in a seperate facility.

  • ...setting up for a "Disaster Area" gig!

  • Not Worth It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doesn't_Comment_Code ( 692510 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:12AM (#8779313)
    I've built my own speakers before, and while you can do a good-enough job without too much hassle, making a first-rate product is very labor and math intensive. If this guy is putting that much money and effort into this project, I really hope he gets all the damping and power equations right. Otherwise this will all just be a publicity stunt (maybe that's what it is anyway). I'm thinking about the amplifier he needs to run it right now. That's a lot of juice! And juice = money. And worste of all, you'd never be able to use the thing! Even a store bought stereo goes well above the municipal noice ordinances. And bass carries the furthest! What is this guy thinking?

    If he ever does use it, I bet he'll feel that really cool thumping sensation in his chest though.
    • Re:Not Worth It (Score:5, Informative)

      by aderusha ( 32235 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:15AM (#8779344) Homepage
      this might seem odd to you, but some people design listening systems for sound quality, not volume. if you'll RTFA, you find that the amp is only delivering 6W to each of 2 horns (despite total power handling capacity of 6400 watts).
    • Re:Not Worth It (Score:4, Informative)

      by julesh ( 229690 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:20AM (#8779394)
      The setup is designed for high sensitivity, not high power. He's only feeding them with 400W RMS signals, for 6.4 KW total; here in the UK that'd cost about 30p (about 50c) per hour to run. Not a huge problem.
      • No. That's what I thought at first as well -- if you keep reading, you'll see that he's only feeding 6w per sub channel (a total of 12w) at the peak of the program.....

        So, while a horn costs a lot to build, it doesn't cost much to run....
  • by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:12AM (#8779315) Homepage
    The main question is, does it go to eleven?
  • by whathappenedtomonday ( 581634 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:14AM (#8779338) Journal
    everybody's asking "what sense does it make" - i have a different question:

    where do i plug in my guit?!

    this is awesome. really, incredibly oversized and inappropriate - but absolutely awesome.

  • Blown Speaker? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ryanw ( 131814 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:15AM (#8779348)
    So what happends when this guy blows a subwoofer speaker? He has the speakers under 1 ton of marble if I read it right. That's not a very accessible configuration for maintenence.
    • Re:Blown Speaker? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ravind ( 701403 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:27AM (#8779468)
      The question is, if he blows one, will anyone notice :)

      Anyway if you had looked at the pictures, the speakers are easily accessed through a removable floor panel. Similar to the wiring in a server room.

      Why is it that people look at a project, which someone else has put a ton of time and effort into, and think they can find flaws in less than a minute. Is your opinion of your fellow man that low, or your opinion of yourself that inflated?
      • Except those floor panels are ~1 ton of marble! From the looks of it most of the horns are under 20cm of concrete and it says about a ton of marble covers the access point.

        That said it's not a flaw, they obviously are there for a reason. These people are clearly willing to go to quite some lengths to achieve a special effect so lifting up that marble if you have to is just part of it.
      • by mahler3 ( 577336 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @11:39AM (#8780262)
        Anyway if you had looked at the pictures, the speakers are easily accessed through a removable floor panel.

        If nothing else, the output grates certainly don't weigh a ton. Just remove one, and send your buddy crawling down the horn with a flashlight and screwdriver to replace the blown cone. Oh, and promise him that you won't fire the system up while he's down there. ;-)

    • It didn't say the 1 ton was all one piece!
  • by Stavr0 ( 35032 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:17AM (#8779359) Homepage Journal
    A giant subwoofer made with a wooden speaker cone soaked in sake []?
  • Walls and ceiling seems to fall down, but don't.

    Wow, they must have a killer psychedelic budget in addition to the insane audio budget.
  • by Kulaid982 ( 704089 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:17AM (#8779367)

    All your BASS are belong to us

  • Too many non-neutral colors for critical viewing. This is also impressive for people who believe tubes are the only way to go, yet tubes aren't known for neutral rendering or good bass response and horns aren't known for smooth response either. I'd say this may be the largest and most efficient home subwoofer (who knows) of its capability but I doubt it's the best. I use 12 18" BagEnd subs in a concrete chamber beneath my home theater. That a 3KW amp does the trick nicely and extends every bit as low as
  • Officer? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Himring ( 646324 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:19AM (#8779389) Homepage Journal
    Speaker guy: Is there a problem officer?

