Muro Box-N40 Update #7 - Sound Box Design (Survey #5 Result Part 1.)
Hello everyone, I am Dr. Feng, the inventor of Muro Box. The following are the highlights of current update #7:
- Explain the current design direction
- Summarize Survey #5 Result of Part1: Sound Box Design.
We indicate the response ratio of existing N20 customers and Non-N20 customers, showing the overall opinion trend of N40 subscribers. The result for Part 2: The selection method of the 40 notes will be described in the next update #8.
- Thanks to several readers who spend extra time searching for information regarding sound quality, construction methods, and material options to help us.
 Explain the Current Design Direction
Thank you very much for your suggestions and enthusiastic responses. Through the questionnaire, I learned about everyone’s preferences and the proportion of the number of people statistically, but more importantly, after being reminded by many customers, I finally realized the true core value of the music box.
To put it simply, the most important thing I have learned is that the pursuit of better sound is necessary, but it does not mean that the music box should be placed directly in the frame of a certain instrument.
For example, two days ago a customer, Mr. A., who played the Chinese string instrument, lute, came to our office to pick up his N20 Muro Box N20 Lite. We interviewed him on the spot about his thoughts on various speakers, including directly taking out the guitar as a speaker for testing. Unexpectedly, when Mr. A. heard it, he directly said that the reverberation of the guitar was too loud, and the fast rhythm of the melody is not suitable because he prefers to keep each note’s sustaining sound effect clearly divided, not overlapped.
In fact, I was shocked when I heard A’s explanation. Because the reverb of the large music box is far longer than our current N20 small music box, the longer sound duration I always think is a “good” characteristic of the sound quality.
Good or bad sound is really subjective. If we take the guitar’s approach as the sound box design, we will definitely lose sight of the other. It is wrong to learn from anyone else. The correct answer is what a music box should look like. That is to say, the sound produced by a box-shaped box with a square appearance is currently the most suitable choice for the value of a music box.
Another big issue is the size of the sound box. There is no doubt that the larger the box, the more gorgeous sound effect it can generate. However, if calculated according to the wavelength of sound, a one-meter-wide cabinet is our best size, which does not meet our current customers’ expectation for the product size.
Therefore, the best approach at present should be to reduce the size as much as possible while achieving the basic resonance effect, so that customers who want to have a sound amplification effect can combine the N40 Standard with their favorite external resonance box.
That is, we will design the cabinet (350 x 200 x 90 mm) for N40 Standard to be about the size of our current N20 resonance box: N20-RB. That is to say, it will provide the basic cavity to give basic support to the bass of the N40 Standard, so that even if the N40 is played alone, the sound will not be too thin. But if you want to pursue a richer sound, please combine the N40 with the instruments around you.
Therefore, we expect to design additional guitar-shaped resonators specially, but it will be implemented later. Currently we will focus on perfecting the design of the N40 Standard itself.
For the external resonance box, we will design an additional sound post to enhance the effect of transmitting the sound from the Muro Box N40 to the external resonance box.
As for the appearance, since we don’t want to imitate musical instruments, we will continue to adopt the key elements of the N20 model’s design for N40 Standard: (1) the transparent lid with rounded corners to let you see through it for watching the mechanical movement of N40 Standard; (2) the wooden box will also still have rounded corners. When considering the material options, carbon fiber is also one of the options we are currently considering in addition to wood.
 Show the trend of N40 Subscribers’ Opinions from the Survey#5 Findings: Part A. (Sound Box Design)
Up to 2023/05/11, there were 91 responses, of which 67 were written by English readers and 24 were by Chinese readers.
Among the 67 English readers, 32 (about 47.3%) have bought a Muro Box N20, and 35 (about 52.3%) have not bought it yet. Among the 24 Chinese readers, 14 (about 58.4%) have bought N20, and 10 (about 41.6%) have not bought it.
In the English Survey #5 result, the existing N20 customers and the non-N20 customers are almost the same amount. In the Chinese Survey #5 result, the proportion of existing customers is significantly higher than that of non-purchasers.
a) Do you agree we postpone the development of the N40 Classic model?
