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Discussion Starter #1
Just got 3 picoBoo105 models I ordered and I hate to say that I am pretty disappointed in the sound quality. I have tried varying output levels, jostling cables, different playback programs... the playback is definitely not capturing the emotion, emphasis, and atmosphere my intended sound clips were to provide, which are all crystal-clear direct WAV rips. I've found the ideal input level, about 30% from a computer, and I understand playback won't emulate the WAVs exactly, but the amount of compression is ridiculous! I guess I should have taken the "AM quality" warning a bit more seriously... :(

Granted, everything else is top notch and excellent. Customer service is great, Travis is a true gentleman there. Recording is simple and queuing the AC is even easier. Fright Ideas boasts 30 frames/sec response time on the AC, which allows you to be amazingly precise on the outlets, the actual build of the unit is fairly solid, everything is extremely high quality in concept and design, but there's no excuse for this kind of audio in today's age and standards, total letdown. The YouTube videos posted by Fright Ideas are without-a-doubt edited to cover up "actual" playback and do not represent what the units actually do. The clarity/quality of sound playback in those videos is extremely higher than what I'm hearing my units do.

For a $110 unit, I am very disappointed in one of its main features. I mean, from what I'm hearing, these sound chips and their storage probably cost absolutely next to nothing, literally! How much would it cost Fright Props to upgrade this to a reasonable compression for playback quality, probably a buck or a few bucks per unit? Exactly how much of my $110 in each unit is going towards the sound capabilities?

Anyone want to chime in on this observation, recommend units that have higher sound quality, or concepts on building your own controllers?
 

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I agree the sound it's that great. I think you would have to up to the BooBox4/8 because of the on board memory so there is no compression. I do own 3 of them but they all sound different to me. I also tried other settings in program, on main sound of computer and can't hit that mark. I did change some of the audio with a program to make it sharper and it worked to some extent. I only have it running for one day so I really don't think people care about the sound. I have so many thing going on that I'm sure some of it gets lost anyway. If you want true non compressed sound you could also use DMX but that's another story.
 

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I'm not sure just what kind of sound you are looking for but I have never heard anyone complain while going thru my haunt that the sounds sounded like crap. I have just about every product that Fright Ideas makes and I'm very satisfied with them. Now if you want very loud and blarring sounds then run the sounds thru a 3,000 watt amp and blow their ears off. Thats what one of our club members did with his Picboo. Everyone has their own personnal opinions on what their haunts should look and sound like and its a matter of how much you want to spend for just a few nights a year. For me its to have as much action for my buck then to have a lot of background sounds. But then again, this is only my 2 cents worth. And yes I have bought and tried other mid range price controllers and their sounds aint no better.
 

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Keeper of Spider Hill
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I just got my Pico Boo last week. I played around with the audio on it for a couple of hours. Funny thing is, my ambient track sounds awesome and is crystal clear, but I am having trouble getting a good scream loaded for my scare track. Part of that has to do with the files not being what they should be though. For the money, I still think it is a cool little product. I don't think it is any better or worse than the cowlacious boards I have. I do agree though, that I would be willing to pay a bit more per unit for a better sound option. :rolleyes:
 

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i use a 104 for my slayer prop, with a computer speaker and sub woofer set up.
I found the frequency response of the recording unit to be far from flat. I used the same speaker setup to monitor my playback while recording my sounds and noticed the playback was very lifeless with a lot less bass coming from the sub than the original track. Fortunately I have cool edit pro and was able to re mix the tracks and EQ them to sound good after being recorded on the 104.
i think the sound chip is just not that great quality but for such an inexpensive controller I don't expect better. My point is you can get around it by EQing your sounds with more bass and less mid frequencies if your so inclined.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Partly because I'm an audiophile, and a sound engineer, for myself it just sounds unacceptable. I'm also a film enthusiast and honestly, sound is everything to capturing a mood. It sounds like the aural equivalent to the $10-$15 black box "voice recorders" you find at any store. All tracks lose significant highs and lows, their personality altogether. But yeah, you're right Spook, the average Joe isn't going to be paying attention to the qualities, but the ability to manipulate an atmosphere & scene and get "the jump" on an average Joe ToT is severely hindered when you have compression like this. Like anything, if you're not looking for it, you won't find/see it, so most people don't care about their sound quality.
But for example, what if the queue response on the picoBoo was slow and only a couple frames/sec? Well, people would be pissed off, it would be hard to operate and get the scene you want, but nobody is because the queue response is phenomenal and precise. Yet, the sound is quite the opposite, low quality and an inaccurate reproduction of the actual sound FX/music/etc going into it. By the way, amplifying speakers through the picoBoo will only increase sound by volume, it will not affect its quality.

