Subpac music gadget shakes up music-listening experience

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The Toronto Star  |  By: Pop Music Critic, Published on Sun Apr 07 2013

Subpac Revolution

Successful Crowdfunding Campaign via Toronto company StudioFeed unveils audio device that sends low frequencies pulsing though your body

Take that, earbuds!

A gang of altruistic aging-raver types from Toronto has been sitting on a product poised to send reverberations — literally and figuratively — through the audio-technology market, one with the potential to influence both the way music is consumed at home as well as how it’s produced, mixed and recorded in the first place.

 subpack feel your music

The SubPac — hatched from the minds behind electronic-music-loving local collective StudioFeed — is a cushionlike subwoofer rig that, as the literature puts it, “generates a dynamic, rich and accurate tactile representation of whatever sound you input.” More simply put, that means you hook the thing up to a sound source, plug in your headphones, lean back against it and feel an authentic “whoomp, whoomp, whoomp” surging through your trunk just as if you were standing in front of a P.A. blasting away at deafening volume during a DJ set or live show, only without the deafening volume. “FEEL YOUR MUSIC,” goes the SubPac slogan, and indeed you do.

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Months of trial and error eventually gave birth to a bulky SubPac prototype that, Alexiou recalls, looked “kinda like a Ghostbusters backpack. It was ridiculous.” Still, it worked. Remarkably well, at that. And so, once StudioFeed had sufficiently refined its new gadget into “something we were proud of,” Alexiou threw the SubPac in a bag, headed straight to Seattle’s Decibel festival — an art-first, not-for-profit electronic-music event akin to Montreal’s Mutek or the Sound in Motion festival StudioFeed launched in Toronto last July — and embarked on a months-long journey through North America and Europe, taking the goods to the people and winning them over one at a time.

“The first person I demoed it to externally basically left her job and was recruiting her husband to work with us,” says Alexiou. “It just kind of cascaded. As soon as we introduce this to people who have an interest in music, their reaction is not just ‘Oh, that’s cool,’ but ‘How can I get involved in this?’ So that was what really did it for us. It was all very well and good to be sitting around in our lab saying ‘This is a great thing,’ but it wasn’t until we got it out of there and started demoing it that we really felt good about what we had.”

StudioFeed launched a crowd-funding campaign through Kickstarter.com on March 5 in hopes of raising $75,000 U.S. to cover a first manufacturing run of 500 SubPacs. As of Friday afternoon, 311 backers had pledged more than $96,000 in support of the project with just a day to go before the project’s final deadline. More than 185 of those supporters contributed $350 or more for a crack at one of the first non-handmade SubPac’s to roll off the factory line.

After that, says Todd Chernecki, StudioFeed’s head of operations, “we hope to be making as many as we can on an ongoing basis to get them out to market” through manufacturing facilities ready to go on both sides of the border. The hope is that the SubPac becomes the economic engine that then funds all of StudioFeed’s activities, from Sound in Motion to eventually creating a creative space in Toronto devoted to the support of independent music.

“It will depend ultimately on the numbers, I guess, but within weeks of Kickstarter we should be getting into larger production runs if there’s the demand for it. Which we’re feeling confident there will be.”

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Resources and Links:
Subpac Campaign
Subpac Story (website)

subpac campaign

 

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