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Publication numberUS3565069 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 23, 1971
Filing dateMar 21, 1969
Priority dateMar 21, 1969
Also published asDE2013264A1
Publication numberUS 3565069 A, US 3565069A, US-A-3565069, US3565069 A, US3565069A
InventorsRobert Nelson Miller
Original AssigneeRobert Nelson Miller
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Acoustical filter device
US 3565069 A
Abstract  available in
Images(1)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

v United States Patent 13,565,069 72] Inventor Robert Nelson Miller FOREIGN PATENTS 4 Twist, Sparks, 69220 578,485 6/1959 Canada 128/152 [21] Appl- No- 8 643,927 9/1950 Great Britain 128/152 [22] Filed Mar. 21, 1969 P E r Ad I M E F 1971 nmary xamme e e ager [45] Patented eh Attorney-Flehr, Hohbach, Test, Albritton & Herbert [54] gggfig itg g fg P ABSTRACT: An acoustical filter device characterized by a filter element serving to screen out substantially all noise 1 128/152 about a predetermined level while permitting sound below In. u h level to ass thereth -ough without deleterious loss The filter is preferably carried in a support adapted to be in- 153; 2/209; 179/182 serted in the outer ear canal of the human ear and to form-fit R CM the respective left-hand and right-hand ear canals. An acousti- [56] e "wees I cal filter passage is defined through the support body in open UNITED STATES PATENTS communication with the outside surroundings through which 2,619,960 12/1952 Reynolds 128/ 152 sound is screened out in the above manner.

PATENTEU FEB23I97I INVENTOR.

DR. R. NELSON MILLER BY 1 4 fl {1/4 S f M ATTORNEYS 1 ACOUSTICAL FILTER nEvrcs BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION One way to reduce the level of transmitted sound is to merely provide a complete blockage of the sound path. Thus, to reduce objectionable sound levels to protect the ear, the use of ear plugs has previously been common. Ear plugs have the disadvantage of reducing all sound levels thereby interfering with desired transmissions of sound such as normal speech. Another disadvantage in the use of ear plugs is that they block the inner ear producing imbalance and danger of ear infection caused by the ears being sealed from the atmosphere for extended periods of time.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION AND OBJECTS In general, there is provided an acoustical filter device characterized by a filter element which serves to screen out substantially all noise above a predetermined level while permitting sound below such level to pass therethrough without deleterious loss.

Accordingly, and in a particularly preferred construction, the filter device is carried in a support body adapted to be inserted into the outer ear canal of the human ear. An acoustical filter passage is defined through the support body in open communication with the outside surroundings. The formation of the filter passage serves to restrict the passage of sound above a predetermined level while permitting lower levels of sound to pass therethrough.

In a particularly preferred embodiment, the support body is form-fitted to each of the respective left'hand and right-hand ear canals in a manner whereby all sound entering the inner car must pass through the filter passage. Thus, the exterior surface of the support body forms an acoustically sealed interface with the ear canal surfaces.

This invention relates to an acoustical filter device which is particularly useful as a filter device adapted to be worn within the outer ear canal.

In general it is an object of this invention to provide an improved acoustical filter device.

It is a further object of this invention to provide an acoustical filter device adapted to be worn within the outer ear canal of the human ear whereby the inner ear is in open communication with the outside surroundings.

It is a further object of the invention to provide an acoustical filter element serving to screen out substantially all noise above a predetermined level while permitting sound below such level to pass therethrough without deleterious loss.

Further objects of the invention will be readily apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments, when considered in conjunction with the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS ment according to the invention,

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS In providing an acoustical filter to be carried in the outer ear canal 13 of the human ear, such as the ear l0, schematically shown in FIG. 1, an acoustical assembly 11 includes a generally annular elongated support body 12 of suitable resilient, deformable material, such as rubber or polypropylene shaped to conform to'the interior surfaces of the outer ear canal.

While being formed in the general nature of an ear plug in the sense that it is a body of material which can be carried within-the ear, the form of body 12 provides exterior surfaces which conform in a closely fitting relation to the canal suror surface of body 12 to enter canal 13. Body 12 includes a filter passage 15 defined therethrough.

Thus, an acoustical filter element 14, lodged centrally of body 12, serves to restrict the passage therethrough of substantially all sound levels above a predetermined level,

preferably established at the upper level of human speech. Ac-

cordingly, the transmission of noise levels via the filter element 14 is limited to those noise levels falling below a noise level on the order of decibels.

Element 14 engages support body 12 and is held affixed thereto by insertion into an annular bore 16 formed through body 12 to open into canal 13. Element 14 thus includes a conical leading surface portion 18 formed about the inner end thereof and provided with a retaining shoulder 17 at the rear edge of portion 18. The deformable nature of body 12 serves to expand around and behind shoulder 17 whereby withdrawal of element 14 is resisted while insertion of element 14 is aided by the conical surface portion 18.

The exterior portions at the outer end of element 14 are generally concentrically arranged, right cylindrical, portions disposed in steps whereby if it is desired to remove element 14 from body 12, it is possible to manually grip and disengage element 14 from body 12 merely by pulling one from the other against the resistance provided by shoulder 17.

