US 3810525 A
An acoustical earpiece having two cups connected by a headstrap and lined with acoustically transparent foam, the cups having plug-in sockets in their sides tightly receiving the ends of the two tubes of an earphone of an air-push sound system after removal of the standard ear cushions thereof.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Crenna May 14, 1974  ACOUSTI'CAL EARPIECE FOR AIR-PUSH 3,051,961 9/1962 Clark 181/23 SOUND'SYSTEMS 3,580,988 5/1971 Orlowski et a1 181/31 R Inventor: Richard D. Crenna, 3951 Valley Meadow Rd., Encino, Calif. 91316 Filed: July 26,- 1972 Appl. No.: 275,285
[1.8. C]. 181/23, 181/31 R, 179/182 R Int. Cl G02k 13/00, H04r 25/00 Field of Search 181/23, 24, 31 R, 31 B;
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 4/1952 Kindel 181/23 Primary Examiner-Stephen J. Tomsky  ABSTRACT An acoustical earpiece having two cups connected by a headstrap and lined with acoustically transparent foam, the cups having plug-in sockets in their sides tightly receiving the ends of the two tubes of an earphone of an air-push sound system after removal of the standard ear cushions thereof.
6 Claims, 2 Drawing Figures BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to acoustical earpieces, and has particular reference to the acoustical earpieces for use with conventional sound systems of the so-called air-push type presently used in commercial transportation systems such as commercial airlines.
In such systems, the practice is to provide the passengers with individual earphones in the form of tubular connectors having input ends which plug into consoles conveniently located near the seats, and output ends which deliver sound waves from the console to the ears of a listener. The input ends are attached to a suitable plug-in fitting, and replaceable ear cushions are provided on the output ends to fit into the listeners ears.
Such ear cushions are intended to'assist in retaining the earphones in. place, and to reduce the discomfort associated with their use. The cushions that have been used have included soft rubber earplugs telescop ed over the ends of the tubes and having openings for admitting sound waves out of the plugs inside the ears, and annular foam cushions insertible in the ears. Such cushions are inexpensive enough to be disposable after use, permitting replacement for hygienic purposes prior to reuse of the earphones.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention resides in an improved acoustical earpiece assembly for such air-push sound systems, which greatly increases the comfort of the listener using the sound system, and also improves the quality of the sound received, as compared to the earphones that now are in use. Moreover, the improved earpiece may be mass-produced at a cost that is low enough to make the improved service available to passengers, or to sell as personal property to those who travel extensively.
More specifically, the improved earpiece comprises a pair of open-sided, hollow cups that'are joined together to overlie the ears of the listener, and each having a socket generally opposite the open side of the cup for receiving the output end of one of the tubes with a snug fit, the preferred socket being formed by a resiliently compressible grommet fitted in an opening in the side of the cup. Thus, the sockets provide releasable plug-in connections for thetubes, and are sized to provide acoustical seals around the tubes for optimum sound-wave transmission. One size of grommet will accommodate a range of sizes of tubes, and different sizes of grommets may be provided for different situations.
The hollow cups not only are more comfortable than ear cushions, but also provide sounding chambers around the ears, through which the sound waves are delivered to the listener, thus enhancing the quality of the sound. For even higher quality, a lining of acoustically transparent foam is provided in each cup, for the dispersion of the waves in the chamber.
Accordingly, the improved earpiece can be used with the same sound systems that presently are in use, thus eliminating in a practical manner the sources of the primary objections to such systems that have arisen, and that have not yet been satisfactorily resolved.
Other aspects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an improved acoustical earpiece assembly embodying the novel features of the present invention, shown in combination with part of a conventional earphone and in place on a listener shown in outline form; and
FIG. 2 is an enlarged fragmentary view of parts of the earpiece assembly of FIG. 1, shown partly in side elevation and partly in cross-section.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION As shown in the drawings for purposes of illustration, the invention is embodied in an acoustical earpiece assembly, indicated generally by the reference number 10 in the drawings, for use with an airpush sound system in which sound waves are delivered to the listener 11 through a pair of elongated flexible tubes 12 and 13 that are joined together to form an earphone 14. Such tubes are standard parts of the various earphones presently in use, having input ends (not shown) for connection to a source of sound waves such as a transducer in a console adjacent the seat in a plane, and separated output end portions 15 for extending to the ears of the listener. The tubes usually are joined together by a lanyard 17, or in some other fashion, to extend in side-byside relation from beneath the listeners chin to the console.
In accordance with the present invention, the improved earpiece assembly 10 comprises a pair of cups l8 and 19 sized to fit over the listeners ears and joined together in a headset unit by a U-shaped headstrap 20 for supporting the cups comfortably in the proper listening position. Each cup has a socket 21 in one side generally opposite the ear of the listener when the cup is in place, each socket receiving the free end portion 15 of one of the tubes 12, 13 to connect the tube to the earpiece and admit the sound waves from the tube into the cup.
The illustrative headstrap 20 comprises two preshaped, flexible pieces of spring metal, plastic or the like having overlapping ends which are slidably received in a sheath 22. This permits the headstrap to be lengthened or shortened as may be necessary to fit different people. The free ends of the headstrap are suitably connected to the cups l8, 19, for example, by U- shaped yokes 23 having pivots 24 (FIG. 2) on their ends fitting rotatably in a pair of oppositely opening, coaxially aligned recesses in the cup. Each cup l8, 19 is large enough to comfortably overlie the listeners ear, and preferably has an annular ear cushion 25 for engaging the listener. For this purpose, each cup is shown as having an outside peripheral flange 27 which constitutes the rim of the cup, and the ear cushions 25 are simply rings of foam material having internal grooves which receive the flanges 27. The cups may be composed of metal, plastic, or other suitable material, plastic being preferred for low cost.
