Q&A: OrigAudio Founders Jason Lucash and Mike Szymczak

OrigAudio founders

Jason Lucash (left) and Mike Szymczak (right) constantly traveled early in their careers and wanted an easy way to listen to their music on the road. During their travels, they came up with the idea for OrigAudio.

SHANNON BECKER: Describe your background (e.g., where you grew up and your education).

JASON LUCASH: I’ve always been an “entrepreneur at heart.” I’ve always had a knack for being a self-starter. I started my own candy stand when I was in the second grade. My family would buy candy in bulk from stores such as Vons and Safeway, and then I would race home from school to put my candy stand out in the path of students as soon as school was over. My buddies and I would hang out, eat candy, and sell it, making about $30 dollars a day.

MIKE SZYMCZAK: I’ve always had a wondering mind. I liked to tinker and be different from the crowd. From a young age my father, Jimbo, would bring me to the science store to explore and learn how things worked scientifically and mechanically. He also encouraged me to try and experience as much in my life and career as possible. I took this advice to heart. I held more than 20 jobs, all before I turned  25, and I visited more than 20 countries and 48/50 states. Always one for a new adventure and a new challenge, I decided to start my own business. This entrepreneurial spirit, a passion for music, and zest for travel helped to forge OrigAudio.

Jason and Mike recognized a need for an eco-friendly, portable solution for listening to music while on the go. Inspired by a Chinese take-out box—foldable, easily compactable, and recyclable—the “origami of audio” was born.

Jason and Mike recognized a need for an eco-friendly, portable solution for listening to music while on the go. Inspired by a Chinese take-out box—foldable, easily compactable, and recyclable—the “origami of audio” was born.

SHANNON: What sparked your interest in audio?

JASON/MIKE: Both of us are marketing guys who recognized the need for a light, ultra-portable speaker.

SHANNON: How did the two of you meet? And what made you decide to go into business together?

JASON/MIKE: We met on the job, which required a lot of travel. This is how we came up with our “million dollar idea” for cool, portable speakers.

SHANNON: Tell us about OrigAudio (www.origaudio.com). Where did you get the idea for the company?

JASON: Our first product, the Fold and Play speakers, uses the principles of origami to come flat and fold up into a speaker. This inspired the name OrigAudio—the Origami of Audio.

MIKE: It was out of need from our travel heavy jobs. We just wanted to create a better way that saved space, didn’t require batteries, and was ECO Friendly.

Fold and Play 2

The Fold and Play speakers are the product that started it all. These speakers are made from 70% post-consumer recycled material, require no external power, and fold and unfold like origami.

SHANNON: Tell us more about the Fold and Play portable paper speaker. What was the inspiration behind it?

JASON: Tired of lugging bulky audio players around on business trips while working for JanSport, Mike and I started futzing with the idea of putting speakers into Chinese-food takeout boxes. The box starts flat, and whenever you want to use it, you pop it up. Our idea sounded good. The product? Not so much. We moved on to putting a very old idea—origami—to work. In 2009, with $10,000 in seed money from my mom, we launched OrigAudio (origami + audio) with one product: speakers, which are made entirely from recycled materials that start out flat and fold together. The Chinese takeout box concept inspired us, but origami is what powered us.

MIKE: We were still working our “day jobs” and selling 15 pairs of speakers a day through our website when the US Marines placed a whopping order for 50,000 (launching OrigAudio’s corporate gift division). Shortly after, Time magazine waved its magic “best” wand. [OrigAudio was named to Time magazine’s “50 Best Inventions of 2009” list and appeared on ABC’s hit start-up business show, Shark Tank.] With the holidays coming on fast, the company quickly sold out of its 25,000-unit stock. That’s when we gave our two-week notice to JanSport.

SHANNON: Can you share some of the challenges involved with the designs?

JASON: The first version of our Fold and Play speakers were kind of a huge flop. I couldn’t even get my mother to take them seriously. They were literally just a Chinese take-out box with a speaker attached and could barely even stand on their own. So we went back to the drawing board, ditched the take-out box, and adopted the principles of origami to create our first successful product.

Rock-It Cup

The Rock-It 3.0 portable vibration speaker system takes music from your device and turns it into vibration sequences. It sends those vibrations through the Rock-It pod which sticks to any object and turns that object into a speaker!

SHANNON: What other products have you developed?

JASON: OrigAudio’s top-selling product is the Rock-It, which makes a speaker out of pretty much any hollow object you stick it to. It’s another example of the old-made-new strategy. The really cool technology had been around for 60 years, but we always saw these big applications. So we thought, “This thing would be sweet if you could make it portable.”

MIKE: We also came out with the world’s first ever fully customizable speakers. These products give consumers the opportunity design and personalize their very own speakers. More images of the Doodle, Cubicool, Epishock, and Headphones are available on our website.

SHANNON: To what do you attribute your company’s continuing success?

