Buddha Machine 2: revenge of the ambient music transistor radio gizmo


36 Responses to “Buddha Machine 2: revenge of the ambient music transistor radio gizmo”

  1. Dungeonbrownies says:

    I have a few of thesse, I never use them. I might take alook and a try now that i saw this.

  2. buddha machine says:

    re comment #1…

    buddha machine iphone app now for sale on itunes app store!


  3. jcdugayo says:

    what a wonderful invention. I love it!

  4. jcdugayo says:

    I ordered the Buddha Machine 1 from Staalplaat in Berlin when it first came out. Great little source of background ambient noises. This got me interested in ‘original’ Buddha boxes, the kinds you can often get for free (or for a donation) when visiting your local temple (if you even have a local temple). Since I don’t live near a Buddhist temple, I have had to resort to picking them while traveling or by ordering directly. The best one I’ve found is this with psychedelic swirly light Guanyin figure:

  5. Clif Marsiglio says:

    I love these things, they are sooooo trippy if you get a dozen of them and TRY to sync them together, moving them to various locations in the room.

    They are cheap enough that their clock sources do not remain as stable as they should and after a few minutes, no matter how well you started them, they start to drift. I do a lot of meditation, and I gotta say this is NOT the way to do it! I don’t know how they do this in the temples…the sangha I attend, most of the people there thought it was a complete joke (then again, I only showed it to those that were overly serious knowing their reaction before they did). But going to a temple with dozens of these placed in various locations? I think I’d go nuts…

    But as a fun little toy, these things ROCK…oooom ooooom loop-point oooom…

  6. nopuppy says:

    You could also get a shruti box. It’s an Indian drone generator. You can get the non-battery ones too, just pump them. Wonderful stuff, more proactive.

    Then again, if you’re in a noisy apartment, these could be just the ticket.

  7. cs says:

    it is even a lot of fun destroying those buddha-machines: see the nine lives of buddha! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYh9pVD96GA

  8. Anonymous says:

    Yay! I just got two. Of course, one of them I will probably end up opening and poking around in.

  9. eti says:

    “It’s new! It’s improved! It’s the Buddha Machine 2! Now with 50% more Buddha!”

  10. ill lich says:

    I bought 2 of the 1st model when it came out, with the idea that I could place them on opposite ends of the room and have the loops overlap, but found that this didn’t add much. Then I tried hacking it (circuit bending it) and found that other than some very radical pitch-shifts I couldn’t get much else out of it. This new version looks more promising.

    Took my old one camping last year, had it playing in a cave all night, echoing out onto our campsite while we sat around talking.

  11. franko says:

    i’m surprised to be the first (only?) person to wonder if they should have just stopped with the first one. simpler can be better. they should have stopped grasping for control. ; )

  12. jobimbom says:

    Cool! The website linked by the article has ‘looped’ MP3s imbedded in it… Set several of them going at once for hours of free ‘Buddha Box’ enjoyment!

  13. teflon says:

    I’ve actually used a few of the original buddamachine loops in some original compositions – Surprisingly they fit right into a few tracks I was working on and added subtle random ambiance throughout the tracks. I’m a fan!

  14. jahknow says:

    Reminds me about the ol’ freeware VSTi “Delay Lama”


  15. melissa says:

    ooh i do want one. these seem pretty neat!

  16. Egypt Urnash says:

    @5: Thanks for the pointer to Boodler, Somnoliento – I just spent a couple hours getting it to run on my Mac and it’s pretty awesome! Right now I’m layering five Buddha Machines over layers of wind, and it is soooo dreamy.

  17. Anonymous says:

    You know, their business model is selling little plastic boxes of circuits with a speaker, and there may be some true advantages to this form factor, but…

    I want a software version for iPhone. Or other mobile phones.

    Heck practically any game on the devices can do the similar. Too much competition?

  18. theradiostillsucks says:

    I’m down for one. I picked my first one up via http://www.forcedexposure.com (do a search for “fm3″). I see they now let you order them by color, back when I placed mine it was all random. I’d recommend ordering from FE or somewhere else with good customer service, as the first machine I got was a dud.

    Also of note are the two albums that the Buddha Machine spawned (not to mention other works by FM3): “Layering Buddha” by Robert Henke and “Jukebox Buddha” featuring Buddha Machine-inspired compositions from a number of musicians.

  19. cabbierocca says:

    I’m not really sure i get how this different than just playing ambient music on a portable stereo. How is it differ?

