The Ear to Hell: a 3D Printed Re-Imagining of the Classic Audio Speaker

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ear to hell 3d printed speakerTed Kessler is a designer and artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area who’s enamored of art, science, and the fusion of the two. Kessler received his BS in Digital Arts from the University of Oregon where he studied literature and art theory, and his background in digital imaging, music, and web programming led him to create the Ear to Hell.

The Ear to Hell was Kessler’s senior project, and also an expansion of his 3D printed speaker project.

Kessler calls the Ear to Hell “an effort to make an art tool with a unique voice and tonal characteristics for use in rock-type music production.”

Ted Kessler

Ted Kessler

While his first 3D Printed Speakers project was more utilitarian in nature, Kessler says the Ear to Hell is intended to stand on its own as an art object as well as to function as a speaker.

The Ear to Hell includes a larger and more powerful magnet, a smoother material for the coil former, a larger-diameter voice coil, a cone twice as large as his first speaker’s, an added smaller cone, and an acrylic sealed enclosure.

“I built the amplifier specifically for this project, but it can be used for other things as well,” Kessler says. “I wanted to use a clean amp that didn’t need a preamp, as opposed to my last project: the HP speaker amp I was using sounded like it was boosted in the low-mids through normal speakers, which is something I didn’t want. I put the amp in the case of this antenna-TV sync thing that I found at Goodwill, and I remade the front panel. I used it because it has a tiny internal speaker mounted to the top already, and I thought it’d be cool to make a tiny combo amp out of it that plays out of the internal speaker when no speaker cabinet is connected, but plays through the speaker cab when one is connected.”

According to Kessler, the project’s materials are critical to his vision for the project. He says he was intent on taking the “age-old design of the speaker” and then re-imagining it with modern, 3D printing technology and materials.eartohell-small,large.1433886330

He says the Ear to Hell is “an experiment in inventing a new tone as a tool for musicians.”

“Speakers were invented between the 1860s-70s and have more or less been constructed with the same materials since,” Kessler says. “There was something interesting to me about reproducing a classic design with a cutting-edge technology and modern materials, so I did that. As the speaker’s utilitarian and scientific roles have been fulfilled for decades and are now used as art tools, I wanted to treat them as art tools.”

Kessler says the 3D printed parts of the Ear to Hell were built on a consumer-level Rigidbot FFF printer from ABS and it took approximately 30 hours of printing time to complete.

What do you think of Ted Kessler’s Ear to Hell project? Have you ever seen any other audio gear which used 3D printing to change the way we hear? Let us know in the Ear to Hell forum thread on 3DPB.com. Below is a video detailing the Ear to Hell, as well as more photos.

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