Since the early part of last year, U.S. soldiers and marines have been experimenting with a series of sonic blasters in Iraq. The Long Range Acoustic Devices, or "LRADs," can broadcast messages hundreds of yards away -- or be ear-splittingly loud at close range. The New York Police Department also had the devices at the ready during the Republican National Convention, although it's unclear whether the LRADs were actually used or not.Last week, the L.A. Sheriff's Department tested out an acoustic transmitter that makes earlier models look like "childrens' toys" in comparison, LASD Commander Sid Heal, a world-renowned expert in non-lethal weaponry, tells Defense Tech.
On Thursday, August 4th, we put the magnetic acoustic device (I'm not sure it has a name yet, so this one will have to do for now) to the test on one of our ranges... Using a variety of sounds from human voice to music to sound effects (screams, shouts, gunfire, sirens, and the like), we succeeded in listening to the sounds from the transmitter located one statue mile in the distance!Admittedly, this was a crude proof of concept test. But the device met and exceeded our expectations. There was nearly no distortion. In fact, at one statute mile, we clearly listened to a Frank Sinatra record and could understand the words, hear the intonations and pitch, and even the background music! Other sounds, especially those in the higher frequency ranges like sirens and screams, were easily detected even over the noise from the 5 Freeway a short distance away.The edge of the energy path was clearly discernible and you could easily detect when you were standing in it and not, even at one mile. In fact, near the end of the test a wind gusting up to 20 knots blew across our line of sight and we had to adjust for the wind to remain in the energy path.This device far exceeds anything I'm aware of. Others are childrens' toys compared with this thing. The developer tells us that there are other configurations they believe will allow it to take even more energy. They estimated we were using 15,000 watts, but with a different type of magnet they believe we they can easily exceed 100,000 watts without overheating.Further, by rearranging the orientation of the magnetic speakers, they can increase or decrease the width of the lobe, as well as decrease the size, weight and power. The device we tested is "full range;" that is, it provided clear sound from about 50 Hz to about 20,000 Hz. But if we were going to use it just for human voice or a siren, or some other specific frequency range, they can also "tune it" to provide maximum effectiveness for a specific frequency range and reduce the size and power, while increasing the range.We are currently scheduling a full-blown demonstration in September... We'll keep you in the loop and notify you of the particulars of the demo when we have them.Sounds good, Sid. Uh, I think.THERE'S MORE: "I saw LRADs in the Gulf," says Kevin, commenting at Ace of Spades HQ. "Basically, we hooked them to an iPod or similar mp3 player and sent out warnings in Arabic. Pretty slick. About the size of a stop sign, but only 6 inches. Definitely don't want to try hand-holding it though. One little sneeze and your buddy could be deaf."