I'm just pissed about those edited YouTube videos that are being promoted. It's false advertising and it's ******** frankly. The sound replication they present is nowhere NEAR actual replication. It's showing something the product does not do... I mean idk, I thought for the price, these units could at least provide a measly 2 minutes of decent quality audio... I've got them to where I'm mildly comfortable but nowhere near satisfied with the audio. Other than that, they are truly awesome little boxes with all the options for the outputs and programming.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
i use a 104 for my slayer prop, with a computer speaker and sub woofer set up.
I found the frequency response of the recording unit to be far from flat. I used the same speaker setup to monitor my playback while recording my sounds and noticed the playback was very lifeless with a lot less bass coming from the sub than the original track. Fortunately I have cool edit pro and was able to re mix the tracks and EQ them to sound good after being recorded on the 104.
i think the sound chip is just not that great quality but for such an inexpensive controller I don't expect better. My point is you can get around it by EQing your sounds with more bass and less mid frequencies if your so inclined.
I just saw your slayer prop, which is awesome btw, great job on that! The tracks I am providing are lossless WAVs and already have extremely large bass frequencies. EQing is definitely a quick fix for some people but yeah, there's no getting around that compression.
 

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thanks loogs. More of a band aid than a fix really. I re analyzed the track after recording it before EQ and wow the sound module is only good form 80hz- to about 8khz with a huge spike around the 1.5khz range. For you non audio people out there that =crap! my boosting the 80-100hz range and cutting the 1.5khz only made the track usable and ok defiantly no happy. Maybe some constructive communication with fright props might get somewhere but for a sub $100 controller i doubt it.
 

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I guess everyone has different opinions regarding props and prop controllers and I do fall into the "non audio people" group but I have no issues at all with the sound quality produced from the Picoboo 105s. I read someplace, and I dont recall where it was, that the lower end Picoboo models have sound that is closer to AM/FM radio and the higher end models are CD quality sound. I was actually impressed with the sound from my 105s. Hope you find a solution that will make your ears happy1
 

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I was just fiddling with it and here are my results. Set the volume to around 30% on the source you are recording from. This gives you pretty near CD quality but there is a catch. On cheap speakers even turned up you won't hear a thing. You need something pretty decent with a volume knob. It's not so much the compression it's more the amplification of the sound because it amplifies to the point of distrotion which sounds like static or AM/FM when the main volume is very high. Try another decent speaker set after trying this.
 

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Psychomaniac
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I'm using a picoBoo 105 for one of my props and I'm pretty impressed with the product. However, I'm not impressed by it's mono audio recording. I have to use it to trigger a DVD player to play my stereo sounds. The Nerve Center is mono as well so there aren't really any other choices in this price range. It is disappointing. With component prices being so low it could easily have higher quality stereo audio without a significant increase in cost.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I have to use it to trigger a DVD player to play my stereo sounds.
Haha that's so clever man! How do you have that setup? That is easily the best workaround to CD quality for these controllers. Are you soldering directly to the player's buttons or something else?

With component prices being so low it could easily have higher quality stereo audio without a significant increase in cost.
I know, that's exactly how I feel. I expressed this interest and my honest thoughts on the sound quality to Travis in an email, asking if he'll ever integrate the much higher sound quality of his BooBox8 to more practical models or at least upgrade. I haven't gotten a reply, he's probably not interested in customer feedback...

I was just fiddling with it and here are my results. Set the volume to around 30% on the source you are recording from. This gives you pretty near CD quality but there is a catch. On cheap speakers even turned up you won't hear a thing. You need something pretty decent with a volume knob. It's not so much the compression it's more the amplification of the sound because it amplifies to the point of distrotion which sounds like static or AM/FM when the main volume is very high. Try another decent speaker set after trying this.
I got the best results when the input gain was @ 70%, no EQ. My playback CD tracks are circa 1985, so the recording is naturally quieter, hence the higher amount of gain. Anything less would make the static too prominent, anything higher, the distortion would affect the track, but obviously input levels are entirely dependent on their source and the levels on each track. I'm somewhat content with what I'm hearing finally, even though there's no substitute for CD quality/near-CD quality, just took lots of trial-and-error with the programming and the playback...

I couldn't believe it either, but yeah, sending the output line to a large amplified system (100 watts, 150 watts, anything large) increased the clarity of the playback track pretty thoroughly! Because it's much louder, the subtleties that are greatly compressed finally come out! Of course, it would be 500% better sounding running CD quality through that amplified system, but it's a decent fix for the problem.

By the way, not really important, but one of my picoBoos has like a very mild short on one of the program buttons. Every time I go to program that outlet, I get a slight tingle running through my finger, haha anyone else have that problem?
 

