Muro Box-N40 Update #12 -
New Resonance Box Design Proposal
Hello everyone, I am the inventor of Muro Box, Dr. Chen-Hsiang Feng.
This update is to discuss our brand-new resonance box design for the N40. We have touched upon this matter in previous updates (Update #6 and Update #7), but due to numerous factors to consider, a final decision was still pending. Here, we are presenting our proposal for the ultimate design. Since the scheduled timeline for November is to complete the entire music box hardware design, you still have the opportunity to provide us with new suggestions or modify the direction by the end of the month, so please take advantage of this opportunity to tell us your feedback via the form at the end of this update.
What is the Resonance Box in the N40 Campaign’s Main Video?
What you see in the campaign video is our existing product, a resonance box designed for N20 models. They have suitable size and produce excellent sound quality. So, if you already have the N20 resonance box, you can definitely continue to enjoy it for your N40 music box.
But why do we need a brand new design for N40 music boxes? The current N20-Resonance Box design has three limits:
- Wood Source: The zebra wood comes from Africa, and it seems that it isn’t a stable supply source for mass production in Taiwan.
- Insufficient Weight-Bearing Capacity: The N40 Sublime is 3.4 kilograms and the original N20 resonance box might not be able to support its heavy weight and crack after long-time use.
- High Shipping Costs: Since the resonance box is hollow, the shipping costs are higher than the actual production costs, which has been a significant challenge for us. The international shipping cost on our own store is a discounted price because we help customers pay 60% of the original airmail shipping fee. Therefore, reducing the international air shipping cost issue is our top priority in this new design.
What about the New Resonance Box?
We plan to include a resonance box as the “standard” accessory for the N40. All backers of the N40 Sublime and the N40 Standard will receive a new resonance box for free!
So, how did we achieve this? There are three significant design changes:
- The top cover of the resonance box can be opened, and the music box will be placed inside, serving as a shipping container. This solves the shipping cost issue.
- Inside the resonance box, we will install a sound post to distribute the weight to the bottom plate, addressing the weight problem of the N40.
- We will replace the zebra wood with a more commonly available wood to address material sourcing issues.
Here is a detailed explanation:
The Resonance Box As The Packaging Box
Since the resonance box is hollow and takes up a lot of shipping space, why not place the music box inside it? This way, there’s no need to incur additional shipping costs for the resonance box! To accommodate this purpose, we have made the following design changes:
1. The top panel is detachable, secured with six screws and locking with cross dowel nuts, allowing you to assemble and disassemble the top panel repeatedly without damaging the resonance box. We will include a hex key with your order to help you with the unboxing process.
2. The music box itself will be protected using high-density EPE foam. You may find that EPE foam’s particles are relatively large and may not provide the best texture, but due to the considerable weight of the music box, we have tested various materials in the past. Most fine-textured foam materials tend to be soft and unable to bear the heavy weight, and there are limited options for high-hardness foam suitable for this purpose. Therefore, our top priority here is to ensure the protection of the music box, with appearance being a secondary concern. Additionally, when using the music box, we recommend removing the foam from the resonance box for better sound transmission.
3. Because accessories for the music box, such as the power supply, also need to be placed inside the resonance box, the external dimensions of the resonance box will be increased to 38.4 cm x 22.6 cm x 13.7 cm to accommodate all the components.
4. Since the resonance box itself serves as the premium wooden music box packaging, we don’t want to use excessive artificial packaging design. In the current design, after placing the music box inside the resonance box, product information will be printed on the sleeve, and an additional layer of foam will be added to the outside of the sleeve. Finally, we will use a six- layer corrugated carton to ship each product set. On the corrugated carton, it will only show essential information to minimize the risk of being stolen during the shipping process.
Adding a Sound Post to the Resonance Box
The design of the resonance box is actually similar to musical instruments, where you need to pursue two opposing conditions: the thinner the wood, the better, but it must still maintain high strength without deformation. Currently, our top panel, with a thickness of 6mm, tends to deform under a pressure of 3.4KG from the N40 Sublime. That’s why we chose to use sound posts to increase strength.
