Confusaphone

This swaps the sound going to the left and right ear, so the listener thinks the sound is coming from the wrong direction. The listener can close their eyes and then their friends can play a game of ‘guess where I am?’ just using the sound.

How to make a confusaphone

You need:

  • 1x cheap pair of hearing defenders (e.g. only £6)
  • 4x right angled joints for the plastic pipes
  • 2x funnels (e.g. 14mm diameter)
  • 21.5mm plastic waste pipe (4 x 17mm long)
  • 1x large drill bit (26mm for the connectors we used)
  • Plastic glue (e.g. from hot glue gun)

Pull the foam insert out of the ear defender. Carefully drill a hole in each of the ear defender cups. Push one right-angled connector into each of the cups. Glue the right angled connector into place (we used a hot glue gun). You need to make sure there is a good seal around the tube so sound doesn’t leak in. If that isn’t achieved by the glue, Plasticine can be used to ensure a seal. Cut a hole in the middle of the foam insert (for the end of the plastic connector) and put back in the cup.

Detail of attachment to ear defender

For each side use another right angled connector, two pieces of the pipe and a funnel to create the pipework for the sound (see first pictures for layout). This all needs to be fixed securely, especially if it is used as science shows where it will get a lot of abuse. Make sure all the joints are strongly secured with glue.

Put on your head and enjoy!

Lesson starter

If you’re using these in a classroom, there is a lesson starter and follow on activity ideas that were originally developed for Teacher’s TV on this page.

The science

We have two ears because it allows us to locate sound. The is very important for use to be able to track prey and to prevent us getting attacked. Our eyes face front, so it is really important that are ears are very good at hearing things and working our where the sound is coming from, especially when someone dangerous tries to creep up on us from behind. Read more about how we localise sound on this page.


1 Comment

Outreach event at school for the hearing impaired | Acoustical Society of America- Penn State Chapter · August 15, 2019 at 3:24 pm

[…] and cello while discussing string instrument design and mode shapes. They also got to try out confusaphones to show how much we rely on our hearing to localize our surroundings. The chapter had a great time […]

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