And (shhh) this is the last show I’ll be playing with Josie, so I intend to go hard!
The lovely Miss Boombox spent some serious time here–that’s 136 dancing robots. This is pretty much the final, locked down design for the big box, in terms of sizing and components. I’m working with a few artists now to paint one-off things like this, and I’m leaving the pricing up to them. There will also be regular, solid-color boxes. I’m going to do a little more tweaking on the crossovers and come up with some jigs to make the construction process a bit simpler, work out a couple of battery issues and should have these available for purchase in the spring!
New remix day!
Just to see if I could do it, I used almost no softsynths on this. Most sounds came from the DSI Prophet 08 and Evolver, Arturia Minibrute, Nord Lead 2, Emu Pro-Cussion and talkbox. And the Black Taxi guys gave me the clap, har har.
So there’s this new interactive video on Infiniti’s website. While you watch, it calls you up on your phone and you can shoot the shit with the actors, give them advice, make disparaging comments, boss them around, make observations and there’s some algorithm that recognizes what you’re saying and tries to come up with an appropriate response, out of a pool of about a zillion different possible responses, all of which were recorded ahead of time by the actors themselves.
Why do I care? Well, I ran the VO session with the dude-actor. We had a cool, chaotic setup. I used Ableton, which was great because it was a long, grueling session with a bunch of alt takes and there was a staggering amount of clips to be recorded, trimmed and organized on the fly. Session-view was my savior. Our lady-actor was in a studio in LA and we had a skype link going, with a bunch of sends and weird patching allowing us to hear the directors in NY and LA, letting the actors talk to one another, and hooking up talkback in two studios without it getting out of control. I think there was some Soundflowering involved, and maxing out the ins and outs on the Apogee. I was in the IC Motion audio room in New York, I’m not sure exactly where they were recording in LA but the engineer was a champ and he did a great job on her voice.
Thus far my experience with the video hasn’t been great–I went a few times last week and the web site was down, and today it’s working but says all circuits are busy when I call up the number. Oh well, at least I can read about it in the New York Times. Their ad department seems to think it’s pretty cool.
Note: If you want to get updates about this, you can sign up for the mailing list here.
Enough of these schematics done in Sharpie on the backs of cut-up file boxes, with the string-compass and the straightedge. I got a crash course in AutoCAD from an architect friend the other night and this is how we’re doing things now.
In other news, the new amps sound really good and have plenty of power. I’d planned on modifying them to boost the input gain, but it looks like they aren’t going to need it. The batteries are working out well. Each box comes with a smart balancing charger and the cells can be fully charged from dead in about an hour from an 18 volt power supply. Way quicker than I’d though!
Guesswork becomes experimentation becomes something that actually works. The prototypes are sounding great.
Hoping to have a finished model of both the small box (pictured) and the big box (on the way) by Christmas. Who’s into some caroling?
It’s that time again! Tonight from 10 to 2, “Disco Dad” Sleezy D will delight your ear-holes on a swaggerific roller-skatin’ field trip to the exotic wilds of West Wiggleston (get yr permission slips signed) while L Dot “Nights Of” Joy pops bottles behind the bar for the wetting of your drink-hole. It’s Thursday and it’s cold, let’s pile in and have some fun!
I bet there will be hot toddies.
Facebook event is here.
It’s coming together! I’ve been working pretty hard these last few months on coming up with the best possible design for this boombox. It looks like there are basically going to be two models: a smaller one (13″x5″x8″) with 4 full-range 3″ Aurasounds and a 5.25″ passive radiator…
(like the one above, built for my friend Jamie) and a larger, louder version with 2 6″ woofers, 1″ titanium dome tweeters and a custom crossover, with an 8″ passive radiator. It’s about 21″x9″x5″.
(this is my unpainted prototype, a test model that I load up with different batteries and amps to see what works and what doesn’t. It actually has a different setup than the new-new one, right now it has 5.25″ full range car-door drivers with mylar tweeters and a simple capacitor in lieu of a proper crossover.)
These things both have a balanced, punchy sound with good low-end extension and can be incredibly loud for their size. It’s a bunch of good components, in a box that’s designed and built right, and although they’re not supercheap to make, they don’t sound cheap either. The market’s saturated with stuff that sounds like crap and I don’t want to add to that pile! I get a lot of “wow, really?” when people hear it and that’s been the motivation to keep improving it. We can do better!
The “San Quentin Execution Chamber Green” box, above, was an experiment that only sort of succeeded. I’d heard good things about those Aurasound drivers and wanted to see how they would sound without tweeters. Turns out they sound great, and have this amazing low end, but they’re predictably a little dull by themselves. Overall, the sound is natural and very clean, even with the volume cranked all the way up. The thing puts out a lot of sound and the PR makes the most of the extended lows on the Aurasounds. I’m going to swap out the top two in favor of some different full-range drivers that can handle the 14k+ range a little better and we’ll see how that works.
The amp has been the weak link. The TA2024 chips I’ve been using sound great, but pushing 4 ohm loads they start to break up before the speakers do. I’m switching to a more expensive TK2050 chip, which should resolve this. Another cool bonus with this amp: although it will happily run on 12v like the TA2024 does, it will accept anywhere from 9 to 24 volts and will put out a good deal more power with higher voltages, so I may put a separate DC jack on the back of the unit–if you want to run it directly off the 18v power supply, you’ll be able to get more out of it. Good for whenever there’s an AC outlet around. (For example, I’ve taken this box to a few DJ gigs at venues without monitors. It’s awesome for that.)
Batteries have been a headache too, but I’ve settled on a custom LiFePO4 pack. LiFePO4 batteries are cool for a few reasons–they have a much longer lifespan than the standard consumer-electronics LiCoO2 battery you’ll find in laptops and phones (these LiFePO4 cells are rated for 2,000 full cycles before an 80% capacity drop, LiCoO2 batteries are usually rated around 500.) This means a lot less waste and a lot less money. LiFePO4 batteries also keep a very constant voltage until they’re almost completely drained which means performance won’t droop as the battery is discharged. They also happen to be a lot easier on the environment than LiCoO2 packs when they eventually do crap out. Oh, and the whole lithium-batteries-just-explode-sometimes thing apparently doesn’t happen with LiFePO4 cells. The one drawback? They’re a little bigger and a little heavier, but we’re only talking a few ounces for the size pack we’re using.
I tried a handful of these cheap $30 too-good-to-be-true lithium battery packs from Ebay that ship in little packets from China. They suck. They die, their capacity is nowhere near advertised and they won’t even hold a charge after a few cycles. I got a kick out of this disclaimer from the distributor, for a 6800mah battery:
So….sure, we lie about our products, but only because everybody else does too!
Last week the ladies of SoulCycle rented my prototype box for an outdoor dance video shoot. Apparently even the old TA2024 amp had plenty of power. I included a Bluetooth thing so they could stream music from a cell phone. It’s a cheap device, only about $30, and it works great.
I’ll be working out kinks in these over the next few months and should start to have these available for purchase in the spring. If you’re interested in getting one or just seeing how the project develops, sign up for the mailing list here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wow, there’s been a LOT of interest in the new boombox! It sounds awesome and it runs forever on a charge. I’m still working out some design kinks, trying to nail down suppliers and figuring out how to step up my production. I cooked up a mailing list for the project, so if you’re interested in ordering one (or just want to see how things go) you can sign up for updates. This helps me keep track of who wants one, and will be a good way to solicit feedback once these things start hitting the beach.