Design

Sound unbound: 8 speakers that reimagine the audio hardware rules

From unique materials to innovative interfaces, these noise-making devices want you to reconsider what a listening experience looks like.

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Today, many of us either listen to audio through headphones or through a speaker.

Most speakers are cylindrical, soulless devices. These speakers, rounded up by Yanko Design, are anything but.

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Sound Tool

Designer Ben Lorimore's concertina-like speaker is an exploration of "tangible interactions and rituals." Pull the toggles on each end apart and the speaker's physical volume increases in sync with the volume of the sound coming from it.

Actinia Speaker

Resembling a tree and packed with 12 individual tweeters symmetrically arranged in pairs on six forking branches, Lingsong Jin's creation includes a subwoofer in its base and an aesthetic that's equal parts organic and outer space.

Is it a music emitting tree? Or is it an alien coming to put humankind in its galactic place for destroying planet Earth?

The Layered

Thanks to apps like Spotify and Apple Music, graphic equalizers aren't something many casual listeners worry about. But for those who like to manually tweak audio to their tastes, The Layered offers a uniquely tactile solution.

6

How many translucent, rollable discs The Layered has.

Each disc can be assigned to a different frequency range, and adjustments are made by rolling each left or right.

Puts the "roll" in rock and roll.

The Saturn

It's a speaker, it's a lamp, it's a sculpture imbued with movement thanks to the central orb that rotates in time to whatever music is playing.

The Sound Project from Pascal Grangier uses a removable, puck-like dial to both adjust the colors the system displays on a sheet of polycarbonate, and control the music by moving the puck around.

Tablet meets speaker meets Microsoft's Surface Dial.

Hevi speaker

Made of concrete and wood, the Hevi can be split into two, individual, conical speakers (which also makes it look less like a Dalek). The smaller top delivers mids and highs, while the base serves up mids and lows.

Put them together for a huge, omnidirectional sound, and a visually arresting talking piece.

Atelier

Kwanjun Ryu's "Atelier" is a sound system that happens to have a retractable 32-inch HD TV screen built into it. It's more like an architectural piece of furniture than either a speaker or a TV.

If the W.R. Grace Building in New York City was a speaker, this is what it would look like.

Busà Photography/Moment Open/Getty Images

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iFi Aurora

iFi with our little eye, something that looks like a... Freemasonry symbol. The Aurora has every analog and digital input you could wish for to future proof it...

...and a bamboo exterior to give it elegance and sustainability points.

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