Transparent speaker

Swedish design firm People People has prototyped a transparent speaker called "Speaker," which uses WiFi or a headphone jack to receive its signal.

Being big is good for sound quality, but not so good for shipping. Any other speaker will ship a lot of air around the globe before ending up in your living room. This speaker ships in a small, flat package that goes in through your mailbox. The glass sheets making up the box is being ordered through the glass repair shop closest to every single customer. In that way the speaker reduces shipping with up to 90%, and supports local handicraft in one go. A very economical and ecological solution.

The speaker is then assembled at home, IKEA style. This also means that the components that breaks first (the rubber ring and the speaker cone) can be easily replaced, keeping the product away from any landfill.

That sounds great! (via Cribcandy)


  1. Very cool idea!  Unfortunately there seems to be less and less reason to own a decent set of speakers…. :(

    1. why no reason to own good speakers?

      because you only use headphones?
      Because music these days sucks?
      because you’re using compressed audio anyway?
      because time and loud music have wrecked up your hearing?

      hope it’s not the last one.  

      1. Mostly the headphones thing. That, and the neighbors complain if you ever actually USE that pair of speakers.

    2.  And if it’s just to hook up to an IPod to play mp3s, there is no need to have state of the art speaker technology anyway, but it is visually elegant and beautiful. I wonder how it is engineered – I mean, designing good loudspeakers is complicated.

      1. High bit-rate MP3s can benefit from the very best speaker technology.  I’ve found them to be often indistinguishable from CDs.  Lossy formats haven’t deterred sound nuts from hi-fi in the past, so there’s no reason to be deterred now.

    3. I recently got a decent set of speakers and an AVR. Movies really are significantly improved by 5.1 surround sound, and with blurays the audio quality is fucking amazing. I can’t believe what a difference the new speakers have made in how much I enjoy watching stuff. I think there is more of a reason to own a decent set of speakers now than there used to be, at least if you own a bluray player.

  2.  Knowing a bit about speaker design, I predict it sounds like crap.

    And many quality speakers (Bose, Klipsch, etc) have replaceable components.

    1. Yeah, I was going to say that this is the kind of product designers and engineers get into fistfights over.

  3. Glass seems a poor choice of materials for a speaker enclosure.
    Further, one would hesitate to play anything by Ella Fitzgerald – especially if it had been recorded on a high quality cassette tape.

    1.  There’s a reason those ads featured musicians who were in their 70’s. The tape being advertised was horrible – poor case construction, low S/N ratio, poor high frequency response, hiss, and dropouts.

  4. Umm, am I the only one that see a very opaque speaker?

    I assume they mean speaker BOX.

    So I guess they are selling you convenience, cause I can buy all this for probably less than they are selling it at and have my choice of speakers and crossover design…

  5. As an engineer I disagree with that.

    A speaker’s primary role is to produce sound, if it can’t do that well then no amount of pretty design will make up for the lack of audio quality.

    It would be similar to Apple building really crappy computers with beautiful exteriors – they wouldn’t sell nearly as well as fairly good quality machines that look beautiful (albeit more expensive than the same components in a PC box.)

    1. There must be a market for -good enough- sound from attractive speakers.  If they can avoid major resonance issues with this box, then I don’t have a problem with it. People spend good money on boring crappy (sounding and looking) speakers all the time – this is a step in the right direction.

        1. I think Bose stuff looks like crap, though. I’m not sure good aesthetics is really their marketing angle, or why people buy their stuff (I’m not really sure why anybody does, of course).

          I think the real example is Bang & Olufsen. To be honest I have no idea if their stuff sounds any good, I just assume it doesn’t (I don’t think most of it looks that nice, either, although much better than Bose).

  6. They didn’t mention the primary resonant frequency of that shallow box, but it’s gotta be a couple kilohertz. Ouch.

  7. As other people have stated, I can see a number of issues with that design. My favourite being the sub and the mid(& high?)range both sitting in the same non-ported box…

  8. The purpose of a speaker is whatever the owner wants it for. Speakers have been sold on looks (and snob appeal) for decades. Big ones, little ones, boxes and planes and cones and spheres and pyramids and nautilus-shaped and some that mimic furniture and some that look like fetal squids. So- glass? OK, if it doesn’t resonate too much, you could do it.

    Rare are the bunnies who don’t care what speakers look like as long as they sound good- and everyone has their own taste in sound anyway.

  9. I thought good speakers were to have no parallel sides to avoid resonance.   I bet these will rattle and hum at high volume.   Phil Lesh could destroy the glass.

  10. That speaker would sound so shitty, I mean world class shitty. There’s no internal bracing, the glass surfaces are many times the surface area of the drivers so the flexing enclosure will be almost as loud as the sounds from the drivers (ever hear your windows rattle when a loud truck goes by?).

    It’s a 2 way system with what looks to be a 15″ woofer and a 5-6 inch tweeter, I’ve actually never seen a speaker configured like that. Mostly because it makes absolutely no sense (that is if you want to listen to music, if you want to use it to try and get laid, that’s another matter).
    Based on the above I can only assume the crossover is also hosed.

    So, it’s not a loudspeaker it’s a see thru POS (but, hey, buy one, cause ya never know, ya might get lucky).


    1. I agree that sheet glass would not be my enclosure material of choice, but I’m not talented enough to judge sound quality by looking at a photograph.

  11. I expected a transparent speaker, but this is a transparent box with regular opaque speakers attached to it.

  12. Surely the sheet holding the components is provided, and I’m guessing that panel ISN’T glass, but acrylic (ever try cutting or drilling holes in glass?)  so you could just as easily use acrylic for the rest of it – not that it would sound any better, but a heck of a lot less breakable.

  13. It’s a cool idea. I would want to see some graphs comparing the performance of this “speaker” against Bose and some random highstreet hifis like Sony before parting with any cash, though. My first first guess is that it’s going to resonate like a motherf. and so is only goin to be useful for playing Prince. Though with DSPs being so cheap, I wonder if you could absorb all of the resonant response of the enclosure as preemphasis, use cheap components and a mechanically suboptimal design to give good results nevertheless?

    1. That sort of thing makes me want a DSP to play with.  We are all dealing with suboptimal setups – whether time alignment issues or room modes or a big tv between the front speakers messing with the stereo image.

  14. I suspect that electronics box hanging off the front of the box is doing a ton of signal-shaping in order to make-up for the very real lack of bass response this thing probably suffers from (judging from the general size of the box in relation to the size of the low-end driver, along with the use of bare glass) Without the electronics, I bet these things sound brittle as hell.

  15. – but where is the tweeter?
    Allow me to present some free advice ;-)  
    The midrange MUST have its own separate airtight chamber. As the design is conceived now, the midrange cone will move in antiphase with the bass driver, considerably weakening the bass output and causing midrange doppler distortion. (Unless, of course, you are running both drivers full range in the bass.)
    Alternatively, one could emplay a smaller 6½” bass driver operating up to 3kHz, crossed over to a normal dome tweeter. No need for an additional chamber.
    And yes, glass is resonant. And there is no fibrous damping to attenuate standing waves. A simple diagonal glass brace could remedy both problems to a certain degree, though.

  16. Come on people. How has no one commented on the fact that a “Swedish” design firm has made a speaker called “Speaker” and not something like “Lombdarp” with an umlaut over the “o”.

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