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Urbanears: The Most Civilized Speakers Money Can Buy

Simple cubes in bright colors. Scandinavian? German? Silicon Valley-an? Who knows what you call it, but it works.

At best, you’re looking at a black rectangle. But more often than not, the speakers inside our home still resemble something pulled from that guy’s car in high school. You know the guy. The guy you heard driving up from five blocks away, the guy who was ever one more 12-inch woofer away from nirvana. Nice guy! But all that high-gloss speaker finish juxtaposed against the plywood scaffolding in his trunk revealed a stark blind spot for aesthetics.

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Luckily, home audio is getting tasteful again. Connected Speakers, by Urbanears, are downright civilized in their design. If you took the minimal lines of Dieter Rams’s stereo equipment, and slapped on the bright, fabric coating of a modern-day UE Boom, you’d get what you see here: simple cubes that feature a pair of knobs and come in colors like Dirty Pink and Goldfish Orange. Scandinavian? German? Silicon Valley-an? Who knows what you call it, but it works.

[Photo: courtesy Urbanears]
Featured on Dezeen, the speakers come in two sizes, Baggen ($500, 12-inches tall) and Stammen ($375, 8-inches tall), depending on the scale of the room you’re trying to fill with sound. Functionally, the speakers can sit on your Wi-Fi network to stream Spotify and such, connect to your phone via Bluetooth, or just play whatever you plug in through a 3.5 mm jack. They also can be stacked, like Sonos, in a multi-room array with a shared audio track. Notably, however, they do lack the HDMI, RCA, or optical input you’d want to easily use it for your TV. Which is a shame. The home theater industry keeps forcing surround sound bars onto us when, frankly, these bookshelf-ready speakers would do fine for binging on The Great British Bake Off–I don’t need exploding canapés flying at my ears from every direction.

In any case, the speakers are available now (WHAT? It’s not a Kickstarter preorder?!?), and despite being located in the U.K., they do ship to the U.S., too.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day.

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