Mobile or gigging guitarists looking for a way to capture creative moments whenever and wherever they happen need only power up a smartphone and launch an audio recording app. Another app can use the phone's microphone to bring the instrument to tune. If they're wanting to remotely monitor the humidity and temperature of a much-loved guitar, however, the app store will likely come up blank. The Acoustic Stream wirelessly pairs with an iOS smart device running a companion app to help players quickly capture a killer riff or live stream to a mobile device or amplifier. It boasts built-in precision tuning capabilities, and sends out an alert when environmental changes threaten to damage a treasured instrument.
The Acoustic Stream system was developed after Bob Bean's prized Taylor 815C suffered serious damage after being left unchecked for too long. "Admittedly the winters in New England can be beyond harsh, but I thought the humidifier in the case would protect the guitar," recalls Bean. "It didn’t. I knew then something needed to be done. Musicians need a better way to protect their investment and the tool of their craft."
He searched for something that would allow him to remotely monitor the health and wellbeing of his acoustic babies, but wasn't able to find anything suitable and set about designing his own device. By November 2012, the first Acoustic Stream prototype was born. A year later, an iOS app was created and now the development team is banking on Kickstarter success to take the system into production.
The hardware part of the system is a small battery-powered Bluetooth 4.0-capable box of tricks with its own unique electronic ID and built-in sensors that monitor for humidity and temperature changes, pushing out notifications when protective action is required. The onboard battery is claimed good for more than 6 months between charges via micro-USB if used as a remote environmental monitor only, or up to 8 hours of recording, streaming or tuning when paired with the iOS 7 companion app.
The device can be placed inside an acoustic guitar via the sound hole and secured with Velcro or double-sided tape, or plugged into a flush-mount 0.25-in instrument jack using the supplied adapter.
Patent-pending TapStream technology means that a double-tap on the outside of an instrument packing an Acoustic Stream will start the device recording to the app running on a paired iOS device. Should the iPhone or iPad be switched off, songs will be saved to the Acoustic Stream's onboard memory. When the smartphone or tablet is fired up and within range, Acoustic Stream will sync and transfer the recordings.
The system also allows for playing live through the app, or another Acoustic Stream can be plugged into an amp and your string-picking sent wirelessly to that. Using the aptX codec, the signal delay or latency between two Acoustic Stream devices is reported to be in the 25 to 32 ms range.
Players can sort, trim, name and organize recordings via the companion app, as well as send the files to online storage accounts. Tapping three times on the guitar will activate tuning mode, and string pitch can then be adjusted with the help of the app.
Though the system currently works with newer Apple mobile OS devices only, support for Android smartphones and tablets is on the to-do list. The developers also readily admit that a one-size-fits-all device is somewhat difficult to create, so intend to make the 3D engineering models available for makers to design and build their own modified versions of the Acoustic Stream.
The crowdfunding campaign runs until March 29 and has a single device pitched at an early bird pledge level of US$97, representing a good saving on the projected recommended retail price of $200. If all goes to plan, backers will receive their Acoustic Streams in August.
The Kickstarter pitch video is below.