Are you an old-school musician? An Elvis impersonator on the subway? Does your band specialize in Beatles covers? Then the vintage suitcase boombox – or “boomcase” – is just the thing for you.
Dominic and JP Odbert, two brothers from San Francisco, invented the perfect gadget for music lovers with a vintage taste: old suitcases turned into high-power, portable music systems. What began as a hobby for them has now become Mr. Simo, a successful small online business.
With up to six speakers and 400 watts of power, their boomcases are a handy – and stylish – tool for musicians moving around. These mobile power units – sold for approximately 250 euros – come with batteries that can last 10 hours and can be connected to iPods, laptops and anything USB-powered.
“Design is important, but the quality of the sound is the priority"
Dominic Odbert is an art student from San Francisco and a self-described “audio-nut”. He and his brother are the makers of Mr. Simo boomcases.
Ten years ago my brother and I built a mobile sound system in the back of a 1950s Army truck, with 26 speakers. We used to play our music in parades and anywhere we went. Since then we have always been thinking about how to make our music loud and portable.
Then a year ago we made the first boomcase, just for fun. We would bring it with us wherever we went and someone asked us if we could make one for them. A lot of people started begging us for a boomcase and our business began by word-of-mouth. Now with the internet it’s grown a lot. Right now we have around 50 backlogged orders.
We play the drums, but we don’t have any formal background in music. We actually grew up in a farm in California, with more botanical skills than anything else. We simply learnt by doing it.
It takes us about a week to complete a boomcase from start to finish, from the design to successfully testing the sound. Finding the right suitcase is very important. Plastic for example doesn’t hold the sound. The best ones have a wooden frame on the inside and leather on the outside.
The first thing we have to figure out is how many speakers they can hold and how we can arrange them. Design is important, but the quality of the sound is the first priority. We don’t want to sell something that sounds like a toy.
We sold our first boomcases to break dancers and musicians who would be using it to perform while moving around. But now we’re getting orders from lawyers, doctors and photographers, and from places as far as Hong Kong or New Zealand.”
The suitcases before...
All photos courtesy of Dominic Odbert, originally posted here.
Post written with freelance journalist Andres Bermudez Lievano.