If you’re from the generation before the rise of digital media, you were one of the kids who stayed up late or woke up too early to catch the top 40 chart on your favourite radio station – cassette tape locked and loaded to record the latest teenage anthem. To share, music was hand delivered – a tactile sensation missing from the world of streaming. It’s been replaced by convenience and there’s nothing immediately wrong with that – our rituals change as technology changes. But Brainmonk designers Andrius Žemaitis and Marius Paulikas are out to revive the cultural icon with a device that strips the nostalgic process to its core.
Elbow is a music player that puts the cassette at the forefront, allowing the user to appreciate the mechanical motion or the music or physically interrupt playback. Unlike a typical cassette player, Elbow uses a single pulley to drive the tape. To maintain a constant playback rate, tape speed must be tracked by an optical sensor and used as a control parameter for motor adjustment.
The device’s biaxial arm rotates in two directions – upward motion enables the insertion of the cassette, while sideways motion allows the user to manually switch the playing direction. The arm mimics the tone and feeling of a vinyl record player.
Bringing it into the modern age, the device has two connections, the standard audio plug and a mini-USB port for charging and transferring audio from cassette to computer.
“Elbow offers a fresh user experience allowing the user to directly appreciate the mechanical motion. The music player becomes more like an additional element – in a way, the cassette plays itself," say the designers.