To form the sockets 21, the cups are formed with openings 28 in the portions generally opposite the open sides, the openings being substantially larger than the cross-sectional size of the ends 15 of the tubes 12 and l3, and grommets 29 composed of resiliently compressible material such as rubber are secured to the cups in the openings. These grommets have through passages which are sized to receive the ends of the tubes, as shown in FIG. 2, and to hold the tubes releasably on the earpiece 10, the through passages forming the sockets 21.
Herein, the openings 28 are circular, and the grommets 29 are generally cylindrical and larger in outside diameter than the openings, each having a peripheral groove 29a'interfitting with the wall of the cup around the associated opening. Thus, the grommets are semi permanently mounted on the cups, and may be sized to receive the ends of the tubes 12 and 13 with tight, interference fits forming acoustical seals.
Although the grommets 29 may be placed in various positions in the cups l8 and 19, the illustrative cups are formed with outwardly offset portions 30 having substantially planar walls that are inclined downwardly and inwardly from approximately midway between the upper and lower sides of the cups, and the grommets are mounted in these walls. When the ends of the tubes are in place, they extend outwardly and are inclined downwardly to some extent, thereby reducing the angle of the bend as the tubes turn and extend inwardly and toward the lanyard 17, At the same time, this configuration assists in holding the tubes comfortably away from the face and neck of the listener. If it should be desired to attach such earphones permanently to an earpiece assembly 10, the sockets can be permanent connections, instead of releasable connections.
It' will be apparent that the interiors of the cups 18 and l9.form sounding chambers for the sound waves delivered through the tubes 12 and 13. This substantially'enhances the quality of the sound, as compared to the sound quality obtained with prior earphones in this type of system. For even higher quality, a lining 31 of acoustically transparent foam material (that is, foam material ofone of the commercially available types that passes sound waves through the material to a relatively high degree) is applied to the inner side of each cup, to disperse sound waves within the chambers. This material preferably is applied in sheet form to the entire interior of each cup, and conforms to the curvature of the cup, as shown in FIG. 2. A thickness of about one-half inch is suitable.
From the foregoing, it will be apparent that the present invention provides a relatively simple and inexpensive earpiece assembly for existing air-push sound systems, that is readily attachable to the tubular earphones presently in use, after removal of the ear cushions that presently are provided on such earphones. Accordingly, the improved earpiece can be supplied to passengers with earphones from which the ear cushions have been removed, or can be carried as personal property by a traveller who wishes to avoid the discomfort of such earphones and to enjoy the higher quality of sound available with the improved earpiece. Such a traveller can remove the standard ear cushions and simply plug the tubes into his earpiece.
It also will be apparent that, while a specific embodiment has been illustrated and described, various modifications and changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
1. In combination with a conventional tubular earphone comprising two elongated flexible tubes having input ends for connection to a sound system for generating sound waves, and separated output end portions of a predetermined approximate size customarily equipped with detachable ear cushions for fitting into the ears of a listener to deliver the sound waves to the listener, an improved acoustical earpiece assembly, comprising:
a pair of open-sided hollow cups sized to overlie the ears of the listener and each having an opening generally opposite the open side of the cup and substantially larger than the cross-sectional size of said output end portions;
a U-shaped headstrap connected at its ends to said cups to extend around the head of the listener and hold the cups over the ears;
and grommets of resiliently compressible material fitted snugly in said openings and defining through passages into the interior of the cup, said through passages being sized to receive output end portions of said predetermined approximate size with a tight fit and to frictionally retain said output end portions removably in said grommets while providing acoustical seals around said output end portions, whereby the customary ear cushions may be removed from said earphone and the latter may be plugged into said earpiece to increase the comfort of the listener and improve the quality of the sound.
2. The combination defined in claim 1 further including a lining of acoustically transparent foam material in each of said cups overlying said opening and said through passage.
3. The combination defined in claim 2 in which said linings are sheet foam material in cup-shaped form generally conforming to the shape of the interiors of the cups.
4. The combination defined in claim 1 in which each grommet is a generally cylindrical insert having a peripheral groove interfitting with said cup around said opening.
5. The combination defined in claim 1 in which each cup has an outwardly offset portion with a substantially planar wall that is inclined downwardly and inwardly when the earpiece is in place, said openings being in said walls and said through passage being positioned to receive said output end portions in outwardly and downwardly inclined positions.
6. For use with a tubular earphone having an input end for connection to a sound system for generating sound waves, and an output end portion for delivering such sound waves to a listener, said output end portion comprising two relatively flexible tubes for extending to the ears of the listener, an improved acoustical earpiece assembly comprising:
a pair of open-sided, hollow cups sized to overlie the ears of the listener;
means joining said cups together as a headset unit for supporting the cups over the ears of the listener;
a grommet of resiliently compressible material mounted in each of said cups and defining a socket therein for receiving the end of one of said tubes with a snug friction fit and admitting sound waves from the tube through the grommet into the interior of the cup while forming an acoustical seal around the tube, whereby said earpiece may be used with a conventional air-push earphone both to increase the comfort of the listener and to improve the quality of the sound;
and a lining of acoustically transparent foam material in each of said cups between the socket therein and the open side of the cup, for improving the quality of the sound delivered to the listener.