The Sounds of CEATEC

CEATEC sounds

What is it like to walk across a busy tradeshow floor? Apart from the visual stimuli, there’s a rich aural experience, as the various sounds swirl in and out of your hearing range.

You’ll hear company reps touting the latest products, music that swells to a crescendo as presentations reach their peak, and bits of random conversation as you approach one booth after another.

I thought it would be interesting to record just the audio as I walked through one of the convention halls at last week’s CEATEC tradeshow in Japan.

Using a Shure MV88 MOTIV microphone and iPhone 6 Plus, I recorded the audio at 24 bits and 48 kHz. I then converted the file to 16 bits in order to reduce the size for streaming.

Note: Click on the gray “play” icon to listen to the CEATEC walk through. You can click on different points along the gray line to sample portions of the 16 minute and 39 second audio.

CEATEC Sounds

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Your Robot Phone

RoBoHoN

At last week’s CEATEC tradeshow in Japan, Sharp previewed its new RoBoHoN (the name is short for “Robot Phone”).

RoBoHoN is certainly an ambitious and groundbreaking product. It’s an LTE and Wi-Fi compatible cellphone that resembles a small robot, both in appearance and functionality.

There’s built-in voice and face recognition, which allows the robot to accept verbal commands and identify its owner (or owners). A two-inch LCD screen on the robot’s back lets you receive and send email, as well as download new apps. And the robot’s head includes a camera for recording photos and video, as well as a tiny projector for displaying that same media onto a wall or other flat surface.

RoBoHoN won’t be released in Japan until 2016. During the demo at the booth, the Sharp representative asked RoBoHoN to dance. The rep had to ask a couple of times, presumably because of the loud background noise on the show floor.

I have to admit that this is a pretty cool product — at least, in theory. You do have to wonder how many robot fans in Japan will want to carry around such a large phone on a daily basis.

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Musical Tablet

I’ve been playing keyboard instruments since I was eight years old. As you can see from this YouTube video I shot a few nights ago, there have been a few technological advances since then in how to input and manipulate musical notes.

The iPad app that I’m using here is TC-Data from Bit Shape Software. It provides a programmable interface that converts your finger touches into controls for a musical instrument.

You can program the interface (or use the built-in presets) so that the distances, angles, rotation, speeds, and timings of your touches become expressive data. That information is then passed on to compatible music apps.

That’s right. TC-Data doesn’t make any sound on its own. It acts as a front-end for many of the high-quality music apps that are available for the iPad.

It’s a whole new world to explore for those of us who had hoped that someday — in the future — we could bring a synthesizer or two along on a vacation. Now we have the equivalent of hundreds of different musical instruments squeezed into a device that’s as slender as a book.

And we can play those instruments in ways that we never could have imagined.

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Sci-Fi Ringtones

aliens

I have a fondness for the clunky, analog sounds of vintage sci-fi films. Not the sophisticated soundscapes of recent blockbuster movies, but the low-budget, let’s-see-what-works audio from the 1950s and 1960s.

Remember the room-sized computers that hum at alternating frequencies? The hum was offset by the whirring of the computers’ storage reels, which periodically spin and stop.

Or the sputter and whine of the hero’s ray gun? Surprisingly, it was almost identical to the alien’s own weapon, except for a higher pitched sound and contrasting color for the laser beam.

I used a digital synthesizer to recreate some of the types of sounds that are associated with this genre. I then converted those sounds into files that you can use on your mobile device. You might use them as ringtones, alerts, notifications, or alarm tones. They range in length from 3 to 16 seconds.

With everyone else trying to be contemporary with ringtones from the latest blockbuster, you can go the other way with retro sci-fi.

MP3-Compatible Sci-Fi Ringtones
If your mobile phone supports MP3 files, you could try these MP3 ringtones. They recreate the mechanical and electronic sounds of a vintage sci-fi movie.

Note: Click on the gray “play” icon to preview a ringtone.

Sci-Fi #1
Sci-Fi #2
Sci-Fi #3
Sci-Fi #4
Sci-Fi #5
Sci-Fi #6
Sci-Fi #7
Sci-Fi #8
Sci-Fi #9
Sci-Fi #10
Sci-Fi #11
Sci-Fi #12
Sci-Fi #13
Sci-Fi #14

iPhone-Compatible Sci-Fi Ringtones
These are the same as the MP3 ringtones above, except they’re in an iPhone compatible format. Your iPhone or iPad can now sound like a vintage sci-fi movie.

Sci-Fi #1
Sci-Fi #2
Sci-Fi #3
Sci-Fi #4
Sci-Fi #5
Sci-Fi #6
Sci-Fi #7
Sci-Fi #8
Sci-Fi #9
Sci-Fi #10
Sci-Fi #11
Sci-Fi #12
Sci-Fi #13
Sci-Fi #14

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Pinball Ringtones

pinball machine

Looking for something different in an analog-type ringtone? How about trying the sounds of a vintage pinball machine?

Since the 1970s, most pinball machines have adopted electronic tones, recorded sounds, and overly intrusive music. Earlier pinball machines used bells, bumpers, and metal sensors to create a calmer, less insistent aural atmosphere.

In addition to ringtones, you could use these sounds for alerts, notifications, or alarm tones.

When you hear these sounds in a crowded area, you’ll know it’s your mobile device that needs attention and not someone else’s.

With everyone else trying to be hip, you can go the other way, and be retro.

MP3-Compatible Pinball Ringtones
If your mobile phone supports MP3 files, you could try these MP3 ringtones. They recreate the bells and mechanical sounds of vintage pinball machines.

Note: Click on the gray “play” icon to preview a ringtone.

Bell #1
Bell #2
Bell #3
Bell #4
Bonus #1
Bonus #2
Game Over
Initialize
Launch Ball
Motor
Reset
Slingshot #1
Slingshot #2
Start

iPhone-Compatible Pinball Ringtones
These are the same as the MP3 ringtones above, except they’re in an iPhone compatible format. Your iPhone or iPad can now sound like a vintage pinball machine.

Bell #1
Bell #2
Bell #3
Bell #4
Bonus #1
Bonus #2
Game Over
Initialize
Launch Ball
Motor
Reset
Slingshot #1
Slingshot #2
Start

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Sublime Sounds

Cleartones

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have ringtones that are simple and relaxing, instead of the jarring sounds found on most mobile phones?

I’ve been searching for the ideal ringtones and audio notifications for my cell phone and tablet — and I think my search may be over. Imagine a bell-like ringtone that is both short and pleasant. Or a notification that’s a high-quality recording of an unobtrusive chime. Sound good? These are just two of the inspired aural creations at Cleartones.net.

The Cleartone site currently offers two sets of ringtones and notifications. The first set (titled Cleartones Classic) features tones, dings, and chirps that are likely to be the least annoying synthetic sounds you’ve ever heard on an electronic device. The second set (titled Cleartones Organic) is similar in approach, but was created entirely with acoustic instruments. The instruments include metal bells, chimes, glass bowls, woodblocks, and marimba.

Of course, you can mix and match the sets within your phone or tablet. You might have one slightly more aggressive configuration for use when traveling and another more soothing configuration when relaxing at home.

The prices are quite reasonable given the number and variety of sounds. The sets include audio files that are compatible with both iOS and Android devices. You can also preview some of the tones to determine if they might be a good fit.

Next to leaving your phone on vibrate, Cleartones are the closest thing to silence. Highly recommended.

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