Muro Box-N40 Update #6 -
Sound Box Design Direction and Music Range (Survey #5)

Hi Everyone,

I’m Dr. Chen Hsiang Feng, the founder and inventor of Muro Box. The following is the summary of this update.

  1. The major design options for N40 standard model
  2. Why we will not release the N40 Classic model during this year’s campaign
  3. Please tell us about your views via the Survey #5 (Sound Box Design).

1. The Major Design Direction for N40 Standard Model Needs Your Feedback

We think that the sound box of music boxes on the market are mostly designed with the concept of “wooden box”. That is, the focus of the design is how to “accommodate” the movement of the music box and add beautiful artistic “decoration” to the wooden box.

But according to our understanding, most subscribers’ expectations, especially those who want to use the N40 as a musical instrument, they hope to hear the sound effect like a musical instrument. Correctly speaking, what they want us to do is “sound box”.

To make wooden boxes, we need to find people who make furniture, and to make sound boxes, we need to find people who make musical instruments. These two are different industries. It is extremely difficult to meet both expectations.

Our current design goal is to use the music box as a musical instrument, that is, we tend to look at the design of the music box from the perspective of designing a “sound box”.

Please tell us, the way you look at the wood box of N40, is it a “crafted wooden box” or a “great sound box”?

Our Test Results for “Music Instrument” as the Goal for Design:

From the past experience of N20 development, we know that the wooden box design is the most important key to affect the sound quality. The additional resonance box of the N20 standard model is to improve the sound of the wooden box of the music box itself, so the resonance box is used to improve the sound.

Our initial thought this time was that the N40 should not have a separate resonance box, and the music box itself should have sufficient sound effects. But after research we found that it is not so simple. Sound and appearance are difficult to achieve together with a great balance.

If the requirement is an instrument-level sound, then we have to cooperate with people who make instruments. So we visited the only guitar manufacturer with mass-production equipment and skills in Taiwan. This company’s website is as follows: Our test method is to place the N20 on guitars and ukuleles of various sizes and shapes, and actually listen to them one by one to distinguish their sound effects from those different music instruments’ bodies.

Muro Box N20 is played on an acoustic guitar to test whether the resonance effect is better than the existing resonance box.
Muro Box N20 is played on an acoustic guitar to test whether the resonance effect is better than the existing resonance box.

As a result, no matter the volume of the sound or its details, the guitar significantly improves the sound effects of the music box. At the same time, the design of the soundboard braces on the front and the back panels are obviously related to the placement of the music box and the sound effects.

I still remember that there was intermittent heavy rain outside the house that day, and the sound of raindrops hitting the roof was extremely loud. In fact, the sound played by the music box could not be heard much. But the moment the music box is placed on the guitar, it’s like turning on the power switch, and suddenly the notes explode in the ears, which is quite impressive.

But things are not that simple, otherwise we would not be here to communicate with you how to design next.

A corner of the guitar manufacturer: the soundboards of guitars (front and back sides)
A corner of the guitar manufacturer: the soundboards of guitars (front and back sides)

If the sound quality is the only thing you care the most for N40, the following is what you should know:

Please listen to the video below to compare the sound effects of the N20 music box on the original resonance box and on the guitar. We use the same recording device in the same environment, and the distance between the microphone and the music box is about 40 cm.

The first finding is the improvement of the sound effect during the test, which is based on the accumulation of the guitar’s production as a musical instrument with several hundred years of history. In other words, even a small change in the appearance of the wood case will significantly change the final sound effect of the music instrument. For example, if the waist of the guitar is replaced by a perfect circle shape, and the sound characteristics will sound like a Chinese musical instrument, such as the Zhongruan. Please note that this is not a theory, it is the result of observation after actual testing in the field.

Maybe the guitar’s wood body is a good acoustic design, but then the music box will sound more like a guitar rather than a music box. Maybe a music box wouldn’t sound better in a square wooden box, but at least it sounds “like a music box” because music boxes have been packed in square wooden boxes for hundreds of years.

We think that the characteristics of the music box are diverse.