JASON: I think people love being able to customize their gear. I personally don’t want headphones that only have a brand name on the side of them. I want headphones that reflect my personal taste. For instance, I love robots and have them all around my office. Therefore, I want headphones that have robots on them, too. I prefer to buy products that are an extension of my personal taste and preferences.

MIKE: We don’t take ourselves seriously, but we do take our business seriously. People like working with us and they love our unique products.

SHANNON: What’s next for your company?

JASON/MIKE: On demand customized products are not only the future of our company, but the future of business. Not only is customization great for our customers, it’s also incredibly effective for businesses. Twenty years from now, retailers won’t need to stock physical products in distribution centers (with the exception of food and canned goods). A customer will be able to order a watch from Amazon and have it made exactly how they want it to look and feel on demand. Even though customization has been around for a long time, more and more business owners are focusing their businesses on this fast-growing trend.

Epishock

New to the OrigAudio family is Epishock, a device that turns any flat surface into a bass pumping loud speaker. Place Epishock on a hard surface (e.g., a desk or table) and witness vibration technology at its best.

SHANNON: What do you see as some of the greatest audio innovations of your time?

JASON: Noise-cancelling technology. It completely changes your listening experience.

MIKE: The iPod/MP3 player. The ability to transport an entire library and hundreds of CDs/records/cassettes in the palm of your hand is unreal.

SHANNON: Do you have any advice for our audioXpress readers who may want to build their own sound systems?

JASON: You should always be a step ahead, especially in technology. In technology, you should probably be two steps ahead because the technology is always changing.

MIKE: Explore the unexplored…meaning basically create something entirely new do not reinvent the old.

April New Products and News

AmpliVox Wireless PA Supports many Media Devices

Amplivox SW720 Wireless PA system

The updated SW720 Wireless PA system includes several practical accessories.

AmpliVox Sound Systems has unveiled its newly updated SW720 Wireless PA system, a versatile PA package that supports all types of external media. The SW720 PA enables audio or video to be played from MP3s, CDs, DVDs, or any iDevice from Apple (e.g., iPhones, iPads, or iPods), complemented by a wireless handheld mic for voice amplification. For audiences of up to 500 people and rooms as large as 2,500 ft2, the SW720 is an all-in-one solution for multimedia presentations.

The revamped SW720 Wireless PA system with a remote-controlled DVD player now includes AmpliVox’s S1732 cable and adapter, enabling iPads and other Apple devices to be simultaneously played and charged. The unit also contains an integrated DVD/CD/MP3 disc player with a USB/SD card reader and video output that enables DVDs to be viewed with a projector or other video display. For voice amplification, the SW720 features a built-in UHF selectable 16-channel wireless receiver with a 300’ range wireless handheld microphone.

The SW720’s straightforward controls customize presentations. A voice priority switch mutes music when the mic is in use, and separate bass/treble controls enable easy sound adjustments. Weighing 11.5 lb, the molded plastic enclosure is durable and portable. A protective cover offers many pockets for accessory storage. The SW720 can run for up to 6 h on its built-in rechargeable battery, or it can be powered with the included AC power cord.

For more information, visit www.ampli.com/ipod-pa-system.


Dayton Audio’s DVC Subwoofer

Dayton Audio Ultimax DVC

Dayton Audio’s DVC subwoofers are designed to improve power handling and reduce power compression.

Dayton Audio’s Ultimax Series DVC subwoofers are purpose-built to move air and create clean, articulate, and fast bass. To improve power handling, increase thermal management, and reduce power compression, Dayton Audio designed the Ultimax Series with large black anodized formers and vented pole pieces, under-spider ventilation, and two-layer copper voice coils.

The Ultimax’s “Tall-Boy” rubber surround is intended for extra-long linear excursion without reducing the Nomex honeycomb/woven glass-fiber laminated cone’s surface area. Copper shorting rings and a pole piece cap reduce inductance and distortion, while the Ultimax’s dual spiders maintain linearity at high drive levels.

Dayton Audio’s Ultimax Series dual voice coil subwoofers are engineered and built using the latest in subwoofer technology. They are now available in 10”, 12”, and 15” sizes. Dayton Audio products can be purchased in the US through Parts Express (www.parts-express.com).

For more information, visit www.daytonaudio.com.


DANLEY Improves SYNERGY HORNS SH Series

Danley Sound Labs SH-96 HO

Danley raises the sound pressure level (SPL) on its Synergy Horns SH Series

Danley Sound Labs recently announced improvements to many of its already highly-regarded SH Series full-range loudspeakers. The new versions are identified by the suffix “HO,” which stands for “high output.” For example, if someone wants to get the most performance out of the Danley SH-96, order the Danley SH-96 HO.

