Dec 1, 2016 | By Tess

In March 2016, Cambridge, UK-based music engineering company Sonuus launched a Kickstarter campaign for its innovative 3D printed looping microphone, Loopa. Despite being marketed as the world’s first looping microphone, it seemed that backers were not prepared for the musical product as the Kickstarter failed to really take off. Now, however, Sonuus has just announced that after some challenges, it has officially launched the Loopa microphone, made with the help of 3D printing.

Loopa prototype evolution

Typically, musicians use looping pedals to get real-time loops to add layers to their music. The musical innovation has been especially popular for solo artists, beat boxers, and many singers. Now, however, Sonuus is hoping to expand the variety of looping tools out there with the launch of its Loopa microphone. Not only is the new mic the first of its kind because of its looping abilities, but it also features a new ergonomic structure and a useful light-up feature that lets users know when they are recording.

According to Sonuus, 3D printing played a crucial role in the design, development, and overall production of its Loopa mic. That is, the music device manufacturer used additive manufacturing to design and test a more ergonomic mic shape—you’ll notice that the mic’s body is not the typical cylindrical shape but rather features a sort of bulged out middle. As Sonuus explains, the new structure was designed to prevent the mic from slipping out of the user’s hand, and allows the user to easily reach the control buttons.

3D printing was also used to develop and make the Loopa’s light-up ring, which is located at the base of the transducer. As mentioned, the role of the light is to let its users visualize when they are recording or playing back a loop. For the mic designers, it was also important for this light to be visible no matter what angle the mic is being used at. The challenge that Sonuus faced, however, was finding a solution that was both effective but also affordable.

Ultimately, the developers realized they could 3D print the light ring out of a clear resin (using an SLA 3D printer) and sand it down to achieve the desired light diffusion. As James Clark, CEO of Sonuus explains, “The light ring was printed by SLA in clear resin to test the basic concept. Although this transported the light, there was no diffusion, so no glow. The solution was sandpaper! The SLA resin is easily sanded to apply surface texture so I tested various degrees of texture at various points on the light ring to optimize the uniformity of the light captured from the LEDs and the scatter on the outside needed to transport the light around the circumference. We transferred these textures to the final tooling and the final result is superb. In bright light you get a nice uniform rectangular glow on opposite sides of the light ring; in the dark the light ring glows all the way round which is just perfect when you are on stage!”

Final production light ring

Users of the Loopa microphone will not only be able to easily visualize what setting the mic is on, but they will be able to accomplish many of the same effects that a looping pedal can. In other words, users can use the mic for overdubbing, undo/redoing, and bypassing, all without the mess of cables and wires that normally accompany pedal equipment.

The innovative 3D printed looping mic is now available for purchase either through Sonuus (in the UK) or Sweetwater (in the U.S.). The Loopa is retailing for £119 and $119.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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