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Unless you're familiar with the Swedish hi-fi market of the 1960s and '70s, the name Stig Carlsson probably doesn't ring a bell. In Sweden however, Mr. Carlsson is well known by a generation of audiophiles who applauded his unique and innovative speaker designs, those which were cultivated during his career as an engineer for Sonab. Contrary to the way most designers in audio develop their products, Carlsson believed that loudspeakers should be made to sound great in realistic listening environments like your living room, as opposed to some perfectly treated acoustic environment.
Inspired by this philosophy, which he called ortho-acoustics, Carlsson developed a compact, up-firing omni-directional speaker called the OD-11 that was released by Sonab in 1974. The speaker became hugely popular, overwhelming critics and selling in the tens of thousands.
Fast-forward forty years. Teenage Engineering, the company that delivered the cool and quirky OP-1 synth last year, in collaboration with the Stig Carlsson Foundation, brings us a modernized version of the OD-11, specifically intended for cloud-based music listening.
Outside, the new OD-11 follows Carlsson's original concept, for the most part, sporting a two-way omni-directional design with one woofer and one tweeter, both angled toward the same corner of the cube-shaped speaker. It also has a flow-optimized bass-reflex duct for improved low-frequency response. The inner workings of the speaker have been updated, to say the least, as it features an integrated 100-watt Class-D amplifier, Wi-Fi streaming, and Bluetooth capabilities.
The 10 x 10-inch "Carlsson Cube" can be placed unobtrusively on the floor or on a shelf, and sounds best with the angled drivers pointed toward the center of the room. The omni-directional speaker design allows sound to be dispersed evenly throughout your acoustic space. So, no matter where you are in the room in relation to the OD-11, you'll be able to hear your music clearly and accurately. One to four OD-11s can used be together at the same time and linked wirelessly, and there’s a switch on the unit that allows you to orient a speaker as left or right channel.
The OD-11 has been built for seamless interaction with the iPhone or iPad via Wi-Fi, allowing you to use your portable device to stream music directly to the speaker, or to control streaming from a different source, such as your computer’s iTunes library, or a cloud-based service, such as Soundcloud or Spotify. This is all made possible using Orthoplay, a user-friendly companion iOS app available as a free download from the Apple App Store. In addition, Orthoplay also features switchable bass and treble boosts for adding a little extra oomph to your listening experience, and an intuitive step-by-step graphical helper to assist you through the process of getting the OD-11 setup correctly on your Wi-Fi network, and properly talking to your iOS device. There is also a desktop-browser version of Orthoplay with much of the same functionality as the iOS app, but with a cool feature that allows you to drag and drop songs from Soundcloud to create your own playlists for streaming to the OD-11.
If you have never heard of Spotify or Soundcloud, or if you simply just still enjoy the experience of playing CDs, Teenage Engineering has not forgotten about you. The OD-11 is equipped with a stereo 3.5mm analog in, and an optical input for connecting devices like receivers, CD players, or portable devices that don’t have Wi-Fi capability.
While all of the OD-11’s music streaming is handled via Wi-Fi, the speaker is equipped with Bluetooth 4 LE technology for interfacing with the optional Ortho Remote. Extremely simple in design, this one-knob remote allows for convenient volume and transport control. Like the OD-11, the Ortho Remote's look is subtle and nonchalant. It could easily blend in with a piece of modern-looking furniture, to the point at which it would go mostly unnoticed.
Alas, you are now faced with the ultimate question: is this the wireless speaker for me? If audiophile-quality sound, mixed with modern, artful elegance sounds appealing to you, the new OD-11 may very well be what you're looking for. On every level, the speaker is intended to complement your living space, as opposed to some designs, which end up sticking out like sore thumbs. So, whether you’re the interior designer of the house, the resident audio geek, or just a plain old music lover, the OD-11 aims to stay out of your way and let you enjoy your favorite tunes.
|Speaker Principle||Ortho-directional, flow optimised bass, reflex duct|
|Frequency Range||28 - 24,000Hz|
|Materials||High-density board, reinforced PA 66, wire steel mesh|
|Design Features||Single multi-configurable design for left/right or auto placement; left and right power-cord canal|
|Tweeter||High efficiency, ferrofluid cooled neodymium cone tweeter|
|Woofer||Long throw pulp cone woofer with magnetic short circuiting ring|
|Amplifier||100-watt analog class-D|
|Wireless||Beam forming Wi-Fi technology, Bluetooth 4 Low Energy|
|Inputs||3.5mm stereo in, optical in|
|Interface||Plus/minus button, function button, RGB LED, left/auto/right selector switch|
|General Power Requirements||AC 110-240V 50-60Hz, universal power supply|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||10.3 x 10.7 x 10.3" (262 x 272 x 262mm)|
|Volume||.35 cubic feet (10 Litres)|
|Weight||16.5 lb (7.5kg)|