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visitor friendly audio devices for exhibits Answered

I am coordinating an exhibit on musical instruments and want to include a bunch of sound clips of music demonstrating how the instruments on display would sound if played. Does anyone have any suggestions for audio devices that could do this but still be (a.) cheap, (b.) sustain a lot of hands on activity,(c.) have good sound quality, and (d.) have the ability to be manipulated relatively easily by our visitors? Thanks for your help!

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Noblevagrant
Noblevagrant

13 years ago

I've seen Halmark cards that have pretty decent sound quality. Maybe one of those can be hacked or somehow and the music file replaced.

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westfw
westfw

13 years ago

The MP3 player is a good idea, but costs will creep up as you add speakers, AC power supply, and lose a fraction to hacker-error as you try to add a big play button to a tiny box. In the same price range (< $30 Here's one for $20 at Best Buy), you can get an AC-powered "boom box" with CD player. You'd have to burn an appropriate CD (no big deal), and wire something in parallel with the "play" switch.
Turning such a player into a "kiosk audio player" would make a nice instructable, too.

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royalestel
royalestel

13 years ago

I think we need more information. Are you looking for small handhelds for children? Or a sound device that's in a large enclosure. More info on the display is in order, I think.

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agentshna
agentshna

Reply 13 years ago

Of course, more info....I've never used a resource like this or designed an exhibit with a technological component. Let's see what I can tell you...I must be honest: We have not done much planning at this point. It may be more helpful to post again when the details are set. The exhibit will be housed in a small 300 square foot room. We are highlighting only four types of instruments: drums, banjos, dulcimers, and bells. Depending on expenses I want to have at least one audio example for each type of musical instrument. More would be welcome if we can afford it. The audio devices will be stationary and in an enclosed cabinet. Only the tools used to manipulated (play and stop) the recording will be exposed. I envision each musical instrument having an individual device with audio examples; however, if it is more economic/easier, we can have a single kiosk with all the audio examples on one device.

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royalestel
royalestel

Reply 13 years ago

$25 will get you a 128 MB mp3 player at this point. Add speakers and large arcade style buttons and you're good to go on this one, I think. What's your budget?

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Punkguyta
Punkguyta

Reply 13 years ago

Ahh yes, you can get a $20-30 mp3 player from crappy tire up here in the cannucks land (aka forest), guess how much memory that bought me? 1 gig, it was amazing, plus I get a mp3 player built in, cool. But seriously if someone wanted to charge me close to $30 for 128mb I'd say hell no, but then again I've spent $30 before on things that didn't last long too.

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Punkguyta
Punkguyta

Reply 13 years ago

I remember how make was selling mp3 player kits that you add your own SD card and they were only like $15-30 each (don't quote me on the price though). It was just the circuit board for the mp3 player, not an actual player, and intended for projects like this. I'm pretty sure you could solder custom buttons to the board, then your battery/power adapter and your sd card, and for $20 you can get a 1 gig SD card (which will hold more than what you need it for so get a real cheap 128mb card or something, assuming you want to take a look at it. Here, I'll even look for the link.. Daisy Mp3 Player

And apparently they're $115 each (ouch but it's a very decent open source project mp3 player). You could build it yourself with the schematics on the site, but I'm not sure if you know how to do smd soldering, but that might be worth a try.

This and a pair of computer speakers for each exhibit would really be ideal and make your own custom play/stop button. I can even bet that you can probably program the firmware to do things like shut off automatically, or even make it so they can't abuse it by constantly playing it. Let me know what you think of my idea and we'll go from there.