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Internet trolls and obnoxious PC owners know that the quickest way to annoy a Mac user is to claim that the only reason people buy Apple stuff is because they “want to look cool.” And smart Mac fans dismiss this criticism as quickly as it comes, easily recognizing it as little more than baiting. We love our Apple gear for tons of reasons, most having to do with functionality and ease of use. But it’s true that Apple designs great-looking devices, and that’s certainly part of the appeal--it’s not our fault that the other guys insist on making such ugly stuff. So it’s no wonder that we often gravitate toward equally good-looking accessories.
Ceramic, cork, and wood give these speakers a simple, modern aesthetic.
Created by San Francisco–based designer Joey Roth, the simply named Ceramic Speakers are exactly that: speakers built from handmade ceramic enclosures, cork, and wood. And yes, they are beautiful. The exposed binding posts and the simple cast-iron and aluminum amplifier give the speakers a look that is both industrial and organic-feeling at the same time. As Roth notes, beyond the internal electronics, the Ceramic Speakers contain no plastic--even the volume control knob is made from paulownia wood for an earthy (but not crunchy) feel.
The Ceramic Speakers are also compact, sporting custom-built 4-inch drivers. Including the birch stands, the speakers are 6x7x8 inches, making them great desktop speakers to go alongside your Mac. The amplifier sports a 1/8-inch stereo input, and included are cables for use with 1/8-inch outputs (your Mac, iPod, or iPhone) as well as standard stereo RCA jacks for CD players or other audio components. Ceramic Speakers also come with a pair of 6.5-foot, 16-gauge speaker cables topped with gold-plated banana plugs. In all, it’s a carefully designed setup with an eye toward clean, modern design.
We fired up Roth’s speakers connected to a variety of Macs and iPods and were impressed with the warm, clear tone. They’re certainly a far cry from your average cheapo computer speakers, although nothing about them is average or cheap. Since each speaker packs only a single driver, we weren’t expecting the booming bass of more complex speaker systems. What we heard were clear tones across the spectrum, and the 15-watt amp did an admirable job of pushing the speakers loudly enough to fill a large office.
With compressed 192kbps AAC files, the Ceramic Speakers performed fine, but we could tell the difference between those low bit-rate files and versions encoded at 320kbps. But the sound really warmed up once we tried some uncompressed tracks directly from CD (which aren’t really uncompressed, but that’s a different article entirely). And speaking of warming up, the speakers sounded a little bright at first, but experimenting with positioning definitely improved the sound quality, and we expect that they’ll continue to improve as the drivers get broken in with use.
With the volume maxed out to louder-than-comfortable levels, a little distortion cropped up, although the Ceramic Speakers’ true character definitely shines best at more moderate volumes. You’re not going to be able to throw a warehouse party with these things, but they do an admirable job of playing back your favorite tunes while you work. They’d even be suitable for living room background music--and let’s face it, they’re better looking than most of the other compact speakers you’ll find.
Joey Roth's Ceramic Speakers offer clean sound in a remarkable package. They're not for everyone, but then again, neither is your Mac.
COMPANY: Joey Roth
REQUIREMENTS: Audio source.
Great sound quality. Unique design and materials.
Single-driver speakers can't offer deep bass. Blue LED on the amp is super-bright.