The Bose Acoustic Wave Cannon
The Ultimate Noisemaker
by Scott Berk
It is the subwoofer to end all subwoofers with an attitude to match. The Bose Acoustic Wave Cannon is aptly named - the imposing 12 foot black tube, which houses a 12 inch loudspeaker, was once impounded by Isreali customs officials believing it to be a weapon. Indeed, in the male-dominated world of audiophiles and acoustic engineering, it would appear that the Bose Wave Cannon has taken the already ridiculous concept of "speaker envy" to its ridiculous extreme.
The Bose Wave Cannon came into being as a result of new cinema audio technology which allowed the reproduction of deep bass in film soundtracks with a minimum of low-frequency noise. As Dr. Willam Short, co-inventor of the Wave Cannon, puts it, "Low-frequency noise is especially undesirable because it is very disturbing, rather than simply annoying." Once low- frequency sound could be successfully incorporated into a sondtrack, a speaker was needed that could play it, and still fit in the theater. The Cannon is precision engineered to minimize both air turbulence in the tube and flexing of the tube's walls, and can provide high energy, very low end (20 to 60 Hz) sound smoothly and efficiently. At 12 feet, the Cannon is far smaller than its traditionally designed counterparts. It is capable of delivering an acoustic punch equivalent in energy to that produced by a 250 square foot horn-loaded loudspeaker. One can almost hear the echoes of "it's the quality, not the size..."
A discussion of the Acoustic Waveguide Principal, pioneered by Drs. Amar Bose and William Short, would be merely academic. What is significant is that this ominous black tube can easily fit into a room. It can be mounted on the floor, or hung from the ceiling, and, most importantly, it can produce up to 100 decibels of gut-wrenching bass. The implications are obvious. Dancers at clubs and raves wouldn't even know what hit them. Movie-goers will experience "explosions, spaceships, and similar effects [which] can literally shake the room," as Dr. Short describes.
Interestingly, the Bose Cinema Sound System is only installed overseas (Australia, China, Japan, etc.) or in several remote locations in the U.S. (Bay City, Michigan and Chillicothe, Ohio, for example.) Why are there none installed in major cities? Perhaps people fear structural damage. Even more curiously, an operational Bose Acoustic Wave Cannon hangs from the ceiling of Toscanini's, a small ice cream store in the student center of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Why is it there? Nobody really knows for sure. Maybe it is an ongoing psychoacoustic experiment being conducted by Amar Bose, an MIT Professor Emeritus. Perhaps Mr. Toscanini mixes his incredibly smooth ice cream sonically. The possibilities are limitless, but I'd sure hate to be there if there was a power surge ...
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