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So some guys are sitting around their gas stove one day thinking, “You know what this fire needs? Some crackle!” Then some down-home American ingenuity kicked in, and they probably sank their life savings into a company to bring us the Cracklebox — a digital recording of “real country fires in southwest Virginia” contained in a tiny box. According to the Kracklebox site “What Kracklebox provides, in a word, is realism.

The Kracklebox is roughly 2″ x 5″ and contains an internal speaker as well as an RCA out jack to connect to your home theater for a “total room acoustic experience.” Sadly, the Cracklebox doesn’t offer surround sound. Hell, it’s not even in stereo! It does, however, include tone and volume controls to fine tune the device for the perfect acoustic mood.

The manufacturer claims it was, in fact, “developed in cooperation with a major U.S. university.” Maybe the company’s engineers went to a kegger or something.

It runs off either a single 9V battery or the included power supply. And street price runs an incredibly $50. But can you really put a price on “realism?”

Kracklebox [Official site]
Street Price [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s this?]


9 Responses to Wacky: Real Fire, Fake Krackle

  1. Fred says:

    There’s a Nobel prize in here somewhere.

  2. Don says:

    While I agree this is a very odd little noise maker, I non-the-less think you need to know that NO fireplace sound would be in stereo, unless the fireplace was VERY large, or the speakers are set very close together, the average fireplace being about 26 to 30 inches across.

    Hi Fidelity would be the appropriate way to deliver the best rendition of the sound of a real fireplace.

    Surround sound might be OK, if your goal was to know what it sounds like to be trapped in the middle of a forest fire, with no avenue of escape…

    And no, I have nothing to do with this company, I just followed the link here from my Toolmonger RSS feed.

  3. Brau says:

    [realistic] Ah, that must mean “realistic” like the inventors were (not) when they put a whole bunch of money into developing this thing?

  4. Eli says:

    That’s wack.
    Have a fire, or don’t have a fire.
    Don’t have a real fake fire.
    I think this would only be good for a firetruck themed roller coaster.

  5. PutnamEco says:

    Boy, that would be fun to hide under someones bed or in their desk drawer.

  6. It needs something that’ll go “Pop!” now and then, and simultaneously extend a stick to poke the cat snoozing in front of the heater.

  7. Ted says:

    How long is the recording? Hearing the same “pop” every 15 seconds would get annoying. I would think that you’d want at least 10 minutes.

  8. Patrick says:

    I know that “major university” and I’ve been to that kegger. VT, buddy. VT.

  9. What Ted said. The designers of the LED-based fake candle project in Circuit Cellar 147 used a mathematical model to describe what portion of the time the flame spends at various brightness levels, and the speed at which it varies between them. Then they used a long pseudo-random number generator to generate an unpredictable sequence, along with inputs from a resistively heated thermistor so the “flame” responds to breezes.

    If this thing is based on a “recording”, I guarantee it gets annoying after a while. Research into “ambient” cellphone ringers has proven that humans are good at recognizing subtle environmental noises if they’re in a repetitive sequence. But perhaps “recording” is just an oversimplification by marketers, and the box actually generates a random series of noises, each of which is based on a real noise sampled from a recording of a real fire. That, I could get behind. Because throwing sappy pine on the fire to make it noisy also makes it throw embers onto the rug every once in a while, and drawing the chain curtain to catch those ends up eating all the heat.

    Now, y’know what would be awesome? If it powered itself from the heat of the fire, like those Peltier-based woodstove fans! I’d buy one just on principle, were that the case. That would also allow it to start up and shut down automatically. Without that feature, wouldn’t it be goofy to wake up to the sound of a crackling fire that ran out of fuel during the wee hours?

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