STEREO TECH

Radical player rides your records

Although portable record players have been around for decades, they’re generally still not small enough to just be thrown in a bag – after all, they do have to accommodate a spinning LP. The RokBlok, however, doesn’t “house” the record at all. Instead, it drives around its surface in circles, sort of like a tiny Zamboni with a needle on the bottom.

To use the bamboo-bodied device, users start by placing their record on a smooth flat surface. They then turn the RokBlok on by flipping up a built-in lever, set it down at the outer edge of the record, then let it go. Its soft rubber wheels will propel it around (it can be set to either 33 or 45 rpm), while its pivoting needle follows the grooves.

According to its creator Logan Riley, the wheels don’t harm records’ vinyl surfaces.

The RokBlok can be wirelessly paired with a stationary third-party Bluetooth speaker or set of headphones,...

Music is played back through the RokBlok’s speakers, although the sound is obviously going to be getting projected in ever-tightening circles. Fortunately, the device can also be wirelessly paired with a stationary third-party Bluetooth speaker or set of headphones, for better audio quality.

When it’s time to stop, the RokBlok is turned off simply by waving a hand over the top to flip the lever back down. One two-hour charge of its battery should be good for a claimed four hours of playback time.

If you’re interested, the RokBlok is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of US$59 will get you one, when and if it reaches production. The planned retail price is $99.

It can be seen and heard in action, in the video below.

AUDIO INFUSER 4700 TURNTABLE, VISUALIZER & DIGITAL STREAMING

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This one-off console stereo combines vintage and modern audio technology in a magnificently handcrafted case.

On the vintage side, the turntable is a late-1970s Yamaha, an elderly JVC equalizer lets you tweak frequencies the old-school way, and a vintage 5-inch CRT has been hacked to display Lissajous waveforms that throb and twitch in time to the music. Oh, I almost forgot the funky analog VU meters.

Don’t despair if your musical collection is solidly in the 21st Century, because a Raspberry Pi single board computer is built in, running an Air Play compatible app that streams music over Wi-Fi from your mobile devices or computer.

Creator Todd Kumpf explains how the Audio Infuser 4700 came to be:

To capture the vibe of something old, the best way to do it is to use stuff that’s actually old. Gathered off of eBay, Craigslist, pawn shops, and from my own arsenal, most of the components came with a few years behind them.  

The turntable mechanics are from a Yamaha YP-D4 (1978), the equilizer a JVC SEA-10 (1976), and the CRT is an Emerson from the 90s. Creating something new with second hand items is half the fun of it. Re-imagining how they’re used and giving them a second life is a fun challenge with a great payoff. 

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The aesthetics, with the wood, brushed aluminum, and braided cloth cords, are also heavily inspired by vintage Hi-Fi gear. The knobs authentic, coming off of an old Peavey mixer.

At the heart of the device lies a Linux driven Raspberry Pi. It operates as the Wi-Fi receiver, allowing music to stream wirelessly from any mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer.  Compatibility extends across most digital libraries, including Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora.

The Pi serves as a platform for many possibilities.  It can also operate as an output device, streaming music from the record player out to other WiFi enabled audio speakers. 

The speakers here are powered by a Klipsch ProMedia amplifier, feeding two stereo channels and an 8” subwoofer. Both channels have two mid-range drivers and a crossover splitting out a high frequency tweeter.”

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Todd’s website has a brilliant ‘Process’ section that highlights various aspects of the design and construction. If he can build something like this on his coffee table, maybe you can, too!

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