Buddha Machine

My Buddha Machine arrived yesterday.

I opened the shipping container to find a box roughly the size of a deck of playing cards. The outside is festooned with the FM3 logo and chinese lettering.

The box opens to reveal a retro-looking plastic slab resembling a 1970’s transistor radio. It’s the brainchild of FM3 (aka Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian) an ambient duo based out of China. The Buddha Machine plays “drones”, little low-fi downtempo ambient clips ranging from 2-45 seconds. Each drone plays continually, or at least until the 2 AA batteries run out. A 4.5v DC adapter (not included) allows the unit to play for longer periods of time.

The only controls are a  volume control/power switch, a push button to change drones, and a pitch-bending dial. The Buddha Machine plays through a small speaker and can fill a small room; the tinny response seems to improve the quality of the sound. Think of film grain improving an image. If you choose a more personal experience, there is a mini headphone jack on top.

Even though you could download the sound files from FM3’s site, it’s just not the same unless you hear the cracks and pops of the unit’s tinny little speaker. It’s deliciously analog, completely non-upgradable, and offers a warm, imperfect analog sound.

The Buddha Machine can only be found a few places right now, including Forced Exposure.