Tight Squeeze

What do you get if you cross Japanese audio acumen with daring Italian design? The Squeezophone 360, that's what. Born out of a collaboration between Kenwood Design and Claudio Colucci Design, this concept speaker cuts a dashing figure as it pumps sound all around the room.

Standing over six feet tall, the enclosure is made entirely of DuPont Corian, the same composite material often used in kitchen and bathroom countertops. Why Corian? Because it's incredibly inert, allowing virtually no vibration. In fact, it's quite similar to marble but much easier to form into the desired shape while remaining nearly indestructible. It also diffuses the internal lighting, another important design element.

As for the sound, Kenwood's "sound meister" Junichi Hayakawa created an omnidirectional speaker with an 8-inch, down-firing carbon-fiber woofer near the base, a 4-inch carbon-fiber midrange, and a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter to achieve a frequency response from 38Hz to 40kHz. The tweeter faces upward at the bottom of the perforated central section of the enclosure while the midrange faces downward near the top of that section; each driver fires into an anodized-aluminum reflector that projects the sound in a 360-degree radiation pattern. As a result, says Fabien Gregoire, Director of Kenwood Design, "the sound is never directive but very natural and 'comfortable' to the ear."

After receiving raves at the 2009 Milano Salone de Mobile design exhibition, Kenwood is now working on an update with different color options and improved lighting that could evolve into a limited-edition commercial product as early as next year for an estimated price of 40,000 Euros/pair (nearly $60,000 as of this writing). If you like your sound served all around the room with high visual style, the Squeezophone 360 just might be in your future.