Right now the only stereo system I have in my house is a Polk Audio Woodbourne system and it does a great job filling my smallish house with music streamed from my phone or tablet. I like it because it looks amazing, has a small footprint, good quality audio output, and only one cord. I hate wires. The thing is, I think I’m going to have to start saving for an upgrade because I just saw B&O’s BeoSound Shape, and I’m in love with the design of it. I haven’t heard it, I haven’t seen it in person, but the photos and the video look pretty slick.
BeoSound Shape is the design-driven solution to the prevailing issue of poor room acoustics in open multifunctional spaces. The damper tiles absorb sound waves rather than reflecting them, which not only improves your music experience but also actively improves the entire acoustic atmosphere in the room even when the system is switched off.
At the heart of the system are BeoSound Core, a connectivity hub hidden in one of the tiles that have the hardware for AirPlay, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, and Bluetooth 4.1, and support for Bang & Olufsen’s very own BeoLink system. The BeoSound Core also has wired inputs for Ethernet or line-in functionality, although the primary focus is on wireless streaming. A base kit starts at roughly $4,266 and includes eight tiles which include four speakers, two sound-absorbing acoustic dampeners, one amplifier, and one housing for the Core. The system is expandable up to 11 amplifier units each of which can support four speaker tiles, for a total of 44 if you need to fill a larger space.
Is it a good value for the money? Probably not. I know for a fact that for 4500 bucks you could pit together a sound system that blows this away, but that isn’t why I am interested. I want this because it doesn’t look like a stereo. Because there are endless custom configurations. And because my old broken down ears aren’t going to be able to hear that much of a perceivable difference. I really love the concept, and execution of this.
Danish audio maker Låmpion has released a new tube amplifier designed by Stefan Radev. The minimalist tube amplifier is one stylish piece of hardware with a clean aesthetic blending aluminum, wood, and glass to create a clean, simple, functional design. The amp is compatible with both Apple and Android devices and can be used with stand alone audio equipment as well.
There is something timeless about the look of this object, and it feels like the design team really took into account how the amp will look when paired with an iPhone or an iPad. The rounded edges and materials mirror what is going on with the Apple products so well, and the look of the build quality screams premium audio. The design team applied a well balanced choice of proportions, materials, and accents to create the clean look of this amplifier without introducing to much technological clutter.
Beyond the look, this amp is solid on specs as well featuring two twenty watt custom tube driven amps, with a frequency response of 5Hz to 50Khz, multiple inputs ranging from RCA output, micro USB input, WiFi audio, an Apple Lighting dock connector, 1/4 inch headphone jack as well as mini jacks.
No word on pricing and availability, but I suspect this will be Europe only and carry a hefty price tag when it’s all said and done.
The amplification of an audio source doesn’t always require electronics. Sometimes all you need is a well designed wooden box with the right acoustic properties. Case in point the Timbre Amplifier for your iPhone. Timbre by designer by Tyler Pratt is locally crafted from black walnut wood and is available in two finishes. The wooden amplifier provides up to 20 decibels in audio increase with no cords, no batteries, no wire. It looks nice, is well designed and provides good function with little visual intrusion.
Clean, Simple, Elegant design is one way to describe these speakers from NW3. Hand crafted, high quality, and choice materials is another.”
NW3 is a Germany based interdisciplinary collective where products are designed, manufactured and distributed in close collaboration with local craftsmen and businesses. In addition NW3 tries to explore alternative forms of production and graphic shapes. The NW3 speakers create a natural looking and sounding stereo system that can be used in every area of your house.
The drivers are manufactured by the Danish company Pearless. The simple box housing, is made from local wood, solvent-free stain and protected with natural wax finish. All work is done by a small carpenters workshop in Germany. The front speaker grills are made of powder-coated steel that compliments the simple shape and lines of the speakers.
“Our products are simple and reticent. It is not our intention to make just beautiful forms. We are concentrated on function, comprehensibility, ecology and durability.”
I actually own a set of the original Harman Kardon Soundsticks. I’ve had them for about 6 years and I really do love them. The clear plastic design helps them fade away into the background of the room, and they put out some solid sound. (at least my rock scarred ear drums think so. I’m probably not the best judge though thanks to my punk rock years) Like all speaker systems, actually like all modern electronics, one thing that has always bugged me are the wires. With the original Soundsticks there are copious amounts of cable, but now Harman Kardon SoundSticks have been updated into a wireless version.
SoundSticks III now use Bluetooth technology to deliver a signal to the six-inch subwoofer, and two satellite speakers with eight full-range drivers. The speakers still deliver 40 watts of amplification which won’t blow the windows out of your humble abode, but will fill a good sized room with lots of sound. Harman Kardon Soundsticks III can seamlessly stream audio from any of your Bluetooth enabled devices. No word on iPhone 5 support, so I know I won’t be buying these right away. They will be going on the wish list though.
I’ve always been fascinated with old school stereo console units. Especially mid-century ones that had a sleek modern look to them. There is something about the self-contained entertainment console with sturdy wood construction that appeals to me. It probably has something to do with my obsession about not seeing any cords, or wires.
Symbol Audio is resurrecting the stereo console in a very upscale and stylish way with units like the Modern Record Console which pays homage to all in one console hifi systems of the 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Modern Record Console is a hand-built stereo designed by Blake Tovin and Matt Richmond. It features things like a custom designed hand-wired tube amplifier, wireless connectivity, a carbon fiber tonearm fitted with a Sumiko Blue Point #2 cartridge for playing vinyl and two 6.5” full range speakers. All of this is stored inside of a steel and wood cabinet that looks absolutely fantastic with clean lines and a deep walnut finish.
Like the flagship Modern Record Console, Symbol Audio also produces a table top stereo and a record cabinet for holding your vinyl, and CD collections. Both units are equally well designed and built. You can see the entire collection here.
When I first saw images of this I thought to myself, “there should be a little guy in lederhosen blowing in the end of this thing, while another little lederhosen guy shouts out Ricola”. (my mind is filled with cold meds that are having an impact on my imagination)
OK enough of that nonsense. When it comes to passive amplifiers for the iPod or iPhone, this new release from en&is is pretty damn sexy.
The Megaphone amplifier for the iphone is made from porcelain and designed to amplify the audio produced by the built in speaker on your phone. The amplifier sits on a thin wooden frame so the amplifier rests in a cradle that almost feels like an old school pipe stand. The stand has a very functional design purpose though. It helps to increase audio vibration and optimize sound output. I couldn’t find any specs on this. That statement is based on the designers website. I have no idea what this actually sounds like but it sure looks amazing.
MegaPhone Satellite 2011 is designed for the iPhone is perfect for listening music without headphones, for audio conference to hear the person on the phone as live voice.