Earlier this year, Joey Roth released a beautiful pair of ceramic speakers that stormed the Internet like a bull in a china shop. While unconventional to say the least, the use of porcelain and cork where others would deploy metal, plastic, or fiberboard created a decidedly fresh, flowing product in the somewhat uninspiring audio market.
Now, Roth has released a sequel. It’s the Ceramic Subwoofer ($695), a simple white tube of pure analog sound, designed to be as timeless in its style as it is in its accepted audio formats.
"I intentionally kept the speaker system analog—no DSP, wireless, or proprietary connections—so that it can be used for many years without becoming obsolete," Roth tells Co.Design. "The materials also needed to reflect this design for longevity, and porcelain was an ideal choice."
"Longevity" may be a strange choice of words to describe a material that many of us consider fragile. On one hand, the average ceramic floor tile is a payload workhorse that puts synthetics to shame. On the other, how many of us break a plate or a mug when we least expect to? "If dropped, these won’t shatter the way a porcelain tea cup or vase would, but they will probably crack," Roth admits, "since porcelain is still a brittle material."
But I think it’s this very fragility—or maybe illusion of fragility—that makes these ceramic components so enticing. A subwoofer, safely stowed, will be handled a hundred times less than the coffee mug I swig from every day. But in its unadulterated white sheen, an otherwise testosterone-laden subwoofer is granted a pure vulnerability. So a subwoofer, of all things, reminds you that it’s special, fragile, and worth your care.