All things JIMIBOX
What market needs this product?
What benefit does this product bring to the market?
How does the product double the functions of traditional speaker enclosures?
The photos above don’t make it clear how the enclosure works as a double floor monitor. Can you explain it?
Am I limited to a single angle of the speaker faces? What if I want 30° or 40° depending on the circumstances?
Some Karaoke speaker enclosures have speakers on two sides -- front and side -- how is your product different?
What are the benefits of an enclosure that can project two separate sound signals?
When used as combination of FOH/FB as described above, the volume needed for the audience should be much higher than that needed for the stage area, won’t there be a lot of feedback issues?
My powered mixer doesn’t have a monitor-out capability, how can I still use the product as a floor monitor?
What if I don’t have a separate amp for a monitor mix, or even a monitor out from my mixer, how do I control the separate volumes of your product from my mains?
Why use L-pads for your volume controls, doesn’t that add to cost?
Is this product a powered or a passive speaker?
The prototype shown uses ¼” phone jacks, does it come with Speakons® as well?
There is mention of the JIMIBOX being a stereo speaker, does it accept a stereo ¼” stereo phone plug or mini?
Is the product difficult to use?
Most speaker enclosures are rectangular, this one is obviously a cube. Aren’t cubes bad for enclosures because of conflicting resonances?
According to audio formulas, there does not seem to be enough “air volume” in this product to produce high-quality audio. How is this overcome?
Does this product use crossovers?
Is this enclosure ported? How much bass can I get out of them?
Why is the handle placed on the front edge of the enclosure rather than the top or sides?
Is it possible to make this with a third set of speakers on the top?
Are these as small as they look in the photos?
What is the weight of the prototypes as shown?
What is the expected consumer cost once these are manufactured and distributed to stores?
Is this product patented?
Why didn’t someone think of this before?
When and where can I get one?
Q: What market needs this product?
A: This product solves many typical problems faced by the largest portion (estimated at 90%) of the portable PA market: the local and regional bands who use portable PA gear. It may not be of much use in large touring setups, because it's designed to be a small and lightweight speaker enclosure with physical size limitations.
Q: What benefit does this product bring to the market?
A: The full answer is complex, but essentially the product is a small-footprint speaker enclosure that takes up very little room onstage and provides versatile uses as specialized floor monitor or main speaker, more than doubling the functions and capabilities of traditional speaker enclosures.
Q: How does the product double the functions of traditional speaker enclosures?
A: Traditional pro sound enclosures are designed to present speakers on only one side of the enclosure and are designed to handle only a single signal from a mixer or amplifier. This product presents two speaker faces with optional independent volume controls; a passive version is capable of two separate signals or a single mono signal.
Q: The photos above don’t make it clear how the enclosure works as a double floor monitor. Can you explain it?
A: Basically, the enclosure is a box with one of the corners chopped off -- truncated -- providing a triangle section which is used as a base. When placed on this base, the two speaker sides are angled upwardly at an angle, so it is no different from most traditional floor monitors, except there are two angled panels and two sets of speakers in a single enclosure.
There is a secondary base with a pole socket when used as a front-of-house (FOH) main speaker.
Q: Am I limited to a single angle of the speaker faces? What if I want 30° or 40° depending on the circumstances?
A: Most all floor monitors come with a choice of only one and sometimes two possible angles. To have something more adjustable you’d have to modify the enclosure significantly or add an external shim or telescopic leg. I have designs for an adjustable base but do not anticipate it as a necessity.
NOTE: The angle at which the corner is cut will change the angle of speaker presentation. In a perfect world we could offer enclosures with various angles. But 45° is where we are now. Let us know what YOU think.
Q: Some Karaoke speaker enclosures have speakers on two sides -- front and side -- how is your product different?
A: Karaoke speakers with two speaker faces still only carry a single signal to both sides, usually one on a larger face going to the audience and the one on the shorter side going to the performer so they can hear the pre-recorded music and their added vocal. Our product can operate in exactly the same manner, but optionally sends separate signals in separate directions. This means that when used as both a FOH/side-fill foldback (FB) the audience might hear the performance with effects and the performer receives a drier monitor signal, reducing microphone feedback, etc.
But of course, the product is capable of much more and is far more versatile than the two-panel type of karaoke enclosure. There are no two-baffle Karaoke speakers that can be used as floor monitors. Obviously, our enclosure would be suitable as a karaoke speaker as well.
Q: What are the benefits of an enclosure that can project two separate sound signals?
