Ceramic Speakers

Made from materials more associated with sculpture than electronics, these speakers offer a remarkably simple path from source to ear.

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Joey Roth / Designing the Ceramic Speakers

I started thinking about speaker designs in college — around the time I started working on Sorapot and thinking seriously about design in general. The objects that keep me sketching late into the night have always been tools for ephemeral experiences. These tools are exciting because they’re persistent, physical reminders of events that last only minutes. Their meaning becomes a dialog between my design and the user’s memories of tea sipped, music played, and the life experiences that these rituals recall.

Porcelain, cork, and Baltic birch aren’t typical materials for speakers. I chose them to create a harmonious contrast with the electrical components and to be as acoustically neutral as possible. The materials are minimally finished, left to add their natural beauty to the design. I worked with an audio engineer to tune and dampen the enclosures for the widest frequency range.

I designed the speakers and their Tripath amp to bring out the details that hide in every piece of music and give it its depth. They’re optimized for the digital files served by iPods and computers, and I’ve started using my own Ceramic Speakers with a turntable as well. Vinyl has changed my relationship with music. The format’s physicality encourages me to slow down and make a ritual of listening. Cut off from the infinite stream of free music, and forced to get up and flip the record over after a few songs, listening to an album becomes my activity instead of the soundtrack to my work. I would never give up my access to every song in the world, but my growing vinyl collection is a deep, rich counterpoint. I hope the Ceramic Speakers encourage others who grew up on mp3s to try vinyl too.

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