Modeled after the band’s ninja star logo, the Pro-Ject x Metallica Ninja Star Turntable is a record player in the form of a throwing star, complete with pointy edges. As far as record players go, it’s certainly one of the more aggressive-looking ones I’ve seen. And isn’t that what you look for in a turntable?
Just go ahead and put your wallet back in your pocket because the turntable costs a pretty penny – $1,599 to be exact, presumably priced to help the band recoup its losses from the illegal downloading of its music off Napster circa 2000. Something I know absolutely nothing about because it’s not like I was a broke college student at the time or anything.
The turntable features a mirror finish metal top plate and glass platter, perfect for playing translucent vinyl records like the red one in the photo. Don’t have any translucent vinyl? Start collecting! You just dished out $1,600 for a record player; surely you can drop a couple of extra hundred on vinyl. Me? Money’s a little tight right now, so I’m afraid I’ll be sticking to my first-generation iPod.
Sony Linkbuds changed the way we perceive open-ear audio in a space dominated by TWS earbuds with superior ANC levels. Just as we were wondering what else could stir up the domain, JLab has caught our attention for good.
Their latest pair of open-ear audio earbuds completely revamp the perceived image of such similar earphones. With a design-forward shift in the open-ear and sports audio space, the JLab Open Sport is the perfect option to choose over the contemporary and bone conduction ones.
So, what makes these otherwise ordinary-looking earbuds special? Well, they can attach to the user’s eyewear based on the activity in question, and of course, the user’s preferences. Versatility is at the core of these IPX4-rated earbuds, and that too at a very attractive price tag of $80. Stash them against the likes of Bose Sports Open earbuds, Aftershokz Open Run Pro, or the Sony Linkbuds. The flexibility to use them with your glasses or sunglasses for any number of situations is what makes them worth every penny. Also, worth considering is the 27.8 grams lightweight build which is less than the above-mentioned heavyweights.
They can adjust to any ear shape courtesy of the flexible earhooks or cling on to the temples of glasses/sunglasses/reading glasses with adjustable clips. This makes the Open Sport wireless earbuds ideal for the morning run, multitasking at the desk, or casual listening while on the daily commute. The modular buds boast a battery life of 7 hours that can be extended to 17 more hours in the case. Since these earbuds don’t create a seal, they let in ambient noises to keep you aware of the environment.
Multi-device connectivity is also not ignored with these earbuds as they can sync with two devices simultaneously. The case on these ones looks a little flimsy since it is not completely closed, and the earbuds could fall or be untethered from the housing with little force. Therefore, they are only meant for audio listeners who treat their possessions with much love and care. Other than that, the JLab Open Sport wireless earbuds are bang for the buck for any kind of audiophile!
True wireless earbuds have taken the gadget world by the storm, with starting price points really covering a larger segment of the audio listening accessories market. This has prompted most of the earbuds and headphones makers into developing their own versions of affordable and premium TWS earbuds.
All of the offerings on the market come with their dedicated app to take control of the ambient noise levels, ANC modes, or equalization levels. Important indicators like the remaining battery levels and the audio channel toggle are also mainstream in every TWS earbuds’ app. So, how does one differentiate among the sea of options that are more or less the same?
The idea of developing these TWS earbuds lies in how we interact with the favorite music available on the internet. Things like the album art, artist bio, or the song lyrics. Sure, there are options like Spotify, Tidal, or Dezeer – but then you have to navigate to the particular app on the mobile device. The designer wants to break this stereotype with the D-TWS earbuds that come with a casing that’s more elaborate than other options on the market.
The geometrically designed chunky earbuds case has on-screen visualization to display the information such as audio playback time, switch audio, artist information and album art for a more inclusive listening experience. A scenario that immediately comes to mind is while being engulfed in work tasks on a PC, and listening to music. Sure, you don’t want to keep the music application open on your PC or phone all the time. That’s where this pair of TWS earbuds come in.
The earbuds case (designer denotes as BOX) shows the remaining battery levels, current audio playback and more options on the touch display. This way the user can choose the desired option without even touching their phone. Now, all of us know how distracting the smartphone’s notifications panel can be – eventually breaking the rhythm of work.
As soon as the earbuds are inserted inside the triangular case, the display turns off to preserve the battery and only shows the required information. Although the case is larger than what current TWS earbuds come bundled with, but then, avid music listeners sure can make that compromise!
