Lunchtime just got a lot more interesting at the Teufel office. A large Kiss-themed pinball machine was recently added to the break room for a bit of rock ‘n’ roll flair. Of course, this being Teufel, we’re not talking about your everyday pinball machine. Accompanying the ball’s journey through the pinball landscape is no ordinary peep-ping-beep. Not even a thin mono music soundtrack from inbuilt speakers. Instead, the player is immersed in the full Kiss repertoire in authentic stereo, loud and clear. Finally, you can enjoy Kiss classics like “I Was Made for Loving You” and “Detroit City Rock” in hi-fi sound quality while you fight to stay in the game and hit your targets. All this is possible thanks to the machine’s audio output and Teufel loudspeakers.
Pinball, a long history and promising future
Like many classic games, pinball is based on a simple principle: To make contact with certain parts of the game’s playing surface while gravity moves the ball from the top of the tilted surface to the bottom. Parlor games of this nature originated in the 17th century. The first were forms of bagatelle, games in which a ball moves past wooden pins. The earliest games offered only a limited ability to alter the course of the ball, but soon grew in complexity. The early enclosed versions of bagatelle slowly transformed into pinball in the United Stated and the game of pachinko in Japan. The first truly modern pinball machine that we would recognize as such was released in 1947, by the Chicago-based game manufacturer Gottlieb. Named after a children’s nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty was the first pinball machine to use flippers to strike the ball.
Based on the template established by the popular “Humpty Dumpty” pinball game. In the 1950’s and 60”s, pinball became a popular form of recreation. Nearly every bar was sure to have at least one pinball machine alongside other favorite indoor games like darts and shuffle board. In the 1960s and 70s, gaming arcades were filled with pinball machines of every conceivable make and style.
Pinball was not immune to technological changes. In the late 1970s, many mechanical displays were replaced by new digital technologies. The computer revolution also led to a revolution in pinball sound. Alongside of the mechanically induced sounds of bells being struck and the mad clacking of flippers against a steel ball, pinball machines introduced digital sound effects, music and even recorded speech.
Sadly for pinball, however, the same technologies that introduced many improvements to the overall look, feel and sound of the game also led to the creation of games which would soon replace pinball as a barroom and arcade favorite. In the 1980s, pinball fell by the wayside following the arrival of new video games like Donkey Kong and Mario Bros.
But pinball bounced back. The game experienced a comeback in the 90s with the introduction of popular models such as The Addams Family from Midway, the best-selling pinball game of all time. The Addams Family game fit into a larger retro wave of Brady Bunch movies and platform shoes that swept through the decade, but the appeal of pinball was based on more than just nostalgia. The new pinball machines integrated digital elements and complex software for a more intense gaming feel. But part of their resurgence can be attributed to the game’s mechanical action. No matter how many digital bells and whistles pinball acquires, the action remains that between real forces, and there’s something very satisfying about that.
Pinball gets a sound upgrade with Teufel systems
Always changing with the times with new themes and effects, the one area where today’s pinball still lags is in the sound. The integrated loudspeakers are everything but high end and the amplifiers are generally not the best. In addition, our project managers have assured us that the typical pinball enclosure is an acoustic nightmare. Luckily, pinball machines feature a line out allowing the sound to be played back by external systems. We kitted out our Kiss pinball machine with a range of different systems from our Real Z headphones to a pair of ROCKSTERs. Below is a review of each sound pairing.
Option A: Pinball with two ROCKSTERs
What speaker to better accompany the larger-than-life arena rock band from the 70s with their ghoulishly painted faces, leather outfits and serpentine tongues than our largest portable Bluetooth speaker?
The ROCKSTER at a glance:
- Incredibly powerful portable event sound system with an integrated high performance battery
- Dangerously high sound pressure levels of 115 dB can fill auditoriums and other large spaces with sound
- Class D and AB 450 watt amplifiers for clear, high levels with minimum energy use
The verdict: It’s 1976 all over again and you’re experiencing Gene Simmons live in concert complete with deafening sound levels. For an authentic rock ‘n’ roll feel, it doesn’t get any better than this. Planning a large event? The combination pinball machine / ROCKSTER is a sure party pleaser.
