Those of us who grew up practicing back spins on flattened cardboard during the ’80s remember all too well the iconic boombox. Thanks to the shoulder-crushing burden of eight D-Cell batteries, the original portable speaker busted out enough bass beat to bring Doug E. Fresh and Run DMC to dance-party levels. Who’s got my mix tape?
To be sure, when hung on the wall the Touch of Bass has a way of attracting attention.
Today, the boombox occasionally resurfaces masquerading as a modern Bluetooth speaker milking retro appeal, but the most genuine riffs on the classic music machine seem to pique the interest of Gen X-ers who actually busted a move at Young MC’s command back in the day. Perhaps that’s why Portland, Oregon-based Case of Bass, which started a suitcase boombox revolution, has been so successful. And now the company is coming out with what is sure to be another wildly popular product among the boombox nostalgic. Meet Touch of Bass.
What you’re seeing is a purpose-built piece of art converted into a modern-day Bluetooth boombox you hang on your wall. And if you’re thinking it looks super cool, we’d be inclined to agree with you. As a bonus, it also sounds pretty good, too.
You want to touch it
Pictures can’t quite capture the three-dimensional sense this sonic art piece has. The framed print, which was produced from photographs taken by a local Portland photographer, have an eerily natural sense of depth already, but when the images of the boombox’s drivers are cut out to make space for actual speakers, the piece jumps to life. Nearly everyone we showed the Touch of Bass to reached out to hit the play/pause button believing they were actually there. The effect is very convincing.
Hang it on the wall, and the Touch of Bass has a way of attracting attention. If the merit of a piece of art can be based on its ability to start a conversation, then the Touch of Bass is a sure success. Of course, it’s not just there to look cool, it’s meant to make music.
You’ll actually listen to it
The Boomboxes of the ’80s were’t exactly high-fidelity, partly because they didn’t really need to be, but also because the acoustic design requirements and electronic engineering necessary for high-end sound made it hard for old boomboxes to sound great. Fortunately, the Touch of Bass sounds far better than the portables of yore, thanks to efficient digital amplification, higher quality drivers, and the convenience of Bluetooth.
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While the Touch of Bass does suffer some from phase alignment and cancellation problems (most evident when standing close to the speaker), overall the speaker sounds pretty good. Bass is deep and punchy — more than enough to fill out a large room — and the highs produced by the tweeter offer some sparkle without getting too zippy. We hear a little bit of a peak in the upper midrange sometimes, depending on where we are standing relative to the speaker and the song being played, but for the most part, the Touch of Bass is totally respectable, especially for a wall-mounted boombox.
Made for your wall
The Touch of Bass comes in several different versions, each a little larger than the one before it. For his Kickstarter launch, creator Ezra Cimino-Hurt has super early bird specials starting as low as $99 and topping out at $350. Depending on how soon you order, you could have your own Touch of Bass as early as September 2016.
And that’s no estimate. Unlike many Kickstarter projects we cover, there’s no concern here that Cimino-Hurt and his Case of Bass crew can deliver on their Touch of Bass promises. The prototyping is complete, the final design is inked, and all the necessary parts are in stock. In fact, Cimino-Hurt told Digital Trends he doesn’t actually need to crowd-source funding, he simply wants to use Kickstarter to feel out the market and gauge demand.
Something tells us he’ll find no shortage of buyers.