A: The simple answer is that one enclosure can do the same job as two traditional enclosures...and more. In most instances each performer wants their own monitor and, ideally, an individual mix. For most semi-pro stages, it's just a dream to have individual mixes. But, with the JIMIBOX, a simple solution exists in most PA mixers: the pan feature. By sending a stereo mix out, a left-panned signal to one side and a right-panned signal to the other, the mix can be split so two performers hear their specific performance, rather than a generic mono-mix.
One JIMIBOX can be used as both a "wet" FOH and a "dry" FB at the same time. For example: if you place the product at the side of the stage, you can have one set of speakers sending the main signal towards the audience and a monitor mix inward towards the performers. This can eliminate a whole lot of setup time, complexity and costs.
Q: When used as combination of FOH/FB as described above, the volume needed for the audience should be much higher than that needed for the stage area, won’t there be a lot of feedback issues?
A: If used as described, the sound signals are separate and the volumes can be controlled at either the amplifier or on the product itself. Using the JIMIBOX controls, simply dial up the volume to the audience, and dial back the volume to the performers, right on the enclosure itself.
Q: My powered mixer doesn’t have a monitor-out capability, how can I still use the product as a floor monitor?
A: The product was originally concieved and designed for exactly this situation. I call this setup an in-line monitor, because I can send the main signal to the monitor before it reaches the main. Technically, it might be called something else, maybe a foldback-to-FOH signal, etc.
Using typical 8Ω full-range speakers per side in our product, a mono signal to both sets of speakers is 4Ω. Our passive version, when two separated signals are used they are split so each is actually at 8Ω. So, you can send the left and right signals from a powered mixer into separate sides of the FB enclosure and plug other FOH 8Ω speakers into the outbound jacks of the FB resulting in a 4Ω load on each channel. This also theoretically increases the efficiency of the power amplifier and also increases the volume from all the speakers. Just make sure that you dial down the volume on our product before powering up because too much power might blow the speakers.
That being said, the product could be manufactured with a wide variety of speakers, and resistances. I have tested prototypes using 4Ω, 8Ω and 16Ω configurations and up to 1000W Peak power. Production models will likely be 8Ω per side, as described.
VERY IMPORTANT: You must always understand how adding speakers to your signal chain will change the overall resistance of the signal at the amplifier. This is one of the most misunderstood things about portable PAs, so please learn about it and save yourself from a costly mistake. Do not create a serious problem by going to a resistance lower than your amp is designed to handle, you might permanently damage your amp.
Q: What if I don’t have a separate amp for a monitor mix, or even a monitor out from my mixer, how do I control the separate volumes of your product from my mains?
A: The prototypet is designed with a hefty L-pad volume control for each speaker set. Simply turn the volume knobs way down when you set up and adjust the knobs for the stage volume you are comfortable with. These volume controls bypass the signal output and affect only the volume of the internal speakers. If you elect a FOH/FB setup as described above, you can set the audience-facing speakers at a high volume and the stage-facing one at a lower volume.
Q: Why use L-pads for your volume controls, doesn’t that add to cost?
A: In our demo units we use resistance-matched L-pads because they are designed to withstand high-power amplifier signals yet remain at a constant impedance. Typical low-cost potentiometers are not designed for the rigors of pro sound speakers. Even the best potentiometers utilize variable resistance, meaning they could cause serious damage to expensive amplifiers. L-pads cost considerably more, but I found they are the best available volume adjustment component for in-enclosure use at this time. We feel that localized volume control is an important feature.
Q: Is this product a powered or a passive speaker?
A: I expect a manufacturer would be interested in both self-powered and passive versions of this speaker. The powered version would likely send a single signal to both sides. Making this product capable of handling two separate signals in a self-powered configuration would require an internal two-channel amplifier, or two separate amplifiers. A passive version could allow two separate signals from an external amplifier as described previously. I have developed circuitry that allows a JIMIBOX to be BOTH powered AND passive. This has already been done by a speaker manufacturer in the past.
Q: The prototype shown uses ¼” phone jacks, does it also come with Speakons®?
A: I used phone jacks on our initial passive prototypes for several reasons. First, they were inexpensive and easy to install. Second, I wanted to try out the demo units with all kinds of amplifier sources including guitar amps, and older amps. One of our early test amps was a Fender® Passport 250D which used only phone plugs. Thirdly, we wanted to make the product split signals automatically without switches.
