Aesthetic Functionality

In most high-quality A/V products, form follows function, but in the case of the Gramophone speaker from Swedish maker Aesthesis, form and function are intertwined, arising together during four years of development. Standing nearly four feet tall, this hand-made, carbon-fiber speaker makes a bold design statement while offering impressive specs.

A single, custom-designed coaxial driver consists of a 1-inch fabric-dome tweeter at the center of a 6.5-inch polypropylene woofer, which allows the entire frequency range to emanate from an apparent point source while minimizing any phase anomalies. The driver sits at the mouth of a specially curved horn that enhances the highs, while the volume behind the driver is shaped to provide a reflection-damping waveguide with a slit-shaped port near the base, which boosts the lows. Aesthesis claims this is the only speaker to combine horn and waveguide loading in a bass-reflex enclosure, resulting in a frequency response from 37Hz to 20kHz (±3dB) and a sensitivity of 97dB/W/m. That means it will play plenty loud with only 80W of continuous amplifier power (220W peak), but a subwoofer is required to reach the lowest octave.

Aesthesis commissioned several companies to collaborate on the development of the Gramophone, including Eker Design, Carbocomp, and Ergonomidesign, all of which are also involved with Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg. (Eker Design is behind the projectors of Norwegian high-end manufacturer Projectiondesign as well.) The Gramophone will be limited to a production run of 100 pairs at a cost of 60,000 Euros (nearly $88,000 as of this writing). That's a serious chunk of change, but this speaker could well be worth it if you want the ultimate in form and function.