Levitating Speaker Plays Back Eerie Recordings

Let’s face it, levitating anything is pretty fascinating — especially when you think there should be wires. This project puts a new spin on magnetic levitation by using a PID controller to levitate a speaker while it plays music!

It uses the standard levitation setup — an electromagnet, a permanent magnet, and a hall effect sensor. A microcontroller implements the PID system, varying the current supplied to the electromagnet to keep the speaker floating at just the right height. Music is wirelessly transmitted to the speaker via Bluetooth, but unfortunately the speaker’s power is not. It features a small lithium ion battery which has a run-time of around 5 hours before it has to be recharged manually.

As you’ll notice in the following video, having a floating speaker has a pretty interesting effect — especially when it starts spinning.

It is possible to also wirelessly transmit power, like this floating LED project we saw awhile ago — but either way, it’s pretty cool.

48 thoughts on “Levitating Speaker Plays Back Eerie Recordings

  1. ingenious, it’s more an art than hack!

    just an idea: using the pid levitator the floating speaker
    could be pulled to the electromagnet like every 5 hours
    automatically. using coaxial contacts it could charge the
    battery as well and then release the speaker so it will float again.

    1. I don’t understand why so many people seem to have trouble understanding that different people like different kinds of music. It’d be one thing if you’d said “his taste in music sucks” but no, you act like it’s impossible he just picked music he liked that seemed appropriate.

  2. The suddenly Spinning, for me, is only made by hand with good cutting of the Video.
    There is only a suddenldy, rapid spinning with a slowdown….
    Also there is a minimal swinging in the Start.

  3. 10/10 for the idea, the build and everything, but….

    0/10 for building the first frictionless leslie in the world and not playing a single organ tune through it. Jon Lord himself is likely rolling in his grave now:^)

  4. I like it, its a great little project to play around with. I only wish he had played music that meant anything to people that don’t have robotic ears. I imagine he played whatever that noise was to avoid copyright issues and MCAA take down notices. There is a plethora of license free music floating about the interwebs to choose from, and i think the spinning would had a much more pronounced effect had he chosen some free music with nice long melodies. it would have been like having a nice smooth random 3D channel switcher effect. I could see using it in a room with allot of airflow and listening to my favorite music just to hear the odd effect the stereo channels being spun around at random would have.

    1. I had some thoughts about how to power it remotely when they mentioned having to charge it manually. It should be possible to modify one of those wireless charging pads into a induction ring large enough to fit around the space were the speaker floats, and put a receiving coil onto the speaker assembly tied into the battery charging port. Or alternately just power the device directly from the charging coil. I could even imagine just taking the existing coil assembly in the wireless charger pad an placeing it above the speaker assembly were the levitation magnet is, and that should be close enough to transmit usable power.

      then again, i may have no idea how far those pads can transmit. but if its two or three inches at least I don’t see why it shouldn’t work.

    2. If you already have a electromagnet, superimpose AC signal (above audio frequency) over that for inductive power transfer. For bonus points, AM modulate the AC carrier signal and use the pickup coil + passsives to drive the speaker.

      1. That’s pretty much what I was thinking. Maybe for a mono setup you could try to directly drive the speaker coil. That way the power and the audio signal is the same. But for stereo you would need the method you mentioned if the audio signal is sent digitally over the carrier wave.

  5. Yeah, I’d either have a Qi style charging pad at the bottom, and let it slowly drop into place when the battery got low. Too bad you couldn’t run the amp off a Qi style charger. Neat idea though.

  6. An interesting demonstration completely ruined by the sounds being played… an own goal for this project. What a turn-off when it could have been something recognizable or enjoyable.

  7. It’s an interesting piece, but there’s nothing for the speaker to push against as the cone is driven forward and backward. I also doubt the speaker has enough mass for inertia to help resist the it’s movement. So I’m going to say you’re never going to get any decent sound out of it while the entire speaker is moving fractionally in response to the cone being driven. Btw,since the forces created to drive the cone do not pass through the speaker’s center of mass, the speaker want to spin.

    However, this is a really great start. What would be a very cool next step is to use another magnetic field 90 degrees from the original field to actively cancel out the movement of the speaker as it drives the cone so only the cone moves. I’m certain the quality of sound would improve immensely.

  8. The net force of a speaker is zero over time. I can’t conceive of a way to use a speaker to make the object spin. As far as bad sound quality goes, that thing would have plenty of mass to push back on, but in this case it doesn’t matter. The two speakers opposite of each other should cancel out any instantaneous net forces. Funny, Engadget just posted a cool consumer version of this: http://www.engadget.com/2014/09/05/another-levitating-bluetooth-speaker/

  9. 1) sweet, a levitating leslie!

    2) you dont need to mount a speaker!!!
    it IS a speaker!!! its a Pmagnet and a coil… JUST ADD A PAPER CONE AND SEND IT AUDIO! (high-frequency-AM-modulated)
    (the spring, aka spider, in the speaker is simulated here by the tendency of the unit to stay centered in the path of levitation.)

    3) as for the rotation, use an air stream off center to spin it.

  10. Very interesting, and a lot more captivating than most of the exhibits currently in the MoMA (or was the case last year during my most recent visit).

    I believe the creator is using what sounds like German because he wants people to focus on the overall sound and presence, rather than the content of the audio.

  11. The headline should be: eerie recordings played through levitating speaker. The fact that it is levitating doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the sound output, the dude making the video is just putting some mashup of beeps and what sounds like radio recording cuts.

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