Ridiculously expensive speakers, headphones, and soundbars are nothing new. But there are “normal” levels of expensive, followed by the “are you serious?” levels of expensive (cough, AirPods Max), and then there’s whatever the hell this Tidal for Bugatti collaboration is.
Behold, the Tidal for Bugatti Royale series: a speaker tower made for adults with Too Much Money who never outgrew the race car bed aesthetic.
To be clear, the Tidal in question isn’t Jay-Z’s high-fidelity music streaming service. That would’ve been an equally stupid collaboration. No, this Tidal is Tidal Audio, a German high-end audio company that makes high-fidelity speakers. And by high-end, I mean their Akira loudspeakers cost $US215,000 ($284,252) for a pair. Meanwhile, Bugatti is Bugatti. I’m pretty sure in the dictionary, Bugatti would just be a picture of a pile of money burning next to a shiny car. To replace a set of tires for the seven-figure Bugatti Veyron, for instance, is $US42,000 ($55,528).
But just how expensive are these speakers? Your guess is as good as mine. Nowhere is a price listed. This is the bitchiest way of batting one’s eyes, passive-aggressively smiling and saying in a smug voice, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” Well, no duh I can’t afford it. The vast majority of people can’t.
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In an announcement blog, Tidal Audio describes this product as a “a piece of art on its own” and a “timeless spot in your living environment as a unique centre of gravity bringing joy to all your senses.” There’s a lot more purple prose about excellence and artistry, but to be honest, it’s hard to imagine these…things in anyone’s house, except for, say, Elon Musk, DJ Khaled, or Jeff Bezos going through yet another mid-life crisis.
There are two limited editions — the Royale Edition Blanc and Royale Edition Noir — but Tidal Audio says there are various customisations available in terms of colours, cabinet themes, veneers, and finishes in “line of the spirit of Bugatti’s hyper sports car series.” As for specs, this monument to conspicuous consumption contains four long-throw subwoofers, two front-firing woofers, a diamond tweeter, a ceramic midrange driver, and a diamond midrange woofer. They’re also active speakers, meaning they have a built-in amplifier and should be able to handle wireless streaming.
Impressive components, sure. If you put me in front of these eyesores and played some of my favourite jams, I’m sure it would sound beautiful. I’m sure a single tear would trail down my face, my ears bleeding from the auditory bliss of listening to “Gold Slugs” by DJ Khaled in such high fidelity that I ultimately quit my job, fly to Alaska, and spend the rest of my life penning a tome of poems trying to memorialise the event. Anything less and I’d have to start questioning why anyone would birth these monstrosities into existence. After all, these things are 1.43 m tall and weigh roughly 159 kg, and I don’t care what colour combos and veneers you pick, there’s no house I can conceivably imagine where these wouldn’t look terribly out of place (except perhaps one of those gaudy mansions that crop up on Zillow from time to time with bizarre themed rooms so hideous that you feel an insatiable desire to eat the rich).
Hopefully, Bugatti (and Tidal) at least learn from Bugatti’s own history — though methinks not. These expensive speakers are possibly named after the Bugatti Royale Type 41, a behemoth car that was designed for the European royalty from 1927 to 1933. Except, you know, it was made during the Great Depression so only three of the six made were sold. And one was once sold for a refrigerator. Hmm…building an expensive luxury item during unprecedented economic crises that leave even the powerful minding their wallets…what could possibly go wrong?