I think James understands the situation best. When I first thought about making up a batch, (all the same in case anyone is listening), I thought then that I'll probably get 10 guys wanting 10 different boomboxes. We want it big, grail size, we want it medium. We don't listen to CD, I listen to CD almost exclusively if possible. FM only is fine, but I want AM. We want it classic looking, but we want it modern looking. We want subs but we don't need subs. We want a pocket for personal audio devices but it must be invisible. Needs to use sealed lead acid batteries, but why can't we use power tool batteries -- all we need is the socket, yeah it's different for every battery and they are expensive but just the socket. Ok but where do we get the socket and do we take orders for different brands for different guys? Oh and it needs 50 wpc true power but to do that means it needs high voltage. This can either be accomplished by lots of batteries in series. But then 12 volts should be consididered which means a DC-DC buck converter which is fine except it needs high amperage batteries (in parallel instead of series, at least same number of cells). Oh yeah and we want touch screen and etc etc etc. So true to form, you guys didi not disappoint for there truly is as many requirements as there are members, lol.
Guys, while I would love to work on designing something that incorporates all the features you guys want into a single board, at 50 times the cost of buying the ready made modules that are made in china, then in the end, we make up what, 10 of them? Seriously, to get this off the ground, we need to compromise and accept that we aren't going to get everything we "want" or else the project will never get past the discussion dreamin phase.
Now, I proposed something huge. Why not medium you say? Well, we got medium boxes left and right. Why go through all this to make a medium box? M70's are on eBay every single day of the year. New offerings are available, ala TDK and the rest. But how many guys have a Wheely in great working condition? Very few. You know, the wheely, the huge empty box with decks that don't work, fake spectrum analyzer display, amp that promises huge sound except it farts and stutters when you want it to assertive and show it's prowess,.... yeah THAT wheely. And for that, a nice looking one sets you back probably at least a grand? My plan was not to make a boombox that is another boombox. I want to make THE boombox. The one that says THIS is what I listen to, the others are for collecting. The one that tells everyone that enters a man cave that this is the one to try first, and that this one is special. The one that gets all the attention. Why fake an M90 by imitating all the features.... just get an M90 already.
I started collecting audio gear some 30 years ago. Well some even 35 years ago. Started out with home audio gear and if you guys saw my collection (they are all boxed now), you guys would be in heaven. But at some point, being the packrat that I am, space became an issue. I could no longer setup and play with my gear. I could not even get to my gear much less assemble a stack. You know, the one where you place the amp on the bottom, stack a tape deck on top, then preamp, then equalizer, tuner, etc. All the while connecting charlottes web behind. Of course moving the whole shebang was out of the question. Mellymelsr and Reli knows best, they saw my home and knows what I am talking about regarding space. So I went all-in-ones. You know, boomboxes. Now, when I want to move something, just carry the whole thing. I'm at a different place now, and do have some space to play with home audio gear. But now, I can no longer lift them. Too heavy to do without help anymore and nobody in my house cares about sound except me.
Anyhow, to me, very few boomboxes out there can offer sound that even approaches home audio gear. The best boombox is a total wimp when compared to the bottom of the rung audio gear in my home, so not trying to replace the home stereo. There is no way to put the bang of a 80 pound 1200 watts (mains consumption) piece of gear with the washing machine sized speakers into a small handheld box and use batteries too, aint gonna happen. BUT I thought wouldn't it be cool to have a piece that can technically use batteries if someone hold stock in duracell, and wants a full all-in-one setup that you can move from room to room. Hence comes this project.
As for why off the shelf products.... I believe James has already done this. Take it from someone who knows.... there is no reason to try to build an amp or preamp or MP3 player, with bluetooth, from scratch. Not when the ones from China, ready built, can be acquired for cheaper than it costs you just to accumulate the parts locally. It makes no friggen sense to spend hours, weeks or more, to draw up the plans, engineer it into the PCB cad program to output the files that the PCB manufacturers require, wire $250 to China to make up 10 bare PCB's and then we haven't even begun to buy all the components to populate the boards yet. And what if a problem manifests, an error in the PCB design that shows up after building it and requires a redo? So let's just say I have already spent many hours looking through lots of already built (or kit) modules that are available, considered the features, and while a few years ago, China put out lots of junk, today, they put out stuff that we can't touch for the price they charge already done. The downside is that we are limited to whatever features that particular module was built with. Can we custom make a preamp board with wide mode when no current kit or ready made project has that feature? Of course we can! But at what cost? So, I think we should keep it simple, and accept the limitations of the modules that are currently available. If those features become available later -- add it! That's what so great about modular. So if there is a feature you guys want, search for it and see if a module exists and we will see if it can be implemented into the project. But please don't ask me to build in touch screen controls. I mean, who is offering a diy module like that right now and if not, should I then build it for these 5 or 10 units?
8" or 10" woofers have one thing going for them... they can put out sound quite effortlessly compared to small drivers. The sound seems natural whereas small drivers seem to strain. Larger drivers also have much higher SPL sensitivity. So you can get larger sound without resorting to larger amps to compensate for lower speaker sensitivity. Subwoofers: They are nice to have, but they require lots of power to run them. So in a portable device, that means they don't nibble cookies, they are the cookie monster. Still you might say the big ben has one and so does the kaboom right? Ok, but how long does the kaboom lasts on batteries and does it produce equivalent sound while portable? And the big ben does sound nice at moderate sound levels. But this blaster is going to kick it's azzz and the SPL's will be huge. Basically if you put a big ben next to this completed project, you won't hear the big ben... it'll be like it isn't even there. Therefore, in order for the big ben system to work, the sub will need 100wpc to match the 50wpc of the fulll range setup. Going back to battery life here..... Of course an option is to have a sub that can be setup to work only when on AC. That might be doable but of course does add to the cost. Might be OK, but I guess we will need to see if we want to build that level of complexity into our first boomer attempt.
Cosmetics: Hardmen's two ideas look pretty good and does indeed have a "classic" look. And it appears to accomplish that with just a rectangular box without complicated design elements. Just some smartly placed cosmetic panels. It might be worth some consideration.
Joe: Give me some time on the box design. I need input from you though on what is too comlex and what is feasible. Initially I thought that maybe a large sheet can be cut in a manner so that once bent on a brake, could end up with a rectangular chassis. Add front and rear panels and we are done, but as I piece this together in my mind, I'm thinking the precision to accomplish that is so hard to do that the end result might not look too good. Will likely be gaps in the seams and stuff that will be unsightly. However, yesterday, I saw a show on REV'n TV where a guy was building a custom console for some sort of truck. They built it using angle metal that was welded to the shape of the desired console. Then aluminum panels were cut to cover the gaps in the welded frame. The frame was copper color, probably powder coated, and the aluminum was natural finish, edge screwed to the frame with decorative screws. To prevent the ugly seam syndrome, the aluminum panels were cut slightly smaller than the frame so that it covers up the openings but some of the frame showed along the edges. The results was very attractive indeed. Do you think that is doable?
In time, I might acquire a hobby CNC lathe and maybe even a laser cutter. Either or both of those would change the game entirely but I don't have the funds for those toys right now. Maybe after selling off some of my grails, it can be a reality. However, that's not going to be a tommorow thing.... probably talking years away. Sigh, on the one hand, I wish time would slow down so I can milk the rest of my days for all it's worth. On the other hand, it would be plenty nice to have those machines here right now.