Who were the cool kids in your circle of friends? In mine, it was the ones who had ghetto blasters! Sure, they couldn’t breakdance like the American hip-hop stars from those good old MTV days, where east coast and west coast meant declarations of war, but they had the attitude.

BOOM BOX BABY –
SOUND ON FOR THE COOLEST GHETTOBLASTER

Category: Innovation     Text: Angela Peltner

Photo: Berlin Boom Box
KICKSTARTED BY KICKSTARTER
Who were the cool kids in your circle of friends? In mine, it was the ones who had ghetto blasters! Sure, they couldn’t breakdance like the American hip-hop stars from those good old MTV days, where east coast and west coast meant declarations of war, but they had the attitude. Axel Pfaender, the founder of ‘Berlin Boombox’ took on that attitude and had the “balls” to turn the sleek silver ghetto blaster into an environmentally friendly and very colorful retro cardboard alternative. The Swabian illustrator and DJ now living in Berlin has made his dream come true with the help of a very successful crowdfunding campaign. The ‘Berlin Boombox’ is a synergy of the two passions of his life: the love of music and the love of design, and the crazy thing was that everyone was on board! From the crowdfunding donors, to the sponsors and the dealers. What a dream situation for a young company.
SOUND ON
Back in September 2012, the first 2000 units, still the sleek black-and-white model at the time, came onto the market. Back then just like like today the ‘Berlin Boombox’ is a real experience, because it doesn’t come in one piece, in fact you have to assemble it all by yourself. You can download videos and a PDF construction manual from the website, which explains that the assembly is a piece of cake and even easier than a piece of Ikea furniture. All you need is five minutes to turn the kit into a neo-future ghetto blaster that requires no tools or glue to set it up and connects easily to a pair of speakers. “Simple is usually best” is something I learnt early on, and in this case, that goes for the sound. It’s all about the sound after all. It’s described as powerful and deeply resonant. Maybe it’s not for classical music lovers, but at least for almost anyone else. The sound is once again a synergy of two things, Axel Pfaender’s ‘Boombox-Boxes’ sound good because of the technology of the speakers supplied by MIVOC and because of the durable cardboard case. This interaction can produce a round sound with steam under the A….

Photos: Berlin Boom Box
UNBOXING
To build a Berlin Boombox I will need:
1. a box made of printed cardboard,
2. a sturdy handle for carrying,
3. a set of speakers,
4. a volume control (metal knob), and
5. a connector for an MP3 player or a smartphone.
All wireless devices can now also be operated with Bluetooth.
ITS ACHILLES HEEL IS RAIN
“Whenever it rains, I think of you…” The only Achilles’ heel of this sustainable box seems to be moisture. I personally enjoy having picnics in the summer, at which I’ve often been hit by unexpected summer storms. Unfortunately, the Neo-Ghettoblaster is not made to endure that and would quickly undergo a soggy transformation. The electrical elements would quite probably also be lost. In this case, however, the manufacturer offers an ’emergency spare housing set’ that can be bought for a just few euros.
MUSIC OF THE FUTURE, IN THE PRESENT
In 2019 you can get the ‘Berlin Boombox’ in its retro look on every continent, not only by purchasing it online, but also in many stores. I counted ten different color variations, and even though the ‘Berlin Boombox’ continues to receive small upgrades, one thing is quite clear from the start. Sustainability. That means that the box is produced locally. And local is also social. The entire process, from packaging and storage of the boxes to dispatch, is carried out and all organised by the Berlin ‘Mosaik’ workshop for the disabled. The cardboard is also environmentally friendly and at the end it’s road can be partially recycled (coloured ‘boombox’) or 100% recycled (natural cardboard version). Only a tiny amount of electrical and plastic waste remains. The packaging also doesn’t need to be shrink wrapped in plastic film. The speakers are also economical with its energy-saving built in D-class amplifier. Three AA batteries supply enough energy for about 200 hours of music.

Photo: Berlin Boom Box
CONCLUDING WITH SOME QUICK TIPS
In the early 1980s, portable radio cassette recorders were called boom boxes, they were in their heyday at the time and played a major role in the development of hip hop music. For Axel Pfaender, the boombox is an “icon of pop culture” and is basically the younger brother of the Ghettoblaster, just more genre specific. For him, the boombox has cult status.
I now also know what the first album would be that I would play through Axel Pfaender’s ‘cult baby.’ The sixth album of the cult band ‘Beatsteaks’ from Berlin, which is appropriately called ‘Boombox.’

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