The Transparent Speaker: a device that gets better with age
Can you name a single electrical product in your life that has improved with age? With today’s pace of technological advancement, it seems inevitable that our devices are destined to become dated - whether that’s in look, feel or performance.
Audio brand Transparent want to change all that. Their devices are forever upgradable and timeless in aesthetic, and ultimately, they want to become ‘the first circular tech brand’, closing the material loop completely. It’s a huge ask, but their products are proving that this is well within reach.
Transparent is the brainchild of founding duo Per Brickstad and Martin Willers, former members of Stockholm design studio People People. In 2011, they envisioned their first product: the Transparent Speaker. Their blog post went viral, with people practically begging them to put it on Kickstarter.
After a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign in 2013, Transparent was born. Named not just after the see-through speaker, but with the aim of building a company transparent in its design, sound and business ethos too.
When you lay eyes on the Transparent Speaker, you can see why there was so much hype about it. With a casing made of tempered glass and aluminium, it’s a striking example of Scandinavian minimalism, named by many as the best-looking speaker on the market.
Far from a gimmick, the glass frame is intended to blend in with its surroundings, to become a part of any style, any place or any time. Glass and aluminium are long-lasting, and endlessly recyclable too. But it’s also about honest design.
“Design is often used to put a fancy surface onto something,” Transparent says. “We want to do the exact opposite. We want to show products as they really are.”
But the Transparent Speaker isn’t just designed to look smart for decades to come. As well as being made with a high-quality, long-lasting build, the modular design allows for easy disassembly, with upgrades and add-ons made simple.
Included in the packaging are simple instructions to take apart your speaker. Transparent want you to repair and upgrade their products, using them for as long as possible. This is a far cry from many modern devices, where parts are glued together and repairs are practically impossible.
In the base of the speaker is a small chamber containing a USB port, which is designed to hold new and existing technologies such as voice control modules. That means it can also link up to whatever Apple, Google or Sonos system you may already have in your home.
In its purest form, the Transparent Speaker is a simple device: a top-notch home speaker that you can use via Bluetooth or cable, with scope for add-ons to make it work for you. By keeping features pared-down and customisable, this speaker fits into the demands of your future tech setup, never becoming obsolete.
In the audio world, sound that is ‘transparent’ refers to an authentic representation of sound, exactly as the musician intended. Transparent take pride in their speakers’ sound quality, that doesn’t just fill a room, but delivers a strikingly crisp, true reproduction of a sound recording at any volume.
In order to achieve this sound, Transparent worked with experienced partners who have made high-quality audio equipment for over 40 years. Together, they co-developed the speaker’s acoustic design, custom speaker drivers and the tuning of the whole system. It’s thrilling to hear such clarity and volume from a small speaker, particularly one that you can see right through.
Made to last
Design features aside, you might find the idea of Buy Me Once selling a speaker made of glass a little incongruous. Isn’t it delicate? Like most home devices, the Transparent Speaker isn’t indestructible, but you don’t have to worry about its fragility. That exterior is made of sheets of thick, tempered glass, all held together by a one-piece aluminium uniframe. Transparent have even drop-tested (boxed) speakers from a four metre height.
Not only is the speaker hardwearing, its production goes through seriously rigorous quality control tests. Since their conception to date, Transparent have never had to perform repairs on a single product - though they’re ready to welcome any requests.
So you needn’t feel nervous handling your speaker, even though it does come with a pair of white gloves. But they’re just to minimise fingerprints.
The verdict: style, performance and longevity
The Transparent Speaker’s elegant Scandinavian design is guaranteed to age gracefully in any environment. It contains no gimmicks or fleeting technologies, but allows you to customise it to your changing requirements over the course of decades. With exceptional sound quality that belies its quiet aesthetic, you’ll never be left wanting an upgrade.
There aren’t many tech companies out there making products that can actually last forever. Transparent’s ethos champions honesty and simplicity, which has resulted in a product that will provide pleasure for many years to come. We think that’s worth investing in.