— Around The Home
Soundwall wireless speaker masquerades as a work of art
Soundwall is designed to be appreciated by both the ears and the eyes
People who love music can never quite get enough of it. They often want to listen to it for most of the day, whether at home, at work, or traveling between the two. Wireless speakers have aided this endeavor for listening at home, but they're often ugly objects you wouldn't want to have on display permanently – a problem potentially solved by Soundwall.
Soundwall is a wireless speaker that unarguably looks better than any other wireless speaker currently on the market. This is because it takes the form of a work of art, with the entire canvas forming the speaker. It's essentially a large flat-panel speaker powered by a Raspberry Pi computer and amplifier, all hidden by art chosen by you.
You can choose a print from the gallery of images provided by the company, have a custom image of your choosing printed onto the canvas, or receive a blank canvas to paint on yourself. Whichever option you choose, you end up with a piece of art to hang on the wall which doubles as a powerful wireless speaker. You plug Soundwall into a power outlet, set up a Wi-Fi connection, and it's ready to be used.
Soundwall plays music via Apple AirPlay, which requires a Mac or newer models of iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Windows users can use AirPlay via iTunes 11 and up, while Android users are offered a rather technical workaround to stream music to Soundwall using the UPnP protocol.
Soundwall is available in a range of sizes starting at the US$949 Poster measuring 24 x 36 inches (61 x 91cm,) and topping out at the $2,499 Epic measuring 40 x 60 in (102 x 152 cm). Each Soundwall is made by hand in Boulder, Colorado and takes several weeks to assemble. The short video below shows some Soundwall speakers hanging in situ.
Source: Soundwall via The Next Web
About the Author
Dave is a technology journalist with a ravenous appetite for gadgets, gizmos, and gubbins. He's based in the U.K., and from his center of operations writes about all facets of modern and future technology. He has learned more in his five years writing for the Web than he did in 11 years at school, and with none of the boring subjects thrown in to the mix.
All articles by Dave Parrack
I actually did some development work about 2 years ago on this very concept. The difference was that the unit would have been 1 square foot, with a replaceable front and rechargeable battery pack and a retail price of ~$800.
Didn't go anywhere as figuring out distribution is a huge pain, esp. since margins in consumer electronics are so slim. At $1000+, it's hard to see that there would be a very large market, but, hey, good luck to them.
When it comes to audio, there is no substitute for real speakers. You just can't replicate quality 6.5'' drivers and high quality tweeters in the ideal acoustical housing with teeny tiny paper drivers in a flattened box. Bose hasn't been able to do it with small cubes (despite their absurd claims). Anybody with any sense would invest his or her money in something like the Ascend Acoustics Sierra 2 speakers with RAAL ribbon tweeters.
Those who have the money and no sense would be delusional and rationalize buying this painting by telling themselves that modern electronic technology can overcome physical limitations, or that all speakers look terrible, and sacrificing sound quality to maintain their idea of an ultra-modern appearance is well worth the investment. The only other possible reason is they have more interest in the gadget than the sound.
Sort of like a flat screen tv?
@ Chevypower: I used to share your opinion but was just at a friend's house and could not believe the sound quality from his tiny wireless speakers. I'm currently preparing my large Dynaudio boxes for Craigslist...
@Moreover, I have listened to loads of them. Mind you, some wireless speakers are pretty good, assuming they have a lossless stream (which regular Bluetooth does not). You need BT APTX or Airplay. To further explain why Bose is crap, the frequency response they chose not to publish is 280Hz-13.3Khz ±10.5 db from the cubes and 46Hz-200Hz from the Acoustimass module, which Bose listeners believe is a subwoofer.
My $300 Ascend CBM170 bookshelf speakers do from 45Hz-22khz ±3db with a very natural sound. The Klipsch KMC3 ($400) wireless speaker will do 45Hz-24Khz (this is an exceptional Bluetooth speaker, don't expect others to be similar or even close). The Sierra 2 speakers I mentioned before have a FR of 46Hz-38Khz @ ±3 db. Now this is the point at which a Bose fanboy says "but numbers don't matter." Bose's slogan is "better sound through research." If they are going to use a slogan that implies their technology is based on science, then they need to understand quantitative data. They completely ignore it and say "well it's all about the sound." That would be fine if Bose published QUALITATIVE data (results from double blind listening studies), but they don't do that. I use Bose as my example because it is viewed by some as the pinnacle of small trendy speakers that are as good in performance as large box speakers. When an untrained ear hears Bose and thinks its good, I believe it's simply based on what they currently have, the fact that any 5.1 system sounds good to them (some people are impressed when they hear multi channels), and the fact that they are registering the semi high frequency from the cube, and the lower frequency from the Acoustimass module. They are being tricked into thinking that it is all there. But to me and other trained ears, it just sounds like two flat sounds being mixed together. Also a real subwoofer goes below 20Hz, so if you had those Sierra 2s, you would hear a full range of something like 18Hz-38Khz (crossed over at 80Hz). I'd be interested to see the specs of this painting though. Don't go from Dynaudios to "trendy" wireless speakers! It's gonna cost ya, cos after a few weeks of listening, you're gonna start being honest with yourself! That's what I did when I bought my Yamaha soundbar.
Nice product! Too bad it relies upon Apple's flaky Airplay. I have to reboot that system at least weekly. No sale.
This is not a new idea! NXT speaker technology has been around for about 10-15 years at least. The difference is that this company has offered pre-loaded art work.
As for quality of sound reproduction there are many variables which affect how we hear sound. Many of the self-proclaimed experts have pre-conceptions based on youthful/childhood preferences. The only way to truly test speaker performance is with electronic audio equipment, but that presents a translation problem. In other words, what does 22kHz or 40Hz sound or feel like?
@The Master, the reality is frequency response tells only part of the story, but the part it tells you is still important. It doesn't tell you WHAT it sounds like, only what frequency range it delivers. It could sound neutral, or biased toward bass, mid range, or the higher frequencies. There's mind-boggling number of adjectives that audiophiles use to describe the many characteristics that speakers can produce. Here's a good list http://www.integracoustics.com/MUG/MUG/bbs/stereophile_audio-glossary.html - I don't really get into all that though (at least not to have discussions to prove I can talk the lingo), but if I am interested in buying a particular speaker, I want to read the reviews first before I buy and understand what the author means. What it sounds like, all depends on the drivers, the tweeter, the speaker box, the acoustic environment, and the source (in other words, everything). For example, Klipsch RF-62 has a frequency response of 36Hz-24Khz, comparable to other speakers in its price range, but it has a horn tweeter. Some people love them, other people hate them. Probably better for movies than for music. Personally, I am not a fan. I like a broad frequency, natural sound, with a good soundstage at a decent price. In other words, one that covers the complete spectrum well and balanced. That's why I rave about Ascend Acoustics. Sounds fantastic whether you're watching movies, listening to jazz, country, pop, or Enya (whatever genre that is).
Over 160,000 people receive our email newsletter
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning