Listen To Records With Your Teeth

Using cheap materials, you can hear music through bone conduction

You don't need a fancy machine, or even ears, to listen to old records. With science educator Sam Haynor's bone-conducting phonograph, you just need your teeth and some cheap everyday objects. Haynor places the record on a DIY turntable and then attaches a needle to a wooden skewer, which users bite. As the needle moves over grooves in the record, vibrations travel up the skewer and into the teeth and jaw. The brain interprets them as sound. Try it yourself, but be warned: Playing music through your skull can feel unsettling. "People give me that 'what are you doing to me?' look," Haynor says.

Stats

  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Cost: $1
  • Difficulty: Easy

Tools + Materials

  • Inexpensive, disposable record
  • Cardboard
  • Sharpened pencil
  • X-Acto knife
  • Pliers
  • Rubber bands
  • Hot-glue gun
  • Needle
  • Wooden skewer
  • Masking tape

Instructions

  1. Trace the record on a sheet of cardboard and use an X-Acto knife to cut out the circle. Cut an X in its center.
  2. Remove the pencil's metal eraser holder with pliers, and slide it through the X so an inch of the pointy end protrudes. Wrap rubber bands around the pencil as a stopper to keep it from sliding, and hot-glue it into place.
  3. Secure the needle to the end of the skewer with tape.
  4. Thread the record onto the pencil, and place it on top of the cardboard circle. Set the pencil's point on a flat surface, and twist it to spin the record.
  5. Bite the stick (don't touch it with your hands), then gently lower the needle onto the record so it catches a groove. Adjust the pressure and angle until you hear music in your head.

This article was originally published in the March/April 2016 issue of Popular Science, under the title "Listen to Records with Your Teeth."

Step 1
Step 1
Trace the record on a sheet of cardboard and use an X-Acto knife to cut out the circle. Cut an X in its center.Sam Haynor
Step 2
Step 2
Remove the pencil’s metal eraser holder with pliers, and slide it through the X so an inch of the pointy end protrudes. Wrap rubber bands around the pencil as a stopper to keep it from sliding, and hot-glue it into place.Sam Haynor
Step 3
Step 3
Secure the needle to the end of the shish-kebab stick with tape.Sam Haynor
Step 4
Step 4
Thread the record onto the pencil, and place it on top of the cardboard circle. Set the pencil's point on a flat surface, and twist it to spin the record.Sam Haynor
Step 5
Step 5
Bite the stick, then gently lower the needle onto the record so it catches a groove. Adjust the pressure and angle (without touching the shish kebab stick with your hands) until you hear music in your head.Sam Haynor