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Defining the Doppler Effect

Have you ever noticed the way sound changes as it passes by you? The sound of a car horn as the car drives past? Notice how the pitch changes? This is what is known as the Doppler Effect.

The frequency of the sound waves determines the pitch. Sound travels at a constant velocity of 340.29 m/s, but since the wavelength of the sound wave can change, so can the frequency. When an object is stationary, the sound waves that emanate from the object all have the same wavelength, and so therefore have the same frequency. But when an object is moving, the wavelengths of the sound waves moving in the same direction as the object shorten, resulting in the a higher frequency. You perceive this as a higher-pitched sound. After the object passes you and begin to move away, the wavelengths lengthen, resulting in a lower frequency and pitch.

The Doppler Effect is the sound of this transition from high to low pitch as a result of the object’s movement. The same concept applies to breaking the sound barrier. When an object moves at 340.29 m/s, it is traveling at the speed of sound. Once it moves faster than the speed of sound, the waves overlap, resulting in constructive interference. This is what creates a sonic boom.

When one begins to understand how sound works, it becomes evident that sound is not always what it seems. Suppose you’re driving, and your favorite song comes on the radio. You begin singing at the top of your lungs, at a note you perceive to be 465 Hz. But a passerby hears the note at 473 Hz. What you perceive to be 465 Hz is as true as the passerby’s perception of it being 473 Hz. The same sound can be perceived in an infinite number of ways, depending on the motion of the object and the one perceiving it. So really, sound comes down to perception.

Of course, only in relation to pitch. The loudness and timbre are not controlled by motion. The speaker controls that.

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Win A Velodyne “Real Music – Pure Sound” T-Shirt!


Black short sleeve T. Watch not included.


Latest design - Soundwave Logo

Here at Velodyne we always have creative ideas brewing. Check out our latest and greatest t-shirt design. This is a comfortable, high-quality, American Apparel cotton t-shirt with our iconic Velodyne logo on the front. On the back, we feature our unique soundwave design.  Comes in black only and size S, M, L and XL. You want it? You know what to do. Fill out the Rafflecopter below and we’ll announce a winner on Monday, June 25, 2012.  May the most rockin’ person win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Many thanks to our Customer Service Associate Daniel Berkley for modeling.

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Part 2 of Our Unique Instruments Feature

Enjoy our continuation of our unique instruments feature. It’s been fun to learn about these rarely seen and heard instruments.

6. Serpent
The Serpent is an ancient wind instrument related to the modern Baritone, Tuba, and Euphonium. The mouthpiece is very similar to that of a trombone or Euphonium/Baritone. When played softly, it has a firm yet serene timbre. At medium volume, the Serpent produces a robust sound that sounds like a mixture of a tuba, bassoon, and French horn. When played loudly, it can produce unpleasant sounds that are similar to animals in distress. The Serpent has a range from C below the bass clef to at least a half octave above middle C. While the Serpent is historically made from wood, modern Serpents often are made from materials such as synthetic foam resins, fiberglass, plastic, and paper maché.

7. Shakuhachi Flute
The Shakuhachi is an end-blown flute tuned to a pentatonic (5-note) scale. The design of the mouthpiece consists of a slanted edge that enables the player to control the pitch produced by altering the angle at which the flute is being blown. This produces a slight change of intonation—a swelling or bending of notes distinctive in the traditional music.
By various fingerings—covering the holes partially—and by controlling the angle of mouthpiece, all twelve tones of the western chromatic scale can be achieved.

8. Surbahar (half size)
A traditional Surbahar is, in essence, a bass sitar. It is tuned anywhere from four steps to an octave lower than a regular sitar. The half size Surbahar plays like a sitar, and because of the shorter neck, it’s tuned like a sitar as well, but it’s about 3/4 the size of a regular sitar. The tiger profile carving on the bottom gourd is a knee-rest, so the Surbahar can be played while sitting in a chair rather than the traditional crossed-legged style.

