Giant stereos are everywhere — on the shoulders of cool ’90s teens, in the living rooms of finance fat cats, and on the stages of face-melting electronic shows. Even though we have iPods and discreet speakers now, awesome huge systems haven’t gone anywhere.
About 140 years before everyone became a DJ, Thomas Edison accidentally invented the phonograph.
Photo: Keystone/Getty Images [clear]
In the early 1900s, artist Luigi Russolo created this “noise machine” for his futurist symphonies. Every time adults call a teenager’s music “noise”, Russolo’s legacy lives on.
Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images [clear]
This guest at the UK’s 1947 National Radio Exhibition, in Olympia, is shocked at the size and sound coming out of the HMV machine — it had a record player, pop-up TV and two speakers.
Photo: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images [clear]
This 1960s set up seems giant, but it was made for a doll house.
Photo: diepuppenstubensammlerin [clear]
More contemporary styles can still have classic aesthetics — Arcadian Audio’s Pnoe Horn is inspired by an upside-down tuba.
Photo: Arcadian Audio [clear]
The Avant Garde trio shows design cues from the earliest phonographs.
Photo: Avantgarde Acoustic [clear]
Others borrow styles from different industries — the speaker outputs of this aluminium and carbon fibre Pagani system come out of a tail pipe. Not surprising, since it’s designed by a car maker.
Photo: Pagani [clear]
There’s a reason the Pivetta Opera One, a 1.8m-tall monster that weighs 450kg, looks like it first appeared on a space ship — the outside is made of aeronautic aluminium.
Photo: Only Creative [clear]
The 1980s were an apex for giant stereo design. Gemme Audio’s Vflex Katana Itokawa is a more recent model, but you can easily imagine it in Patrick Bateman’s living room from American Psycho.
Photo: Gemme Audio [clear]
Wouldn’t you love to have this Wilson Mezzo set in your home? It’s more accessible than the $US1.4 million system, but you’ll still need more than $US10,000 to get it.
Photo: Wilson Audio [clear]
This A Capella machine goes by the name Excalibur. How could it not?
Photo: Acapella [clear]
This two-channel system is designed by five different Swedish companies. You won’t find it in IKEA.
Photo: Swedish Statement [clear]
Gargantuan stereos are still a big business. Shown last week at the Gothenburg Show, the Wilson Sasha is one of the most pleasant new ways to blow out your ear drums.
Photo: Wilson Audio/Facebook [clear]
But even some contemporary models maintain a classic aesthetic. The DaVinci Audio Reference Turntable Mk II, currently one of the highest-fidelity turntables in the world, looks like it came straight out of the 1960s. But it’s actually just a year old.
Photo: DaVinciAudio [clear]
Top image: dual.pytalhost.eu