Sounds Unlimited – A Dream 50 Years in the Making

My name is John Ott. I have led an unusual life.

It seems I have been continually rolling with the punches for my entire life.  All meant to make me stronger. Sometimes I felt like the Joe Palooka, a punching bag toy we had in our cellar as kids. This case is the best thing (with the exception of my twins)that I have ever created. The phone case is a superior product on its own merits and with accessory horns, the Bluetooth speaker market can be penetrated as well.

I am now 70 years old. When the pandemic began, I was climbing and inspecting some of the largest rollercoasters and amusement parks in the country as an independent contractor. And Yes. I ride them too! I also built and operated the onlywebsite  RIDEBOOKS.COM, solely used to access data when inspecting or maintaining amusement rides…RIDEOPEDIA is my word. After weeks of googling names for the tool, I decided to make my own word.  The encyclopedia of ride information. RIDEBOOKS was another one of the family projects by the twins and me. My son wrote the code, and all the graphics. I provided an outline and 30 years of data to enter.

Both businesses ceased earning in March. Like so many others, the pandemic has forced me to change gears once again. I always try to come back stronger when I am knocked down.I believe my entire life has directed me towards this new project. I want to bring some measure of increased happiness to others thru a more satisfying experience with their cellphones. During rollercoaster test runs we would have to walk away to hear our phones. It wastes time. I want my hearing-impaired friends to be able to hear the giggles of their grandchildren on Facetime. I have seen them struggle to hear much too often. I started thinking about this the first moment, I saw my farmers daughter friendBecky, struggling to hear her beloved chickadees. Her granddaughters. She was so frustrated.  I wanted to help.  I knew I could. I also believed it could be inexpensive and unpowered. An affordable alternative for those with less means . Better voice performance was my primary concern and music secondary.

With too much time on my hands in March of 2020, I decided to attack the problem. It was about 1am on a sleepless night.  For my first test, I used all of my tin foil from the kitchen to create my initial prototype. It worked, not great but I could hear the potential. I began to dream about success and my next step. Even in the worst of times, I am a glass half full guy. I started to think about my bucket list. Ever since the Sharks began, I have wanted to stand in front of them, between my twins and take our lumps, good or bad. My kids have been through a lot of dreams with me. This will be the tops !

Sounds Unlimited – A Dream 50 Years in the Making

I started my first business in the closing days of my sophomore year in college. It was an accident.  I was sitting in the trash room adjacent to the lobby on Brewster 2 at Syracuse university in the spring of 1971. A friend of mine and I had wired our stereos together, we all chipped in for some kegs, and got the party started.  Beach boys, Beatles, Motown, DC5. Some girls came up to me and asked me to do it for them. I was caught off guard. I was very shy, but I wanted to be invited to the girl’s party. So, I replied yes. Then she said the magic words that changed my life “How much would you charge ?”  I asked for $5/party . I was working in the recreation room for $1.40/hr.

I thought about that $5 all summer while working in a Paper mill for 5 credit hours., I obsessed actually. I read every HiFi and Stereo Review magazine I could. I read them over and over in a camping trailer by myself…I studied the brand-new BOSE 901…I decided they were too inefficient.  I would also have to buy the new Crown Dc300 amplifier first generation. 

I went the Klipsch route, and my amplifier was 1/10 the power.  Only 35 watts per channel . I liked the idea of using horns for efficiency and low distortion. It was a wise decision. When I returned to school for my junior year, I spent all my used car budget, plus, I borrowed $100 from my roommate, and I bought a pair of Klipsch Cornwall Loudspeakers !  My parents were furious. My mother did not forgive me for years even though, once I started my business, I never needed money from them again.