For example, the mechanical structure of a music box cannot control its volume and the duration of a note’s sustaining sound effect, there are limitations on melody length and tempo; all of them are the characteristics of the music box.

We do not insist on having the sound generated from the square wood box to be counted as the music box. We are happy to combine music boxes with other instruments to achieve a different or richer sound effect.

However, if the design is simply combined with a guitar and a music box, such an unsatisfactory appearance is too different from a music box, and I think most people cannot accept it.

The 3D simulation illustration of coming the music box with a guitar’s body
The 3D simulation illustration of coming the music box with a guitar’s body

In addition, the size of the sound box has a great impact on the sound. For example, an ukulele’s body is too small to be a good sound box. A 40-inch guitar is better than a 36-inch guitar as a sound box, and the sound is richer. However, with this larger size of sound box, the N40 will also occupy more space from your home table.

Please tell us your expectations toward the sound of N40. Can you accept that its body looks like a music instrument in order to generate greater sound quality like a music instrument?

Another Way of Thinking: The Balance between Design and Sound

After we carefully think about how to reach the balance between beautiful design and sound, maybe the current N20 has reached this balance in its design.

That is to say, the N40 music box itself has a beautiful design in its body, but its sound effect is not perfect and still relies on adding a unique resonance box to unleash its sound’s richness. Then, you can change how N40 is placed in different locations ( such as desk, book shelf, and cabinet) to create different sound effects.

The current Muro Box N20 music box and its resonance box
The current Muro Box N20 music box and its resonance box

In short, we can assign the tasks of the N40 music box into two parts, the melody and design part are handed over to the N40 music box body, and the sound characteristics part is handed over to an additional resonance box.

For example, the resonance box may be a guitar’s body with perfect acoustics. In this way, we can make the music box have a special shape while also taking into account the sound output.

Do you agree with the way we proceed? Please share your thoughts with me.

The Selection of Music Range for Muro Box-N40

Our original music range choice is A3 to C7 ( displayed as A2 to C6 in the Muro Box APP) with a continuous scale (as shown in the Muro Box-N40(0) in the chart below). But after considering the existing 30-note paper-strip music box users, we adjusted the new music range to a discontinuous F3 to C7 ( as shown in Muro Box-N40(3) in the table below) to directly support the music box melodies created on Music Box Maniacs, the largest online community for music box melodies. Please refer to the attachment below for detailed definitions.

Compare Muro Box N40's scale with paper strip music box and Muro Box N20

In fact, the music range for all 30-note paper stirp music boxes is F30. The C scale printing on some 30-note paper stripe was made by a non-music professional manufacturer by mistake.

Do you agree with our change of N40 music range?

2. For those who preferred the "Muro Box-N40 Classic" model, the following explains our consideration.

We decided to delay the development of the N40 Classic model in the 2023 crowdfunding campaign for the following reasons:

  1. Our current development team’s time can only support one new product line (i.e., the N40 standard model) at this time.
    Since the development of the N40 movement itself takes up most of our time, we have no spare time to design another product line.
  2. The difficulty of implementation:
    In the past, high-priced music boxes were made in Europe/US, Taiwan has never had an industrial chain that produces luxury music boxes. Since we are starting from scratch, we don’t want to copy or imitate other brands’ music box designs. How to subtly incorporate Asian elements into the product design requires time and thought.
  3. We think that the more suitable way to carry out the N40 Classic is to cooperate with people in the music box industry to develop it after the N40 Standard has progressed to a certain extent.

    Do you know anyone who can assist us? Please tell us, we will actively contact him/her to discuss cooperation.

3. Please provide your answers to the above questions with the survey below.

Muro Box N40 is the project we care about the most now. We take its design seriously, and we are speeding up its design and related tests. When you have read more details about its development status, having some new ideas for us to consider, please make sure to submit your suggestions via the survey to let us know. We are learning from doing it, and we really appreciate your feedback to help us choose the right path to complete this N40 project.

Here is the link to the Survey #5 (Sound Box Design and Music Range):

Muro Box Founder and Inventor
Dr. Chen-Hsiang Feng
May 2023

Muro Box N40 Classic Draft
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