Option B: Pinball with the BOOMSTER or the BOOMSTER XL
The BOOMSTER XL at a glance:
- Portable XL stereo Bluetooth boombox with large downfire subwoofer
- 3-way system: 2 tweeters, 2 midrange drivers + subwoofer for powerful hi-fi sound back by a mighty bass foundation
- A truly large portable system: Over half a meter wide and 20 cm deep
The verdict: Like the ROCKSTER, the BOOMSTER XL is a portable system that can seriously push out the levels. Thanks to the integrated subwoofer, we experienced all the intensity 70s glam rock has to offer. As with the ROCKSTER, the portable BOOMSTER is the perfect sound system if you want to order a pinball machine for a company event or birthday party.
Option C: Pinball with the Ultima 40
The Ultima 40 tower speakers are perfect for those who want power and precision.
- Imposing hi-fi tower speakers at an unbelievable price
- Two 165 mm woofers for deep and punchy bass down to 45 Hz (-3 dB)
- 3-way construction with a high power capacity of 200 watts
The verdict: For those who don’t just appreciate the theatricality of Kiss, but like the music, this is the Kiss pinball experience for you. You’ll hear every detail of the sound, feel the timbre of the voices and sense the snap of the drums.
Option D: Pinball with the Real Z
The Real Z are semi-open over-ear headphones that offer transparent hi-fi playback with rich, resonant bass and good sound isolation.
- Large, 44 mm linear HD drivers
- Neodymium magnets ensure a very detailed sound
- Slight emphasis in the bass range
- Generates high volume levels from every source device with good isolating properties
- Comes with two fabric-coated cords for minimized microphonics
The verdict: This experience is perfect for those who want to experience the full intensity of rock ‘n’ roll pinball, but who don’t want to disturb everyone else in the room. The semi-open design makes it possible to hear the music and still make out the clack and whirr or the flippers and ball as you fight your way into the high-score stratosphere.
The pinball universe: Reconnect with a classic
Are you in the market for a unique game for your basement or something special for the next company event? Our partner, Pinball Universe, can make your dreams come true. The authorized pinball dealers have approximately 120 different pinball machines on display in their 800 sqm showroom. A separate storage facility, workshop and delivery truck complete the business of providing pinball machines to those in need and make it the largest pinball supplier in all of Germany. Customers come from far and wide to see the machines for themselves. You can do the same, or simply check them out online at www.pinball-universe.de.
Teufel and Pinball, perfect together!
We asked Danial Schwarz, managing director of Pinball Universe, a division of J. Schwarz GmbH, what he thinks about acoustically enhancing his pinball machines with Teufel sound.
Teufel: Daniel, first of all, can you tell us a little about the importance of sound for pinball?
Daniel: The experience of pinball is achieved through light, sound and the felt impulses from the game. That’s why there isn’t really anything strange about upgrading the sound of a pinball game.
Teufel: „And how is the sound optimized?”
Daniel: “Those looking to improve the sound quality of their pinball machines usually turn to sound systems from known manufacturers. The general arrangement is to fit stereo speakers into the back cabinet and a subwoofer in the main cabinet. Internal speaker however don’t create an ideal sweet spot for the listener as the two stereo speakers are not far enough apart from the listening position. In addition, those with multiple pinball games will need to retrofit each one with speakers. This isn’t necessary with external speakers.”
Teufel: “Are there other reasons for deciding against replacing the internal speakers?
Daniel: “Yes. For one thing, we need to consider our own capacities, because we have 120 machines in our showroom and more in our show truck. In addition, everything at Pinball Universe is bigger, better, brighter, louder. We want to be able to offer our visitors ideas and solutions that maximize the pinball experience. That’s why we’ve sought a solution to typical sound upgrades. With Teufel Audio, we found the perfect partner.”
Teufel: “Why did you decide to work with Teufel Audio?”
Daniel: “Because I’m an absolute fan of the Teufel brand. You’ll find Teufel speaker everywhere at Pinball Universe. I really like the price/performance ratio and the great ideas that come out of the company. This as well as some parallels between our two companies naturally led to the current cooperation. I’m sure that many customers in our showroom will be just as enthusiastic when they try out the pinball machines equipped with Teufel sound systems here in our store.”
Teufel: “Thank you for your time and insights into the world of pinball, Daniel. We’re also very excited about this collaboration!
Billard Japonais: By Wuselig (Own work) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Süddeutschland/Elsass 1750/1770
All other pictures: Lautsprecher Teufel