Means for screening out the higher sound levels above a predetermined cutoff level, such as the 80 decibel speech level, is effected by the central passageway defined through element 14 as now to'be described.

Thus, the outer end of passageway 19 includes an outer funnel-shaped sound collecting dishlike surface portion 21 which first receives the incoming sound waves.

Immediately inside the region of surface 21, a relatively large cylindrical recess 22 further serves to collect the incoming sounds for travel along passageway 19.

From inspection of the drawing, it will be readily evident that passageway 19 is in open communication between ear canal 13 and the outside surroundings. The incoming sound waves next encounter a somewhat reduced cylindrical resonant chamber 23 which cooperates with a much smaller vent passage 24. At the junction formed at the transition between chamber 23 and vent 24, the end wall surface 26 is abruptly diminished to the restricting diameter of vent 24 whereby incoming sound waves serve to develop an increasing pressure caused by the constriction of the relatively small diameter vent 24 with respect to the relatively large diameter of chamber 23.

The length of chamber 23 is tuned to pass a frequency band on the order of 250 to 4,000 cycles per second as well as the first three harmonics thereof. For example, chamber 23 can be on the order of 3 millimeters in length.

It has been observed that, in order to dissipate and cut off substantially all sound levels above the usual upper level for speech, such as 80 decibels or the like, the ratio of the diameter of chamber 23 with respect to the diameter of vent 24 should run on the order of three to one.

Thus, the foregoing ratio of diameters between chamber 23 and vent 24 serves to screen out noise levels above a predetermined level of noise such as on the order of eighty decibels. This type of device, therefore, is suitable for most industrial usages, such as machine shops and the like, whereby high noise levels can be expected to be experienced.

It has been further observed, that in using the above ratio for the relative diameters, the lower levels of sound pass relatively undiminished through the entire length of passageway 19 whereby a person can hear another party talking clearly, notwithstanding the fact that the listener may be in the immediate presence of noisy operating equipment.

For example, in utilizing the above filter element disposed in support bodies carried in the cars, it has been observed that the sound of ajet engine is reduced to the point where only the low level sound produced by the rush of passing air being rHcnk-arnnf fmm VHF "wine is heard since the remainder of This can be explained by the observation that noise occurring from any given source can be expected to cover a relatively wide range of levels and that the lower levels are normally not heard or registered by virtue of the fact that they are drowned out by the greater levels of noise. Once the higher noise levels have been eliminated, however, by the filter device 14, the lower levels will pass through to the listener.

Accordingly, it has been observed that, when wearing the acoustical assembly 11, the report of a shotgun is minimized whereby only that portion of the sound generated by the firing of the shotgun is transmitted to the listener which lies below the predetermined cutoff level.

Thus, filter element 14 can be arranged to provide a cutoff of all sound above a predetermined level and, if desired, the sound levels below the cutoff level can be reduced by forming vent 24 with a relatively smaller diameter.

Thus, in certain circumstances, such'as in the environment of extremely high noise levels as found in and about airports in close proximity to jet engine operation and the like, the above construction may permit the passage of enough higher noise levels, for example, up to a level on the order of 90 or 95 decibels that, if these are objectionable, a reduction in the noise level can be achieved by further increasing the ratio of the diameter of chamber 23 with respect to the diameter of vent 24. Thus, for use under such circumstances, a ratio on the order of seven to one has been observed to screen out substantially all noise levels above 80 decibels. Under these extreme circumstances some reduction in the transmission of those noise levels below 80 decibels may be experienced which could, for example, require people in conversation to speak somewhat more loudly to be fully heard.

More specifically, an operable filter element and ear assembly 11 have been constructed and operated in accordance with the above wherein chamber 23 has a length of 0.l 18 inch and a diameter of 0.225 inch, and vent 24 has a length of 0.0787 inch and a diameter of 0.0625 inch.

For high intensity noise levels, such as experienced in the proximity of jet engines and the like, an assembly 11 has been constructed and operated in accordance with the above teaching wherein chamber 23 has a length of 0.1 18 inch and a diameter of 0.0938 inch, and vent 24 has a length of 0.0787 inch and a diameter of .0135 inch.

Another embodiment, according to the invention, includes the addition of an L-shaped sound transmission tube 27 formed at its inner end with an enlarged exterior diameter for providing a press fit within recess 22 for holding the L-shaped tube 27 in any desired radial orientation.

By utilizing tube 27, it is possible to partially dissipate all incoming sound by a factor on the order of percent. This can be further improved simply by directing the open outer ends 28 away from the source of the sound.

From the foregoing, it will be readily evident that there has been provided an acoustical filter device whereby a party wearing the filters in each car can conduct a normal conversation even in the presence of highly objectionable sound.

Further, it will be readily evident that various sizes of support bodies can be made to fit different sizes and shapes of outer ear canals. Thus, a single relatively standard size filter element 14 can be utilized in conjunction with a great number of difierent support bodies so as to accommodate a wide range of users with a minimum of parts.