9. Waterphone
A type of atonal acoustic instrument, the waterphone produces an ethereal, haunting sound that serves to create a mystical or mysterious tone. Richard Waters invented and created the waterphone out of a stainless steel resonator bowl with bronze rods of varying lengths and widths along the rim of the resonator bowl, and a cylindrical neck with a handgrip. The resonator contains a small amount of water to produce the ethereal sound. Many movies have utilized the waterphone because of its strange and beautiful quality of sound. Some of these movies include Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Matrix, and The First Emperor.
The waterphone can be submerged in water, and has successfully been used on different occasions to call whales. It can be played either with a bow or superball mallets.

10. Windform
The Windform is a playable leather horn that is six meters long. Tasmania’s Garry Greenwood mastered the art of sculpting leather. He uses a wet moulding technique, creating organic forms such as the human form and Tasmanian plants. His love of music has given rise to wind, stringed, and percussion instruments reminiscent of Tasmanian life, medieval music, and theatrical masks and costumes.

Some of these are such beautiful pieces. It is interesting that we have probably all heard the waterphone in a movie and probably didn’t know. The most common of these would be the sitar, a sound that many of us can easily recognize. Have you heard of any of these instruments? Played them?

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Guest Post: Electric Daisy Carnival 2012

With summer just around the corner, EDM fans have had one thing on their minds – Electric Daisy Carnival. EDC has nearly doubled in size each year until it hit capacity for every venue where it has taken place. This year was no exception, with EDC 2012 selling out for the very first time with estimated 300,000 attendees over a span of three days. EDC has been held at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the last several years, where it has built its reputation as one of largest electronic dance music events in the world. With interest in EDM rising at exponential levels, EDC needed a much bigger venue, and so it would make sense that its new home is at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, the EDM capital of America.

When I close my eyes, I can imagine myself entering The Carnival for the very first time. Walking through the pitch-black tunnels of the over 1000-acre venue, my body begins to feel the intense bass coming from the seven massive stages, featuring hundreds of the world’s most famous DJs who represent Electronic Dance Music. The vibes of sound could be felt as I run my hands across the walls. As I begin to wander towards the end of the tunnel, I see the dim glow of lights pulsing in rhythm. With each step forward, it becomes harder to breathe. My heart skips every other beat, while my legs feel like they’re about to give out. As I approach the end of the tunnel and take my first step into the open, I could feel the cool summer breeze blasting against my body, I could smell the scent of fresh daisies in the air, and I could hear the sound of music cascading into the night. 100,000 have come together to become united under the electric sky. This is the Electric Daisy Carnival.

Day one of The Carnival is always the most exciting because expectations are high and it’s the culmination of a yearlong wait for EDM fans. On opening day, the wait and lines are always the longest. The normal travel time from The Strip to the Speedway takes twenty minutes on average, but during EDC weekend it can take anywhere from one to three hours, depening on if you can even find transportation. In my case, I purchased a shuttle pass from a private company who had no idea what they were in for. Naturally, they overbooked the shuttles and so hundreds of people looked like they were ready to start a riot when I arrived at the pickup location. “P.L.U.R people! P.L.U.R.!” Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect. The eager crowd was angry with the organizers of the private shuttles, but everyone kept calm, and reassured each other that the night was still young and that everyone would make it to EDC eventually. The organizers knew they underestimated the size of the crowd, and decided to pay out of their own pockets to rent limos and taxis in order for everyone to get there on time. This is what I love about EDM events. The culture and crowd is just different from any other music event, it’s something you have to be a part of yourself to truly understand. Once we finally make it to the venue, things begin to go smoothly. With 19 years of experience, Insomniac really knows how to throw a party. All possible gates are open for entry, rails were constructed to keep the lines in order, and security was quick and efficient. I made it into the venue just before 12am and the event ends at 5am each day, plenty of time to rage from dusk till dawn.

So what makes fans come back for day two and three? If you experienced one day, you’ve experienced them all right? Wrong! Insomniac knows exactly what to do to keep the fans wanting more. Day one was the teaser day, meant to give fans a glimpse of what‘s in store for the rest of the weekend. The DJs are strategically scheduled to spin at certain days and times in order for fans to create their own itinerary. Many of the DJs are flying in from out of the country to EDC just to spin for a 1 hour set, so fans will have to go multiple days if they want to catch their favorite artists. Everything that didn’t go right on day one was fixed for days two and three. The traffic wasn’t nearly as bad on day two because fans left for EDC much earlier. I entered through the gates just before sunset, a first for me, and the view of the Carnival was just beautiful. It was refreshing to see how The Carnival transforms from a calm beautiful setting during the day to the colorful 100,000 people massive at night. Day two was the day I planned to go all out, and all was going according to plan until the Vegas winds started picking up. I looked up at the ceiling of circutGROUNDS, the massive open trance stage with arches that loom over the crowd, and I could see the huge speakers swaying back and forth as a result of the wind. About 30 minutes later, the entire production suddenly stopped. An announcement was made that due to high winds the event would have to be postponed until the winds subsided. At this point, thousands of people were scattered throughout the venue, both inside and outside, and among the bleachers. There were people crying, depressed, and looking for their loved ones. This scene reminded me of a scene from the Titanic! Nevertheless, fans remained upbeat during the intermission by playing music on their phones and dancing. Around 2AM Insomniac released a statement that they had to shut down EDC for the night due to safety concerns. Much like the 100,000 in attendance, I was very disappointed, until I watched this video:

I would like to take my hat off to the CEO of Insomniac, Rotella Pasquale, who made the incredibly smart and correct decision to shut down day two of EDC for the safety of the fans and artists who were in attendance. Just because the second day ended early it doesn’t means the partying stopped, as many of the DJs decided to make special guest appearances at the nightclubs on The Strip.

To make up for Mother Nature’s wrath the day before, Insomniac decided to let everyone who purchased a day two ticket attend day three. Once again, hats off to the production company, as they were not obligated to do this, but they wanted to make their dedicated fans happy. EDC organizers wanted to make the last night even more special by several artists who could not perform the previous day to the lineup. In addition to the added sets, two spectacular firework shows were also added to the last night of EDC. The last night of EDC for me was a day to take a step back and soak everything in. I wanted to explore one last time on the last night of EDC to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. My girlfriend and I decided to ride all of the carnival rides and look at all the artwork because people tend to forget that EDC is actually a carnival with lots of things to do!

This was my fourth time attending EDC and the experience was just as memorable as my first. Words can only describe so much, while a picture is only worth a thousand words. If you want to engage yourself in this experience of a lifetime, mark your calendars for EDC 2013.

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Summertime Fun At the Drive-in

Last night we went as a family to check out “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” at our local drive-in. The movie itself did not disappoint, as our friendly quartet of zoo animals head to Monte Carlo this time around. An abundance of non-stop action and bright, colorful circus acts absolutely delighted my children. But even more fun than seeing an entertaining, animated film was the fact that we were in our car and the kids were in their pajamas. We brought our own popcorn and drinks from home and made ourselves comfortable while enjoying the cool, fresh air. Listening to the sound coming through the car’s stereo system I was reminded of the drive-in experience of my youth when my parents would bring me to this very same drive-in theater.

By the time I was born, drive-in theaters were on the decline due to rising real estate costs and the invention of VCRs and video rentals. In the height of their popularity in the 1950s and ‘60s, rural areas with acres of wide open spaces were the ideal places for large movie screens and hundreds of cars to gather watch the latest films. In the beginning, the sound was broadcast in various ways, from speakers on the screen itself, then from a row of speakers in front of the cars. Later, the sound was pumped out through small, tinny-sounding speakers that each car could utilize complete with their own volume controls. This is what I remember from my childhood: the scratchy, monophonic sound coming from the (1!) speaker hanging from the car window.

Today the sound is transmitted through an FM station and is piped in right through our car speakers. Gone are the days of worrying about parking close enough to the pole so the speaker can reach…no more messy wires to deal with. The drive-in experience is really quite fun in the summer time. It’s a very convenient option for kids who may not want to sit still for an entire feature film or can’t remain quiet.

Truth be told, I am positive I would have a better quality movie-watching experience in the comfort of my own home. My home theater system, complete with a large flat-screen TV, surround sound and earth-moving subwoofer – not to mention easy access to the restroom and kitchen – is hard to beat. It’s the novelty and nostalgic fun that brings my family back to the drive-in every summer. The things we do for kids.