The circuitry we used in our preproduction demo units is not proprietary and is shown extensively on the Web: where a mono signal from the first 2-pole ¼” phone plug travels through a 3-pole ¼” stereo input to both sets of speakers; when a second 2-pole ¼” phone plug is inserted into the 3-pole stereo jack, it circumvents the circuit from the first signal and creates an entirely separate circuit.
I eventually adapted to Speakon® combo connectors, but there is no way I have found (so far) that we can have the signals switch automatically. Currently, using Speakons, I simply add a manual switch to isolate the two sides. That being said, Speakon combo jacks (which can also take a ¼” phone plug) are the best way to go for commercial passive units because nearly all modern pro amps are designed to use the superior Speakon connectors.
Q: There is mention of the JIMIBOX being a stereo speaker, does it accept a stereo ¼” stereo phone plug or mini?
A: Currently, the only way to get a stereo sound from the prototype is to use two separate ¼” standard 2-pole phone plugs, one in each input. There are available adapters to do this if all you have is a single stereo plug. If a single-jack stereo is deemed commercially important, it is possible to produce but would require different or additional input jacks, circuitry. The JIMIBOX design could easily be shrunk to a small stereo or Bluetooth® desktop speaker for the home or commercial audio market where the mini plug is ubiquious.
Q: Is the product difficult to use?
A: It can be simple or complicated depending on how you want to use it.
Fundamentally it is quite simple: you can plug in one signal and it sends the signal to both sets of speakers. Or you can put two signals in and it can separate to the two sides. You adjust each side’s volume independently with a knob mounted right on its face (or maybe elsewhere, depending on final product). It is even easy to daisy-chain with another speaker in mono mode or even with two signals. The output jacks are unaffected by the internal volume controls.
However, things can get complicated, as can any group of speakers if the setup is complex. We have diagrams of various possible setups we included in our patent application which must have made the examiner’s head hurt. If you want some examples just let us know, or view our patent artwork.
Q: Most speaker enclosures are rectangular, this one is obviously a cube. Aren’t cubes bad for enclosures because of conflicting resonances?
A: Without going into technicalities best left for acoustic engineers, our prototype enclosure is an incomplete cube. It is 7-sided, not 6. One of the sides is a triangle, three are pentagrams and three are rectangles. Because the enclosure is a combination of different size sides and angles, enclosure resonance becomes less of a problem than you might think. Acoustic absorption materials could be employed, though we've found it unnecessary so far. If necessary, individual speaker panels can also be isolated with sub-chambers to avoid phasing. We have built passive prototypes with sub-chambers. Either way, we’ve never noticed any phasing in typical live sound use. Sub-chambers are not a bad idea.
A new design we are working on is similar, but not a true cube as the top and sides are of different dimensions. This new design may better accomodate various off-the-shelf plate amplifiers which do not fit into our cube version. Tests are underway.
Q: According to audio formulas, there does not seem to be enough “air volume” in this product to produce high-quality audio. How is this overcome?
A: Though the product does an excellent job for what it is intended, it should not be compared to high-quality home audio. Nor should any pro sound speaker.
The needs of a stage performer and his gear are quite different than the home audiophile. The stage performer needs to be able to hear the performance clearly in order to know if he is on key, playing the correct passage at the right time, etc. The focus for pro sound is on what the audience hears, sure, but the performer usually simply wants to know if what he or she doing is correct -- they simply want to hear themselves and their group. Certainly the higher-quality the stage sound is, the better a performer will like it, but it is not the most critical aspect to be considered.
All pro sound enclosures represent trade-offs in one way or another. Size, transport, weight, and ruggedness are balanced against sound fidelity. If one were to use audiophile formulas on a pro sound enclosure, FOH mains would be the size and weight of Volkswagons, and subwoofers might be the size of Mack trucks. Instead, pro sound has to compromise on many things and cabinet size is one of them.
Q: Does this product use crossovers?
A: Most of my prototypes have used full-range speakers. I investigated the use of coaxial speakers with crossovers but it simply increased the costs to a point where only pro's would buy them and I care more about the semi-pro and the limited budgets they have to work with. Crossovers could be used with a two- or three-way configuration, but I discovered that full-range speakers or inexpensive piezo tweeters provide a workable, more affordable option, simplifying circuitry and eliminating the need for crossover components. We have built a few prototypes with 500W peak Dayton Audio® and custom-built Eminence® speakers with a range of 60-9000+Hz which are suitable for most situations. A manufacturer will have their own solutions.
Q: Is this enclosure ported? How much bass can I get out of them?
A: My prototype units are sealed enclosures so there are no ports. A ported box would likely produce more bass, but would also need to be physically larger.
