Although there are certainly noteworthy exceptions, audio equipment aesthetics often tend towards the lackluster. Monolithic speaker towers and boxy stacks of amps, preamps, and source equipment are great for providing mindblowing aural experiences, but can be eyesores in a main living room or other carefully arranged space.
For those more concerned with visual vibes, London design and technology firm Room One has introduced the unconventional new Surface wall-mounted speaker. “We wanted to create something that bridged the worlds of art, furniture, and design,” says Oliver Staiano, the head of product design at Room One. “We wanted the speaker to be a piece of art in its own right.”
Resembling a minimalist wall sculpture, the Surface consists of a thin, curved panel of oak wood with transducers affixed to its rear side. When activated, these transducers take the incoming audio signal and transfers them into physical movements that vibrate the wood panel, thereby producing audible sound waves.
A similar system is utilized by Sony’s new Bravia A1E television, which uses actuators to vibrate the surface of the screen to produce sound. By all accounts, the audio produced by the A1E is surprisingly good, and Room One chose oak specifically for its acoustic properties. Although a solid piece of wood may seem like a strange material to make a speaker from, it may ultimately be a perfectly capable one.
The speaker’s unique concave shape was designed to create the maximum sound dispersion, aiding in its ability to fill the room with sound. It uses Bluetooth to interface with smartphones, laptops, or other devices to stream music from a library or services like Spotify.
The Surface is available in blue, red, and natural oak; it is priced at $1,151.