Opting for a spherical shape instead of the Phantom’s pill-shaped design, the Double Bass Speaker comes with dual passive radiators on each side that reverberate furiously while playing music, creating that rich, thumping sound that should easily get the hair on the back of your neck standing!
Starting at just $181 (instead of Devialet’s price tag that’s 10x higher), the Double Bass is a sound-pumping globe that can go as loud as above 90 decibels – that’s about as loud as a lawnmower, or slightly less loud than a rock concert. The speaker, however, measures smaller than a soccer ball in diameter (185mm or 7.2 inches to be precise), and is designed to be portable and have a battery life of up to 20 hours to turn those sundowners into till-dawn parties. The Double Bass is even built to be IP55 water resistant, so any accidental splashes won’t do anything to your device.
The speaker’s shape and size are informed directly by its interiors. On the inside, the Double Bass has a massive 4.5″ bass driver, and a 1.5″ tweeter made from silk. The speaker can deliver frequencies as low as 40Hz, and as high as 20kHz with minimal latency and distortion, while two passive radiators on the side cause the speaker’s internal cavity to rapidly change in size, causing the acoustic reverberation needed to make your bass hit even harder than any regular wireless speaker.
The Double Bass sports a slick, minimal design, with just a rotary knob on the top to control volume and playback. The speaker’s body comes with two hooks to attach a leather strap, although if you don’t want to carry the Double Bass around like a kettlebell, each speaker also has an optional tripod stand that elevates it off the ground.
The speakers use the latest Bluetooth 5.3 protocol for low-latency audio streaming even over large distances, and you can even pair two speakers together to turn them into a stereo sound system. In fact, through its ‘Matrix Connect’ feature, UB+ allows you to pair as many as 8 Double Bass Speakers together, although your neighbors sure won’t like you for it. The UB+ app also lets you individually play different music from different speakers, allowing you to hook one to your TV, another to your laptop, or even one in the kitchen playing your favorite podcasts.
On the inside of the Double Bass sits four 2,500 mAh batteries which give the speaker a solid 20 hours of run-time, and charge via USB-C when you run out. The Double Bass comes with a native smartphone app that allows you to harness the most from your speaker, and just in case you want to play music from something other than a smartphone (a TV, BluRay Player, or even a vinyl player), there’s even a 3.5mm audio input for good measure!
Earbuds are convenient and great, but they also come with their fair share of drawbacks. Their design almost makes it too easy for ambient sounds to get into your ears, forcing many to crank up the volume to drown out the noise. Their proximity to your eardrums, however, means they pose an even greater risk of damaging your sensitive ears for life. Balancing noise cancellation and audio quality is one of the delicate dances that earbuds manufacturers have to do with each new product, a dance that often ends up in one compromise or another. An innovative pair of earbuds wants to do away with those compromises, promising crystal clear audio delivered to your ears without putting them in harm’s way, no matter how loud the world around you becomes.
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Even as children, we learned that one of the fastest ways to drown out noise is to make an even bigger noise. Sometimes that means shouting at the top of your lungs, while other times it means turning the volume up to eleven. Even with active noise cancellation technologies, wireless earbuds still seem to call for that kind of radical countermeasures. Unfortunately, that only solves the short-term problem while creating an even longer-lasting one in the form of ear injury.
Due to their basic shape, earbuds often let an amount of ambient sound into your ear more than regular headphone cups. Yes, they do form a seal in your ear canal, but it often isn’t tight enough or is actually too tight, making them uncomfortable to wear. Because of their size, however, it took awhile before ANC or active noise cancellation became available in these small earpieces. But even then, they aren’t always effective, causing people to still raise the volume to the max and risk causing lifelong injury to their ears.
Serena, however, takes ANC up a notch by nearly doubling the amount of noise it can cancel. While regular ANC for earbuds can reduce external sounds by around 25 decibels, the Serena TWS buds boast a whopping 45-decibel reduction, a feat that it calls Super ANC for a good reason. Serena accomplishes this by utilizing a dedicated Noise Cancellation Module that encapsulates the transducer and the noise cancellation Feedback microphone, which allows the microphone to sit much closer to the eardrum than any other conventional ANC earphones. With the noise-sensing mic closer to the eardrum, it cancels out the noise much more effectively.