However, because our design allows for the removal of the top cover, we cannot use glue to fix the sound posts in place. Instead, they are positioned and secured through friction after locking. You can adjust the position of the sound post to find the most suitable location.
Using a More Common Wood
In fact, there are too many preferences when it comes to wood selection. Based on my current understanding, music boxes fall under the categories of percussion instruments and idiophones. Generally, for these types of instruments, people are accustomed to using hardwood, known for its clear and clean sound characteristics. This is why we previously used zebrawood, which is a hardwood. Currently, the music boxes use woods like acacia and maple woods, which are also considered hardwoods. However, maple wood is often considered to have a very clean and featureless sound, so it is rarely used for instrument panels. But in the context of music boxes, having a clean sound is actually a desirable quality, making the use of maple wood in music boxes is perfectly acceptable.
The wood choice commonly preferred is actually softwoods, like spruce, for guitar soundboards. Softwoods are known for producing a loud sound with more sustaining effect. When we tested the sound effect of a resonance box by placing a MuroBox-N20 music box on a guitar in the past, however, many of our customers did not like the idea of using guitars as resonance boxes because they found the sound to be less crisp and not in line with the modern music box sound they were looking for. This is a primary reason we decided not to use a guitar for the new resonance box design.
However, in our current situation, the N40 Sublime with its “Sublime Harmony” design is no longer solely focused on clean sound. N40 Sublime’s sound is deeper and richer, and the design of the resonance box should emphasize and enhance this characteristic, much like the large disc music boxes designed in the 19th century that aimed for more complex and distinctive sound effects.
Hence, choosing a softwood may be a more reasonable choice for the current N40 music boxes, and we will make prototypes to verify our wood choice. Welcome everyone to give us your feedback regarding wood choice.
An unexpected change is the color allocation. Most softwoods’ colors are plain and whiter. Because we prefer to present the natural wood grain without covering it with colored paint, hence, the new resonance box design will look differently from the N20 resonance box’s darker color.
If you really don’t like the light color design for the new resonance box, please shot out to let us know!
Just like Shiao-Chen (the co-founder) told us immediately that she does not like the light color wood choice when we were drawing the 3D rendered images. Although I personally like the light-colored version, I understand that your preferences may differ from mine. So, there are two more options to consider: one is to use the protective paint with colors (similar to the current N20 resonance box), and the other is to use dark-color wood.
I believe that using colored protective paint is a bit counterproductive. If you appreciate wood, you should embrace its natural appearance because the value lies in the wood itself, not the paint. Therefore, unless the majority of you express a desire for this approach, I would prefer to keep the resonance box in its natural wood color.
Using dark-color wood would significantly increase the cost, making it infeasible for us to offer this resonance box as a complimentary for our N40 customers. For example, if we use acacia wood, even when considering only the cost, without considering the additional value in product appeal, the final price would need to increase by approximately $200.
So please tell us, are you satisfied with the current design of the N40 resonance box? Do you prefer a dark-colored paint finish, or would you like us to offer a dark-color wood as an add-on option for you to pledge it?
About the 6.5 mm Pickup Audio Output Moving from the Music Box to the Resonance Box
Originally, we designed the pickup to be placed on the inner side of the music box. However, after actual testing on our product sample, we found that due to its proximity to the mechanical movement, the pickup would pick up unwanted mechanical noise. So, we retested the placement and found that attaching the pickup to the inner side of the top panel of the resonance box yielded good results. The music signal remained strong while the mechanical noise was reduced to an acceptable level. Therefore, we will move the audio output from the rear of the music box to the front of the resonance box. Of course, if you have a preferred pickup, you are welcome to replace it with the model you like.
Thank you for your support for the Muro Box products and team. If you have any ideas to share with us, please submit it via the form below. Thank you for taking time to provide some feedback to help us make better designs!
Muro Box Inventor
Dr. Chen-Hsiang Feng
Thank you very much for providing feedback for us. The following is our responses to your suggestions. There is a new form below this update for you to vote which option you prefer. We will follow the option that gets the most backers’ votes.