Among the 67 English readers, 57 (about 85%) agreed to postpone, 35 (about 13.1%) disagreed, and 1 had other opinions. Among the 24 Chinese readers, 20 (about 83.3%) agreed to delay, 4 (about 16.7%) disagreed, and 0 had other opinions.
Those who disagree hope that the N40 classic model and the N40 standard version can be developed and launched at the same time to meet the needs of different customer groups.
b) About the Sound Box Design
Which aspect of the wood box design is more important to you?
Among the 67 English responses, 53 subscribers (about 79.1%) think the sound quality of the sound box is more important, while 10 (about 14.9%) think the appearance of the wood box is more important.
Among the 24 Chinese responses, 14 subscribers (about 58.3%) think the sound quality of the sound box is more important, while 6 subscribers (about 25%) think the appearance of the wood box is more important.
What should the N40's live performance sound like?
Among 67 English subscribers:
35 English subscribers (about 52.5%) chose: I hope it sounds like a music instrument to meet the modern music box instrument’s standard.
27 English subscribers (about 42.2%) chose: I hope it maintains the music box sound without being changed. Non-perfect sound is also the characteristics of a mechanical music box sound.
I have other ideas: 5.
Among 24 Chinese subscribers:
11 Chinese subscribers (about 45.8%) chose: I hope it sounds like a music instrument to meet the modern music box instrument’s standard.
11 Chinese subscribers (about 45.8%) chose: I hope it maintains the music box sound without being changed. Non-perfect sound is also the characteristics of a mechanical music box sound.
I have other ideas: 2.
Can you accept that the size of N40 is as large as a guitar's body?
Among 67 English subscribers:
40 (about 59.7%) chose: No, the large size will be a problem.
25 (about 37.3%)chose: Yes, as long as the sound quality is great, the larger size and higher shipping fee is not a problem.
2 chose: I have other ideas.
Among 24 Chinese subscribers:
20 (about 83.3%) chose: No, the large size will be a problem.
3 (about 12.5%)chose: Yes, as long as the sound quality is great, the larger size and higher shipping fee is not a problem.
1 chose: I have other ideas.
Can you accept the appearance of N40 to look like another music instrument in order to have a similar sound quality?
Among 67 English subscribers:
37 (about 55.2%) chose: Yes
27 (about 40.2%) chose: No
3 chose: I have other ideas.
Among 24 Chinese subscribers:
11 (about 45.8%) chose:Yes
10 (about 41.6%) chose: No
3 chose: I have other ideas.
Do you agree with our decision? (Divide the tasks of the music box into two parts, the part of melody and design its body shape is handed over to the N40 music box body, and the part of sound characteristics is handed over to an additional resonance box.)
Among 67 English subscribers:
57 (about 85%) chose: Agree
6 (about 8.9%) chose: Not Agree
4 chose: I have other ideas.
Among 24 Chinese subscribers:
23 (about 95.8 %) chose: Agree
1 (about 4.2%) chose: Not Agree
 References or supplementary suggestions given by N40 subscribers for our N40’s sound box design:
We want to thank the following subscribers who spent extra time on writing suggestions or finding references for our team when answering the survey #5.
English subscribers are listed here:
1.Jush K. (N20 customer): Consider forming a partnership with my colleagues at Vienna International. We distribute Hailun, Petrof, and Fazioli pianos through the US and global markets. Hailun, specifically, has perfected the meniscus (membrane) spruce soundboard for their grand pianos. A material such as this will be crucial to eliminate warranty claims on cracked soundboards in your N40 music boxes. This material could produce a tone similar to an N40 placed on a finely made acoustic guitar in a far more compact package at a lower cost. Email me and I will happily discuss ideas at length at no cost and later will introduce you to my colleagues. Your company deserves to succeed!
2.Bill Y. (N20 customer): Is it possible to have resonance boxes being modeled upon other instruments? For example, the resonance box of an Erhu is significantly smaller than a guitar (or even a Ukulele). Its less cursive shape may also allow better placement of the PCBs and other components. The existence of 中胡/二胡/高胡 shows that the size of the sound box could be matched to the range of the instrument.
3.M.Zahid (N20 customer): Keep the body like a traditional wooden box. The sound of a music box doesn’t really need to be that big. Additional sound boxes can always be made for resonance. Focus on the movement and comb and the original sound. Thank you.
