SubPac is a Producer’s & Gamer’s best friend. Since their launch in 2013, their tactile audio systems combine ‘transducers, vibro-tactile membranes, electronics and textiles to deliver a physical dimension of sound.’
“SUBPAC is a patented tactile audio platform that combines hardware, software and advanced materials to deliver deeply immersive and nuanced bass with far more resolution and range than traditional speakers and headphones.”
Wearing one of their systems whilst listening to music enables the user to literally feel the bass, (something that I’m sure we’re all missing out on whilst cooped up during the lockdown) making their systems perfect for bass-heavy music producers during the production process.
To celebrate the launch of their new X1 & C1 systems, we had a chat with Snooks, the head of Partnerships at SubPac Europe and we’re giving away a track by the incredible artist, Merky Ace made using a SubPac under his Splurt Diablo alias.
Can you introduce who you are, what you do and how you became involved in SubPac?
Yeah, sure. I’m Steve Snooks I am Head of Partnerships and Sales at SubPac EU. I like to get involved in Research and Development too.
I started around six years ago, I was working as a buyer in a record shop, Blackmarket records, and met John Alexiou one of the founders of SubPac during my time there. I tried out the technology, and as someone who grew up on sound system culture and physical music, I saw that this technology was going to be huge.
And since then, I’ve been fully involved. From working on developing the brand out of the record shop, to the RattleSpace at Tobacco Dock and more recently having our HQ at Ravensbourne University, where we are part of a collective that works with students and staff exploring immersive technologies.
My main focus is on partnerships which can vary from connecting with artists, engineers, producers, record labels and music-related brands, to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities and Charities working around accessibility and technology. I’m also involved in R&D (Research and Development) and the curation of our Immerse(d) events series.
Can you tell us a bit more about the events you curate?
The events feature artists, scientists, academics and technologists. We get all these different people together to discuss and explore how music and sound can affect us. This usually involves panel discussions, music performances and installations.
We’ve recently had to take Immerse(d) online and it’s been a learning curve but it’s going really well. I think the subjects we are covering are more relevant than ever given the current climate.
What drew you to working with SubPac?
I’m really into keeping up with new technology especially when it comes to audio and music and even before my record buying days I was all about searching for new music, labels and artists pushing the envelope, so working at SubPac ticks all those boxes and more!
Besides that, I absolutely love bottom heavy music. My favourite music is sound system music roots reggae and dub, and loads of the stuff that evolved from it.
This isn’t the first time you’ve spoken to us, I remember we spoke back in 2017 and were discussing SUBPAC’s products then (S2 & M2). Fast-forward 4 years, and it’s exciting to hear that you are just about to launch your newest system, the X1 & C1. What differences can we expect?
The X1 and the C1 will be the third generation of SubPac systems.
We’ve had a lot of feedback from engineers and producers over the years, feedback which we respect and it has fed into our new designs.
We’ve really focused on adding and upgrading elements that pro users want, making the new version more powerful, precise and comfortable. A big update this time is also the form, in the previous generations, we had two, the wearable, and the seatback. This new version (X1) is both combined. So you can put it on a seat, or you can wear it.
Then we also have a brand new product called the C1 a desktop controller with DSP, which enables you to easily access level controls, EQ curves, time alignment between the SubPac and your monitors/speakers and connect wirelessly at a much higher fidelity than before.
So basically, we’re enabling users to get in under the hood and adjust things to how they like or need it..
As well as music production and casual listening we also have a lot of people who use our technology for gaming. The wearable form is very popular for VR games and experiences and the Seatback is amazing when used with racing sims as well as music-related games. With the new version, you will be able to use it in both ways without having to have more than one SubPac. Saying that the C1 can wirelessly connect to 5 SubPacs if you are having a session!
To celebrate the launch of the X1 & C1 we’re giving away a track produced using a SubPac. Can you tell us more about it?
Yeah, Merky Ace (AKA Splurt Diablo) sent us a banger! I met him a few years ago when I was still working out of Blackmarket Records. He uses a SubPac when producing and I’m a big fan of him and his productions, so I reached out recently to tell him about the new model coming and to see if he wanted to get in the mix with the promo. Not long after that, he sent Radeon 6770 over, fully SubPac optimised!
Splurt Diablo AKA Merky Ace on Radeon 6770
“This track reminds of strobe lights and lasers that you might see in the raves but also the thrill you get when you’re driving fast. Neon Drag race music fueled by bass.
I used a SubPac when making this tune. The bass in this song is meant to be felt not heard & a SubPac is perfect for getting that point across. In fact, the SubPac is the reason why there’s space in the song for the bass to breathe because I never felt the need to cram the song with other sounds to fill it up as the bass’s presence was always felt. Every song I make with a SubPac on, the bass is the main event which is just how I like it to be.”
What do you mean by ‘SubPac Optimised?
From my perspective, it’s something that has been produced, mixed or mastered with a SubPac and in a way that really shows off the capabilities of SubPac technology or a really well-tuned sound system.
On top of that, there is the ability to really experiment with much lower frequencies than producers normal do. Artists like Pinch and Kode9 have really explored those territories amongst others. I think with Merky, he always makes sure that the bottom end is represented, and I’m sure he’ll say when he uses a SubPac, it just enables him to do that with more precision, it gives him more control over those low frequencies.
So if we were to listen to a track wearing a SUBPAC, and then go out to a dance with a very high-quality sound system, would the experience be close?
As close as you can get right now yeah! On top of that SUBPACs actually go lower than those sound systems and enable you to experience similar low-frequency experiences without the need for such high volume levels often associated with a big system (look after your ears people!).
Definitely! So, back to the new SubPac’s, do you have any collaborations or projects lined up that you can discuss with us?
Watch this space! We will have some great things to announce soon on the new system front. Until then we will continue to work and collaborate with the communities and creatives that are the lifeblood of what we do. Without the music, without the sound, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. Big up the music makers!
You can pre-order the X1 + C1 here:
Nikki has worked in various positions in the Music industry for over ten years including Artist Management, Booking Agency and Record Label Management. She runs Synchronicity, Spentshell, UKBM and Manages Flowdan.
“Bass does something to me. I absolutely immersed myself in Drum & Bass during my teens and early twenties, and when Dubstep came along I was thrown into that love once again, not just the music, but the whole community surrounding it.
Working in the industry has been a dream for me, and being involved in such a vibrant scene means that I constantly come across incredibly talented individuals who I just want to shout about and that’s what I use the UKBM platform for, to promote talent whether known or new.”