an image of the volume adjustment board

Is Your Movie Too Loud? Can’t Hear The Dialogue? This Circuit Can Help.

Everyone loves watching movies, that is, so long as you can hear what the characters on screen are saying. [GreatScott] found this second part difficult while watching through BladeRunner 2049, so he designed an automatic volume adjuster to assist.

At a high level, the solution is fairly straightforward; when there is loud music playing in a movie, turn the volume down. The challenge is how to actually achieve that. The first step was controlling the volume. To avoid having to modify or damage his sound system, [GreatScott] opted instead to mimic the volume up and down signals of his remote over IR. Using the very handy IRremote library for Arduino and its built-in decoding functionality, he was able to identify and replicate the signals with his own IR LED.

The second step in this process was measuring the volume of the movie. [GreatScott] achieved this with a microphone and amplifier circuit, that was then piped into one of the analog pins of the Arduino Pro Micro at the heart of the build. Since the audio being sampled could have a frequency as high as 20 kHz, the ADC Prescaler had to be adjusted from its standard value, which would have only permitted measurements at less than 5 kHz.

The third step was writing the algorithm to detect loud music and adjust the volume accordingly. The Arduino will measure the audio until a sound greater than the dead band value, set with one of the two onboard potentiometers, is detected. This then triggers the Arduino to start a timer, to see how frequently the upper limit is being surpassed. If it is just one or two occasionally loud noises (like a scream, a clap, whistling, etc.) the Arduino will not take any action, but multiple loud noises in rapid succession will then trigger the volume down command over the IR LED. A second potentiometer allows for adjustment of this timer’s critical value, so that you can make the system respond faster or slower depending on the movie.

Once the sound has been detected to have dropped down below a critical vaue, the Arduino assumes that the movie is back to dialog and will increase the volume by the number of times it decreased it before, leaving you back at the perfect volume.

Maybe you’re the type that cares more for the visuals of a movie, rather than the audio. In that case, this e-paper movie display will be perfect for giving you time to appreciate every frame!

Continue reading “Is Your Movie Too Loud? Can’t Hear The Dialogue? This Circuit Can Help.”

Hackaday Podcast 083: Soooo Many Custom Peripherals, Leaving Bluetooth Footprints, And A Twirlybird On Mars

Hackaday editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams ogle the greatest hacks from the past 168 hours. Did you know that Mars Rover didn’t get launched into space all alone? Nestled in it’s underbelly is a two-prop helicopter that’s a fascinating study in engineering for a different world. Fingerprinting audio files isn’t a special trick reserved for Shazam, you can do it just as easily with an ESP32. A flaw in the way Bluetooth COVID tracing frameworks chirp out their anonymized hashes means they’re not as perfectly anonymized as planned. And you’re going to love these cool ways to misuse items from those massive parts catalogs.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Direct download (60 MB or so.)

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Gold Cables Really Do Work The Best

As a writer, I have long harboured a dream that one day an editor will buy me a top-of-the-range audio analyser, and I can set up an audio test lab and write pieces debunking the spurious claims made by audiophiles, HiFi journalists, and the high-end audio industry about the quality of their products. Does that amp really lend an incisive sibilance to the broader soundstage, and can we back that up with some measurable figures rather than purple prose?

An Audio Playground You Didn’t Know You Had

An Audio Precision APx525 audio analyser.
An Audio Precision APx525 audio analyser. Bradp723 (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Sadly Hackaday is not an audio magazine, and if Mike bought me an Audio Precision he’d have to satisfy all the other writers’ test equipment desires too, and who knows where that would end! So there will be no Hackaday audio lab — for now. But that doesn’t mean I can’t play around with audio analysis.

Last month we carried a write-up of a Supercon talk from Kate Temkin and Michael Ossmann, in which they reminded us that we have a cracking general purpose DSP playground right under our noses; GNU Radio isn’t just for radio. Once I’d seen the talk my audio analysis horizons were opened up considerably. Maybe that audio analyser wouldn’t be mine, but I could do some of the same job with GNU Radio.

It’s important to stress at this point that anything I can do on my bench will not remotely approach the quality of a professional audio analyser. But even if I can’t measure infinitesimal differences between very high-end audio circuitry, I can still measure enough to tell a good audio product from a bad one.

Continue reading “Gold Cables Really Do Work The Best”