I claim:

1. An acoustic device comprising a support body of resilient material shaped and adapted to be inserted into the outer ear canal of the human ear to be worn therein, an acoustic filter passage defined within the body for open communication between the outside surroundings and said ear canal, said acoustic passage being formed to include an open end for collecting and receiving substantially all ambient sound substantially undiminished in energy from the-outside surroundings, said filter passage comprising a resonant chamber of predetermined length open to receive substantially all said sound, and

a vent of a reduced diameter relative to the diameter of said chamber and forming a unction therewith, said vent leading from said chamber to transmit sound to said canal, the junction between said chamber and vent providing a sufficiently abrupt reduction in said passage and said predetermined length being sufficiently long to cause an increase in pressure in said chamber for sounds above a predetermined level to cause said sounds to become dissipated within said chamber while said vent passes sounds below said level into said canal substantially free of deleterious reduction in the level thereof.

2. An acoustic device according to claim 1 wherein the ratio of the respective diameters of said chamber and vent lies substantially within a range of between seven and three to one.

3. An acoustical filter device comprising a filter element having an open acoustical filter passage therein, said acoustical passage being formed to include an open end for collecting and receiving sound, an L-shaped tube having one end communicating with the source of sound entering said passage, said tube serving to partially dissipate the sound prior to receipt by said filter passage, a resonant chamber of predetermined length open to receive the sound collected, and a vent of reduced diameter relative to the diameter of said chamber, the junction between said chamber and vent providing an abrupt reduction in said passage to cause sounds of a predetermined level to resonate and become dissipated within said chamber while said vent passes sounds below said level.

4. An acoustical filter device to be worn in the ear compris' ing a form-fitted support body forming an acoustically sealed interface with the ear canal surfaces of the wearer, filter means carried by said body and forming an acoustic passageway in continuously open communication between the ear canal and the outside surrounding, the outer portion of the passageway being formed to define an elongated chamber open at its outer end for receiving all ambient sounds therein at a substantially undiminished energy level and formed at its outer end to include an abruptly diminished vent opening, said acoustic passageway at the junction between said chamber and vent opening being sufficiently abruptly diminished to cause the sound waves entering said chamber to develop an increase in pressure in said chamber and to dissipate energy therein for those sounds above a predetermined level while passing sounds below said level via said vent opening directly into the ear canal of the wearer substantially undiminished relative to those sounds above said level.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3819860 *Sep 10, 1971Jun 25, 1974R MillerAudio transceiver for transmitting to and receiving from the ear canal
US3882848 *Jan 24, 1974May 13, 1975American Electromedics CorpTest probe for an impedance audiometer
US4353364 *Apr 10, 1980Oct 12, 1982Woods Thomas JEar acoustical attenuating device
US4457396 *Sep 24, 1982Jul 3, 1984James David LSound deflector for headset ear phones
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US4537187 *Oct 6, 1983Aug 27, 1985Scott Robert TEarplug
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US5107861 *Dec 10, 1990Apr 28, 1992Lillian NarboniSafe ear clean button and protection with attachment device
US5319163 *Oct 30, 1992Jun 7, 1994Scott Robert TWaterproof earmold-to-earphone adapter
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US5573015 *Mar 28, 1995Nov 12, 1996Williams; Colin D.Extruded ear plug
US5819745 *Oct 24, 1997Oct 13, 1998House Ear InstitutePressure-regulating ear plug
US5824967 *Oct 28, 1997Oct 20, 1998Syracuse UniversityEar muffler
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US6768803 *Mar 20, 2000Jul 27, 2004Sonomax Hearing Healthcare IncMethod and apparatus for selective acoustic signal filtering
US6772854 *Mar 25, 2002Aug 10, 2004Shure IncorporatedDevice and method for inserting acoustic dampers into earphones
US8161974Aug 18, 2009Apr 24, 2012Syracuse UniversityHearing protection apparatus with incorporated eyewear
US9295585Sep 11, 2014Mar 29, 2016Syracuse UniversityEar muffler
US20020139607 *Mar 25, 2002Oct 3, 2002Shure IncorporatedDevice and method for inserting acoustic dampers into earphones
US20090038625 *Aug 9, 2007Feb 12, 2009Raul CortezEarplug with shell and insertion stem
US20100065069 *Aug 18, 2009Mar 18, 2010Syracuse UniversityHearing protection apparatus with incorporated eyewear
EP1083847A1 *Jun 8, 1999Mar 21, 2001Eallan HirshfeldAn earplug
EP1083847A4 *Jun 8, 1999May 2, 2002Eallan HirshfeldAn earplug
WO1994000089A1 *Jun 18, 1993Jan 6, 1994Joseph Sylvester ChangHearing protector
WO2002077967A2 *Mar 27, 2002Oct 3, 2002Shure IncorporatedA device and method for inserting acoustical dampers into earphones
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Classifications
U.S. Classification128/867
International ClassificationA61F11/08
Cooperative ClassificationA61F2011/085, A61F11/08
European ClassificationA61F11/08