September 10, 2013 by Grant Clauser
The Soundwall is an Airplay speaker designed to look like a framed piece of art.
There must be something in human DNA that hates loudspeakers, or at least hates looking at loudspeakers. It’s instinctual, like the fear of snakes or eclipses. That’s why manufactures continually innovate new ways to hide speakers (we can’t do anything about snakes or eclipses). There are in-wall speakers and speaker rocks and speakers hidden in clocks (really, this) or speakers so tiny you don’t notice them.
The Soundwall takes the camouflage approach to loudspeakers by disguising them as a piece of wall art. The product uses NXT technology, which has been used for years to turn flat objects into sound projectors, and a tiny Raspberry Pi computer. You play music through it by using AirPlay to connect your iPhone or iPad and stream your iTunes collection or music apps (no Bluetooth). Android support is likely coming in the near future.
You can also wire your Soundwall to other audio sources via stereo analog inputs in the back. The Soundwall itself needs to be plugged in for power. You can have your installer hide an AC outlet behind the speaker in the same way one might hide an outlet behind a flat panel TV.
Each Soundwall is custom produced. You place your order and select your own art, either by sending a digital file to Soundwall or by selecting from one of the stock art sites it suggests.
Prices for a Soundwall speaker start at $849 for a 24” x 36” system up to $1949 for a 40” x 60” model.
Another company, Artcoustic, used to make an art/speaker system called the Superstar that allowed a USB connection for MP3 players, but the product isn’t listed on the company’s web site, so it’s probably no longer available.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.
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