What this means, in effect, is that you can enjoy crisp and clear audio without having to raise the volume just to drown out the noise that the ANC can’t handle. The buds’ dual mics also make calls crystal clear, so you don’t have to strain your voice or your ears in a conversation. Serena is also able to silence sound waves below 200Hz, protecting your ears from the low-frequency noise of airplane cabins, subway cars, HVAC systems, and even drones. Despite those new technologies that enable its Super ANC power, the Serena Earbuds manage to keep the size down to a minimum. Looking like stylish audio accessories with a bit of a hi-tech touch to its faceted surface, the buds’ simple design almost belies the power within. Even better, it won’t cost you an arm or a leg to get your hands on a pair, a testament to how good design and great technology don’t have to be out of reach.
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Meet Curvo, a guitar that’s far from traditional. Although the knee-jerk term is to call Curvo an electric guitar, it is in fact, an electronic guitar that works using touch and velocity sensors sort of like a MIDI controller. The absence of strings, however, isn’t a feature but rather the consequence of a feature. You see, unlike any guitar ever made, Curvo comes with a radically curved fretboard that’s designed to make playing, jamming, and shredding much more comfortable without causing repetitive strain injury to parts of your palm, fingers, and wrist.
“A guitar is somewhat of a ‘primitive’ instrument and the players have to maneuver themselves around the instrument in order to play – which can lead to the misuse of the instrument”, says Curvo’s designer, Ezra Feldman. “Over time this will result in injury.”
While instances of injury with guitarists is rather rare, Feldman does have a point. The guitar was designed primarily around the fact that it required a straight fretboard with taut strings hovering over it. Remove the strings and you’ve removed the one barrier that’s stopping you from making the guitar more ergonomic. With the strings gone, Feldman was allowed to curve the fretboard, allowing your hand to move much more freely in an arc shape, so your elbow and wrist don’t have to do much of the work. This shifts the movement to your shoulder, reducing the strain on your wrist and your fingers from having to stretch and contort in weird shapes while you play.
Without strings, the Curvo is free to be a much more unique instrument. Rather than relying on electromagnetics and acoustics, Curvo uses sensors to detect which ‘string’ you’re pressing with your left hand, and strumming with your right. sensors built into the entire length of the guitar pick up on a variety of cues, from which string you’re pressing to how hard you’re pressing it. On the right side, velocity sensors capture the intensity of your picking or strumming, as well as which strings you’re plucking away at. All this data is then used to generate audio that corresponds to what you’re playing. Another major benefit of not having strings? The Curvo doesn’t need any sort of tuning, and always stays in tune no matter what.
However, to retain the kind of control you’d get from an electric guitar, the Curvo also comes with a set of knobs on the right to modulate effects and volume.
The way Curvo is constructed is different from your average guitar. While most guitars use wood or composites, Curvo uses Airsonic carbon fiber (like the one found on LAVA MUSIC’s guitars). It also uses soft plastic all along the fretboard, almost mimicking Roli’s Seaboard, and actually allows you to adjust the curvature of the fretboard depending on your own personal anthropometrics and your comfort level. For example, people with shorter arms will need higher curvature as compared to people with longer arms.
Given its electronic nature, Feldman also seized the opportunity to unlock Curvo’s true potential by making its sound infinitely customizable. Just like an electronic MIDI keyboard can pretty much play any sort of sound, Curvo can be programmed to play any sort of sound style too. Its app gives you access to a massive sound back and effect rack, while even letting you remotely adjust your guitar’s tuning to suit your needs. Moreover, you can even record music right to the app, create layers, and produce full-fledged tracks right on your phone!
It may look a little odd at first glance, but it captures the Teenage Engineering design language perfectly – Nerdy + Nordic. Meet the BD-1, a conceptual pair of TWS earbuds modeled on the company’s OP-1 synthesizer. The OP-1 synth became a pop culture design icon when it was used in Swedish House Mafia’s first music video, One. It sported a form factor that was sleek yet fun, retro yet new, and predominantly clean-looking without being boring. The BD-1 follows similar design cues by being relatively boxy, white, and use colorful ear-tips that match the colors used on the OP-1 synth. The best part? The earbuds case comes with a tiny AMOLED display that mimics the one found on the OP-1, displaying visualizations that react to the music you’re listening to!
The BD-1 aren’t your average pair of earphones. They’re designed to look different, feel different, and be different. Made for audiophiles and people who appreciate nerdy audio gear, the BD-1 comes with a display on the front that sports visualizations, displays the name of the audio track you’re listening to, and even gives you battery stats (and also a date window, just for good measure).