Sounds Unlimited, SU…became the first mobile DJ. service on the SU Hill in 1972. We did not even know the term DISCO.  We did not know what to charge.  We did not know what we were worth. There were no guideposts. I suggested to my partner Russ, that we start doubling the price until they will not pay it anymore, then we would know. As a scientist to be it seemed like a perfectly logical approach.  I still have the original ledger almost 50 years later.  Several $12, then some $25…Then our first fraternity party. I knew absolutely nothing about fraternities.  This one, PIKA turned out to be the animal house of SU.  We were off to a great start.    


I unwrapped a copy of Abbey Road (it was new then) and played some. They loved it.  When they asked the price. Sweat was running down my armpits.  I could feel it.  I asked for $50 !   They jumped on it !  I thought damn , I could have asked for more!  Then they asked what hours…My turn.  I said 9pm to 1am, knowing full well they would want me to play until closing time 2am..I said $65…It was a done deal. 

Within a month, every weekend night was booked for the semester. Soon the shy kid, that went to college in 1969 with a brush cut, was being announced at SU basketball games in the old Manley Field house. Fraternities, Sororities, Dorms fighting for dates. Soon I partnered with campus organizations, chartered buses for parties at the Hilton Ballroom. It was fun, always growing.

CUSTOM CONSOLE WITH CASSETTE DECKS me and one of the guys Bob Traica
CUSTOM CONSOLE WITH CASSETTE DECKS me and one of the guys Bob Traica

I am a degreed Paper Science Engineer, BS 1973 SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry. . I worked my way thru college, Bethlehem Steel Coke Ovens, Ford Stamping Plant, Manlius Foundry I helped to develop super absorbent tampons and making Charmin softer. I had to develop a machine to measure softness.  Until then Charmin tried to get 20 of 25 women to agree on samples thru a physical comparative analysis.  They touched and rubbed the tissues. 

The results were inconclusive and inconsistent. (As well as frustrating to the executives ) This was in the in the early 70’sworking under Ken Britt.  As an undergraduate, I landed a job as a research assistant for Mr. Britt. Mr. Britt created the wet strength additives that made the paper towel possible. He was a big deal. I was truly fortunate to land that job. Problem solving, starting over, having failures , having successes, was invaluable experience. For me, Mr. Britt was the closest person I would ever get towards meeting like my hero’s, scientists.

I stayed on with him after graduation since my fiancé was two years behind me and it was great experience, but low pay.  I was looking to the future. The future,however. was not what I expected.  The discovery of a tumor 6 months into my marriage, and just before Christmas, put a stop to everything. I was accepted for experimental chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

As soon as my prognosis was determined, I signed away my rights so that someone down the road might benefit. I was terminally ill. 3 of ten of living 6 months were the odds given. My wife left.  I eventually used a divorce yourself kit. I became a lab rat for 33 months chemo from 1976-79 I was number 43. When I started 22 had just passed. We all watched as the numbers got closer to us.   When 42 passed, I stole my records while there for a checkup. When I returned, I demanded to know how I was doing. My intern was from Venezuela and spoke Portuguese.  I did not. I soon learned that I was in the 95%  They thought I was as healthy as a man on the street, but they wanted me to take 3 more months to put me in a 36-month statistical point.  I would be the first.  I refused. 33 months was enough I began crying. Such a weight to suddenly and unexpectedly be lifted.​

I walked out on my own. A good Samaritan bought me a ticket to fly home to Buffalo to be with my family. He overheard me calling my parents and knew I only had bus money to Syracuse,  I was in shock. He bought the ticket while using a phone in his chauffer driven limo. It was the first phone I had ever seen in a car. It was over.  I was thirty years old and reborn.  Nothing would ever scare me or stop me again. None of my roommates survived. I planned to cram all the life I could into mine to honor them. I was blessed to be one of four survivors of 140 in the test.
In 2008 in an unfamiliar city, Olean NY, I sat at a bar for dinner alone, because I missed my Dad.  It was my first hunting season without him. By chance there was one woman at the bar.  We exchanged glances.  We thought we knew each other. She was my nurse from 30 years previous. My Oncologist Dr. Golbe was still alive. I called him and thanked him  We all cried. He said he never had a call like that.  I told him I had my twins ( by using the first sperm bank in the country on Madison Avenue) (by breaking the rules again as I was told to give up after 10 years and they were frozen for 13 years) he was so happy.  God made that moment .  No doubt about it.