  20. bruce_jensen says:

    @1 (& any other software replacement/varient)

    part of the charm of the buddah machine is the package. Reminds me of my 1st transistor radio I guess.

    I carried my buddah machine one around a lot even though I have a lot of ambient music in my ipod too.

  21. azmanon says:

    Anyone gonna open source this bloody thing and really go zen??

    How about a device you could actually add your own loops??

    The same thing can be done with old tape recorders and voice recorders. Fight the consumer fashion bug. Recycle and be more creative.

  22. pwenzel says:

    For those who’ve tried the Buddha 2.0, how do you like the sounds in the new version compared to the original?

    I am kind of confused — does the new one include a completely new set of sounds, or is it the previous set accompanied by new sounds?

  23. metatim says:

    I was tempted by the first Buddha Machine, but not enough to purchase. With the addition of pitch bending and the promise of a more diverse selection I could no longer resist.

    Had one in my hands within 48 hours.

    I must admit the loops are shorter than I expected – the first (and best) taking 54s at the lowest/slowest pitch and 43 at the highest. Two of the nine are also more stressful than mesmerising, to my ear/mind, but the rest work well.

    It doesn’t play as loud as I was hoping, and the volume doesn’t seem properly calibrated for the headphone jack (tolerable audio range is across about 0.5mm of the dial).

    All this said, it’s been fantastic. I’ve had more creative ideas in the past three days listening to it than I’d had in the past month without. And I just love baffling people with it. “It’s like silence, but better,” I tell them. “But what is it *for*?” they ask.

    If you need to ask, you’ll never know.

  24. rEDcELL says:

    I sold soooooo many of these weird little wonders in Santa Fe at the record store I worked at. From little kids to 75 year old, blue haired ladies, this was always a huge hit. I can’t wait for the new improved edition!

  25. pwenzel says:

    Disregard my previous question. After downloading the Buddha Machine 2.0 MP3s, I found that it offers a new set of sounds. They are beautiful, so I am totally buying one for the office.

  26. The Bark Petition says:

    Here’s some video of the Buddha Machine 2.0 with various guitar effects:




  27. shutz says:

    What I want to know is, when are we going to be able to get our own electric monks?

  28. clifford says:

    Odd, the US distributor is Forced Exposure, the music zine from the early 80′s.

  29. somnoliento says:

    You can get a random generated “soundscapes” from the Buddha Machine .wav files using a python program called Boodler (for Linux, Mac or Windows).

    Detailed instructions at the Healing Beats Forum.

  30. Takuan says:

    mmph, doesn’t do chants? gnite, have to polish my Roomba dueling harness and off to slumber.

  31. usefulcat says:

    DealExtreme sell very cheap Buddha boxes:


    I’ve got the cheap blue one, it’s a pretty odd thing. Plus it does have some chants!

  32. Merlin Silk says:

    Cool – Buddha 2.0!

    I picked some of the first generation Buddha Boxes up on my visit to the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights. They really tried to get rid of them, give them away for free – not even a donation requested because they were so old that the included batteries had died. So, for an investment of a AA battery I got a whole bag full of those.

    I have to try to have several of them chant at the same time. That might be as much fun as going to the store when I was a kid and turning on all the laugh bags on the shelf.

  33. spazzm says:

    Palette. That’s the word someone, somewhere, is looking for.

    The palate is the roof of the mouth.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I bought 8 of the first ones. I had sort of misinterpreted what they were. I thought that they would record as well, but no, and no one had ever claimed that; I just thought so some how.

    I loved them anyway. I hope that the speaker on the new ones doesn’t rattle quite so much.

  35. Simon Greenwood says:

    I got five of the originals for £20 after Christmas 2005 and they’re great fun but that’s pretty much all they’re worth so I hope the new ones aren’t silly prices – they were being sold at £19.99 *each* previously (£14.99 from Cargo – maybe I’ll wait until after Christmas again).

    The fm3 website has the original loops as .rex files so you can have fun with them in the composition software of your choice. It makes fun combinators in Reason.

  36. stuckinkiel says:

    I ordered the Buddha Machine 1 from Staalplaat in Berlin when it first came out. Great little source of background ambient noises. This got me interested in ‘original’ Buddha boxes, the kinds you can often get for free (or for a donation) when visiting your local temple (if you even have a local temple). Since I don’t live near a Buddhist temple, I have had to resort to picking them while traveling or by ordering directly. The best one I’ve found is this with psychedelic swirly light Guanyin figure:


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