The Resonance Hole on the Music Box
First of all, the openings (Resonance Holes) in front of the music box are actually decorative in nature, and producing sound is “not” their primary purpose. The true purpose of these openings is to prevent a reduction in the amplitude of the vibration of the upper and lower boards when the music box is in operation. This is achieved by allowing the internal air pressure to be released, preventing a build-up that could dampen the vibration of the panels. In other words, the absence of these openings will not cause the sound to disappear but may result in a somewhat duller sound (similar to the principles of acoustics). The sound of the music box is primarily generated by the vibration of the wooden box, which directly propels the air to produce sound, with the greatest contribution coming from the upper and lower boards rather than the openings.
Therefore, if we focus solely on functionality, the openings can be placed in any location. For example, placing them on the bottom board beneath the wooden box would be a suitable option. This way, the front side of the N40 music box can have a cleaner appearance, showcasing the beautiful natural wood grain. Do you wish for us to proceed in this direction?
The Nameplate on the Music Box
If the goal is to make the front side of the music box cleaner, another consideration is the nameplate. This time, we will remove the logo from the nameplate, allowing the entire panel to be a canvas for your creative expression. If you desire a cleaner look for the front of the music box, we have another option of relocating the nameplate to the resonant box. This way, the front of the music box, apart from the winding knob, will have no other elements, only showcasing the beautiful natural wood grain completely. You might find this approach too plain, or perhaps you think it’s an excellent idea – opinions may vary. Personally, we feel that having the nameplate in the center of the music box provides a more consistent and cohesive feel. What are your thoughts on this? Please let us know.
Of course, there is another option that is to completely remove the nameplate, but this option would eliminate some backers’ opportunities to add customized engraving designs (due to the impracticality of laser engraving on the wood box of N40; hence, this option is not provided).
The Hole on the Resonance Box
As for the resonance hole on the resonant box, our original design was actually decorative, similar to the design of the music box’s openings. At first, we chose a large circle-shaped hole. Thanks to Mr. Siegfried’s research findings, once again for providing information that proves this to be a suboptimal design. Therefore, we have decided to adapt to the evidence-based best design, which is a slender opening (for those interested, you can refer to the following paper: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspa.2014.0905).
Regarding the absence of “f-holes,” it’s because our box design doesn’t follow the modern violin’s gourd shape; it’s closer to the precursor of f-holes, the C-shaped holes found on square-bodied instruments. This is the reason behind our design choice.
As for whether the new elongated openings are better than circular ones, practical testing is needed to confirm. Currently, it’s a theoretical speculation. If f-holes were inherently superior, one might question why guitars, for example, don’t use them. There are likely pros and cons to each design.
However, please note that we have positioned the openings on the resonance box’s top board because, in all instruments, the direction of the openings is perpendicular to the direction of vibration. In other words, the openings should be located on the panel where the vibration is most significant for optimal effect.
When answering the following survey question, please consider the nameplate as well. Without circular openings on the front, the entire resonant box’s surface would be plain. Do you think it would be better to move the nameplate to the resonant box for a more aesthetically pleasing appearance?
The Color of the Resonance Box
Regarding the color of the resonant box, it seems that the majority of people have different preferences from mine. Therefore, we are tentatively offering three options: first, leaving it completely unfinished; second, applying a coffee-colored finish; and third, offering the option of Acacia wood (for an additional cost of USD 200+, exact pricing to be estimated). Can you accept this arrangement?
Muro Box Inventor
Dr. Chen Hsiang Feng
The Survey Result of Designing Muro Box-N40 Music Box and its Resonance Box
Update Date: 2023/11/28
I am Dr. Chen-Hsiang Feng, the inventor of Muro Box. Thank you all for your enthusiastic responses.
I am delighted that everyone is so concerned about the details of the music box design. We will implement the option with the highest number of votes. The following are the key points of the survey results:
Summary of Results:
- As 69% of people voted in favor, the location of the resonance holes for the N40 music box will be moved from the front side to the bottom panel.
