Home speakers were once ugly, boxy things that you hid away from sight because they did nothing for your décor. But smart designers have been working to make the home audio speaker an attractive part of whatever room it’s in, and some of their designs are positively unbelievable.
The Grand Enigma
(image via: Dvice)
The Grand Enigma from Kharma may just look like a wall of speakers, but they’re a little more than that. Like, a million dollars more than that. Yes, the above setup is the world’s most expensive set of speakers, and there’s only one of its kind. You’d have to be a truly hard-core audiophile to drop a million bucks on a sound system.
(images via: Technabob)
When you have a small space to work with, single-functionality items just won’t do. Everything in a small space should do at least double duty to maximize the area. These speakers/bookshelves do that in the most delightful way, by combining music, books and sweet design (three of our favorite things) while saving floor space. Created by Polish designers Witek Stefaniak and Anielka Zdanowicz, these awesome speakers are sadly only a concept for now.
Bandai Diorama Speaker
(image via: Akihabara News)
If your goal is to actually draw attention to your speakers rather than hide them, you couldn’t find a more perfect product. This limited-edition speaker from Bandai (of Power Rangers fame) features a very noticeable plastic model of 1955 Ginza on top. For about $2230, this is obviously the best choice for classy ladies and gentlemen everywhere.
(image via: I New Idea)
Let us go on record as saying that if these speakers ever became commercially available, we would walk barefoot over hot coals to get one. The familiar equalizer design lets you adjust the individual audio levels to your personal preference, and in a fun tactile way. Each slider is a speaker, lending a fantastic aesthetic quality to an otherwise sort of mundane activity.
Zimku Floor Speakers by Parrot
(image via: Wired)
Parrot is already known for their wireless headphones, but recently they branched out and joined forces with designer Philippe Starck to come up with these sophisticated-looking tower speakers. They are designed to be used in pairs and connect to each other wirelessly via Bluetooth. But even better is their wi-fi capability, making them able to stream music from your computer or cell phone. Or if you’d prefer, pop that iPhone or iPod onto the integrated dock. Their $1500 price tag suggests that you might want to be pretty serious about your music before lusting after the Zimku speakers.
Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus
(image via: Bowers & Wilkins)
The Bowers and Wilkins Nautilus has inspired countless designers all over the world to design a sleek, sexy speaker. But few even come close to the incredible stylishness and unbelievable sound quality of the Nautilus. It’s a design classic, and one that continues to be on the wish list of every audiophile.
Serpent Wireless Speaker Design
(images via: Yanko Design)
Sometimes the best design is the simplest one. That’s certainly the case with Ben Wahrlich’s Serpent Speakers design. The wireless speakers wouldn’t be big enough for a whole-room listening experience, but they would make perfect computer speakers. The flexible bodies can bend into any configuration and stay put when you twist them up. They’re only a concept at this point, but it’s easy to imagine this simple, common-sense design popping up in stores soon.
(image via: Tech Digest)
Despite the inscrutable and very forgettable name, the Eclipse TD7127MK2 speakers show off a memorable design. They look a bit like tiny jet engines stuck atop two metal poles. And they bear other similarities to jet engines: namely, their price and size. A pair of these will set you back about $10,000, and each speaker weighs in at around 55 pounds.
Imu Vibrating Speaker
(image via: Gadgetshop)
While the design looks a little NSFW-ish, the Imu’s product page gives a pretty enticing description. It claims that, due to a magical Navy substance called Terfenol-D, this little device can turn any hard, flat surface into a speaker.
Yorozu Sound Revolution Kit
(images via: Japan Trend Shop)
The Yorozu Sound Revolution Audio Kit works on a similar principle, and claims to be able to turn just about any flat surface into a speaker. It comes with a milk carton-shaped box to start you out. After that, it’s up to you to start sticking the little conductor onto anything and everything in reach.
(image via: Like Cool)
If the Imu wasn’t quite suggestive enough for you, the Body Speakers from Bob Turek just might be. The designer wanted to put music into a new context, and he succeeded admirably. Now if we could just stop blushing long enough to plug this cord in…
JVC Sound Garden
(image via: Engadget)
Music and gardening are both relaxing on their own, so why not combine them? This speaker concept was seen at the Designer’s Week competition in Tokyo, and combines a multi-directional speaker with a small planter. The units can be joined up to form a speaker array/garden that ultimately seems pretty dangerous, given the electricity + water equation.
Harman Kardon Soundstick II
(image via: Harman Kardon)
When it comes to speakers, excellent sound is one thing; when it’s accompanied by superior design you get even more enjoyment from your music. The Soundstick II system sounds amazing, but the sleek and curvy design actually makes it look good on your tabletop or desk. The clear acrylic subwoofer and satellite speakers feature blue LEDs to give them an almost ethereal look, and the system features minimal wiring to keep your desk clutter under control.