    Policeman: The neighbors are throwing up. Can you please turn down your gigantic, crater-filling sub-woofer?

    Speaker guy: Huh?
  • by mhesseltine ( 541806 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:21AM (#8779407) Homepage Journal

    Richard Clark's "Bread Truck" subwoofer []

    Here's a guy who designed and built a custom driver to compete in car stereo SPL competitions. The driver was built to be mounted in the box of an old bread truck. It was driven by 2 custom 10,000 watt amplifiers.

    Unfortunately, one giant sub doesn't always work as well as several smaller ones, because he didn't win squat with this setup. However, it's not like he needed to prove anything to those in the car stereo world (check out some of the tech briefs on their Main Autosound2000 website [])

  • ... in amplifier design, but something they've done confuses me. It seems they've replaced the negative feedback amplifiers that are normally found in hi-fi equipment with amplifiers that use no feedback at all.

    My understanding is that negative feedback improves the temperature stability and frequency response of an amplifier for virtually no cost. Why remove it?
    • Because it's the same word as the feedback you get when you put a microphone too close to the speakers?

      Who knows. Odds are the electronics cost far more than they should have done, but audio electronics tend to, I think :-)

    • Negative feedback is used in transistor amplifiers to eliminate even harmonics (2X 4X 6X) that your ear hears as distortion. The downside is that it also eliminates odd harmonics (1X 3X 5X) that pianos and acoustic guitars produce naturally. Tube amplifiers don't generate the even harmonics, so they have no need for the negative feedback.

      The early 70's Marketing pushed the THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) measurment as a indication of superior design of the trasistor amplifiers. A good tube am
    • Why use oxygen-free speaker wire? For the same reason. People with too much money and too little understanding of how the human ear works (or doesn't).
    • by GoneGaryT ( 637267 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @11:42AM (#8780298) Journal
      My understanding is that negative feedback improves the temperature stability and frequency response of an amplifier for virtually no cost. Why remove it?

      Purity. Negative feedback is never quite phase coherent with initial signal, you get filtering effects and so on. AFAIR, Bob Carver's wonderful Phase Linear power ampflifiers ran on a similar principal - they sounded terrific, which is why Pink FLoyd's techs chose them as PA power for the Wall tour 25 years ago. We did an A-B test blindfold between these and some MOSFET power amps years ago - and could tell the difference in a matter of seconds. The Phasies won hands down, of course.

  • by Trikenstein ( 571493 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:23AM (#8779436)
    the standing waveform that was once Nikola Tesla makes the harmonic that now passes as its smile.
  • notice that this was all powered by single-ended triode tube amps, and they rejiggered the output of a marantz CD player for essentially SE triode amps (for that is what you get out of a junction FET.) they used 300Bs in the back channels.

    dudes are somewhat obsessive with their victolas,wot?

    that should be a reference room to judge other stuff by.

    oh, it used to be ultra-common to build echo rooms in sound studios for enhancement of dead-miked voices. while it is not so common now, that's how you avoid c
  • Hotblack (Score:5, Funny)

    by thorgil ( 455385 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:23AM (#8779439) Homepage
    I've heard Hotblack Desiato used a black hole as a subwoofer at the galaxy twist gig next saturday.

    Fans whom have will heard it claims:

    -It really rocked!
  • Oh Joy! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Virtex ( 2914 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:26AM (#8779454)
    The neighbors must be thrilled!
  • by The Famous Brett Wat ( 12688 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:27AM (#8779461) Homepage Journal
    Walls and ceiling seems to fall down, but don't. The sound pressure is concentrated at the listening point and stopped by a 2 meters high woolglass anechoic wall on the back of the listening position.

    Would you dare sit at this listening point? Is this where the Spanish Inquisition positions the comfy chair?

  • Now they just need to get these guys together with the guy from the previous article on wooden speaker cones. Together they could buile the ultimate audio system. How much sake were they drinking when they came up with this idea?

  • A guy I work with used to design loudspeakers. He said the editor of one of the car audio magazines had a custom subwoofer system built into his house. There were two towers with 6 12" subwoofers each, a hole driven into the bottom of each tower and ported into the basement (Infinite baffle design) Add a few thousand watts of amplification on a dedicated circuit and you have a system that will shatter glass.

