May 10, 2012

MIT stereo fix

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I had to re-wire MIT’s stereo last night. Like everything on the MIT truck it was the first stereo I installed and we’ve learned a lot since. I had to get under the truck 3 times, I wanted to share a picture of the underside of the truck with you all, but I couldn’t get a good photo with the iPhone. So instead you get my greasy hands.

Our stereo installation has been evolving. Besides just loving music myself, I think music is a really important part of creating community, a sense of place and connection. The sonic landscape of a place can be as important as the architectural or natural landscape. I’ve sort of messed this up over the past year by not rotating the music as often as I should on the trucks, but that’s another issue.

When I was trying to figure out how to do music on the MIT truck Darius of Q-Audio told me I should just use a car system. Makes sense, right? So I installed a amplifier, a head unit, and 6 speakers. The speakers are marine grade so that they can stand up to weather. They are low, near the customer, and many in number. Having many allows for a good sound field, and allows for music to be audible without being loud. Having them low means you get to hear the details of the music as a customer. I designed it so that as you walk near the truck the music becomes louder, and as you step away it trails off. We aren’t looking to blast music at anybody.

I bought the stuff online at Crutchfield, and have since. We use an iPod shuffle to run the music at MIT. That works OK. The latest unit I just bought for the LMA truck uses a USB stick, which is much cheaper. And the unit Ernie installed on the PRK truck uses a home-amplifier (Sony) combined with marine speakers. The advantage of that unit is that I didn’t have to install it myself!

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