It always started with the same question:
- What can you give a corporate consultant who buys himself everything he wants right away? Especially as a wedding present, which should be something special?
- What’s a good wedding present for the friend who mountain-biked with me over the Alps and from Darmstadt to Budapest?
- And what can our team give the colleague with whom I worked for a year in Hungary?
Okay, it is a bit of a rhetorical question, since you can probably guess the answer based on which forum it was posted in. :)
Here are three anecdotes that could serve as inspiration the next time one of your friends gets married, has a birthday or if there’s some other seasonal occasion for a present and you don’t just want to hand over another unimaginative gift card.
I have found that initially, many people don’t think they are capable of building their own loudspeakers, or they don’t expect their handiwork to result in anything useful. Those are exactly the cases where a surprise package can provide the last needed nudge and give people long-term enjoyment.
The first story: Jan and Katrin (in this case, the lady’s name comes second – in any event, she’ll at least be able to enjoy it too. ;) )Â
A mutual friend and I were thinking about what we could give the couple, and somehow I came up with the crazy idea that it should be speakers. First of all we checked with some other friends of the couple to see if that was even an option. And in fact, all they had was a squeaky sound system attached to an mp3 player.
The next question was which speakers. An important criterion: the bride should be able to enjoy them too, and shouldn’t feel steamrollered. So they needed to be something smaller, delicate, with an entry-level budget – which is very good quality anyway – since there were only two of us, and we still needed to make (or have someone make) the cabinets.
Color and shape: once again we relied on the help of mutual friends who had seen the couple’s new apartment in Hamburg. The decor: white-painted Ikea furniture. Then I got some advice from my girlfriend, who agreed that white-painted Needles would be just the right thing.
Our time was running short, so I asked a friend if his company’s carpentry shop could paint them for me. “Of course, we can make you a deal.”
Then the cabinetmaker asked if I wanted to order the wood from him too – it would be more cost-effective that way. Ok, why not? I told him a little bit about the project, and he started to get excited about it too. In the end, the deal was that he would take care of building the cabinets and the materials, and I would buy the electronics and install them. Well, in that case – “While you’re at it, would you mind making a set for our bedroom too?” So we ended up with a mini-series, three pairs of Needles in white.
They were even nicely mitered, made of MDF with priming film. The only issue was a misunderstanding about the cutouts, which were a little too big. But we took care of that with an insert ring made of black construction paper, which is almost invisible.
The only remaining problem was that I wanted to go straight from a meeting in London to Hamburg. Thank goodness for the package delivery service – two Needles, rolled up carefully in cardboard, made a nice package. The corresponding DTA-1 fit in my carryon luggage.
The newlyweds were super excited and surprised! Both of them thanked us again and again, including a card they sent a couple of weeks later. It was a present that will make them both happy for a long time.
Here’s the wedding card:
The second story: Marcus and Sonja: the abovementioned corporate consultant. He had visited me six months earlier and enjoyed the Duettas very much. So then when I spotted some fancy Sound Aktiv gadget with built-in speakers for the bedroom on their registry, it was obvious what I had to do! I crossed that junk off their list and pretended I was going to buy it, just to make sure no other guests would get it for them. In this case, standalone boxes would have been a little less appropriate, but since the groom had already considered making something himself, I knew what the upper limits were. This time there were more of us going in on the present, so the budget was correspondingly more generous. There was only one possible solution, the best thing available in that size: the BlueSBox 15 PC – sister to the SB15.
Once again, they were very well received, especially by the groom. The bride simply said, “I’m looking forward to using them too once they’re finished.”
In this case there was no cabinetmaker involved, but part of the present involved letting the groom share my workshop for a weekend (Editor’s note: So you did manage to rent out your bathroom!). No sooner said than done, and it was my first time with the router too. Everything went without a hitch. But in the end, it was a present with a postscript for the couple…
Less than 4 weeks later, the groom found himself in the listening studio comparing the Duetta with the Midu. Now they not only have SBs in the bedroom, but Etons in the living room. Once they had heard the SBs, the monster speakers (largest available model) that used to be there were no longer an option. It was a wedding present that cost the couple some follow-up change. :)
Card (written on cherry veneer) and the joint product here:
Third story: Tybchee and Zsuzsi, a couple from Hungary, where I spent a year working with the groom on the national board of AIESEC (MC). The idea came to me quickly (this time I didn’t have to think so hard about it…). Almost a year before the big day, I had agreed with some other friends that we would give them something music-related. But the big question was what to get, given our existing budget. I would have liked to go with SBs, but it was a little tight. Maybe the Elip2 as a pedestal speaker? We also needed to find out what the right size would be. We visited them over the summer and took some spy photos of the living room while we were there. We also discovered that they were big fans of cinema and film. So they definitely wouldn’t object to a little acoustic support! In any case, it was clear that even though the living room was large enough, compact speakers would be better.
Still, we hadn’t found the right candidate yet, and the day of the wedding was approaching. Almost at the last minute, the solution turned up in the magazine: Vota! The right size, a great look, easy to expand (home theater!), and in the right price range. Thanks to the Rhein-Main do-it-yourself group, and thanks to Don for organizing it and to Waterdrinkingman for bringing his musty old Votas along (water-based again next time?) – in any case, I heard them and fell in love right away: it would be the Vota I. There was a little concern that they might not arrive on time, but that worked out too. Thank you. The newlyweds were very happy, and now they had their first shared project for Christmas vacation.
I also gave them a design draft, but unfortunately all my assembly help will have to take place by phone this time. I’m looking forward to the results – let’s see how their boxes turn out in the end.
Maybe this somewhat unusual report will give a couple of other readers some ideas for a special present, one that will let even more people hear good music at an affordable price. You can give it as a finished project, as a project for an expert, or (in my opinion the best option) as a shared challenge with the gift recipients.
I’m already looking forward to the next wedding in my group of friends… to be continued. ;)
For everyone else who is looking to give a special present: I wish you lots of fun and a great celebration!