The Fray – Live @ Red Rocks

 

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of going to see The Fray perform right next door at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.  Man-oh-man….not only was it my first time going to Red Rocks (I know, I know…but I’ve only lived here since October!) but The Fray is one of my personal all-time favorite bands.  So to say I felt jump-up-and-down-like-a-little-kid excited is somewhat of an understatement.  I was STOKED!

Me (left) and Aly (right) before the show

I arrived at the concert with our office manager, Cheryl, Cheryl’s daughter, and our expert transducer builder, Aly.  The four of us arrived early enough to grab some food and see the opening acts, both of which were well worth arriving early to hear.  It was pretty cold and more than a little rainy, but the performances definitely made up for it.  Ponchos on and umbrella in hand (I almost poked out Cheryl’s eye with the umbrella but no worries, she came away unscathed), I barely even noticed the temperature as the Fray launched into one of the most spectacular performances I’ve seen.

About halfway through the set, the guys came up to play a few songs on a small platform right in the middle of the audience – the feel was intimate and peaceful.  And even though the song’s lullaby qualities made me want to curl up in a nice warm bed and fall asleep, my favorite part was when they played “Be Still” and gave a warm Happy Mother’s Day wish to their moms.

Despite the cold and rain, the performance was more than worth it and I can’t wait to see them again.  Thanks so much to The Fray for the tickets and for an awesome show!

– Bethany

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Gamechair Promo Video

I have to admit, working wasn’t exactly at the top of my to-do list last weekend.  But when I realized my project involved filming a bunch of friends playing a racing game, it started to sound more like a fun time than a work project and I started to get excited.

So here’s the idea:  Clark Synthesis Tactile Sound Transducers (TST’s) are pieces of equipment that add the element of realism to movies, music, and video games by providing tactile feedback (see Tactile Sound).  Essentially, tactile feedback allows a person to feel like they’re “inside” a movie or, in this case, like they’re really driving a racecar in the game Gran Turismo 5…

To attach the TST329 Gold Transducer to the bottom of the gamechair- a PlaySeat WRC- Bill made a mount to go underneath the seat and then attached the transducer to it.   (Be looking forward to an upcoming video on how to install a transducer to your gamechair).  Once the transducer was hooked up to an amplifier, we were off to the races.

Now let me just say that none of my friends are very big gamers and I don’t think they knew what to expect before getting into the gamechair, but they each took turns getting in the “rig” and playing first without the tactile feedback and then with it.  The difference was….well, tangible!   I got to film all their facial expressions as they turned from enjoyment of a fun video game into shock and surprise as they began to feel the pavement underneath them.  After experiencing the game with and without the tactile feedback, I asked them how it felt.

Here are a few pics from the filming along with their responses:

"It's almost addicting, I'd probably do it all day everyday if I could." - Gretchen

 

“I’m not into games very much…but it was like I was actually in a NASCAR race. I can’t see any other way of playing without that effect.” - Ashley

 

“You could feel the bumpiness of the road. It made it a lot more realistic.” - Ryan

 

“I was a lot more in tune with what was going on in the game and I could feel the moves I was doing. It was a really cool experience.” – Kerry

 

“That was awesoooooome!” - Jacob

On all accounts, the gamechair experience with the transducer was a success.  I had a ton of fun filming it, so be on the lookout for the promo video coming soon!

 

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What Is Tactile Sound?

Tactile sound means you actually feel the sound of a game, movie, simulator, or song.

Here at Clark Synthesis, we sell a wide range of products that allow you to both feel and experience the sounds you normally only hear.  Is the concept of feeling sound, confusing?  To be honest, the technical jargon used to explain it can get pretty complicated, especially if you, like me, are not a sound engineer or technology expert.  Somewhere between the frequency ranges and levels of fidelity, it’s easy to get lost… but that’s why I want to write this blog.  Because understanding how you feel sound is actually pretty easy and, once understood, pretty darn cool.

First of all, it is important to note that Clark Synthesis products are different than what are commonly called “shakers.”  Shakers quite literally “shake” things and have no ability to accurately reproduce audio.  Our products accurately reproduce the full range of sound into vibrations that are both felt and heard through the body.

With that in mind, I’ll begin by letting you in on a little known fact (at least it was little known to me).  There are actually 4 additional ways a person can experience sound.  These different methods involve feeling or perceiving vibrations in the body through deep tissue, skeletal joints, bone conduction or nerve endings.  And it’s this experience of sound through the other senses that is commonly referred to as tactile (touch) sound.

I know this might seem a little strange, since our five senses don’t usually overlap (have you ever smelled a sound or tasted a feeling?), but there are situations in which sound can be both heard and felt.  For example, when someone is playing the violin, they are feeling the movements of the bow across the strings as well as hearing the sound it makes.  The violinist’s body is in contact with the instrument and can both feel and hear the vibrations being produced.  This is a totally different experience than what the audience can only hear, many feet away, through only their ears.  Another example of tactile sound is something we all experience every day – our own voice.  When we speak, we can feel the vibrations of our voice as well as hear the sound it produces, and this is a different experience than what other people hear when we speak.  (Side note: This is part of the reason why many people think they sound differently on recordings than when they hear themselves speak.  Recordings cannot include the tactile stimulation a person feels while they talk.)

These are two natural examples of tactile sound we experience every day, but tactile sound can also be reproduced by mechanisms called transducers.  To put it simply, transducers are pieces of equipment that transform (transduce) sound into vibrations that can be both felt and heard through the body.  This is the technology used in simulation and gaming devices that allow you to feel like you’re flying through the air or driving a race car.  Transducers are also used in home theaters to allow movie watchers to feel like they’re “inside” the movie, instead of just watching it.  Another application for transducers is for drummers who wish to feel the music through their seats rather than have the music blasting through their in-ear monitors.  Basically, this technology can be used in any place where the senses of hearing and feeling combine to create a more realistic experience.

For a more in-depth look at tactile sound, please read Tactile Sound 101.

-Bethany

 

To view this blog in PDF, click here.

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When Smaller and Lighter Technology Is Not Better

I think it’s safe to say that the overall trend in technology is not only to make better and faster products, but also to make them more convenient and easier to transport… which usually means making them smaller and lighter.    This trend can be seen with cell phones (remember the original cell phone??), computers, stereos, speakers, and more.  Even laptops, whose main purpose is to be smaller and more portable than a desktop, are being replaced by even smaller and lighter tablets.  In most cases, smaller and lighter products have advantages such as being more convenient and portable than their larger counterparts and it’s easy to find yourself in the mindset that smaller and lighter equals better.  But is it always advantageous to buy a “smaller and lighter” product as opposed to a larger and heavier one?

My thoughts are that, well… it depends.  If quality and durability are necessary for the product in question, it may be best to take a look at heftier options.  Take outdoor speakers, for example.  Outdoor speakers, especially weatherproof ones that will be exposed to potentially extreme weather conditions, need to be sturdy and durable.  The materials required to make a durable outdoor speaker will need to be heavier in order to withstand strong winds, rain, snow, etc.  In order to produce good sound, a speaker must also contain heavier internal components.  It also needs to be larger if it’s going to get good coverage.  When it comes to speakers, especially an outdoor speaker, “smaller and lighter” might also mean “poor coverage and broken within a few weeks.”

The trend towards smaller and lighter technology is making life more convenient for people, but I think it’s also important to make sure that quality and durability are not being sacrificed in the process.  It is certainly not convenient to be constantly replacing a product that was not made to last.

 

 

-Bethany

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