Poor Man’s SONOS: How To Make a Badass Bluetooth Audio System from Amo Box and Old Radio Shack Speakers

My badass, poor-man's semi-portable bluetooth amplified speaker system
My badass, poor-man’s semi-portable bluetooth amplified speaker system has sound that compares to the Sonos system.

Who needs the fancy Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth wireless rechargeable speakers? Or your fancy SONOS systems?

Here’s my morning project… a do-it-yourself semi-portable amplified Bluetooth speaker system made out of my grandfather’s amo box. If you already have a pair of decent speakers, this system will set you back exactly $44.84 and give you sound that competes with a $300 SONOS (although the Sonos software is really cool and Wifi range is much better than 20-25 feet of Bluetooth).

If you don’t have the fortitude for this, here’s the link to buy the Sonos for the best price I could find online ($199 on Amazon).

Parts include:

  1. A pair of speakers. I used a pair of Radio Shack Minimus 7 speakers. They don’t make them like this anymore, kids. Before there were websites, the audio mags used to rate these as the best. Again- you can bring whatever nice speakers you already have.
  2. A Bluetooth receiverBelkin F8Z492TTP Bluetooth Music Receiver (1K plus four star rating on Amazon, and can’t beat the $24.99 price). *** Update- the Homespot NFC Bluetooth is $27.99 and worth the extra $3 because the range is better and it beeps when it’s paired. According to Amazon reviewers, it sounds better too.
  3. An amplifier. You probably already have one, but I LOVE the sound of this puppy and it’s dirt cheap: “Lepai” LP-2020A Tripath Class-T Hi-Fi Audio Mini Amplifier with Power Supply (awesome sound for $16.85, and we’re talking 1,500 almost 5-star ratings). I think this is the best tech bargain I’ve seen in my life.
  4. Accessories: The bluetooth receiver and amplifier come with power cords and audio connectors. So all you need is some speaker wire, glue, and an extension cord.

Wish you could hear it. It’s pretty bold. Nice whoop-ass Redneck acoustical system for the pool or home. Another update Jan. 11, 2014: I just cranked it and asked a buddy and his kids to close their eyes. They picked this rig over the Sonos playing the exact same song!

The instructions are simple and, of course, you don’t need the amo box. But it’s nice if you want to move it around.

  1. Plug the speakers into the Lepai amp speaker inputs. Plug the Lepai amp in the wall. You can handle that, right?
  2. Plug the Homespot (or Belkin) Bluetooth receiver into the amplifier photo/audio input. Plug the power in the wall.
  3. Get your iPhone, iPod or laptop and “find” the Homespot or Belkin, then pair them.
  4. Turn on the sound of your device (no special app required) and it comes booming out the speakers like audible love!

Let me know if it works for ya? I can’t believe more people don’t do this!

Make Your Videos Suck Less

Mkay I’ll provide some recently discovered, cool resources to make your videos suck less in a minute. First I’m going to rant, and you’ll either skip it or find it more insightful than the how-to-make video resources.

I once asked a voiceover professional how he got to where he was, and if he had any advice. “Well, you know Kevin,” he said, “it’s really an innate ability that can’t be learned.” I hadn’t heard something so ridiculous since my mom’s friend said, “Kevin I hear you want to make a career in radio or television. Don’t worry you’ll outgrow that.”

If you have nappy hair and zombie eyes you might want to consider an alternative passion than making videos. Otherwise, you're probably capable of improving.
If you have nappy hair and zombie eyes, find another hobby than making videos. Otherwise, you're probably capable of improving.

Yes I’m an unwitting optimist who believes a) people are inherently good, b) people can change for the better, and c) that most of us would be more successful if we focused on what we enjoy instead of “well rounding” ourselves. Schools would do well to help us figure out what we’re innately good at (and passionate about), and direct us that way. Likewise employers, instead of trying to “round everyone out” for the corporate ladder, ought to determine what gets a person excited, and hone that passion. We’ll all still have to perform some mundane tasks to accompany our thrills, but why turn a great engineer into a lousy manager of engineers? Go read Strengths Finder if you don’t understand what I’m talking about (you wouldn’t be the first or last). Last night I was reading Emotional Intelligence, and was reminded that IQ may correlate with life/career success, but is only about 20% predictable.

Don’t get me wrong- getting a well rounded education isn’t a mistake. I’m glad my dad talked me out of going to a school for video and film (I remember drooling over the Emerson brochure and loathing the idea of taking more biology, math and stats courses) instead of getting an undergraduate degree. He later urged me to pursue business school, when I discovered that my passion for writing wouldn’t likely cover rent much less a mortgage and kids. Two years of misery, but it certainly has since saved me from a lot of stupid mistakes.

Now where was I? Oh yeah- some video tips.

  1. If you haven’t read Steve Garfield’s book, “Get Seen,” check it out. Or visit SteveGarfield.com which looks like a suitcase from a well-travelled carpetbagger in the Great Depression… smacked full of widgets, stickers, callouts and labels.
  2. The Shirtless Apprentice remains a favorite collection that makes learning fun.
  3. Just discovered an ad for New York Video School via the web. Thinking about it, but that virtual commute might kill me.
  4. Nice website for royalty free sound effects is Fxhome. You gotta weed through some expensive software to find it because my bookmark vanished. Schwing.
  5. Watch any YouTube video not in the top 100 most popular. Tee hee.

Soundboard Prank: Dr. Phil Speaks to Survey Telemarketer

Heard of sound boards? Here’s one for Dr. Phil, where you can press various buttons to get some of his best soundbites. A new sport for the yougun’s today is the sound-board prank. Here’s a wonderful example that had me in stitches. It works so well because of the strong ego embedded in Dr. Phil’s tone that is such a stark contrast from what we might expect in a self-help guru.

Now enjoy the Spricket24 prank call, which was done by an amateur with a lot of patience. It’s fun to hear people baffled by an audio recording of a video that mentions you.