The earphones sit within the clunky case, with an oddly appealing Star Wars-ish sci-fi design (I guess we’re looking at peak nerd). The earphones and case both use a combination of white plastic and metal to evoke this aesthetic that’s sort of comfortable and refreshing at the same time, and the colored ear-tips provide just the right splash of vibrancy to the design.
Just like the OP-1 synth, the BD-1 uses red, yellow, blue, and green color accents to stand out. In this case, the accents manifest themselves in the ear-tips as well as the BD-1’s USB-C charging cable. Each BD-1 comes with its own charging cable (which is more than what I can say for most smartphones these days). The cables even come with partial coiling as a hat-tip to the coiled wires used by most musicians and audio engineers.
Although Teenage Engineering hasn’t released any TWS Earbuds (yet), the audio-tech company did partner with Nothing over the design of the ear (1) earphones. However, those earphones were arguably designed keeping Nothing’s brand language in mind, with a focus on transparency. The BD-1 TWS earbuds aren’t transparent, but they’re unapologetically Teenage Engineering. They’re edgy, compact, fun, functional, and nothing like anything you’ve seen before. It’s a shame these ones are conceptual, though. I, for one, would really like to see earbuds with AMOLED displays built into their charging cases!
This is a fan-made concept and isn’t affiliated with Teenage Engineering. Any use of the Teenage Engineering brand and logo is for representational purposes only.
If you’ve been fed up with all the minimalist or pretty speaker designs out there, this unique twist could be the breath of fresh air that you need.
In times past, speakers were mostly considered to be plain boxes that stood as part of a bigger entertainment system. Recently, however, standalone speakers have become more common, especially wireless ones that could be placed almost anywhere in the house. This trend also gave birth to a radical design change, where speakers started looking like stylish room decor or even like luxury art pieces. Few people will complain about good-looking speakers, of course, but their prevalence almost suggests that this is the only way to design them, leaving little room for thinking outside the box. There are a few outliers and uncommon concepts, including one that takes a more industrial approach to create a unique look for a desktop speaker.
Designer: Evan Huang
Industrial styles are often regarded to be cold and clinical, utilizing plenty of hard edges, straight lines, and unpolished metal surfaces. The very term itself is a reference to a time gone by when designs leaned more toward utilitarianism than aesthetics. That’s not to say they can’t be visually pleasing, of course, especially with today’s tendency to mix old and new styles into a “retro” appearance that has become fashionable lately.
This industrial-style desktop speaker makes no effort to hide its true nature behind soft fabrics and cylinders. The main form is a typical speaker cone standing on a single leg that’s nothing more than a rectangular bar. The leg itself stands on a plate with crossing bars, while the back of the speaker is enclosed in a similar style of bars that would remind one of the scaffolding and support structures common to unadorned buildings of the industrial age.
Not everything looks old, though, and the arm that hangs in front of the speaker is an example of that. This rectangular bar with rounded corners holds not only the knobs that control the speaker but also an embedded LED matrix display for clock functions. The knobs include controls for treble, mid, and what may or may not be a control for bass or volume.
The numbers in front are grouped into time, date, alarm, and temperature, turning the desktop clock into a unique-looking desktop clock as well. Admittedly, the placement of the bar in front is a bit questionable. There is a chance that its presence could negatively impact the travel of sound from the speaker, and the vibrations could also affect the electronics inside in the long run. Placing it above or below the path of sound would have been more advisable without detracting from the speaker’s overall appearance.
It’s still an interesting design, however, especially considering how it deviates from the norm these days. Its novelty provides visual impact without sacrificing functionality, at least in theory. It definitely shows that one doesn’t have to be tied to fashionable design trends to have something that looks beautiful, functional, yet also minimalist in its own way.
A few decades ago, bringing your music along with you meant hauling a large cassette tape player over your shoulders or shoving a large Walkman inside an equally large pocket. These days, “portable music” often translates to smartphones and, occasionally, Bluetooth speakers, too. Of course, that’s not the only way to carry music everywhere you go, especially if you’re into something more stylish and fashionable. You might have to settle for something eccentric as well if you’re looking for something carrying a heavyweight marque’s name. The Speaker Bag is an example of such an oddity, but in case you think it’s a sort of hoax, it’s really a serious item that comes from the house of Balenciaga as well as Bang & Olufsen.
Balenciaga has made a few big waves in the fashion and product design space recently, particularly with the Crocs tote bag that wasn’t a bunch of crock. The accessory definitely had some shock factor, though camps are naturally split on whether it looks ridiculous or glorious. This Speaker Bag is less playful and less disruptive, but it’s still an eye-catching fashion piece that actually has functionality you can use beyond just looking sophisticated.
