Transparent speaker leverages old-school technology for affordable Hi-Fi sound

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The team behind the ONEclassic asserts that DECT speakers can perform just as good as – if not better than – traditional wired sets(Credit: ONEaudio)

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Before smartphones – and even cellphones – took over as the modern means of voice communication, people relied on landline telephones. Cordless DECT phones are still commonly used these days, freely found within office buildings or the homes of beloved grandparents. Hong Kong-based startup ONEaudio has created a unique kind of speaker using this old technology. The ONEclassic DECT wireless speakers are designed to deliver lag-free, audiophile-grade sound at an affordable price.

You know how certain things in life can get so old that they become new again? The last time we wrote about the DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) standard, it had been established for over a decade. Fast-forward 20 years to today, and you can find that ONEaudio has created the first-ever bookshelf speakers that incorporate this wireless technology.

Given the widespread success and popularity of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, it might seem a little odd for a modern speaker to employ such a passe means of communication. But the team behind the ONEclassic is passionate about the perfection of sound, asserting that DECT speakers can perform just as good as – if not better than – traditional wired sets.

Conventional wired speakers can encounter phase errors in crossover circuits. This happens when separate signals (e.g. audio emitting from woofers and tweeters) fail to reach the ear at the exact same time. Bluetooth and wireless can experience a similar effect, where multiple speaker channels are not in perfect alignment. But by using DECT technology, the ONEclassic is designed to eliminate this kind of lag. DECT features a channel synchronization process that is reportedly up to 50 times better than Wi-Fi.

The end result is reportedly a precise, more natural-sounding music experience, much like one would hear during a live performance.

The ONEclassic speaker cabinets are constructed out of 12-mm transparent acrylic, which offers durability as well as an improved internal damping characteristic. All of the hardware is built into the speakers themselves, so users need only to plug in power cables. Each ONEclassic packs a 6.5-inch paper cone woofer, a 2-inch silk dome tweeter, dedicated processors, DSPs, amplifiers, and custom firmware in addition to the DECT radio transceiver.

Users are able to stream audio through an plug-and-play USB dongle that's compatible with most computers, mobile devices (supporting OTG connectivity), set-top boxes, and NAS servers. One drawback to this design is that one can't simply wire the ONEclassic speaker into existing systems. However, multiple ONEaudio units can be combined and configured in stereo, network, or as 5.1 surround systems. Multi-functional key operation on the back of the speakers serve to adjust volume, select sound profiles, set tone balance, and pair new dongles.

ONEaudio is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, having raised 87 percent of its US$35,000 goal in two weeks, with another 47 days left to go. Pledges for a pair of ONEclassic speakers with USB dongle start at $1,899, saving half off of the planned retail price – more if compared to the cost of many high-end audio systems.

The team has developed working prototypes, which were showcased earlier this year at CES 2016. If production goes according to plan, backers can expect shipments to start as early as this November.

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