An electric guitar has a sound energy of about 10 kilowatts, and the most powerful electronic instrument in history can deliver about 2.2 kilowatt hours of sound.
That’s more than the sound energy contained in a bottle of soda, or the power of an ordinary car battery.
This kind of sound energy is the heart of electronic music, from jazz to hip-hop to classical music.
In a recent article for Science magazine, sound engineer Mike Hausfeld wrote about the power and versatility of sound—and the fact that many instruments have very high energy densities.
He says there’s a lot of uncertainty in how sound works, and that there’s so much potential to improve it.
“The potential is endless,” Hausfield writes.
“Sound energy is a universal property.
Anybody can imagine a device that would sound much, much better than an ordinary guitar, piano, or acoustic guitar.”
To make it more accurate, we need a better understanding of the properties of sound and how it works, he writes.
The question of sound’s energy has been around for at least 200 years, according to a recent paper by the physicist and musician Daniel Kallos.
“We are at the very beginning of a very interesting process that is going to transform the way we think about sound,” he told Science magazine.
“It’s not that we’re going to go away from a sound,” Kallo told Science.
“But we’re not going to have a lot more than a very low-quality sound.”
It’s not just about power—sound is also a very important form of communication.
“There are all these sounds in the universe,” Kalasic tells Science.
“[Sound] is a very fundamental concept in biology, physics, music, art, architecture, and all kinds of fields.
So we need to be able to communicate in a way that’s meaningful.”
It sounds like science fiction, but it’s not, Kallis says.
“In the next 20 years, we are going to be hearing a lot less music, and people are going be able do a lot better listening, with a lot lower power,” he says.
In fact, if you want to play music in a portable device, you need to build a sound shield.
“I think a lot is going on with this new technology,” Kaleasic says.
And with that, the next frontier of sound technology may just be the power it produces.
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