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In my quest for finding a reliable MP3 player that wasn't theft-prone (like the knock-off iPods all over eBay) but also wasn't super pricey, I stumbled upon this!

https://www.banggood.com/MP3-Lossless-Decoder-Board-Decoding-Player-Module-Comes-With-Amplifier-p-1017299.html?akmClientCountry=America&cur_warehouse=CN


It's pretty self-explanatory. It's USB-powered, can read any MP3 off of a flash drive or SD card, and has an on-board 2 watt mono amp so you can drive a small speaker, and can AUX-out via 3.5mm. They're smaller than the size of a playing card, so hiding them in a prop is painless.

I'm sure many of you prop builders have these in bulk, but I think it's just about the best darn thing since sliced bread! Playback isn't 100% gapless - there's about a half second delay between tracks or repeat of a single track, but that's way better than the last player I bought (which retails for $70).

I purchased a set of 3 modules from the linked site above for $5 plus shipping, and it took almost 4 full weeks for them to be delivered. I'm using them in conjunction with a multi-zone amp, so I can use multiple modules across different zones. Honestly I was really nervous about the purchase because anytime I see raw parts, I feel like I'm not educated enough for qualified to be handling them :p but these turned out to be really great.

Thought I'd share!
 

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These have been discussed quite a few times here. While they are great for some applications, they're not triggerable. They will auto play on power up but they have about a 2 second delay which isn't suitable for a triggering prop.
 

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These have been discussed quite a few times here. While they are great for some applications, they're not triggerable. They will auto play on power up but they have about a 2 second delay which isn't suitable for a triggering prop.
So, J-Man would they work to power an all night long track through computer speakers? Last year, we had one sound track for the entire haunt running off a set of computer speakers hooked up to my phone. This year we'd like the sounds to be more localized. We want bubbling cauldron noises to be coming from where the cauldron creep is stirring the pot. We'd like the strange music coming from the upstairs window where the dancing skeletons are. And we want most of the animal noises to be coming from the "pet semetery". I think for us, individual systems like this might work with independent speakers hooked up to the aux out. Would they work for that application?
 

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All my life the "amount of sound" you got was directly related to the weight of the amp and speakers. I can't wrap my brain around how you get any volume out of these little cards. Ain't technology grand?
 

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All my life the "amount of sound" you got was directly related to the weight of the amp and speakers. I can't wrap my brain around how you get any volume out of these little cards. Ain't technology grand?
While these little players are great for the right purpose, they're not ground pounders. Now, take a look on ebay for "Class D Amplifier Modules". You'll find a ton of very cheap, very small solid state units that crank out a boat load of power. That being said, today's solid state home stereo receivers can deliver tons of power but honestly, the quality of sound they produce is so-so at best. I have a Pioneer SX receiver that I bought back in the 70's. It's only rated at 60W per channel but I tell you what, I'll put it up against any high power modern receiver out there and the sound quality ain't even close. I'll never part with that old (HEAVY) Pioneer.
 

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If you are interested in "localized" sound this board from Adafruit looks cool. It has 16MB of built in storage (they also have a version that only has 2MB) and can play .wav or Ogg Vorbis audio tracks. It has a built in 2W amp so you can connect directly to small speakers. It also has several different triggering mechanisms and can loop tracks if necessary. This would work well for a situation like the bubbling cauldron where you just need a specific track to loop over and over. They also have similar versions without the amplifier in case you wanted to use a separate larger amp.
 

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While these little players are great for the right purpose, they're not ground pounders. Now, take a look on ebay for "Class D Amplifier Modules". You'll find a ton of very cheap, very small solid state units that crank out a boat load of power. That being said, today's solid state home stereo receivers can deliver tons of power but honestly, the quality of sound they produce is so-so at best. I have a Pioneer SX receiver that I bought back in the 70's. It's only rated at 60W per channel but I tell you what, I'll put it up against any high power modern receiver out there and the sound quality ain't even close. I'll never part with that old (HEAVY) Pioneer.
I have an old Yamaha receiver that I feel much the same way about as you do with your Pioneer. It's still hooked up to a turntable, so that tells you something about how old it is. But it has a wonderful sound through old OHM speakers, so it's not going anywhere.

But I'm thinking outside on Halloween night, we don't need to crank up the noise loud enough to melt the bark off the trees. Even the little computer speakers we had out last Halloween seemed to make enough noise that you could hear us half a block away. Nothing in our Haunt is more than 20 feet away from anyone, so even the small speakers and amplifiers seem to do the trick.

