Over the last few decades, music pulled a disappearing act. Today, you can store thousands of sounds in the cloud and blast your tunes through all manner of crazy, compact speakers that masquerade as anything but speakers. But 60 years ago, you would have had a monolithic hi-fi console in your living room. Sure it hogged floorspace, but it was a physical testament to how much its owner valued sound. Søbel, a Belgian home audio company, wants to resuscitate the spirit of those days by rebuilding hi-fis that work with digital music formats.
The startup, which was founded by a music-focused creative agency Digizik, grafts modern tech into old-school furniture. A challenge with vintage hi-fi consoles is that while they have handsome shells, the electronics might be in varying states of disrepair. While hard-core audiophiles may swoon over the retro technology, it’s lost on most casual listeners today. Søbel’s proposal? Add modern amps, speakers, and players to the console–and use the remaining space for storage. Each of the systems is made to order, and customers can even send in their own furniture to be hacked, or write to the company with what they’re looking to buy for a soup-to-nuts approach.
All this custom work doesn’t come cheap, however. One cabinet featured in Wallpaper came out to about $7,600. But having a sweet system unlike any of your neighbors? Priceless.
All Photos: © Maureen Raway