THE HISTORY OF THE BEATOMATIC BOX!
The inception of the Beatomatic Box came in the early 2000’s. It consist of 3 sound modules, 1 controller, and a mixer. A Roland MC-505 Groove Box, Stanton DJ Mixer, Boss SP-505 Groove Sampling Workstation, Red Sound Systems DarkStar Synthesizer, and an M-Audio Oxygen 8 Midi Keyboard Controller. At times an Alesis MidiVerb 4 was slipped under the keyboard for added effects. It was very heavy and bulky. This first generation Beatomatic Box can be heard on all the Double Dipped Sunshine songs.
Following a solo jam at the Wild Oats Market in Boulder, JVonD realized that his back had been injured from picking up the box by himself. Later the injury was diagnosed as sciatica which is a strong pain that exudes down the backside of the legs when the sciatic nerve gets pinched and inflated. The weight of the box wasn’t a major concern on this first build. The focus was on convenience. The inside of the box had thick rails with small holes connecting the chambers. Screws were mainly used to hold together the box. Even handles, latches, and risers on the back lid, for standing it up, were added. It was a beast! and not very portable even though the hardware was neatly contained.
Eventually the top third was cut back and it was now required to carry an additional box of gear in able to have the full creative setup. The extra gear was then placed on top of the rail and over lapping some of the other gear, but at least it was much easier for 1 person to carry. Also a GK-3 guitar pickup and Roland GR-33 guitar synthesizer were added to the setup. The guitar sound was very basic using a couple stomp boxes. You can hear this version on all the Long Beach jams.
The Stanton mixer started making noise in the faders and was replaced with a digital Berhinger mixer that was a lot lighter and had a couple of basic sound effects. The GR-33 was replaced with a GI-20 guitar to midi module that fit under the sampler. The box was built with thinner rails and most things were glued instead of screwed which really help lighten the load. While JVonD was very happy with the results it wasn’t long till yet another change was made.
In early 2007 JVonD knew he wanted to change the sound by swapping out some of the modules so in August of 2007 the third generation Beatomatic was built. One of the main modifications was replacing the SP-505 with a Korg Electribe ESX-1 Music Production Sampler. Another big upgrade was replacing the Darkstar synth with miniKorg Synthesizer/Vocoder, and a blast from the past came when he adding a Digitech GNX2 Guitar Effects Processor which is what he used to use in his College days but then switched to stomp boxes. The Digitech gave him that stereo multi-effect sound that he had been missing for years. This was the first box to be painted. Jet black spray paint with hints of florescent green droplets to glow in the black lights gave the box a professional look that really grabbed peoples attention. This version can be heard in some of the earlier Hollywood days jamming with Dave Strauss and Citrus Jam.
BEATOMATIC III TURBO
Soon after the third generation box was built JVonD found a key piece of gear that would give a more personal feel to the sound. The addition of the Electro-Harmonix Super Multi-Track Looper which allowed JVonD to record multiple parts and loop them in time with the beat clock was one of the biggest sound additions. The sound change was dramatic following this because guitar and vocals could be looped and the looper acted like a tape deck where the sound would pitch up and down when adjusting the tempo. Not only was gear upgraded but a bliplace light system for the outside of the box was installed to throb to the music. This version can be heard on the the Mountain Trance recordings.
BEATOMATIC III TURBO GT
After a couple years JVonD found the need to swap out the sampler once again installing an Electron Octatrack thus adding the title addition of “GT”. Also adding mini synth boxes on top of the other gear which were also mixed into the looper took the sound to other sonic levels. At times there was a modified Korg Monotribe, Korg Analog Delay, Korg Volca Bass, and Roland TB-3. The guitar got a major upgrade too. JVonD had to wait 9+ months to have the Fender Stratocaster built for him. Then even another upgrade to the DJ mixer, not visual here. This version was prominent on the majority of the Lysergian Sound Diplomats recordings.
In 2019 JVonD stumbled upon the ultimate combination of gear for musical expressive freedom and built, what he considers, “The Greatest Jamming Instrument Ever Created”. It’s smaller, thinner, lighter, faster, more powerful, and contains many new features.
No mixer, all hardware synths removed, computer with Steinberg UR44 interface added running Reason and Virtual DJ. NanoKontrol and Hercules DJControl Jogvision added. Also a blacklight, amp, and speaker.
A huge upgrade to both sound and box design. Every centimeter of this box is being used. Using Reason software synths and CV control opened up many new opportunities for sonic expression and the ability to create and remix songs. The box is so light that the glued-in super thin rails actually are required to keep the box from falling apart. The design is so precise that if any piece were to be slightly modified the box would not have any structural integrity. The unit’s are perfectly flush mounted. There isn’t even a millimeter of extra clearance and the units literally sit on top of each other when the older model had stilts to prop up some of the modules. The guitar-to-midi module and pickup were removed but that can always be initiated via new technologies. Also the floor effects processor has been scrapped and the guitar can now be plugged directly into the side of the box and the effects are driven from a channel in Reason that has multiple effects setups. Also all cabling is connectable through the side panel so everything is extremely simple to connect saving setup time where as the old versions had the cabling inside and would have to be unwound and fed through wholes on the bottom of the box. The setup time went from around 15min to at most 2min.