That said, what I'd love to do is have some sort of speaker pointing out toward the neighborhood that made just a creepy, drippy kind of noise audible from about a block away, but not so loud locally that it drowns out everything else once you got nearer to the house. That would help attract people down the one lane road we have from a housing development up the street. They would come to find out what the noise and lights are about, but still allow me to have my more localized sounds for the actual props needing them. Anyone have suggestions about how to pull that off?
 

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Keep in mind that perceived sound level is not linear with wattage. For example, if you had a 2W amplifier output to get double the sound level you'd need to increase the wattage to 20W (10x). Conversely, a 2W amplifier is still 50% as loud as a 20W amplifier (not 10%).

I usually run those little boards at less than their full volume output as you really don't need a lot for localised sound. Running everything loud just leads to sound bleed between locations.
 

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I usually run those little boards at less than their full volume output as you really don't need a lot for localised sound. Running everything loud just leads to sound bleed between locations.
I worry that with such a small graveyard, the sounds bleeding for us might be unavoidable. Our front yard is only about 18 feet from house to curb. It's about 40 feet long. The the stairway that becomes the support for the mausoleum facades gobbles up 4 feet beneath it. It's easy to hide speakers underneath, but there's not much usable space.

housefront.jpg

I guess I will just have to get out and experiment with the actual sounds we create. Some sounds, like the scraping rock sound on the moving crypt, I think have to be there to convince people that they're looking at rock instead of foam. But other things might not be quite so important and we can let them slide. We're glad to have a roof over our heads, but we still look at other houses with large front yards and quirky architecture and think, "Now that would make a great haunted house." I'm pretty sure we're not the only ones to do that. :)
 

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To control the sound bleed, you could try recessing a small speaker back into a box to limit its dispersion angle.

The only way to know for sure is experimenting. :)
It would appear that a great deal of testing is in our future. I think that come the warm nights of summer, our neighbors will be wondering what the hell we're doing over at our place that creates such a racket; to say nothing about the off-season light show.
 

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Killington Lane 2018 Night

I worry that with such a small graveyard, the sounds bleeding for us might be unavoidable. Our front yard is only about 18 feet from house to curb. It's about 40 feet long. The the stairway that becomes the support for the mausoleum facades gobbles up 4 feet beneath it. It's easy to hide speakers underneath, but there's not much usable space.

View attachment 580253

I guess I will just have to get out and experiment with the actual sounds we create. Some sounds, like the scraping rock sound on the moving crypt, I think have to be there to convince people that they're looking at rock instead of foam. But other things might not be quite so important and we can let them slide. We're glad to have a roof over our heads, but we still look at other houses with large front yards and quirky architecture and think, "Now that would make a great haunted house." I'm pretty sure we're not the only ones to do that. :)
My graveyard is about that size to and I have a simple set up for the sound. The zombie movement and their sounds are all connected to a motion control that is a hack of a outdoor double flood light. I use a polarized outlet plug that screws into the outdoor light socket and you can plug the extension cords into that. All the zombies are connected by small extension cords to one another as is a old apple Ipod that just loops a 30 second zombie sounds track. The speakers I plug into the ipod into are just two small speakers that you would use for a laptop or small computer. I also have a old cd player that is hooked up to a Perfect Storm Lightning and Thunder effects machine and a 500 watt halogen work light. The Perfect storm machine comes with a 2 hour CD that triggers the machine to turn on the light creating the lightning effect that is timed to the sound of thunder. I put that behind my crypts and point it up into a tree and it looks pretty good. I also have a sarcophagus that has a skeleton in it connected to a wiper motor that raises the skeleton out of the sarcophagus. In the sarcophagus is a power strip that powers the wiper motor and a light that shines on the skeleton as it raises. There is also another ipod with small speakers that makes the sound of the sarcophagus opening and the skeleton groaning. All that is also wired into the motion detector that moves the zombies. That way as a car or person comes up it triggers a whole bunch of motion and sounds at once. I have it set so you have to get about 1/4 way past the haunt so it startles people a bit when it all suddenly goes on. See Halloween Yard Haunt Killington Lane 2018 on Utube.
 

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My graveyard is about that size to and I have a simple set up for the sound.
Thanks for your suggestions. I took a look at your videos and they are amazing. Your crypt work is what we aspire to. :) We have yet to get to the point where we use motion sensors to turn on our props. But we hope one day to give it a try on some of them. For now, most of them just run all night with the hopes that they coincide with visitors.
 
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