4.M.J. Kim(N20 customer): Hello, I’m a very good user of Murobox n20. When I asked my friends about the charm of the n20, they said that the movement of the cogs while playing makes me feel comfortable! So I want to be able to see the cogs spinning when Murobox is playing 🙂 And I think the design of n20 is perfect. I think both men and women will like the round design. I’m looking forward to the release of the n40! Of course, the n20 is great, but some of the music was limited to play. Lastly, thank you for making a good product that I’ve dreamed of since I was young.
5.John S. (N20 customer): Make it beautiful so ladies will display it.
6.Makoto B. (N20 customer):
(1) I think the sound quality is important for the people who want to use N40 as a musical instrument, but the suitable size for my small living room is also important for me. I prefer N20 type one and the separate resonance box option.
(2) Sankyo provided the mechanical movement of a 20-note hand crank music box and some maniac makers installed it on a guitar-like sound box. One example is named “Garyu”.
(3) Another point is the play speed. The hand crank music box can change the speed manually and if Muro box has such function, it may widen the expression.
7.Laurent B. (N20 customer): vous avez toujours eu de très bonne idée je vous fais confiance des choix que vous allez faire (English translation: You have always had very good ideas, I trust you with the choices you are going to make.)
8.Brandon P. (N20 customer): I am very much looking forward to the N40 and can’t wait until I am able to purchase one. Thank you so much for the effort to create it!
9.Christophe D (N20 customer): I think that the shape has to be studied and adapted to the sound you want to get (a guitar body is for the sound and spectrum of a guitar… a musicBox probably deserve a specific shape and internal volume, and wood selection, and braces, etc.).To me the design of the music box itself MUST include the connection to the soundboard/sound box : like the bridge on a guitar, this is a key part of the sound transmission). Since the Muro Box needs power, it may be interesting to have a piezo on it and drive the soundbox using a transducer (and small amplifier) instead of a traditional mechanical coupling via a bridge. That would also give a lot of freedom to the design.
10.Kilsang L. (N20 customer): Hello. I prefer boxed designs. I think the music box’s charm is its incomplete sound quality and tuning. I think the sound quality of Murobox is already similar to Kalimba, so it’s beautiful enough.
11.Jordan T. (N20 customer): I think the recording of the guitar sounded LOVELY. You still retain the mechanical noises and the music box imperfections. To me, it’s about easy amplification and I’d much prefer that vs the practicality of a smaller size. I just think it’s very important to have the acoustic sound resonate in a stronger way (like it is with the guitar); unless you built in a small contact mic that helped. To me, that was the one thing missing from the N20 which I wished it had…and when I tried to mic it, it became too noisy and cumbersome.
12.Bert F. (N20 customer): We discussed my views of making different types of Muro Boxes for different audiences (one as a beautiful toy or gift and one for musicians). The toy variant (and I don’t mean that in any negative way!) should be nice-sounding and beautiful, the musicians’ version should be rugged, have MIDI, a wide note-range with all notes, and should offer an inbuilt pickup system. It should have an inbuilt pickup system and an output jack for connection to a mixing desk or amplifier.
13.Omeylan T. (N20 customer): Dear Muro Box Members, There were a lot of questions, how exactly should the N40 sound. In my opinion, it should be as close to the polyphonic play watches of the forelast century as possible. These are the iconic souls one finds so attractive in the old big watches. A very nice example is here: https://youtu.be/e6bRThvBnC4 By the way, this is also showing that an amazing sound does not necessarily require a shape that mimics other musical instruments (so no need to put the new box in a guitar body). After all, we do not want to get a bit differently sounding guitar, we would all like to hear an authentic sounding music box. Warm greetings from Germany, Sincerely, Omelyan.
