After a little waiting I finally received all the parts to add new internal speakers to my Arcade1Up machine. The original plan was to mount them into the control panel and have the audio pumping out through speakers just above the player buttons but I ended up heading in a slightly different direction.
First step of course was to wire up the components and see that they actually work. This didn’t take too long – the audio from the old PC speakers I was using was shifted over to the amplifier and then the new speakers were wired up. A quick test of a game confirmed that they were working and could really make some noise too. 🙂
Here I started to deviate from my plan of mounting the speakers to the control panel. There was already a lot of components attached to the panel (buttons, USB controllers and a double USB extension) and though I did set aside room for speakers I’d really be cramming it into a small space and I was worried drilling some holes as a speaker grill really could be a recipe for disaster. After already screwing up one panel and almost ruining a second I thought it best to avoid
After spending some time “testing” the audio on a few games (!) I noticed that I was still getting decent sound even with the speakers being closed up inside the unit and thought “why not just mount them internally?”. The front panel of the cabinet is made of thinner material than the MDF frame so it doesn’t muffle the sound much at all. It also helps to keep the external changes to a minimum and avoid detracting too much from the nice looking pre-fab cabinet.
To ensure the speakers were positioned appropriately I put together a pair of simple stands with made from scraps that pointed them towards the player. They didn’t need to look pretty just to keep them off the floor of the cabinet. One they were put together I placed them inside and fixed them down using removable mounting strips. I also cut down the length of the speaker wires and tidied it up before the construction was done.
Switching everything on was a great feeling as I now had a modded machine that was finally self contained. With the amp being mounted inside the cabinet there was some trial and error in getting the bass, treble and volume right but once I got it working to my satisfaction I knew I could simply turn the machine on and it would sound fine in my home. There is the option of mounting the amplifier externally so that I could adjust the volume but it would mean exposing some additional cabling. For the time being I’m happy to keep it neat and out of sight. Closing up the rear of the cabinet did muffle the sound more than when I first tested the connections but a quick tweak of the volume fixed that up.
Thankfully the RetroPie and its emulators provide plenty of means to test out the audio. From early console games and their programmable sound generators to the FM synthesis and sample playback of later systems, they all benefit from having a decent set of speakers. Having played a few of these games in arcades that were so loud I could barely hear the sound from the game itself it’s nice to finally be able to appreciate them in quieter surrounds. But not too quiet though… I need my explosions loud! 🙂
I’m almost near the end of the modifications now with only the button lighting and a couple of other cosmetic touches to be applied (ie. stickers!). The buttons may put a drain on the power supplying the RetroPie so I might need to look at options for that but I won’t know until I can wire it up and see for myself.
In the meantime I think it’s my turn to vanquish the Bydo Empire…