Leave it to the Italians to come up with a Bluetooth speaker named after a famous opera star that looks like a piece of art. Caruso designed by New Black is a Bluetooth 4.0 enabled speaker that just screams “Look at me”. Clean, contemporary, fun, and unfortunately pricey. For your money though, you get a hand made wood cabinet and ceramic horn. Each piece is made to orderby Italian masters in Meolo (Venice) which also helps to explain the $2700.00 price tag. As Bluetooth speakers go the specs are pretty solid. Caruso has a frequency response rate of 50-19 khz, and pushes out 75 watts of blazing power to help make all the digital files stored on your phone or computer sound amazing. The cabinet comes in lacquered wood finishes in 6 different shades. The ceramic horn in 6 contrasting shades that you can mix and match with the wood to your hearts content. I simply love the look of it. Finally someone is making a speaker that doesn’t look like the cheap plastic crap you see everywhere these days. Plus it has enough power to fill your space and then some.
I used to spend hours in record store sifting through stacks of new and used vinyl searching for something new and unique. Just like book stores, record stores were a place to discover old favorites and new gems. A place to find music that you could share with your friends and so much more. there was something about the experience that will never be captured by an online experience, no matter what your source is, be it iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, eMusic, etc.
Predominant.ly designed and built by Open Work wants to change that. They want to bring to the online world the spontaneity of stumbling across a new find or an old favorite while searching for music. The concept is really pretty clever. Based on color choices Predominant.ly serves up groups of albums where the covers match your color choices. The data is pulled from iTunes which makes the entire catalog available. The experience definitely lends itself to the concept of exploration in the digital space.
When I was 21 I landed a coveted job at the newly opened Streetside records in suburban Kansas City. This was a dream job. I got to be immersed in all sorts of music 30 hours a week, and someone paid me to push my musical taste on people that came through the doors. I worked part time at Street Side off and on for 5 years. This was what seemed like the golden age of the record store. Vinyl was still popular even though CD’s were slowly taking over the business. Import albums were readily available, and being able to purchase a record with alternate tracks, or mixes on them was fantastic.
Today I read that today 97% of high school aged kids have never been to a record store. I can see that being 100% correct. Look at the landscape today. Everything is digital, and you don’t need to go. You can buy one off singles, or full albums right on your phone and download the tracks as you go about your business. I have to admit, I am a guilty participant when it comes to this behavior. When I got my first iPod (first generation click wheel) I ripped all my CD’s and took the leap to all digital all the time.
Thank god we have Jack White though.At SXSW this year, White launched his rolling record store. Think of it as a bookmobile for records. Yes I know I just dated myself even more with that reference. The store is called Third Man Rolling Record Store, and is designed to bring the record store experience to the people, since the people won’t go to record stores. I love the idea of this. White is bringing the allure of discovery, of browsing to find an unknown gem, of records. When I think back about vinyl, and the physicality of having to actually get involved with a record beyond a swipe and a tap, it makes me wish I had kept all my records and bought that 1960’s Braun, Dieter Rams turntable when I had the chance.