If you were alive in the 1970s, there's a good chance you listened to Stig Carlsson's delightfully streamlined OD-11 speakers at some point. The so-called Sonab "Carlsson Cube" offered unprecedented sound quality in an impossibly small cabinet. Now, a Swedish audio company is re-releasing the design with a whole new set of high tech guts inside.
The OD-11 Cloud Speaker is just as beautiful as Carlsson's 40-year-old design but about five times as smart. It comes Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, and Apple Airplay-ready, with a built-in computer that has enough processing power to read tweets aloud. All that makes the speaker's digital signal processing (DSP) capabilities and integrated 100-watt analogue Class-D amplifier sound kind of quaint. A so-called Ortho remote sells separately for $US100 and gives you the ability to control volume and playlists with the twist of a wrist. And it's all controlled by a corresponding app called Orthoplay.
Let's be honest, though. This thing is just pretty. The original OD-11, released in 1974 and pictured above, stunned the marketplace. Audiophiles couldn't believe such a small speaker could produce such rich bass, and the unique diagonal placement of the speaker in the cabinet meant that it was impossibly versatile. The sound literally pours out the corner of the cabinet so you can hang the speaker above your head or leave it on the ground, and it will sound great. Again, the new OD-11 Cloud Speaker offers all those great design details with much more sophisticated circuitry.
Good technology and great design do not come cheap. One OD-11 Cloud Speaker will set you back $US900. A pair goes for $US1700. Again, it's $US100 for the optional remote, but you'll get $US15 off if you buy it with a speaker. While the OD-11 was unveiled at CES 2013, it goes on sale today at Teenage Engineering. [Design Milk]