Exploring the physicality of sound

Role: Product Designer, Sound Designer
Spring '21

Sound Lab

Sound Lab was created to be a tool for experimenting and exploring the physicality of sound. I created sound boxes with various materials and layouts, observing the distortion of the sound passing through.

Project Overview

The Sound Lab consists of three boxes, each constructed with different materials and layouts; resulting in three boxes with very distinct acoustic properties.

Anechoic Box
Marble Box
Cement Box

The An-echoic Box was constructed with LDF boards with acoustic foams attached to every side.
The Marble Box was constructed with 1/4" Plywood with slabs of 1/8" marbles on every side.
The Cement Box was constructed with 1/4" Plywood, with diagonal inserts to create an octagonal interior. The interior was filled with chunks of cinder block and construction bricks to create an uneven and irregular surface.

All boxes had a 1" diameter hole for the microphone to go through for recording the acoustic properties of the boxes.

The video below is the audio file of recordings from all three boxes.

The Anechoic Box has a very muted acoustic property. There is very little echo, and the resulting sound sounds "dead".
The Marble box seems to highlight the cubic nature of the box, amplifying a very specific high frequency that almost sounds like a high-pitched ringing noise.
The Cinder Box creates a sense of large scale and immense depth, due to the sound bouncing in random directions before arriving at the microphone.


Making the Recordings

A small-diaphragm condenser microphone was used to capture the boxes' acoustic properties.
At first, I attempted creating recordings of noises generated by colliding objects. But in order to observe true acoustic differences between the boxes, I had to replicate the sound source three times. I therefore opted to record a piece of music instead, making it easier to distinguish the three boxes just from hearing.