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Psychomaniac
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I took apart a DVD player and soldered wires to the "Play" button on the front control panel. These wires go to a solid state opto-isolated relay that's triggered by my prop controller (via a switched 120vac outlet and a 5vdc power supply). This setup will work with most players (DVD or CD) but you also have to make sure the player reacts in the way you want when starting end ending tracks.
 

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RE Picoboo

Yes, after seeing the You Tube videos for the PicoBoo and being both a video and audio engineer, I'd have to say that the sound on those videos Was Not the Picoboo actually playing. It sounded totally dubbed.

I actually picked up a couple of the 104's. I have to agree that the sound is barely desirable if it is isolated. I'll probably be able to get away with it because I have a lot of loud ambient sound playing around the area.

Don't expect to put this in a quiet space by itself though. The sound will remind you of a walkie talkie. It has no bottom end.

I'm in full agreement with the other engineer. I'd pay another $20 for the features plus a little better audio quality, how about 12 bit??? Not to mention the fact that you probably not not even need 2 minutes of audio anyway. you only need about 90 seconds total really. Who is going to run the scare longer than 30 seconds? I'm only using 60 seconds for the whole thing.

The Mantis has 12 Bit, but I didn't want to then turn around and buy another amp to put on it's 5 watt output.

The Nerve center is also 5 watt and I couldn't get them to give me a straight answer on how many recording bits it has. I find it hard to imagine with the length it can record it would be over 8 bit, maybe they wouldn't tell me because it's only 6 bit! In any case, they lost a multiple sale over that.
 

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Wow old thread coming back into the fray. Where is Opentrackracer anyways? Haven't heard from him this year. Anyway...

Frightideas now has a MP3 16bit sound boobox flex which is a great controller but you need a Scaremaster($199) to program it. The problem with this is price justification. It breaks down to this.

Scaremaster(one time buy) $199




Boobox flex 2 output $159
Boobox flex 4 output $179
Boobox flex 8 output $199



Now you also need relay boards for 120v outputs each relay board has 4 120v outputs this is the way the 104/103's work NO/NC/C

1 relay board for the boobox flex 2 and 4 output $25
2 relay boards for the boobo flex 8 output $50



Or you can make them like the 105's plug into the outlets and done.

4 input relay pack $79
8 input relay pack $99




So lets say you bought the scaremaster controller already these are the total prices of the versions with the relay boards. I would do it this way unless you want the plug and play feature of the relay packs. Add the above packs to the base price.

booboxflex 2 $184
booboxflex 4 $204
booboxflex 8 $249


These prices may be high but the boobox 4 (which also has 8bit) is $199 and the boobox8 (which has mp3 audio) is $299. So if you are going for a 4/8 output I think boobox flex is a great controller. Not so much is you are using it for 2 inputs...but here is the rub. The boobox flex has 2 inputs for PIR/beam/pressure mat sensors so you can use a 4 input to control 2 props(each with 2 inputs) so it really is the cheaper route.
 

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Picoboo

I think it will work out for what I am doing.

You can make it work, just don't expect great audio. It should be ok mixed in with a bunch of other loud sounds and bass in the area.

In addition...............This isn't mentioned on the site. The picoboo has an amp capable of 30 Watts but the power supply you get with the box will not get you there. You're going to have to find a fatter power supply than the one that comes with it. The supplied power adapter only gives you about 6 watts. Heads up.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Psychomania, I'm placing an order tomorrow for a handful of the new picoFX units. It seems Travis heard the cries for sound quality, this unit is basically the 105 with dimming capabilities (power failures), extended programming options (great for variety), and of course, MP3 quality playback.

Of course, I wanted to pick Travis' brain more on the MP3 capabilities. He said the units have been tested extensively using 160kbps. Beyond that, such as 192kbps (personal "minimum" preference) or 256kbps, he said the units may possibly work just fine, but there is a lot of servicing between lighting effects and MP3 decoding. Playback may stutter or become choppy if the workload is too great.

I will piggybacking a 103 on each picoFX I get. I'll be sure to post back once I get wrap an analysis around these newer and quite promising picoFX units.



By the way, thanks for posting about the sound quality of the other controllers, that's always good insight, and of course, Industen, you are always the man when it comes to info and perspective! :)
 

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have to agree about the sound

Yes I am a sound guy. It is about AM quality for sure and a little noisey. Some things sound better than others on there, depending on the freq response.

That is the only thing I would complain about. Proce is not bad, now the added amp (which has helped me since I have lots of sounds and don't have to come up with extra amps) it really makes it simple, just hook a speaker, the matt and lights or whatever to the outlets and you are good.

I will say they work flawless every single time, year after year. You would think the matts would wear out, but I have had one for about 5 years and it has even been outside on the ground and had thousands of people stepping on it, and has been bent a little in storage, but still works every time.
 
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