Awesome Stuff: Play, Listen, Record

from the audiovisual dept

This week, we’re taking a look at some new crowdfunded gadgets for music lovers and creators.

Atmo Sfera

It’s a piece of audio gear, but its real appeal is purely visual. The Atmo Sfera is a new “platterless” turntable from a team of Italian designers, and boy is it nice to look at. In use, the vinyl record floats and spins on the central pivot while the sleek carbon fibre arm glides across it, and suddenly other turntables seem clunky by comparison. Of course, this design innovation isn’t solely about style: going platter-free is an alternative approach to reducing unwanted vibrations in a turntable, basically taking the opposite route from the more common method of using a hefty, dense, high-quality platter. The Atmo Sfera is also a totally self-contained, ready-to-play device that doesn’t require additional pre-amps and other audio gear, which can’t be said for all quality turntables.


Though earbuds reign supreme for casual listeners in their day-to-day life, not everyone is willing to make that sacrifice when on- and over-ear headphones deliver such staggeringly superior sound. But those big head-cans come with downsides: they are extremely isolating, and even the most comfortable pair starts to hurt after a while. The VIE SHAIR aims to solve this with a unique “frame” design that lifts the headphones off your ears while still directing the sound where it needs to go, for the double benefit of being able to hear what’s around you and not ending up drenched in ear sweat. Now, if only they could figure out how to make them roll up into a tiny ball like earbuds…


Looping is a tremendously fun digital music technique, and one that a lot of creative people have done some amazing stuff with. Usually the gear takes one of a few forms: a single pedal in the standard design of stage pedals everywhere, a multi-pedal monster, or a tabletop looping “station”. None of these things do the job alone: they need to be hooked up to instruments, microphones, etc. The Loopa puts one of the most entertaining looping workflows into a single package: it’s a self-contained looper microphone with on-board controls, so the entire process can be held in one hand. It’s got some solid specs, too: 24-bit digital audio, up to 12-minute loops, and unlimited layers with multiple levels of realtime undo and redo. Wait until you see what beatboxers can do with something like this.

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Comments on “Awesome Stuff: Play, Listen, Record”

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David says:

Cough cough

going platter-free is an alternative approach to reducing unwanted vibrations in a turntable

Because using the vinyl itself as the platter is not going to be much more prone to resonances than coupling it with a rigid platter?

Make no mistake: this provides a nice visual. But antivibrational it ain’t. And the weight on the needle has to go somewhere. With the small radius that an LP is resting on, compensating torque from the needle in the outer track is going to develop some serious forces in the middle.

DB (profile) says:

I also thought that an optical tracking, optical reading replacement for a stylus had fundamental advantages.

It turns out that physically pushing aside particulates with a hard stylus is important to detect the proper surface. Optics average all of the surface dirt and deformation, even in areas the stylus doesn’t touch.

It’s no surprise that the stylus geometry reads the proper two points, because it closely matches the tool on the cutting latch. Optical techniques read a pair of lines that are often a bit out-of-plane.

On the topic of geometry, it’s very important that the record sit flat. Some high-end turntables even had vacuum pumps to pull a slightly warped record in-plane. A warped record not induces bogus low frequency sounds, but also results in geometry-induced tracking speed changes and changing off-axis stylus orientation.

annonymouse (profile) says:

The real dirt on records

The presence of dust and debris lends itself to ye ole record cleaner mechanism.

House both the player as well as the records in a class 10 humidity and temperature controlled environment. Add an automated pick and place system to negate mishandling and contamination with fingerprints etc. The player read head should be a linear drive similar to the system to cut the master. All this will not only preserve and protect your valuable audio collection but also reproduce the original audio to the highest fidelity.

Now to decide on what to call this marriage of technologies?
Maybe I can get apple in on this?
Call it the i-box with varients of the deca cento kilo product lines.

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