- 2. The nameplate will remain on the front side of the N40 music box, preserving the existing Muro Box Logo and our brand’s English slogan (“All Memories in One Music Box”). However, based on our past experiences, there are instances that our customers will prefer to have no logo or slogan on it, such as in professional music performances or commercial photography sponsored by another brand. Therefore, we have decided that if customers request it, we will provide a second option: without the logo and brand slogan. If you have not added laser engraving, please check whether you would like us to provide a completely blank nameplate for you to create your own engraving design, or you wish to keep our default Muro Box Logo + brand slogan.
- 3. Regarding the resonance box, we will create two C-shaped holes on the top panel and engrave a 1mm shallow groove to secure the N40 in place. We will also try to engrave a 1 mm shallow groove to accommodate the N20 Lite/Standard version, allowing customers who purchase both N40 and N20 models to share this same resonance box.
- 4. We will keep the original design of the resonance box and offer three versions: (1) unpainted and unfinished (no additional cost), (2) adding coffee-colored paint (no additional cost), and (3) using Acacia wood (with additional cost). To our surprise, 43% of backers voted to pay an additional fee to upgrade to the rosewood resonance box. As Acacia wood requires pricing and inquiries with suppliers starting from raw materials, we will announce further details later.
Thank you for your attention and participation in the decision-making process.
Inventor of Muro Box
Dr. Chen-Hsiang Feng
Survey Results Summary: N40 Music Box and Resonance Box Design
Up to November 27, 2023, we have collected a total of 77 survey responses. The summarized results are as follows:
1. Regarding the Position of the Resonance Holes on the N40 Music Box
The current resonance holes on the front side of the N40 music box are primarily for decorative purposes, as the entire wooden box of the music box serves as a sound resonator. In this question, we inquired whether participants agree to remove the sound holes, allowing the music box to retain a complete wooden box structure and reduce perforations. The options and results are as follows:
Option (A): Agreed to remove the sound holes from the front of the music box and relocate them to the bottom panel. 48 people, 69%.
Option (B): Disagreed with removal and preferred to retain the current design of three horizontal line-shaped sound holes on the front of the music box. 11 people, 16%.
Option (C): Disagreed with removal but suggested changing the shape of the sound holes to a more decorative design. 11 people, 16%.
As 69% of people agreed to remove the sound holes from the front of the music box, we will relocate the sound holes to the bottom panel, maintaining the front of the music box in its entirety and reducing perforations.
2. About the Nameplate on the Front Side of Muro Box-N40
We asked for opinions on the treatment of the front metal nameplate with three options, and the results are as follows:
Option (A): Retain the existing nameplate style with Muro Box Logo and brand slogan (“All Memories in One Music Box”) to maintain a consistent design style for Muro Box-N20 Standard, N40 Standard, and N40 Sublime. 31 votes, 43%.
Option (B): Retain a nameplate on the front with only the Muro Box Logo, omitting the brand slogan. Move the logo to a less prominent location, such as the corner or border. 20 votes, 28%.
Option (C): Completely remove the front nameplate. If there is a customized laser engraving requirement, a separate inconspicuous area will be designated for installing a nameplate, for example, installing a nameplate for customized laser engraving behind the N40 Standard mode’s cylinder on the top panel. 21 votes, 29%.
Based on the above results, the N40 music box will retain the nameplate on the front, maintaining the Muro Box Logo and brand slogan: “All Memories in One Music Box.” However, due to our past experiences where certain occasions require the music box to have no logo and slogan, such as professional music performances or commercial photography, we have decided to provide a second option: a nameplate without the logo and slogan if customers request it. If you have not added a customized laser engraving service fee, you can select whether you would like us to provide a completely blank nameplate for your creative freedom or display our default Muro Box Logo + brand slogan.
3. About the Resonance Box Design
In this question, we want to know our customers’ preference in terms of the design details of the N40 Resonance Box, so we will provide the following four options to let them check whether they agree on some of the options.
Explanation of Proportional Calculation for this Multiple-Item Question:
This represents the percentage of people who chose each option out of the total number of respondents. For example, if there are 77 respondents and 91% of them chose option D, it means 91% of the 77 respondents selected that option. Each option is calculated separately, so the sum of the percentages for each option will exceed 100%. This explanation is provided to help understand the level of agreement among participants regarding these resonance box designs.