14.Jae H. C. (N20 customer): My biggest complaint with N20 was having only the diatonic scale notes available. I didn’t notice this issue at the time of purchase and wouldn’t have bought it if I had known, as it significantly limits the playable repertoire. I am glad to see the range of notes available on N40. I am all for having as many chromatic notes available as possible for a wider range of possible repertoire, including new compositions. I believe a music box should be what it is, mechanized or not, to serve that function. Having a resonance box to make it pretend to be a live musical instrument for its sound’s sake is oxymoronic, in my opinion. One could always place the music box on a resonant surface to make the sound louder or rounder. I placed my N20 on a wooden shelf to find it too loud for my taste. To me, music boxes are attractive in their delicate nature, both in their complex construction and the precious sound produced. I don’t understand why some people would like to record the music box’s sound, it mutes the whole concept of music boxes. My hats off to the inventor, it’s truly an innovative product, and I look forward to seeing N40. All those available notes would be wonderful! I am a professional pianist and am itching to code in my favorite pieces and my own compositions, which I can finally do with N40. Good luck to you all!
15.Jeremy Y. (N20 customer): I think N40 is fascinating because it has 40 notes (meaning a wide sound range), but timing accuracy is more important than number of notes. Actually my MuroBox (the first model) has not good accuracy of playing notes, and I have been told that I must wait for a new model or update. so I request you to dedicate yourself to improving timing accuracy. Thank you.
16.Joeri (N20 customer): Dear Muro Box Team, Go for quality. That takes time. Use the time so good as possible. Thank you for your great products.
17.Nathan R. (not N20 customer): I’ve emailed separately, but I’m looking forward to this N40 product!
18.Dror F. (not N20 customer): I would like a total chromatic box.
19.Siegfried (not N20 customer): (1) Go for the kalimba look. (2) Look at the sizes of disc music boxes with approximately 40 teeth, but I would prefer rectangular not square.
(We want to especially thank Siegfried for sending us a lot of his research on music boxes. For the theme of this update, “the sound box design”, we only presented a tiny part of his suggestions.)
20.Steve (not N20 customer): I believe people will want to put this on their shelf to display, so if you make it too large with a big sound box some people may not buy it. You can always sell a sound box add-on for the N40 for people who want one. Not only will keeping the N40 smaller keep costs down, but it will reduce shipping as well. The lower you can get the N40’s price the better. If it costs too much I believe you will have a harder time selling it. Keep up the great work!
21.Simon B. (not N20 customer): I would like the sound to be like the antique Swiss boxes with a deep rich sound.
22.Ken B. (not N20 customer): First of all THANK YOU for sharing your design considerations and research and including us in the process each step of the way. Based on what you’ve told me, my ideal design would be a square soundbox. It would sound good yet retain both the look and the typical sound of a music box. I was one of the people who spoke of treating it as a musical instrument, but my intent was always for it to look and sound like a high quality music box, not to move away from that sound to some other instrument tonally. That said, I think the experimentation you did was a worthy pursuit. Again, thank you. I’m more excited than ever for the N40! Also, looking at the pitch chart and the different compromises between range vs. chromaticism, I can envision an N50 or N60 in the future 🙂
23.Ian S. (not N20 customer): Sometimes I get so focused on solving a difficult problem that I need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and recenter myself. I think this is what’s happening here. A music box should be small, portable, and easily giveable as a gift. The scale should be continuous, this is not an instrument, it is a music box. I know people have done some neat things with the murobox but it is a music box, it has limitations. People who want a music box want those limitations. They are supposed to make a small amount of noise not resonate like an instrument. I understand there are people interested in this who say they want this, but I’d be very surprised if they actually buy one of the guitar shaped monstrosities. I can use my iPad to write songs that sound like music boxes with no limitations. A midi keyboard. This is not what a music box should be like. Without limitations there can’t be the creativity that makes this project exciting, so please don’t try to turn it into an instrument. If people want to do that, they can modify it themselves. Keep a music box style design. Make it look like the n20 or set it into a different type of box maybe, but remember why you started this project in the first place.
24.Aya S. (not N20 customer): To be clear, I want the N40 Music Box to have the same design as the N20, with the relatively small rectangular resonance box. Trying to manufacture and add a massively large guitar-shaped resonance box will not only take up too much space in the home, it will also drive up the unit cost (not to mention the shipping cost) of the N40 to such a high extreme that the final product will be completely beyond the ability of most people to pay! (I certainly would not be able to purchase it in that form.) Please keep this in mind. Most of us are not millionaires. And yes, I think it is the greatest idea to make the N40’s scale start at F3 to be more similar to the paper strips of the regular 30-note music boxes, for the sake of sharing online. Thank you for listening to our opinions.
