By that I mean, they are entirely different styles of control boxes aimed at totally different parts of the stimming community.
Take the 2B which retails at £299, for instance. It is a dual-channel control box with line-in and an internal microphone. It also features two power levels and the ability to use a mains power supply. Add to that, the ability to use different output maps and the inbuild modes it is a beast. It quite rightly dominates the marketplace, and I love it.
The ABox Mk2 at £135, on the other hand, is relatively simple, having only an internal microphone (you can adjust its sensitivity) and a line-in function. It only accepts 9V batteries as its power source and only has single-channel output. It is less than half the price of the 2B, and that makes it an attractive option for someone looking to explore the world of audiostim.
Purists Be Warned
Both the ABox Mk2 and the 2B are digital control boxes and as such they internally process the audio signals, but they do it in different ways.
These aren't stereostim boxes designed to pass audio signals through to the electrodes, they use the audio to drive the output. To that end, the output will always be different from a stereostim unit. To me, that is a good thing as it means more options for people.
Both the 2B and the ABox Mk2 were designed to be used with music rather than tone files common within the stereostim community. Their most significant advantage though is safety, they will limit the output current to safe levels.
But I am starting to waffle so back to what I have been doing today.
To evaluate both boxes together, I decided to try to standardise how I tested them. That means new batteries in both (not using the power adaptor on the 2B and setting it to low power).
I used new self-adhesive monopole pads from the same batch to ensure commonality of contact areas and effectiveness of them.
Just swapping a cable from one box to another would not give me an effective way of comparing the two boxes as I could possibly still feel after-effects from one box when using another.
So, I decided to place the pads on my shins, equal distances apart and in the same areas on both legs. Why not attach the pads to my genitals? Well doing it this way will remove arousal for the experiment as that could cloud my judgement while using both boxes.
I chose two random e-stim audio tracks and a music track on Youtube for the test, and the links to them are here:
There is no way I could test more files, and I know everyone has their favourite, but as I don't usually use audiostim, I can be considered a bit of a virgin to the field so I will use these three files just like someone new to the scene might.
As both boxes are totally different, I had to come up with areas that I could compare them to each other, and so these are the criteria I used:
- Output Power
- Overall Feel
I played each audio track in full, alternating boxes and legs after each finished. I kept notes during the stimming sessions. I tweaked the controls so that each box was set to about 50% output power for the majority of the sessions. I did try to max each box out though at the same point in each track to provide a comparison on output strength.
Was it a scientific test? Obviously not, but I think I have made it as fair as I could for each box.
Here are the results I observed with each of the criteria I set out to measure each box against the other with.
As you can see from the results shown below, the 2B blew the ABox Mk2 out of the water as I would have imagined. Bear in mind that the 2B also has a high power setting to play with and that if you plug in into the mains using its power adaptor you get 30% extra power on top.
I could max out the ABox Mk2 (just) but had no chance with the 2B without drop-kicking the cat to the bottom of the garden. So the 2B wins on output power.
I was delighted with the output of the ABox Mk2, it felt a lot smoother than the 2B, which can sometimes be a little spikey. That said though, there is more controllability coming in the near future for the 2B as in latest beta version of the Firmware the 2B can be tweaked using an Advanced Stereo mode and its output maps allow more tweaking. But I used the basic stereo mode available in all firmware versions.
The output from the ABox Mk2 came into its own though when enjoying a bit of Ed Sheeran (Try Galway Girl for an Ed Sheeran-gasm).
The Abox wins on smoothness, but I also enjoyed the output from the 2B.
The 2B wins on the controllability as you can really go to town tweaking the output to your liking but doing so is a little fiddly. As mentioned above the latest (beta) version of the firmware has more features for controlling audio play.
The Abox just allows you to control the output power without any way of really modifying the output. As it is designed for music use that isn't really a problem as the internal circuitry does the magic and it is a pretty polished result.
The ABox wins on responsiveness, I love the stepless output you get with using a potentiometer for the controls. Turned in the knob results in an immediate change in output power, and when using the internal microphone, it is easy to tweak its sensitivity.
The 2B, on the other hand, is a little slower to adjust sometimes missing clicks as you turn the adjusting knobs, probably because it is doing so much work processing the audio signals.
It was much quicker and easier to drop the output power to zero on the ABox Mk2 over the 2B.
Here's the kicker, I like them both. The ABox Mk2 certainly feels smoother than the 2B, but I love the raw, aggressive power of the 2B. If you want smoother output when playing with audio files, then the ABox Mk2 is a great option, especially at its price point.
If you want and crave power and the ability to play over the internet (with a datalink cable), then the 2B wins hands down.
They really are two different boxes that side by side are like chalk and cheese.
Interesting, totting up all the scores, the ABox got 44 and the 2B got 42 so in general terms it does process audio better than the 2B, of course that would depend on your own preferences though.
This turned out to be more challenging than it sounds, both boxes have their own niche in the market, and both work well. It is actually tough to rate them against each other, and I hope that what I have done has answered any questions you have.
That said, remember, we all feel e-stim sensations differently, and these results are my impression of these two units. I had a lot of fun using them, and now I think I deserve a nice Ed Sheeran-gasm, pass me the lube, and I hope you consider checking back on my site soon.
You can read my reviews of these two E-Stim Systems Control Boxes here:Joanne gives you the run down on how the ABox Mk2 compares with the 2B from @estimsystems. Check out her thoughts on them both. Click to Tweet