Option (A): Add a nameplate to the front of the resonance box. 11 people, 14%.
Option (B): Keep circular sound holes on the front of the resonance box. 11 people, 14%.
Option (C): Place the resonance holes on the top wooden board of the resonance box and carve C-shaped holes on both sides of the music box. 47 people, 61%.
Option (D): Engrave a 1mm shallow groove on the top of the resonance box to align with the feet of the music box, reducing the chance of the music box accidentally being pushed off the resonance box and damaged. 70 people, 91%.
Based on the integrated voting results, we will open two C-shaped sound holes on the top panel of the N40 resonance box and engrave a 1mm shallow groove to secure the N40 in place. We will also try to engrave holes that can accommodate the N20 Standard and N20 Lite models, allowing customers who purchase both N40 and N20 models or existing N20 customers to use the same resonance box.
4. About the Color of N40 Resonance Box
We plan to release three options for our customers to choose, so we make this survey to better understand everyone’s preference.
Option (A): The overall unfinished version in a light color (no additional cost). 15 people, 17%.
Option (B): The version with a coffee-colored paint, similar to the current color of the N20 resonance box (no additional cost). 36 people, 40%.
Option (C): Changing the softwood to a hardwood: Acacia wood (additional cost estimated at USD 200; the final price will be quoted again based on the order quantity to let the supplier confirm it). 38 people, 43%.
According to the original plan, the resonance box will be available in these three colors for customers to choose from. What was unexpected is that 43% of our customers voted to pay an additional fee to upgrade to the Acacia wood for the N40 resonance box. Since Acacia wood requires pricing and inquiries with suppliers starting from its raw material, we will announce detailed information and the final additional purchase price after confirming with its supplier.
5. Other Suggestions/Comments
We have carefully read and considered each opinion, and we have incorporated every suggestion into the evaluation process. The conclusions for each aspect were made by integrating the voting results, which include considerations such as the suggestion from loyal customers to add N20 grooves on the resonance box, and to provide default and blank nameplates for the music box.
Regarding other suggestions or questions that fall outside the scope of the resonance box or music box design in this survey, we will respond with individual emails to thank our dear backers.
Here is a summary of the opinions/comments related to this survey:
【About the Color and Appearance】
◆Dan G.: I have selected A for question 6 as it will allow the owner to finish it in a color stain or style of their choice to fit their home decor.
◆Michael M.: I prefer no name plate at all but if it has to have one I prefer the nameplate on the front panel of the music box like original designs but only to say Muro Box … not the slogan. Thank you!
◆James N.: I will provide all my feedback and suggestions here so it’s easier. I have made pledges for three N40 Standard products, so my comments are all for this model, but can be applied to the other models if possible.
(A) I agree to relocating the frontal opening to the bottom board (to the side or back face) as well as to keeping the nameplate centered on the front of the music box, because I prefer the cleaner look. But I also want to know if there’s any reason the frontal music selector knob cannot be relocated too? I think the knob should be moved to the top surface of the wood in the front corner. (I wish I could attach a pic but there’s no option to do that). This design will offer two benefits: (1) the front will look more symmetrical (especially with the centered nameplate), clean and aesthetically pleasing, and (2) it will provide better usability for the knob — If the knob is in the front, and you accidentally press it too hard, the music box might slide back, but if the knob is on the top and you press it hard downward, it won’t slide anywhere.
(B) I think the nameplate should remain on the music box and NOT on the resonance box. (Question: Even though the resonance box will be included with the music box, can the music box function normally without the resonance box?). For example, if for any reason, a person wants to display/use the music box by itself, the nameplate is still there for show.
(C) I agree with your decision to remove the logo completely from the nameplate, to maximize the space for custom engraving. However, as a company/brand, I think you should always show your logo on your products. To me, the best location to put the MuroBox logo is to engrave it on a small circular plate and install it next to the cylinder on the upper board of the N40 Standard music box (same location in the photo you provided for question 3 option C of this survey). I understand the N40 Sublime doesn’t have this space available. The other option (for all models) is can’t you engrave the logo onto some visible, metal component of the brass/alloy base itself?
