One Man Built a One-Sixth Scale Model of the Grateful Dead’s “Wall of Sound”
Incredible levels of detail, plus working audio
Plenty of musicians have sought the ideal sound system for live performances. Some have even taken to building their own portable systems to augment or replace that of the venues in which they were playing. In 1974, The Grateful Dead may have reached the apex of this approach with a customized system known as the “Wall of Sound.” To look at photos of it is to see exactly what the name suggests: an absolutely massive wall of speakers looming over the musicians as they played.
Now, one dedicated fan of the group has replicated this iconic sound system — though it’s just a bit smaller.
At The Wall Street Journal, Alex Leary spoke with Anthony Coscia, who built a one-sixth scale model of the Wall of Sound. Or, to be more specific, a one-sixth scale model with working sound.
Coscia documented the creation of the sound system via a dedicated Instagram page. As the Wall Street Journal article explains, his motivation for it was similar to that which sparked a host of projects in the last year: Coscia was stuck at home due to the pandemic and decided to try something out. Working 4 hours each day over the course of 2 months, the project came together.
“My inspiration was being into the Dead and their constant pursuit of exploring boundaries, with no end goal other than pushing that envelope, at all expenses,” Coscia told the Wall Street Journal. He’s also used the attention paid to the project to raise awareness (and funds) for Headcount, a voter registration nonprofit. It’s a fascinating project, and one that might prove transformative in unexpected ways.
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