25.Alex B. (not N20 customer): I wanted this Muro N40 Standard to be MIDI controllable in the studio environment and to place upon various resonance boxes of my own to get different sound characters while accompanying my performances on other acoustic instruments and recording that with microphones in the room. I don’t really want to hear any machine aspect to it (motors turning and grinding). I don’t want any gaps in the scale. I don’t think it would look very pretty or cute mounted to an acoustic guitar body, but maybe borrowing from another instrument besides guitar. It should be able to amplify on its own just enough to reasonably compete with the motor noise and win that battle. Then we can set it atop our own larger resonance boxes such as acoustic guitar or Onde. Anyway, I am a bit confused about the difference between standard and classic, yet I believe you mean classic is the more basic one, without midi control. Can the N40 have an 18650 (or other) battery compartment and be rechargeable for standalone use (possibly via USB-C? Is the MIDI connection via USB-C? I wish it was a MIDI host and/or had MIDI DIN so I can play it most conveniently. Also, if it would receive MIDI over Bluetooth – that would be truly fantastic!
26.Nicolas (not N20 customer): You always talked about the shape, but did you consider taking another material, for example another kind of wood or perhaps something completely different like carbon fiber? There might be a significant impact too. By the way, I am not sure what you meant by talking about sound improvement. I have the feeling you speak about a louder and vibrant sound, but I don’t think this is the requirement for a music box. I think the music box should sound harmonious and soothing, it does not have to be loud and vibrant. Just my opinion, of course.
27.Daniel (not N20 customer): Offering different sound boxes seems like the way to go: create/sell two or three different sound box options so that customers can choose what best meets their individual tastes/needs.
28.Adam (not N20 customer):
(1) I truly think the best design would be the one that sounds the most like a music box. When I want to hear a music box or use one in recordings, it’s because I want to hear the character and feel the nostalgia of a music box. While changing the body shape to emulate something like a guitar body may make the N40 sound more “hi-fi” and give it a more extended frequency response, I personally believe you lose the character of what makes a music box so charming. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the design!
(2) I would prefer the N40 not need a large additional resonance box. Ideally, the natural volume of the N40 design would be loud enough to clearly record in a quiet room. I would be in favor of making a resonance box optional, as you can buy separately for the N20 currently. But I would not want it to be essential to the N40’s performance.
29.NaNo (not N20 customer): 1. I hope the size of the product is not too big. 2. Design can give up to some extent for sound. 3. I hope the machine noise is low.
30.Austin (not N20 customer): People probably disagree about perfect sound / imperfect sound. Maybe you can make multiple resonance boxes someday? (Modular, sold separately from the device) I would also be curious about a “soundproof” box (not now, but eventually). But any option shown is fine. I trust your decisions, follow your heart.
31.Evan (not N20 customer): If the N40 Classic is not available with the 2023 funding, I will wait for the N40 Classic, whether that’s 2024, 2025, or further away.
32.Alexis (not N20 customer):It would be a deal breaker to have a rechargeable battery instead of requiring the music box to be plugged in all the time. Would definitely increase portability and usability.
Chinese subscribers are listed here:
6.花先生(N20客戶): 關於音箱的設置，我的建議是(在下非傳統音樂盒粉)，音樂盒放在不同的介質本來就會有不同的共鳴音色，這也是它的特性。 希望N40可以維持 N20的規劃 有基本能傳遞共鳴小巧又精美的機身、復古又時尚的造型(要求還真多) 一樣有選配的音箱(要強迫包套推銷 也OK啦)，若是分離式音箱 可以規劃，N20 N40都可以放置的溝槽。……我小時候頑皮把音樂盒機芯拆解，到處擺放，可以有很多不同的音色，印象最特別的是放在蛋捲鐵盒，音色會變成電音。…….關於貴司實測 吉他音箱的影片，吉他的琴弦已裝設，只要音箱共鳴，琴弦也會共振。 不知是否是這原因 ，才會有文中提到的貼近吉他音色，音箱是有它的響應特性，但是琴弦 機芯才是音色的本體，同把吉他，安裝鋼弦或尼龍弦也會有截然不同的音色。