Annoy your sound guy even more

“I can’t hear myself in the mix,” “yeah, man, I’ll be there at 8,” and “dude, we need like four more mics.” Each and every one of these words is documented in actuarial tables and doesn’t bode well for your sound tech’s risk of a stroke. Luckily, there’s an even better way to kill your sound guy and this time, it’s actually pretty clever.

[@dop3j0e] at the Stuttgart hackerspace Shackspace came up with the Noiseplug. It’s a very small build that could almost fit into a quarter-inch jack. It’s all SMD with a tiny (unknown) ATtiny9 microcontroller powered by a watch battery.

The music coming out of the Noiseplug is really interesting. All the code on the microcontroller is a one-liner written in C. Similar ‘algorithmic chiptune’ programs can be run on any PC: check out these three examples.

These potential entries to the International Obfuscated C Code Contest throw chars into an 8-bit PCM stream. Piping the output of these programs to /dev/audio would generate an actual song – written entirely in one line of C.

Of course, [@dop3j0e] could have made his Noiseplug a little less annoying, but sound techs are underappreciated for a reason, right?

Check out the Noiseplug in action after the break along with a few one-liner C songs.


  1. adnbr says:

    Phantom power?

    • Aaron says:

      He definitely hooks it up to a coin cell battery right before plugging it in.

      Also, let me say as a sound tech myself, this would indeed be annoying. Fortunately, I’d be able to isolate it pretty quickly by simply going channel to channel.

    • dop3j0e says:

      I did think of phantom, but my goal was to get the plug as small as possible, and a big-ass XLR plug would have somewhat ruined the show. The annoy-your-sound-tech twist was added as a kind of afterthought.
      A second iteration with phantom power and maybe a more powerful controller is a viable thought though ;)

  2. jason says:

    atmel attiny 9 is mentioned in the video

  3. Adrian says:

    Nice writeup, very entertaining.

  4. Thatcher says:

    I’m literally sitting at a sound board right now, running the board for Phantom of the Opera. This is too weird.

  5. Thesoundkid says:

    Very cool i like the chiptune idea.

    but yeah a sound tech you could find the channel and kill it pretty easy.

    most sound tech including me aren’t working for the musician so couldn’t care less if a channel is missing from your mix.

  6. gman says:

    I run the sound board at my church sometimes. Something like this would be very annoying, but as mentioned already it would be extremely easy for a competent sound man to isolate and silence it quickly.

    Now, for some real fun plug it into the extra input line on some guy’s guitar amp.

  7. Almost? says:

    I was fired for no reason last month from a major AV services company… I still have my uniform and active security passes for almost all of their usual venues.

    I want at least 100 of these, but as a gadget I can slip between XLR cables…

  8. Erik says:

    for this to really annoy a sound person, Almost? is right. It would need to be built into several cables so that a simple swap test would be thwarted. As a sound professional myself, the noise is unique and not at all like anything you’d normally encounter with a ground loop or RFI. So it’d be a real head-scratcher.

  9. Jonathan Wilson says:

    Some of the music in the last video sounds like it would be at home in an early arcade game or a game on the original Nintendo.

  10. GZ says:

    cold. just the thing to add that extra layer of stress right before a show.

  11. big-J says:

    ahh but as a soundman, We do have a global mute button and the bar to go at. in very very annoying situations. :) hehehe

  12. Don says:

    That’s what Ear Plugs are for!;) Like I use to tell the bands when I ran sound for local shows… If you wanna Suck, go ahead… I’m just here to serve;)


  13. baobrien says:

    You could stick it on one or multiple lines going out to the amplifiers on the sound boards instead of an incoming channel

  14. godi says:

    Oh god, I was looking for a cool doorbell.. just found it

  15. Hirudinea says:

    Does that experimental music remind anyone of the old game M.U.L.E.?

  16. smoker_dave says:

    I can see calls to sin function, putc function, not to mention the actual functions that produce the sound.

    This is not what I call one line of code, those libraries contain hundreds if not thousands of lines of code.

    Maybe the challenge was to use some standard functions in the most difficult to read way?

  17. CRJEEA says:

    I wonder if it might be possible for an algorithm to be written that would run this in reverse and read 8 bit music and return mathematical algorithms. so for instance you could input your favourite classic games theme tune and it would come back with two or three lines that would be 99% of the way there, supper compression (:

  18. behzat_c says:

    If he used phantom power to power microcontroler, it would be cooler

  19. says:

    6 minutes wasted

  20. cruster says:

    Love it!

  21. Jakob says:

    Cool, need stuff like this! :P

  22. justin sabe says:

    You need how many DI boxes?

  23. hadez says:

    check out the photos at flickr to get an idea of how small it actually is:

    Noiseplug detail

    The Noiseplug

  24. pRoFlT says:

    Damn i was up until 2am writing a PCM WAV generator in Labview that could atempt to play the single line functions. I must be missing sometihng because i cant get anything to sound as cool as the ones from the link.

    The noise on the audio jack…i would kill someone if they did that to me. well id be pissed. Bad enough my guitar cables have to be jiggled sometimes to not make static noise. Random noise would not be fun…

  25. Isotope says:

    Just have it turn on very sporadically. It’s always hard to troubleshoot something you can’t reproduce. >:)

  26. DanielC says:

    Aren’t these algorithms analogous to a fractals but in sound space rather than 2d space? It’s a small formula which generates an infinite, repeating, self-similar but varying pattern.

  27. OTLabs says:

    Would be nice to see schematicas and firmware!

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