Audi-Inspired Sonic Rings
(image via: MadeByMakers)
Young Danish design firm Made By Makers held an internal workshop to see what innovative new speaker ideas they could think up on three days. One of the designs was this doughnut-shaped surround-sound speaker that was inspired by the Audi logo. The idea is that you pick up a wireless ring and take it with you to enhance your surround sound experience wherever you are in the room.
(image via: The Cool Hunter)
When the original Radiofonografio was invented in 1965 by the Castiglioni brothers, it was a marvel of modern music. A radio, record player and amplifier all in one sleek, attractive package revolutionized the way the world thinks about audio. Now, Brionvega has reinvented the landmark piece by updating its appearance somewhat and adding a CD/DVD player. Luckily, they kept the “friendly robot” look.
Altec Lansing OMNI
(image via: Yanko Design)
Although these gorgeous speakers are just a concept, we can easily picture them in an ultra-modern home design. They look like tall decorative vases, but the tops of the objects actually have cone-shaped speakers in them, allowing them to distribute sound in all directions.
Neil Poulton’s USB-Powered Speakers
(image via: A + R Store)
Well-designed and affordable computer speakers are very hard to come by, but this set manages to do both pretty nicely. The design is simple and streamlined (they look like steam vents!), with no overly ornate bits to get in the way of killer sound. And at just $66, you won’t be afraid to actually use them.
(image via: Gear Crave)
The graceful curves of the Davone Rithm speakers bring to mind fine instruments, and indeed they were crafted with the same painstaking care of a top-shelf violin. The many layers of pressed wood are carefully molded into the fluid shape of the cabinet which acts as an effective sound damper. Inside the cabinet, the tweeter is actually inside the woofer, giving a clean, uniform sound for both high and low frequencies.
JBL Control Now
(images via: Amazon)
Any audiophile knows that flexibility is a huge plus when you’re setting up your home sound system. Being able to move and combine components is the main idea behind the JBL Control Now line, which lets you mount speakers pretty much anywhere. The quarter-circle speakers work well alone, but you can also use them in custom arrays of up to four.
(image via: DesignBoom)
Sound Seed, designed by Richard Hunt, takes everyone’s biggest speaker complaint and turns it into an asset. The design uses the power cord, usually an unsightly tail that combines with others to take up half of a room, to suspend the speakers gracefully. They float in mid-air and can be positioned at ear level to get just the right sound without taking up any precious floor space.
(image via: John Caswell Design)
If you tend to listen to woeful emo or screaming metal, why not have the speakers to match? These adorable ceramic speakers, designed by John Caswell, look like they’re singing (or wailing) your music to you.
(image via: CNet)
Panasonic’s new wireless speaker design (unveiled at CES 2009) has interior decorating enthusiasts sitting on the edge of their seats. The surround-sound system features four elegant towers instead of the usual boxy speakers to deliver 4.0 surround sound in a much less cluttered fashion. Because of the system’s lack of a separate subwoofer and the limitations of only four speakers, this can’t be called a true audiophile’s surround sound system. But for all of those households that have been holding out on surround sound because of the ugly wires and speakers involved, it may be just the thing to catapult them into a higher plane of listening pleasure.
Jabra Wireless Bluetooth Headset/Speaker
(image via: Engadget)
Ok, so maybe including this design in a list of home speakers is cheating just a little. After all, these are mostly for personal use. But this amazing contraption goes from personal headphones to desk speakers to bluetooth headset, making it a completely versatile gadget to have around. We can’t imagine the sound quality in speaker mode would be the best you’ve ever heard, but the convenience factor makes them attractive nonetheless.
Proclaim Audio DMT-100
(images via: Proclaim Audioworks)
These bizarre-looking sound pods are actually carefully engineered to bring you the best sound experience. The spherical shape is intended to control the acoustics of the sound more than the room in which they sit, and their special stand lets you position the upper speakers in the best place for your particular needs. And you can always pretend they’re alien eyes watching you go about your business.
Cabasse La Sphere
(image via: Stereophile)
For the best and creepiest alien eye speaker experience, though, you’d be better off with the Cabasse La Sphere. The giant ball looks like a terrifying watchful eye that’s just waiting for you to do something laser-worthy. It reportedly sounds pretty good, but for the whole system you’ll end up dropping $165,000, which is just a touch more than most people care to spend just to be scared in their own home.
Symbio Designs Alpha Speaker
(image via: Symbio Designs)
The original design of the Symbio Alpha heavily favored form over function, but after a positive reception by everyone who saw these strange objects, the team decided to go back to the drawing board for the speaker components. They came up with a technical profile that matches the beauty of the speakers’ physical form, making the Alpha a truly desirable object for both music lovers and art lovers.