The Speaker Bag is milled from a single block of aluminum which is then pearl-blasted, anodized, and hand-polished to a stunning perfection at B&O’s Denmark Factory 5. This isn’t an instant process, as some mass-produced speakers might be, and it takes a few days before the structure takes on a satin finish. The bag’s shape is inspired by Balenciaga’s iconic handbags, resulting in a trapezoidal silhouette with smooth curves on all sides and a large gap on top for the handle.
The speaker grille in front makes it obvious that it’s not your run-of-the-mill handbag, though. It is, of course, a speaker that passes Bang and Olufsen’s standards for audio quality. The audio brand’s mark underneath the handle, together with Balenciaga’s name, is a clear testament to the promise of quality that this unconventional speaker carries. Beneath the branding are the controls for music playback and Bluetooth connection. The speaker can run up to 18 hours before its battery requires topping up, according to B&O.
The Speaker Bag isn’t just a speaker in the form of a bag. It’s also an actual handbag that is as unconventional as the speaker. Instead of opening it from the top like all handbags, you have to open it from the rear to reveal a compartment wrapped in Italian lambskin leather. Given the electronics that have to be housed inside, it’s expected that space would be rather cramped inside.
This Haute Couture Hi-Fi fashion and tech accessory in one isn’t going to be widely available. Only twenty of its kind will be sold, and only from select Balenciaga stores and its Couture in Paris. If you ever get your hands on one, it will immediately make you part of an elite few that are witnesses to this matrimony of fashion and technology. For the brands, the Speaker Bag is proof that you don’t need to sacrifice sound quality to have something aesthetically pleasing and customized to your personal tastes.
Although there are some undeniable similarities between this Google Pixel Headphones concept and the AirPods Max, this one comes with a solid cushioned headband, touch-sensitive ear-cups, and a USB-C port to charge the device.
It’s common knowledge that Apple usually takes its sweet time with tech, launching new features long after they’re tried and tested successes (widgets, multitasking, and most recently, lock screen customization), although it seems like Google’s been playing catch-up with hardware of late. The company that was usually on point with hardware, launching a smartwatch before Apple (through its subsidiary Motorola) and even beating Apple to the smart speaker market with the Google Nest, hasn’t launched smart headphones yet. Google’s Pixel phone releases plateaued off over 2019-20, only picking up in 2021 with the Pixel 6, and the Pixel Buds also finally got a refresh after ages; but Google doesn’t have a horse in the smart headphone race… yet. Envisioned and designed by Yousef Hussain, the Google Pixel Headphones are the company’s answer to Apple’s AirPods Max. Designed to pair perfectly with Google’s smartphones and work seamlessly with its voice AI, the Pixel headphones are a clean pair of cans that help you get the most ‘helpful’ audio experience Android has to offer. Who knows, maybe it has a Tensor chip in it too??
Without really any speculation (given that this is a concept), let’s really break down the Pixel Headphones’ design. It’s classic, understated, and feels a lot like the designer borrowed cues from the AirPods Max and the Chromecast. The headrest is slim, but padded, and the earcups have a weave fabric overlay with the letters L and R embroidered inside the cups to tell you how to wear the phones. Metal sliders give you precise height adjustment, although the earcups don’t fold frontwards like the AirPods Max, and there’s no awkward charging case/handbag with this too.
Instead, the Pixel Headphones charge via USB-C, located on the base of the right earcup. A single button on top of the left earcup handles power, while the headphones are entirely operable using touch-sensitive controls on both cups. How one would really account for accidental touches (or having other people randomly touching them and pausing music playback) remains to be determined, but then again… this is a conceptual device, after all.
Other details include the five rather delightful color combinations (that match with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro color schemes), and what feel like microphone arrays around the rim of each cup (given the few slits there are on them). It’s safe to assume that these cans have at least ANC if not a transparency mode. The slits also make me wonder if they’re semi-open-back headphones, which would make passive noise cancelation/isolation rather impossible.
The Pixel Headphones are a rather neat way of showing ‘what could have been’ if Google had taken its hardware game more seriously instead of wasting time designing its hundredth chatting and messaging app. There seems to be little method to the company’s madness, although as someone who’s used Android products all his life, I see very little impetus to switch over to Apple’s walled garden. Something like these Pixel Headphones would convince me to stick to my Android way of life all the more!