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10 Most Unique Instruments – Part 1

10 Most Unique Instruments – Part 1

1) Celestial Harp
Built by Robin Armstrong, the Celestial Harp is a 72-string harp based on the circle, square, and spiral. A large instrument, the musician must move around it to play, or multiple musicians must play it. The strings can be played in any manner—plucked, strummed, hammered, played with a slide, etc.
The original idea for the Celestial Harp was to play a person’s horoscope musically. The Celestial Harp embodies the dream of expressing the spirituality of the heavens musically. It brings together the Zodiac, the Pyramid, the stars in the sky, the Solar System, and the I Ching. The sound of the instrument varies greatly due to the styles of the people playing it and its vast musical versatility.

2) Didgeridoo
The didgeridoo is a wind instrument created by the Australian Aborigines 1,500 years ago. Authentic didgeridoos are constructed from hardwood, usually eucalyptus or a natural bamboo, naturally hollowed by termites. They remove the bark, trim the ends, and shape the outside. They then apply beeswax to the mouthpiece to provide a seal when played.
Traditionally, only men can play the didgeridoo. Women do play, but only informally, and it is strongly discouraged. In the South East of Australia, the gender prohibition is most strongly adhered to. The Aborigines of the South East consider the playing of a didgeridoo by a non-indigenous woman “cultural theft.”
In 2005, a study in the British Medical Journal found that regularly playing the didgeridoo strengthens muscles in the upper airway, and so helps to reduce snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Only after the player learns the circular breathing technique do the muscles begin to strengthen.

3) Fire Organ
The fire organ uses the laws of thermoacoustics to produce sound. The pyrophone, like traditional pipe organs, has one pipe for each note and is activated by a piano keyboard. The sound that originates from the fire organ is created by the temperature difference across a set of channels in extremely close proximity. Propane flames on one end and liquid nitrogen on the other maintain the temperature of the fire organ.

4) Glass Armonica
Benjamin Franklin built the first glass armonica in 1761 after hearing water-filled wine glasses played in 1758 in England. Franklin stacked 37 bowls horizontally along an iron spindle, which a foot pedal turned. The player’s moistened fingers touching the rims of the bowls creates the sound. Franklin recommended using powdered chalk on the fingers to produce a clearer tone. The glass armonica made it possible for ten glasses to be played at once, which is impossible with the standard musical glasses.

5) Kaisatsuko
Invented by Yuichi Onoue of Tokyo, Japan, the Kaisatsuko has two strings with a hand crank that spins a nylon wheel to vibrate the strings. These vibrations produce the constant drone sound of the strings. The wheel operates as mechanical bow. The sound can be altered by different techniques and musical styles. Although there are no frets, slide techniques work well to give the Kaisatsuko the sound of a traditional Asian instrument.

Have you ever heard of any of these? Come back tomorrow to learn about 5 more unique instruments!

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Noise-Cancelling Headphones: How Do They Work?

Noise-cancellation—a common enough term. We’ve all heard about it, and it seems like a perfect idea. But how do noise-cancellation headphones actually work? They don’t just merely block the sound—that’s what regular headphones do. So how do they do it?

It all comes down to sound waves. The headphones contain microphones that capture the sound waves as they reach your ear, and then electric circuitry generates an “antinoise” signal. This signal is an inverted copy of the original sound wave, which then travel together into your ear. The waves interfere with each other, called destructive interference, and no sound reaches your ear.

So why bother? It seems a bit excessive, doesn’t it? Regular headphones do a pretty good job of blocking the sound. Even if your surroundings are loud, you can just turn your headphones’ volume up, right? Well, yes, of course you can. But when you’re sitting on an airplane, trying to sleep next to the roaring engines, and you have a choice between turning up the volume—greatly—and cancelling the noise entirely, what would you choose?

Personally, I have no need for noise-cancelling headphones. I’m not constantly around loud noises, so normal headphones are enough. But then again, I live in a small town. Perhaps someone in San Francisco, or New York, or Los Angeles would find the occasion to use them much more than I would. It all depends on what you’re looking for.

