On a very basic human level, music is something we all innately understand. It’s the universal language of our species, and it’s less about the knowledge of words than it is about what they feel like.
While feeling and emotion are two different things, they often have a way of converging inside us. And, although we have always had the ability to feel music on an emotional level, our ability to feel music on the physical plane, is an aspect of the musical experience we are rarely able to access leisurely outside of a concert setting.
Toronto based StudioFeed, a social venture that supports independent music through technology development and community engagement, is finally making that possible. The company has developed a tactile audio device called the SubPac, and this thing really brings the physical experience of music home.
“The SubPac is a seatback that can be attached to any chair, and transfers low level frequencies to the body,” explains John Alexiou founder and CEO of StudioFeed. “It has been designed to provide the listener with the same kind of physical dimension they’d get from a live event.”
While the notion of feeling music seems like a relatively simple concept (something we’ve all considered before), the SubPac itself has the ability to change the common musical experience for good. Providing the listener with the ability to feel “the boom of a kick drum, the warmth of an 808, the organic expression of a bassist and the richness of soundscapes,” we’re talking a fully immersive concert experience in the comfort of your home or studio.
The SubPac allows you to feel elements of the music that the ear alone simply cannot pick up, and that’s an absolute game changer for the musical community. For producers and musicians alike, the SubPac enhances the production process by giving them the ability to properly monitor frequency spectrums on the go without the use of built in studio equipment such as EQ or compressors.
“If you need to monitor low level frequencies, and that is a really huge problem area in production, being able to feel those frequencies is the solution,” says Alexiou.
The SubPac also allows artists to preview their tracks the way they are meant to be heard on high quality club systems prior to reaching that level, while significantly affecting hearing preservation.
For everyone from the music enthusiast right down to the average music consumer, the SubPac is the future of music listening. By bringing the musical experience into the physical realm, the SubPac gives the listener the ability to re-discover songs they’ve known for years on a whole new level. It takes the visceral side of a live show – the pounding in the floorboards and that electric anticipation that grows wildly in your chest – and make’s it completely accessible any time you want to go there.
While, for obvious reasons, there has been a huge interest in the SubPac from artists and producers of the Bass and EDM communities, the technology is certainly not limited to the genre or to music itself. With everyone from famed father of funk George Clinton to LA multi-genre producer / rapper Flying Lotus to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Hank Shocklee (Public Enemy/Bomb Squad) having already thrown their support behind the product, we are undoubtedly going to see the SubPac playing a roll within all facets of the musical ecosystem.
Outside of music, the SubPac’s potential is seemingly infinite. “It’s really open to the imagination,” says Alexiou. “Any kind of gaming or movie experience is also enhanced by the SubPac, but there are a lot of other interesting elements like music therapy to explore.” StudioFeed has already been approached by everyone from Autism awareness associations to environmental organizations that hope to use the SubPac to monitor city noise more efficiently.
While still in it’s first run of production, you can currently pre-order the SubPac directly from TheSubPac.com. Also, you can expect to see SubPac demo stations popping up across the city, as StudioFeed will soon be teaming up with local music retailers to bring the experience to the public.
Having sat down and tested out the SubPac for myself, I can assure you that this is really it. Just imagine feeling the boom of the bass on The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army,” the flutter and dissolve you get from an XX song like “Reunion,” or even hearing an artist like Dylan, whose every pluck, mute, and tap can be felt hanging in the air just the way it would if he were playing it to you at arms reach.
The SubPac isn’t just a physical thing; it’s access to music on a human level. Although we live in the golden age of digital technology, our society and the music that reflects it has never been more fragmented.
The SubPac is music and technology at it’s finest, and I have no doubt that this thing will quickly find it’s way into our everyday lives the way the iPod once did. This is the kind of breakthrough the music community needs right now, and it’s a reminder that music is innate, it is from within, it’s meant to be felt, and it can still change the world.