Wallpaper* wants… cutting-edge sound systems that sound as good as they look
At the high end of the market, ultimate sound systems are something to watch, not just listen to
There are two schools of thought when it comes to audio systems. Early adopters of the streaming generation have grown accustomed to an out-of-sight, out-of-mind model with built-in speakers and seamless multi-room systems, all operated from a smartphone or a dedicated remote control. But given that nearly all of us have banished physical media from our lives, dematerializing music even more isn’t for everyone. At the high end of the market, manufacturers have never lost sight of the fact that the pinnacle of audio quality is something to watch, not just listen to. Here are five desirable ways to bring your music to life.
Five state-of-the-art audio systems
1. Devialet Dione soundbar
(image courtesy of Devialet)
Devialet’s first foray into soundbars gave the French company a conundrum to solve. With the brand best known for its outlandishly shaped all-in-one speaker systems, the soundbar’s form factor isn’t exactly up for debate. Nonetheless, Devialet’s designers have gone above and beyond, subverting and distorting the soundbar’s plank-like shape with the addition of a central circular speaker. The inclusion of Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 creates the feeling of three-dimensional, cinematic sound, thanks to 17 separate speakers, with separate music and voice modes to smooth out spatialization.
2.Elipson W35+ speaker
(image courtesy of Elipson)
French manufacturer Elipson presents the W35+, a spherical diffusion stereo loudspeaker that can be placed on a sideboard or mounted on the optional silver oak or walnut stand. The full suite of streaming services is supported via Wi-Fi, with a simple interface located on top of the circular speaker, while additional features are accessed via the Elipson app. With a power of 350 W, the W35+ is a stand-alone audio solution that can also be suspended from the ceiling.
3.HiFi Rose RA180
(image courtesy of HiFi ROSE)
Separate components are still a mainstay of the audiophile’s bespoke approach to building a system, a world where individual quality and distinction matter, not the universal harmony of form. If you want the most outrageous amplifier, look no further than the RA180 from HiFi Rose, a Korean company that bets on high-end components and extravagant design to woo perfectionists. The 800W amp can power two sets of speakers, with an aluminum front that evokes the golden age of 1970s hi-fi design, complete with toggle switches, VU meters and a mechanism of exposed volume dial.
4. dCS Vivaldi One APEX
(image courtesy of dCS)
An upgraded version of dCS’ acclaimed Vivaldi One, the APEX version will be limited to just 50 units. The unit is an all-in-one CD player, amplifier and network music player, housed in an aerospace-grade aluminum enclosure. The front panel is the pinnacle of minimal expressionism, with two curved folds that evoke the crimp line of a sports car, or even a Lucio Fontana canvas. A simple screen, a tray to load CDs, remember? – and minimal buttons are reinforced by a full remote control. Around the back, it’s all a bit more serious, with robust connectors – both analogue and digital – to get the sounds perfectly decoded and ether-processed.
5. KEF LS60 by Michael Young
(image courtesy of KEF)
KEF’s 60th anniversary celebrations continue with the new LS60 floorstanding loudspeakers, the Kent-based company’s first foray into stand-alone wireless devices. The KEF team worked alongside Hong Kong-based British industrial designer Michael Young and his studio to shape these elegant monoliths. The choice of three finishes – Titanium Grey, Mineral White and Royal Blue – should match any interior décor you have on hand, while the KEF Connect app makes it easy to pair with every source imaginable, from phones to game consoles.