Another alternative is the happy medium—noise-reducing headphones, like our vPulse In-Ear Headphones, that still block a great amount of ambient noise. They don’t require batteries, are lighter, and, of course, are much less expensive, while retaining very good quality sound. While the noise-cancelling headphones and the regular headphones have their own niches, the noise-reducing headphones are perfect for any occasion.

Then again, next time I’m on an airplane, I think I’ll be yearning for the noise-cancelling earphones all the same.

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Donald Dunn 1941-2012

I’m not going to lie—I had no idea who Donald “Duck” Dunn was until I saw the news story announcing his death. You probably have no idea who he is either. Upon further investigation, I learned that I have been hearing his songs all my life. You probably have been too.

A bass guitarist from Memphis, Tennessee, Dunn was a session musician, playing with Booker T. & the MGs, the Blues Brothers, Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, and many others. He lent his bass to The Mar-Keys for “Last Night,” to Otis Redding in “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” to Booker T. & the MGs for “Time is Tight,” and to Rod Stewart in “Tonight’s the Night.”

To pay homage to Duck Dunn’s memory, went on YouTube and found “Time is Tight.” I settled back in my chair to listen, eyes closed. The song began to play, and I started out of my chair. Yes, it was Booker T. & the MGs, but it was almost unrecognizable. The tiny, built-in speakers for my computer were woefully inadequate for Dunn’s complex bass. The sound became distorted, tinny, and hollow. It pulled all the soul out of the music, which horrified me. As a devout music lover, it pains me to hear such soulful music being mangled so carelessly. Turning off the song, I took out my vPulse headphones, plugged them into my computer, and eagerly waited for the beautiful and complex bass to begin. The song immediately came alive and I began to relax as I heard Dunn strumming his bass guitar, each a unique and separate sound, unlike the low, constant hum I heard before.

Donald “Duck” Dunn was a great man and a great bassist. Even in death, he taught me something valuable. A good set of speakers makes all the difference.

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Velodyne subs are the perfect canvas for up-and-coming Northern California artists

Multi-talented visual artist, FORCE 129, brings his vision to our sound

This week begins an exciting new chapter for Velodyne. We currently have some top-secret projects in the works that promise to deliver an innovative mix of audio technology and modern art. And I just got the go ahead to give you a preview of one of these projects.

Velodyne has been collaborating with art gallery Anno Domini to marry the world of audio with the world of art.

Located in San Jose, Anno Domini features exhibitions by renowned international and local artists, as well as up-and-comers in the art world. And we’ve been teaming up with hand-selected artists who are bringing their inspiration and passion to our audio products. These artists will be transferring their style and vision to our subwoofers by custom painting them, turning what has traditionally been a square box into a thing of beauty.

Artist Lacey Bryant explores the subtle tension between the beautiful and the unsettling

The first four of these experimental painted subs will be shown during the SubZERO Festival in San Jose, California. But this is the just the beginning. Get ready to see some incredible custom subs in the coming months, as we bring in artists from all over the world to create limited edition audio works of art. You’ll see a multitude of styles and techniques, from fine art to graffiti art to spray paint.

And we’re not stopping at subwoofers. But that’s one of the other special projects that needs to remain top secret…for the time being, at least

Check out some of the first hand-picked artists featured at the SubZERO Festival:

Lacey Bryant

“As is common in Lacey’s work, there is a subtle tension between beautiful and unsettling elements. Though the settings are usually very light and airy there is a certain heaviness in the atmosphere and a distinct melancholy about the girls with wild hair and confrontational stares. We are presented with things we are uncomfortable with-spiders, holes, crack and decay. This contrast is constructed to create a sense of mystery and mood, enticing the viewer to linger and embrace their own hidden dark sides or even to find the beauty in something that scares us.”


“His recent work has transitioned from abstract graffiti towards a more evolved version of his past letter based work. Creating a hybrid style of work that is able to bridge the gallery with the street. Abstract in nature yet structured in letter based form. Poesia’s work explodes with color and form, creating a cryptic version of his wall work. Layers upon layers of paint, Poesia is able to build a deep dialogue between fine art and graffiti with his pieces.”


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