Visitors to the homes of audio buffs might well be surprised to find weighty blocks of concrete breaking up the living room's otherwise colorful designer decor. These high-end music lovers have turned their backs on the unwelcome distortion and color that can be caused by oscillations of MDF, wood or plastic speaker cabinets, and plumped for drivers housed in concrete. If you can't afford, or don't have room for, large commercially-available floor-standing units like the exquisite N1 loudspeakers from Germany's Concrete Audio, Italy's Digital Habit(s) design house has created a gesture-controlled, Bluetooth-enabled tabletop speaker called PACO, which can be built at home using open source plans, or bought fully assembled.
The 26 x 19 x 14 cm (10.2 x 7.5 x 5.5 in), 5 kg (11 lb) PACO concrete speaker features two 6 W amps, a front-firing 3.5-inch low/mid range speaker, and a 2-inch surface transducer mounted underneath the fir top that's said to add warmth to the highs, while the concrete housing enhances bass performance. The unit's reported frequency response is 85 Hz to 20 kHz.
There's no audio input jack, music is streamed to the speaker wirelessly over Bluetooth from a smartphone or media player, but there is a line-out port for physical connection to active speakers. The harmonic board top is home to a pair of IR sensors for playback and volume control using gestures. A user holding a hand over both sensors starts or pauses playback, for example, or sliding left to right skips a track forward.
At the time of writing, pricing details do not appear on the website, but the company's Golaleh Mahmoodzadeh told us that when the PACO is made available for sale next month, it will cost €499 (which converts to about US$690). If you'd rather make your own PACO, Design Habit(s) will shortly be adding build documentation under Creative Commons license to its download library.
Product page: PACO
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