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 aÂ 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 FM3â€™s site, itâ€™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.