Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 159, November 2018Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
The Down to Earth Woodworker
By Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

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The Festool Sysrock

I've written before about my near manic obsession with coffee, and I've mentioned how nice it is to have music playing in the background when doing relatively mindless woodworking tasks (sanding leaps to mind). Well, it is a fact that coffee and music go perfectly hand-in-glove with woodworking. There are, of course derivations.

Some folks, mostly younger folks, drink Mountain Dew or Red Bull while they are woodworking. They seem to work really fast. I know a guy who insists that beer is the best accompaniment to a day in the shop, but I can't, in good conscience, condone any adult beverage anywhere in or around the woodshop, either before or during woodworking. Safety first, please! There are folks that prefer to listen to talk radio or sports instead of music whilst working with wood. That's okay, I guess, except that a good baseball announcer on the radio will take you right to the field in a real virtual reality way. Listen closely and you can visualize the batter adjusting his gloves, the pitcher eyeing the runner on first, and the catcher signaling the next pitch. Too much distraction for me, but if you can listen to a game and adequately concentrate on your woodworking, so be it. Regardless your drink of choice and your background noise of choice, both should be really good. As in, good coffee and good sounds.

Last winter I purchased the Festool Sysrock Worksite Radio. I was in the middle of building my barn, all by myself, and it seemed that a little music (or gads, even talk radio) might take my mind off the cold and give me some much needed company. I was right about that. The Sysrock quickly became the first tool I carried back to the job site every day, and the last one to be put away at the end of each workday.

Approximately two months after I purchased the Sysrock, someone at Highland Woodworking must have noticed I bought one, and sent me an email asking if I would be interested in doing a Product Tour video of the Sysrock. Frankly, I dithered. Not because I didn't want to do the video, but because there was… let's call it… a "technical" challenge to doing a video. For it to have any meaning whatsoever to you, the viewer, you would need to hear how it sounds! And the labyrinth of copyright laws scares me to death. How could I play any music over the Sysrock so you could hear it without violating someone's copyright? It seemed an intractable problem, so I continued to dither and procrastinate. But then, one rainy day, I got an idea, and I think I've licked the copyright problem. I finally made a video, and it's available for you to watch right now!

Figure 3 - The Festool Sysrock is a tough job-site and workshop sound system
that puts out tremendous volume with no distortion
The Sysrock has a tank-like toughness. As soon as you pick it up, you will realize that this is no namby-pamby Bluetooth speaker like you might buy at the discount electronics store. The Sysrock is made for hard-working individuals working in hard, real-life conditions. If you accidently swing a two-by-four into the Sysrock, it will take the jolt and keep on playing. Or, like I did, if you accidently allow the Sysrock to fall off the roof, it will lay on the ground below, still playing loudly. Mine even survived a short rain squall, though I suspect even Festool wouldn't recommend leaving the thing out in the rain.

The Sysrock puts out great sound, with enough volume (without distortion) to keep even head-bangers happy. But perhaps its most endearing quality is that in addition to running off AC power, it can also be powered by any BP or BPC flat pack Festool battery you have. I have used the Sysrock for three straight long days without changing the battery pack, owing, of course, to Festool's now legendary battery life.

I suspect the Sysrock will be a much-coveted gift this holiday season, so check out the video, then order one from Highland Woodworking.

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Steven Johnson is retired from an almost 30-year career selling medical equipment and supplies, and now enjoys improving his shop, his skills, and his designs on a full time basis (although he says home improvement projects and furniture building have been hobbies for most of his adult life). Steven can be reached directly via email at sjohnson@downtoearthwoodworking.com

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