Raspberry Pi-Powered Installation Plays Multiple Tracks on Ear-Shaped Speakers
While home theater setups will commonly take advantage of five or more speakers, most audio is delivered in mere stereo. Devon Bray, however, has been working with interdisciplinary artist Sara Dittrich on a few projects, including involving an array of eight model ears, each with its own speaker embedded inside. Each ear-speaker can play its own sound, perhaps inviting us to consider what an ear is?
Artistic interpretations aside, the system uses a Raspberry Pi to play eight different audio files on these unpowered ear-speakers, with four USB audio devices pumping out two separate tracks on what are normally right and left channels. Power to these speakers is provided via four AB stereo amplifiers, and a buck converter is used to provide the proper voltage to the controlling Pi. Everything is contained in a 3D-printed base, set up to be under five inches tall to fit within the installation.
While hardware setup for audio control of a single source is simple enough, the challenge here was getting the files to properly trigger on an array of audio outputs. After a bit of experimentation with the sounddevice Python library, Bray was able to get things playing properly on all 8 speakers. Code is available on GitHub for your perusal.