More bass would be important if the product was intended primarily for FOH, but less as a stage monitor. Most mains don't go much lowerthan 60 or 80 Hz, and that is why they make subwoofers. Generally speaking, floor monitors are made to allow performers hear themselves and their instruments on stage. This means loudspeakers that can produce sound in the 80-5000Hz are usually fine. To get a bit more sizzle from things like cymbals, a ceiling of around 16000Hz would help. An electric guitar's clean range is about 82Hz (low E) to 700Hz (not counting harmonics) and with heavy distortion from 82Hz to about 15KHz. A standard bass guitar may get as low a 60hz, and seven- and 8-string basses can get as deep as 30Hz. However, most performers don't want heavily distorted guitars in their monitor mixes. The bass player usually can hear their instrument fine from their bass amp. Too much bass "muddies" a monitor and is not what most performers want. If you want that much bass blowing in your face on stage, plug in and turn around a subwoofer.
Q: Why is the handle placed on the front edge of the enclosure rather than the top or sides?
A: A handle or handles could be placed in other places. However, when we designed our demo units we wanted to keep the top clear of any hardware so the logo stood out. Or fora place to hold the plate amp. Basically, a design choice. The passive prototype sides hold jackplates and there was room for handles there, but the product would feel out of balance if lifted from the sides. Instead, we placed the handle where it was best balanced for one-handed carrying. It is different but efficient. Iit also looks kind of cool at the same time. Being different, efficient, and cool is what the JIMIBOX is all about.
Q: Is it possible to make this with a third set of speakers on the top?
A: As a matter of fact, yes. It would require additional circuitry, very careful mathematics, and a hard look at construction and design to work it all out. It would also add substantially to costs of manufacture because of internal baffles and more driver components. However, I already envisioned how such a product could be used in rehearsal spaces, in-the-round concert settings, and as a center-of-stage FOH/FB combination. A three-speaker panel product is covered in our patent, in case I ever want to make one.
Q: Are these as small as they look in the photos?
A: Though I have made even smaller versions (which in fact worked on very small stages) the ones pictured are 14” cubes (except for the corner truncation). When used as floor monitors, these were powerful enough as FOH for many small rooms, even some outdoor gigs. Floor monitors don’t have to blow your hair back, just let you know what you are doing — unless you are a drummer, who probably needs more volume than the others on stage. Our 1000W prototype is the same size and handles about 250W RMS on each speaker side. That would mean 500W RMS at 4Ω mono. More than enough for any situation. The whole idea is not to have something big and loud, but compact; great sound; lightweight and versatile. After all, we are focused on portable PA, not touring PA.
Q: What is the weight of the prototypes as shown?
A: My prototypes were over-built from ¾” baltic birch plywood. An entry-level production model is likely to be half-inch MDF, with custom drivers. Expected weight should be between 24-28 lbs. The drivers and other components themselves could weigh a combined 16 lbs. So, when we say that most adults could carry two, we aren’t exaggerating.
Q: What is the expected consumer cost once these are manufactured and distributed to stores?
A: The answer is subject to the ultimate costs of manufacture, distribution and marketing. Given that there are two sets of speakers and more circuitry than a traditional speaker, it will likely be more than its single traditional counterpart. But also, because it does the job of two traditional speakers, it would likely be much less than purchasing two traditional enclosures of similar quality. For example, if a traditional speaker cabinet cost $250 and two would cost $500, my product would cost somewhere in between, maybe $350. For most commercially-available speakers, it is the internal components and assembly that are the greatest costs, not the enclosure itself.
Q: Is this product patented?
A: Yes, it has a US patent. U.S. Utility Patent 8,967,323 B1 The patent was approved in December, 2014.
Q: Why didn’t someone think of this before?
A: Good question!
I guess it is because speaker designers and manufacturers have never thought a whole lot about all the real-world conditions "local" or semi-pro musicians have to deal with—either on stage, in transport, or in the wallet. And up until now, real-world musicians never figured out what kind of product might fit those conditions better...
The professional loudspeaker designers who work for manufacturers have other things they've been focused on. I simply focused on solving some basic problems musicians face, rather than which grill pattern might look best or what shape a vent hole should be.
It took a gigging musician with a penchant for problem-solving and dedication to the task to work this all out. And the JIMIBOX is the result.
Q: When and where can I get one?
A: This product is seeking a manufacturer. A prototype was shown to the industry at NAMM in January 2017. Retailer response was reported to be very favorable, though the final product was never produced. If you are an interested manufacturer or think you can help find one for me, let's talk.