VMusic2 MP3 Player

Update 10/2009, PLEASE READ: I give up! I've heard too many stories about people having trouble with this player that I can no longer recommend it. It's a great concept, reasonably priced and when it works, it sounds good, but I've seen too many failures (some of my own included), had reports of it being too tempramental and generally not very user friendly.

If this doesn't discourage you then read on, I know that there must be many VMusic2's in use, it's still being sold by reputable dealers (for how much longer I don't know) and I'm sure it's worked fine for many. I put a lot of work into digging up this info and as long as people find it useful, I'll leave it up, but I will not be doing any updates so you're on your own. To those who've bought these players on my recommendation and have had problems, I'm sorry but I was initially very impressed by this device and hopeful that it would fill a void as an inexpensive, controllable sound player.

End of update.

Update 12/2009: I know I said I wasn't going to do any more updates but I think this is really worthwhile. Here's a page with some very detailed instructions in how to get started with the VMusic2. Thanks to Steve A. for passing this along to me.

End of update.

I think sound is a very important aspect of any Halloween haunt and over the years, I've used many devices including reel-to-reel audio tape, cassettes, CDs and ChipCorders. But I've found that all of these devices have drawbacks among which may be sound quality, limited playback time, controllability or a combination of these factors.

Along comes the MP3 player to save the day. With high quality sound, nearly unlimited capacity and the ability to control some players remotely, I've already included them in most of my props. For example, when I've got a sound that runs continuously all night, I'll use a cheap (under $10) MP3 player set on repeat. But when I need to trigger the playback of a particular sound on cue, I like to use an MP3 player that can be controlled by a microcontroller (like a BASIC Stamp, one of the PropX series from EFX-TEK, an SX or a PIC). For that type of MP3 player, I've been using a µMP3 player from Rogue Robotics , but at $100 each, it's tough to justify using them in many props. Recently a friend introduced me to the VMusic2 MP3 player from Vinculum, and while the price tag of slightly under $40 is not cheap, it does much of what the µMP3 player does for considerably less money.

When I wanted to learn more about the VMusic2 player, I found a considerable amount of information on the internet, but it was spread out over many web sites and some of it was highly technical. My purpose in creating these web pages is to bring a lot of that information together so that the average Halloween haunter (and anyone else who needs a good source of sounds) can put it to use with some simple to follow instructions. I'm not going to get real technical, my intent is to keep things as simple as possible. In doing so, I may skip over some features and applications, but that information is available from other sources. The VMusic2 does require a microcontroller to control the playback of sounds, but please don't let that scare you away, it's not that hard...really!


What is the VMusic2?

The VMusic2 is a small (2.64"x1.66"x0.69") plastic case containing electronics that allow for the playback of MP3 music files stored on a common USB flash memory device (aka jump drive, thumb drive, etc.) . It's got a mini jack on the front as well as pins on the back for connecting the player to amplified speakers. It's also got a multi pin connector on the back for connection to power and your microcontroller.

The VMusic2 will handle MP3's encoded up to 320 kbps (anything above 256 kbps is considered by many to be CD quality). The manufacturer says it will play WMF files as well but I haven't tried them.

The command set allows for the playback of a single MP3 file by name, all files, random play of all files, jumping ahead and back a file, pause, stop, control of volume and a few other things. Click here for a list of all common commands (pdf).

Where can I get one?

My search (as of 1/2009) shows the following places selling them on-line:

I've been assured by the manufacturer that this is a current production product and should be available for some time to come.


How do I hook it up?

So far, I've used the VMusic2 with two different microcontrollers and I will devote a web page to each one. The links below will give you hook up information, sample code and current firmware compatible with the microcontroller. (If you're a beginner, probably the easiest way to begin using the VMusic2, and microcontrollers in general, is the EFX-TEK Prop1 Starter Kit.)

NEW 5/08: If you don't feel comfortable working with microcontrollers, SimpleCircuitBoards.com is working on inexpensive (under $20) controllers for the VMusic2. There's a basic controller that's available now and they will soon have a more advanced board. The information is not on their website yet but you can contact Jeff directly for details.

Links for other information


Halloween Home
Last update 12/2009