(F) Question: When requesting for custom engraving designs later, can you include info about the size, text, graphic limitations as well as what file format to submit?”
◆Brad O.: While I do agree with many other backers that the light color of the natural softwood resonance box is not the aesthetic I prefer, softwoods that have darkened from aging have a very nice look that I think far fewer people would dislike. Would it be possible to artificially age spruce or another softwood using UV, as I have read on luthier forums? That may be a nice compromise to allow use of a wood that will provide brighter sound, while costing less, and without resorting to paint or other coatings (which I agree is the least appealing option; natural wood is best).
I appreciate the contrast created by using two different woods on the music box and resonance box. Since I have upgraded to Acacia on the music box itself, I worry that an Acacia resonance box introduces the issue of two pieces of the same wood next to each other; due to variation present in natural materials, unless care is taken to select complimentary pieces—which seems like a burdensome and unrealistic suggestion—this risks a mismatched appearance on two intimately-paired pieces.
◆Mauno M.: Would prefer the current color of the resonant box. But I would definitely prefer that slightly lighter shade of brown (more golden tone) that is seen on some of the photos (where the music box is on the shelf for example). If this is not possible then I would prefer the unfinished box.
【About Keepign Dust Away and Protecting Wood Box】
◆Leung Wang L.: Can considering provide a dust cover for whole the resonance box with the music box (a mold hard shell or a cloth cover)
◆Christophe D.: I checked A for question 6 … but it is said unfinished: I think that an oil finish (uncoloured) is required in order to protect the wood and increase its lifetime.
◆James N.: (D) Question: If the resonance box will use the natural (unfinished) color, will it still be treated with some clear coating to offer better protection?
【About Recording Setting/ Sound Effect】
◆Siegfried P.: About the resonance box. Depending on the design I will go for the acacia wood or not. If I do not go for the acacia wood I would like a box that I can finish myself.
◆James N.: (E) Question: I don’t know what “pickup audio” is. Can you explain what it is, and the reason you need to have a “”pickup audio output”” in your design?
◆Daniel M.: “Regarding the hole in the resonance box: I’m voting for whichever option (when prototyped and listened to) produces the most optimal resonant tone.
◆Question about question 6: are options (A) and (B) softwood? Does the overall sound differ between A/B and C? (I’m guessing it’ll be a while before you can answer this question/that you haven’t reached the stage of building physical prototypes yet.) Thanks for this thoughtful survey and for all your hard work!
◆Alex B.: I may yet add the Acacia Wood resonator box to my order, so that it’s fully matching N40 Sublime. However I can’t guarantee that the funds will be there for that, especially since I upgraded to Sublime after further testing using your stream. Otherwise, thank you for all of the updates and I would of course encourage you to continue with all of your amazing work.
After reading all the updates again, what I’m finding myself most curious about next are the volume options and whether more rapid striking could be enabled by setting N40 Sublime up for lower volume? As in five or up to six strikes per second instead of the proposed 4 notes per second?
Also whether the higher volume model would be recommended to drown out the motor noise, so the grinding noise would be less audible? However I’m afraid that if I choose the higher volume model, then it could drown out the sound of my other acoustic instruments and I’d need to throw a pillow over it or put it far away from the microphones recording, which I’d of course prefer not to do.
I’m also curious (for the sake of comparison); what is the current maximum per-note-speed for the N40 Standard?
Finally, I’m so curious about what the current microphone situation is with the test stream? I hear room ambience, like traffic and working and I have heard folks humming along to my test compositions and that is particularly satisfying. Let me know for reference please, is there any direct contact microphone feed in the mix, or is it all from one nearby “room” microphone?
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Muro Box-N40 Kickstarter Campaign: 10/26-11/25
100% Funded in the first 2 hours!
Our Kickstarter Campaign launched on 10/26 is 100% Funded in the first 2 hours! Thank you very much for all of our backers’ super early support!
We will do our best to refine both hardware and software during and after the campaign ends.
When the products are shipped to you, you will be as excited as we are when hearing and seeing the live performance of Muro Box-N40!