What is a Sound Cannon?

What is a sound cannon - By The original uploader was FlyingCoyote at English Wikipedia. - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Jalo., CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3808811

A sound cannon, also known as a long-range acoustic device (LRAD), is a non-lethal weapon that uses sound waves to disperse crowds or deter potential threats. It is a powerful and highly directional device that can emit high-decibel sound waves over long distances, making it an effective tool for crowd control and communication in various situations.


The concept of using sound as a weapon is not new, as it has been used in warfare for centuries. However, the development of modern sound cannons has revolutionized the way sound is used as a non-lethal means of defense and control. The first LRAD was developed in the early 2000s by American Technology Corporation, and since then, it has been adopted by military and law enforcement agencies around the world.

How Sound Cannons Work

So, how does a sound cannon work? The device consists of a large dish or horn-shaped emitter that focuses and amplifies sound waves. It can produce sound at extremely high decibel levels, ranging from 150 to 162 decibels, which is equivalent to a jet engine at takeoff. The sound is emitted in a narrow beam, allowing it to travel long distances without losing its intensity.

One of the main uses of sound cannons is for crowd control. In situations where large crowds become unruly or pose a threat, such as protests or riots, law enforcement agencies can use sound cannons to disperse the crowd. The high-decibel sound waves cause discomfort and disorientation, making it difficult for individuals to remain in the area. This non-lethal approach is seen as a more humane alternative to traditional crowd control methods, such as tear gas or rubber bullets.

Sound cannons are also used for communication in emergency situations. In disaster zones or areas with limited infrastructure, sound cannons can be used to broadcast important information and instructions to a large number of people. The highly directional nature of the sound allows it to be targeted to specific areas, making it an effective tool for search and rescue operations.

Other uses for Sound Cannons

Another use of sound cannons is for maritime security. They are often mounted on ships and used to deter potential threats, such as pirates or illegal fishing vessels. The loud and piercing sound can disorient and discourage attackers, giving the crew time to take necessary defensive measures.

Despite its effectiveness, the use of sound cannons has raised concerns about potential health risks. Exposure to high-decibel sound waves can cause permanent hearing damage, and there have been reports of individuals experiencing nausea, dizziness, and headaches after being exposed to sound cannons. To address these concerns, LRAD manufacturers have developed lower decibel options and added safety features, such as automatic shut-off mechanisms.

Sound cannons are a powerful and versatile tool used for crowd control, communication, and maritime security. They provide a non-lethal means of defense and have been adopted by various organizations, including military and law enforcement agencies. However, their use must be carefully regulated to prevent potential health risks and ensure the safety of both the users and the targeted individuals.

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