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Albemarle County Man Builds Larger Than Life Speakers - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Albemarle County Man Builds Larger Than Life Speakers

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In a technological world where smaller is better, one Albemarle County man's project is making some big noise. He's creating a music player that definitely won't fit in your pocket.

Howard Swayne is a music connoisseur.

"I'm into high-end audio. I have 3,000 vinyl record albums which are a lot better than the digital stuff," he said. "The digital stuff is convenient but it's not really that good."

Swayne's latest project is a modern twist on an old-fashioned music box from the ‘40s. It's something he thinks will bring sweet music to his ears.

"If you want big sound you need big speakers, so there you have it," he said.

The speakers he's having built are called MI 9595 Theatre Cabinets, also known as horn-loaded speakers. They're about 7 feet long by 3 feet tall by 3 feet deep. Swayne said a friend of his recommended the speakers after listening to orchestral music on them.

"You could hear the rosin on the bow of the double bass as it went across the strings. That's why I'm building this," Swayne said.

The speakers Swayne designed are being custom made by Jeff Barratt Woodworking of Charlottesville. The company's owner, Jeff Barratt, said this is similar to a lot of projects he's taken on.

"We take people's ideas and turn them into reality," he said. 

But Barratt said that this project is also special.

"In a lot of ways this is unique because we usually work on furniture and cabinetry so speakers are quite obviously a unique project for us."

Barratt said building the speakers is also a rare undertaking because of the size and detail of the project. The speakers are made from French plywood that's normally used for marine boats, and costs twice as much as regular wood. It's taken two months to build the pair of speakers, and one of the main features is the "radiant horn" on the top that reproduces sound like a megaphone.

"It's very realistic. It's like live sound," Swayne said. "It's as close as you can get to a live concert."

So what is Swayne going to do with these large, elaborate, handcrafted speakers? Use them in his house to listen to music, of course. The two speakers he's having built are just a prototype though. Swayne plans to sell custom made speakers just like them for an estimated $50,000 which will include two speakers and everything needed to hook them up.

"This is for someone who really wants the best of the best when it comes to audio reproduction," he said.

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