During the chemo years, I could not get a job pumping gas.  I went back to being a DJ and standing on my own two feet. Well almost. I sat on a pile of pillows and rested my head on my hands and my elbows on the counter. I had no ass at times.  My weight fluctuated between 170# (thanks to whoppers) and 99# (thanks to  Valban, Cytoxan, Cis-Platin) cocktails and IVs for almost three years. I made others happy even though I was in hell. DJing saved my life it was therapy. I felt useful.  I could still bring others joy. I listened to music 24/7 during my 16 days inductions. I tried to take my mind off the incessant retching. That happened every 10-15 minutes. Finally, I was entered in an experimental anti-nausea, double blind THC study, one of the first in1976. Sometimes those pills immediately turned off the nausea.  It felt like a miracle,   Music was a big help. I lost less weight once I started fighting back with music. Much of the fallout from that experience has driven me to make the world a better place.

​After cancer,  my career was sound systems and light shows contractor. I was a full-service company. Designing layouts, recommending talent, and making sure my clients were successful. I tried to rebuild my professional life as well and took civil service exams. In the 80’s and 90’s ,I built many nightclub sound systems and lightshows throughout NY sate and as far away as Detroit,  I was a dealer for the major brands of quality audio gear JBL EAW, CROWN, and intelligent lighting. I serviced whatever I sold. I went to Austin to get certified on High end Systems. I always took a quality approach to anything I built. My systems were overbuilt with the best gear available so that they were loud without being stressed or distorted. They were durable. I built club systems from NY to Detroit.

When that business began to slow down, I designed and built two of my own nightclubs from scratch. The first one was a non-alcohol club for teenagers.  Watertown NY is near Fort Drum. The Fort is large army base. 18–20-year-old soldiers were always very welcome and some even worked security for me. The MAX wasphenomenally successful for 3 years. I based my business plan on a 30-mile radius.  I was wrong.  I had regular customers that drove 45 miles every weekend, even in snowbelt winters. .I had staff conduct a survey at the new mall on a busy weekend. I wanted feedback good or bad. The number one response by 10 to 1…We love the MAX because they play the music LOUD !   Yes ! we did. All industrial JBL powered by McIntosh amplifiers (the macs at the Max)  We were positively reviewed by the parents and community.  A proposed tripling of my rent caused me to switch gears.

My second club was in the city of Syracuse, 800 capacity , 32 employees, 3 blocks from the big new Carousel mall but I was first…under construction, to the derision of all my competitors, my marketing was 100% right for the third time. The Pumphouse, in Syracuse NY was my crowning achievement of a twenty year long, two jobs goal. John Taffer, from Bar Rescue, visited me and told me he thought the design was perfect…It was! I had some great live shows there from the Goo Goo Dolls to Marshal Tucker to Milli Vanilli LOL  We were a big hit for 6 years and then I sold it.

​All that time I was running the Pumphouse, I was still working for the state and raising twins with their mother. My bread-and-butter day career was a NYS Safety Inspector where, because of my business background, I was, heart and soul, from the government and there to help.  I have always been immensely proud of that.  I served 28 years protecting the public by inspecting all sorts of things, elevators to ski lifts to explosives.
I have always wondered why I survived. I believe God had a plan for me and I have wanted to live up to whatever that plan is. Until the pandemic, I thought the plan was my RIDEBOOKS website.

Working on an early 3D printed prototype
Working on an early 3D printed prototype

My experience with sound systems, my love for music, my aging hearing, and my desire to help others in similar situations led me initiate this project. Maybe this is what I was meant to do.

My Cell phone case can improve the audio performance of your phone. I have been right about sound systems and marketing sound to consumers most of my life.I am right about this product as well.



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