(image via: Engadget)
Put this speaker into a room and ask your friends if they can tell where your music is coming from. Chances are they’ll never suspect the stylish lamp sitting over in the corner (unless they actually listen for the source, of course). The Xount uses flat speaker technology to deliver smooth, even sound throughout the room. If you aren’t satisfied with sophisticated white, there are also several covers available to let you change the appearance of your lamp/speaker.
Nendo Music Cage
(image via: Dvice)
Insert appropriate “tweeter”, “for the birds,” or “caged bird singing” joke here. This bird cage is actually a speaker which can be set on a tabletop or hung from the ceiling. Either way, it’s a lovely, retro way to disguise your speaker while keeping it right out in the open.
X-Mini iHome Capsule Speaker
(image via: ThinkGeek)
If you like to take your music with you around the house or to the office, a good portable speaker is essential but hard to find. The X-Mini is surprisingly robust for such a tiny speaker, and when you expand the body it gives a respectable amount of bass. It’s rechargeable via USB and will go almost 8 hours on a single charge, meaning you can annoy everyone at work with obnoxious Christmas songs all day long.
Artcoustic Canvas Speakers
(image via: Artcoustic)
For the ultimate hidden speaker, you can’t do better than these art-covered speakers from Artcoustic. The company offers high quality speakers disguised as artwork, so you can hang your speakers on the wall right next to your TV and not have to cringe every time you see them.
Ferguson Hill FH001
(images via: Ferguson Hill)
On the completely opposite end of the spectrum are some of the most conspicuous home speakers ever. These giant acrylic horns will likely take up most of your living space, but they will sound terrific while doing it. Their $16,000 price tag makes them even more conspicuous, though Ferguson Hill does have a slightly smaller set for a more reasonable $600 or so.
(images via: Generate)
If you like everything about dogs except for the part of them that makes noise, or if you want to send a rather horrific message to the dog lover in your life, you might enjoy the Woofer speaker system designed by Sander Mulder. The rest of us are a little creeped out by them. A set of two headless dogs will run you a little over $1400, so we hope you’re really committed to whatever statement you’re trying to make.
(image via: Yanko Design)
Whether or not the technology exists to actually make this design possible is beside the point. It’s an awesome idea for combining two common household items: the light bulb and the speaker. We can see this being a great design for a dorm room or other ultra-crowded space, or for torture rooms where the goal is to drive your captive mad with Spongebob music (we saw that on an episode of Law and Order).
Freewheeler Rolling Outdoor Speaker
(image via: Technabob)
Technabob says of this hefty speaker that it “looks like a tire [and is] priced like a car.” We couldn’t have said it better. The Freewheeler was designed by Rod Arad and Frances Pellisari to be a durable, rolling speaker that you can take outdoors with you, presumably so you don’t miss a beat of Jimmy Buffett while roving between kitchen and patio, refilling your margarita glass. For $21,000, though, we’d rather just buy a whole lot more margarita mix. Or a new patio.
360 Degree Speaker
(image via: Pieter Maes)
There isn’t a lot of information available about this speaker concept, designed by Pieter Maes, but its simple, intuitive design is irresistible. The designer says that the speaker cones are attached to a spider-like structure which is invisible from the outside. We can picture several of these hanging from the ceiling, providing a whimsical kind of decoration while filling your house with sound.
(image via: Axelsson)
These Dragon Speakers from Axelsson Design don’t hide the nature of the speakers, but they also don’t skimp on style. We love the fabulous colorful resin shaped like a fierce dragon. The kitschy design is small enough to fit on a bookshelf, so you don’t have to worry about it taking up too much space.
Aura by Paul Scarfe
(images via: Yanko Design)
This innovative speaker concept from designer Paul Scarfe takes the classic audio-enhancing cone and pairs it with the sound-magnifying ability of glass to create a unique new speaker. The treble output is through the top, and the bass erupts from the bottom. As lovely as this ornamental speaker is, if you owned it you would probably hear visitors constantly wondering aloud why your blender is in your living room.
Ice Cream Sundaes
(image via: SG Custom Sound)
These are truly the most bizarre speakers we’ve ever seen. Designed to look like giant ice cream sundaes, these speakers from SG Custom Sound will set you back a cool $1250 per pair. We can actually see these looking pretty sweet on the counter of a diner.
Pea Speaker System
(image via: Yanko Design)
For people who like to share their music, the Pea Speaker System concept is a creative way to give several friends a song. Each of the little “peas” is a separate Bluetooth speaker. They all have to stay within range of the home unit, of course, and they won’t work as surround sound, but this concept looks like a fun way to fill a room with music without all of those nasty speaker cords.
(image via: Sound e-Motion)
We’re suckers for beautiful rich-sounding wooden speakers, and that’s exactly what Sound e-Motion delivers. The gorgeous wooden cabinets give a deep concert hall sound that can’t be matched by resin cabinets. The spherical shape is said to give better acoustics than any other speaker shape. We just think it makes them look nifty.