About this project
What are you doing?
I am raising money to produce a tough-as-nails guitar practice amplifier called the Whisper Amp, perfect for students and seasoned players alike. Despite digital practice headphone amplifiers already on the market, what separates mine from the rest is the simplicity, elegance, and durability.
Tell me more about the amp.
The Whisper Amp is perfect for tossing into gig bags because of its durable aluminum construction and lack of external dials and switches. The Whisper Amp is practically indestructible; at only half the width of a smartphone (slightly shorter, too), it can fit practically anywhere and is ready to practice wherever you are.
Guitar headphone amps are very popular; however, the most common complaint according to my research is the fragile nature of these devices. To alleviate any potential flaws, I have used tried and true analog components, as well as remove unnecessary power switches and potentiometers. Power is handled by plug insertion (activating a blue light for visual feedback) and volume is attenuated by the dial on your guitar. Once the guitar plug is pulled, the power goes off. By stripping this idea down to the clean basics, I've created a sturdy and functional prototype--that looks and sounds great, too.
Have any pictures?
How long does the battery last?
Because this circuit is simple and clean, with only minimal components, this equates to minimal power draw. Since completing this prototype four weeks ago, I have used the original 9V battery while playing moderately every other day. The short answer: I don't exactly know how long a standard 9V will last but, after a month, I have yet to change mine.
How does the Whisper Amp compare to DI?
The video below should give a nice side by side comparison of a clean DI and the Whisper amp. You can certainly hear the difference, but it is negligible considering the clean DI is a Universal Audio Apollo Twin which is almost $1000.
How does it work for bass?
If the audio player above doesn't work, please click the link below. It will take you to a soundcloud bass demo of the Whisper Amp.
How much are you raising and what does it entail?
I've set this campaign at $7000, which will allow me to mass-produce a first round of approximately 150 - 200 units (depending on unforeseen events and adjusting kickstarter fees). I've already had the PCB designed and gerber files produced for a PCB fab house to fabricate the circuit boards. My enclosure supplier furnishes the aluminum housing, and I custom make the acrylic LED panel, as well as solder the jacks to the board.
Risks and challenges
Obstacles are everywhere, so I anticipate my biggest hurdle will result from overseas suppliers. It nearly took a month to get my first standard enclosure for this product, and customizing the holes on the top plate will certainly take longer. Customizations require minimum order quantities as well, so I have yet to cross that bridge. I have been assured beforehand that customizing should not be an issue, and though I am skeptical of assurances, it's a good start.
Of course, I want to offer these amps to overseas artists as well. That is a serious obstacle. I have done preliminary quotes to Australia which would be approximately $80 for one unit. Terrible. I've adjusted the price of the Whisper amp from $25 to $30 in hopes to offset some of these costs as an option. To better circumvent this obstacle, my hope is to far surpass my kickstarter goal and produce thousands of these units. If I offload production to a third party and export batches rather than single units, this would greatly offset shipping costs. Pledge, pledge, pledge! :)
I do hand-solder both jacks, as well as power to the PCBs, which does take time; consequently, I have been toying with the idea of having that done by a third party as well. This depends on the popularity of the product. Anything that can speed up the process, I am willing to consider.
Lastly, availability of electrical components can cause problems. As a precaution, I have developed sonically similar amp circuit prototypes that can be supplemented within the same form factor should availability of components unexpectedly dwindle. I have tested each "backup" amp circuit against the original Whisper, as well as the clean DI, in order to maintain sonic consistency.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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