Do your artsy friends like to talk about paintings that truly "sing?" With the arrival of Soundwall, that's no longer just a figure of speech. The Colorado audio startup has launched a new type of speaker, one that ships disguised as a luxury wall painting. We received an up-close demo of this unique accessory at South by Southwest 2014, listening in as smooth jazz played out of a picture of a mouth.
The folks behind Soundwall designed their product for users who don't have lots of space in the home, or find the look of a traditional speaker unsightly. When you buy a Soundwall, you pick both a size and what type of art you'd like to grace it. You can choose from Soundwall's own gallery of paintings, upload your own image (so long as you have the rights to it), or order a blank slate that you can paint yourself.
So how do you get music out of your favorite masterpiece? Soundwalls are compatible with Apple's AirPlay via your Mac or iOS device, as well as any product that supports DLNA media streaming, such as a PlayStation 3 or PC. You can provide Soundwall with your Wi-Fi information before you order to make the setup process easier, and the speaker also sports an input for connecting a Sonos device.
While the thought of a painting-speaker hybrid brings up the concern of muffled sound, Soundwall is engineered to provide quality audio. The entire surface of the Soundwall is a speaker, so the company doesn't simply slap a painting on top of an existing amplifier. The product uses a distributed mode construction to keep output crisp at every corner.
Soundwall speakers are aimed at the luxury listener, with prices ranging from $949 for a 24 x 36-inch model to $2,499 for large 40 x 60-inch work of art. If you've got the wallet for it, you can certainly turn heads at your next house party by whipping out your iPhone and turning your art collection into a whole new kind of jukebox.