The new designs use a more powerful two-way high frequency. As a result, the low- and mid-frequency drivers can be used to their full potential yet maintain Danley’s characteristic frequency response, phase response, and fidelity. In conjunction, the HO designs use a new crossover and have additional options for bi-amping and for changing the low-frequency impedance. Because the cabinets themselves haven’t changed, the new versions retain the coverage and frequency loss patterns of the originals. The new models include the SH-95 HO, the SH-96 HO, and the SH-64 HO.

Because the new switch panel cannot operate reliably if left exposed to the elements, weatherized versions of the new high-output loudspeakers must be pre-ordered with specified biamping and impedance settings.

For more information, visit www.danleysoundlabs.com.


B&K Precision Launches “pwrApp” for Apple Products

B&K Precision pwrApp

B&K Precision’s new “pwrApp” can be used on an iPad, an iPhone, and an iPod touch.

B&K Precision launched its new “pwrApp” for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Adding greater value to its DC power solutions, B&K Precision’s pwrApp enables full monitoring and control of a network-connected (via WLAN) XLN-GL series of power supplies over local wireless networks.

The pwrApp’s primary function is remote operation of all XLN-GL power supplies’ functions. The pwrApp’s features include live visual monitoring and interactive power supply control, visual data graphing, audible trigger alarms within the app, and data export.

Fully functional in-app demos of devices, monitoring, and programs are available with or without a connected XLN power supply. B&K Precision’s pwrApp for iPad and iPhone offers full interface control in English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and traditional Chinese via a simple selection menu. Future versions of pwrApp will offer control of additional select WLAN-enabled B&K Precision power supplies. Available for immediate download via iTunes, pwrApp is free of charge to all users.

For pwrApp and XLN information, as well as hardware/software requirements, visit www.bkprecision.com/pwrapp.


NUGEN Audio offers Stand-Alone LM-Correct Loudness Tool

NUGEN Audio LM Correct

NuGen Audio now offers a new stand-alone version of its LM-Correct loudness analysis and correction tool.

NUGEN Audio, a creator of intuitive tools for audio professionals, has released a new stand-alone version of its LM-Correct loudness analysis and correction tool, which was originally only available as an AudioSuite plug-in. For the first time, LM-Correct is available as a file-based program, taking its speed and simplicity beyond the Avid digital audio workstation (DAW) environment. LM-Correct provides EBU R128|ATSC A/85 (CALM Act)-compliant loudness correction with unmatched simplicity, providing users with a rapid two-click solution for loudness normalization and conformance.

Part of NUGEN Audio’s range of innovative and easy-to-use loudness correction tools, LM-Correct is a faster-than-real-time tool that calculates and corrects for integrated program loudness and short-term maximum loudness. LM-Correct includes an internal true-peak limiter that transparently handles any intersample peaks.

LM-Correct’s settings include presets for current loudness standards, short-term loudness, overall integrated program loudness measurement and correction, maximum true-peak level targeting, and “EBU Mode.” The software also supports mono through 5.1 audio.

LM-Correct is available immediately for OS X and Windows operating systems. For more information about LM-Correct and other NUGEN Audio products, visit www.nugenaudio.com.


Saelig Introduces Handheld RF Spectrum Analyzer

Saelig PSA2702

Saelig’s PSA Series II RF spectrum analyzers feature long, rechargeable battery life.

Saelig Company has introduced the PSA Series II RF spectrum analyzers. Available in 1.3- and 2.7-GHz versions, these new instruments are smaller, lighter, and have a longer battery life than other more expensive handheld RF products. PSA Series II analyzers incorporate a 4.3” (11 cm) backlit thin-film transistor (TFT) color touchscreen display, with a high-capacity rechargeable Lithium-ion battery to produce more than 8-h operation per charge. The PSA Series II PSA1302 has a 1-to-1,300-MHz frequency range, while the PSA Series II PSA2702 operates up to 2,700 MHz. Dynamic range is 80 dB with a noise floor at –100 dBm. Resolution bandwidth is selectable down to 15 kHz.

The PSA Series II’s features include sweep modes (e.g., continuous, single, peak hold, and sweep average), AM/FM audio demodulation with built-in speaker, and data logging for traces, data points, or screen images (with storage for 10,000 entries per file triggered from a key press, internal timer, external trigger, or the limits comparator). Traces or complete screen images can be saved to file and compensation tables for antennae or other external transducers can be created and loaded. USB host and device connectors enable the use of USB flash drives or direct connection to a PC.

PSA Series II analyzers are controlled via finger-operated touchscreen soft keys in a hierarchical menu system that provides rapid access to menu functions. All functions can also be operated using just the hard keys.

The ruggedized casing incorporates a rubber protection buffer, a bench stand, and screen protection. For bench-top use, the instrument can be operated from its AC charger. For portable use, its 8-h battery life can be further extended by selecting auto-off, which turns the instrument off (retaining all data) after a selectable delay of 5 to 60 min. from the last key press. The compact, handheld PSA Series II RF Spectrum analyzers weigh 20 oz, making them suitable for any portable RF service kit. For more information, visit www.saelig.com.