  • by cprincipe ( 100684 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:35AM (#8779525) Homepage
    For having the gigantic subwoofer and having mandolin music on the giant TV screen.

    A far better screenshot would have been "Apocalypse Now" or even a "Quake" game.
  • by Null_Packet ( 15946 ) * <> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:35AM (#8779532)
    I hate to nit-pick, but it's a large, elaborate enclosure and not a huge subwoofer itself. Slightly more practical is the "Cult of the Infinitely Baffled". .h tml
  • If you think that that's big, you should check out the Kupgal Hill in India [], a Stone Age (no pun intended) grove of boulders that were used as enormous drums by an ancient culture.
  • God save us if they figure out the brown noise...
  • by vtweb ( 132332 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @10:47AM (#8779671) Homepage
    This has been done before- The "New York Experience" Theatre in New York City had a 26 foot horn Sub-woofer built beneath the floor of the audience.

    It no longer exists, but was on 5th avenue in the basement of the office building for a book publisher. In the 70's I was given a tour by the operators. The theatre was housed in space that had been built to be used as a small planetarium, but had not been completed. A seating floor was built at the base of the dome, and the speaker was built in the space below. The show was a multi-screen multi-media production giving a virtual tour of NY, with physical props included.

    The speaker was an exponential horn, 26 foot in length, and used twice during the show (once was during a subway station scene, I forget the other). The cones of the drivers would only last for about 4 hours of operation, so would have to be reconed every few so many shows. The was built of wood, and curved so that the opening pointed up towards the feet of the attendees.

    Having attended the show many times, (early geek destination in NY), I can attest that it was an intense experience, sitting in the opening of such a speaker.
  • Wow, that thing must be the biggest vibrator in the world! Eat your heart out, Harley-Davidson!
  • They've eliminated all those annoying mid-bass, midrange, and high notes.

    Nobody cares about anything but bass, the lower and louder the better.

    That's music!
  • Let's break out the mandolin. I don't think the mandolin is the best thing to test out the bass with. Maybe if they were building a giant tweeter.
  • by JasonMaggini ( 190142 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @11:37AM (#8780233)
    Marty, you might not want to hook up to the amplifier. There's a slight possibility of overload.
  • From the article:
    "Royal Device has on its own developped and built the biggest subwoofer of the world... SUBWOOFER horns are built underneath the floor in a cavity of 1 meter deep. Each horn is driven by 8 x 18" (47 cm) woofers. "

    18"? That's a pretty common size, nothing special there.

    Only thing this guy did different was dig a pit and put them in there, making a giant enclosure for the subwoofers.

    A subwoofer is defined as a "A subwoofer is a loudspeaker device which reproduces sub-bass frequencies below about 80-100 Hertz" [] and a loudspeaker is defined as a "a fibrous semi-rigid cone and attached to the apex of the cone is a coil of fine wire (usually copper), called the voice coil or moving coil." [] So according to the definition of "subwoofer" all he has is 18" subs, not the "biggest subwoofer of the world" by far.

    What he has is the largest enclosure, and I'm not even sure if that's right because there are many theaters and amphitheaters designed from the ground up to amplify and direct the sound of bass frequencies which is really all that his enclosure does.

    They guy also claims to have the "the biggest AUDIO ROOM for private music listening of the world", but at 6.95 x 8.70 meters (22.8 x 28.5 feet, ~650 sq ft) I have my doubts about that claim too, especially since it has a lcd projector [] in there so it would have to compete with all those privately owned theaters. I've read that Bill Gate's house has a 1,500 sq ft theater [], triple the size of this guy's "the biggest AUDIO ROOM for private music listening of the world".

  • by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @06:24PM (#8785769)
    (the 70's was fraught with disaster movies..)
    and the theaters installed super huge sub-woofers for the effect. When the quake hit, they lit off the sub-woofers with sub-sonics that literally made you shit your pants in terror, not expecting it of course, and no one had ever experianced sub sonics like that before. It was awesome. The speakers were trucked from theater to theater in a semi along with the reels.

    A few years ago, one of the local theaters folded and they tore it down. They still had a set of the "Earthquake" speakers there and they THREW THEM OUT. I would have picked them up and brought them home but I didn't have a truck at the time :( There must have been $1,000 worth of hardwood plywood in those boxes...


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