The Jamboxx is a MIDI instrument you control with your breath

The Jamboxx, a hands-free wind MIDI controller, has relaunched and opened its store again after a year and a half-long hiatus off the market. The new version of the Jamboxx is retooled to include a specially developed optical sensor that should last longer and provide a better playing experience.

The Jamboxx is pretty unusual for a musical instrument. It works by registering breath blown into the front of it via a mouthpiece, similar to a harmonica. How impactful the breath is changes the velocity of the note, and moving the mouthpiece from side to side changes what note is played. There is the option to adjust the breath control to set the amount of airflow needed to play notes. The face of the instrument also has tactile bumps, similar to frets on a guitar, to help players easily and intuitively move between the notes they want.

JamboxxImage: Jamboxx

By default, the Jamboxx is set to play 12 notes on a C major chromatic scale, but this can be changed, and a modulation wheel on the side allows for moving across octaves. This same wheel can also be assigned to activate pitch bend, vibrato, and other types of modulation. A button on the bottom of the device can be used for either switching between instrument, key, or scale. Because the Jamboxx is a MIDI instrument, it can be assigned to play any sort of sound, like a synth, piano, or guitar.

The company sees a couple uses for the Jamboxx. Because it can be mounted to operate hands-free, it can be a complementary instrument for someone performing that is already using their hands, like with a guitar or piano. Perhaps even more compelling, though, is that due to its design, the Jamboxx is an accessible instrument that can be played by those with physical / cognitive impairments, or those with limited lung function. This is important, since traditional instruments, like violins, pianos, or guitars, require the use of hands. Jamboxx’s adaptiveness unlocks musical freedom of expression for many who were physically unable to partake before.

Previous versions of the Jamboxx were handmade, but the newly relaunched version of the Jamboxx is re-tooled using plastic-injection molds. The mechanics have also been updated and Jamboxx now uses a zero-friction optical sensor instead of a linear potentiometer (a three terminal resistor with a sliding contact) that is less expensive and more durable. The company says this new sensor will also last for “years of play.” The Jamboxx Pro is currently on sale for $399.

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