Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Replay jukebox gets high-tech to go retro

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge replay_jukebox.jpg

In a world where vinyl jukeboxes are antiques and jukes loaded with compact discs are novelties, it seems that if you want to pick the music at a bar, you're forced to deal with the Internet-ready players from outfits like TouchTunes and AMI. The Dave's Stagecoach jukebox is long-gone, and the only local player we can think of that's still worth a damn is within the basement of the Eighth Street Taproom.

However, the Replay Lounge in Lawrence has resuscitated their once-dead jukebox, only with a technological update. Justin Schweppe works for Replay owner Nick Carroll's company, Bar Beverage Control, and put the whole thing together. We talked to him about what's inside the box.

What led to setting it up?

The old jukebox had a problem where the CD spindle would jam up. Spare parts had become almost impossible to find, and the used parts that we were finding were in poor condition. I figured that it wouldn't be that hard to retrofit the jukebox to an MP3 jukebox, and there was plenty of room in the old jukebox for the computer parts. The hardest part turned out to be the keypad. I actually machined a new back plate for it, so I could wire in switches that would be compatible with the controller interface. Even with the new back plate, I still had to switch controller interfaces when the one I was testing on my PC would not work with the PS2 ports on the motherboard that went in the jukebox.

What are the tech specs?

Nothing that special, other than the controller interface and the bill acceptor. AMD Sempron 140, 1 GB ram, 250 GB hard drive. It is then wired to a gutted Denon amplifier for the sound output.

Did you write the software yourself?

I wish -- though with all of the development I am doing for my day job, I don't know where I would have found the time. I looked at several existing packages and decided to go with Silverjuke.

Who all (besides yourself and Replay bartenders) have contributed music?

So far, just Replay bartenders, although we are open to suggestions.

What is the weirdest set of music on there?

There is some weird poetry stuff that came off of Brad Shanks' [Blood on the Wall, Bandit Teeth] MacBook. Before we adjusted the songs that it plays for background, it would sometimes play them. The first weekend it was installed, I didn't have the remote with skip button set up, and they had to listen to some 17-minute beat poems in their entirety a couple of times. I got the skip feature setup shortly after because, though it might be amusing once, having them play on a regular basis would be annoying. Later, we set it up to play only the music that we selected in the background.

What's been the response thus far?

At first, bartenders were unhappy because they were used to being able to play whatever they wanted from their iPods. I think that now, after we fine-tuned the background selection, they are starting to warm up to it. Customers seem to enjoy it and are impressed with the music selection that we have. They also seemed to be impressed that I was able to retro-fit the old jukebox. Most seem to agree that it is better than an Internet-enabled jukebox, because we can tailor the music selection for the Replay, and it lacks the ability for someone to play current top-40 pop music that most people that frequent the Replay would not appreciate.

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