Speakers in the house: Eight of the best home sound systems

From clutch-bag chic to portable disco lights, these devices let you bring the party home

 
Dynaudio
Dynaudio

Bugatti beats

How we listen to music influences how we interact with it. The right tools open up a whole new world, says Jonathan Ford of appointment-based The Listening Suite, Terenure, explaining that, “Not only do high-end speakers reveal a lot more detail they emotionally connect you to the music.” He rates Dynaudio, a Danish brand of handcrafted speakers made in Skanderborg, and whose sound systems grace recording studios such as Air Studios, founded by Beatles producer George Martin in London and for Bugatti’s Veyron in-car sound system. The Evoke 50 is a new range that works for music and cinema systems and ranges from €1,400-€4,400, the latter being the price of a pair of the four-driver speakers (pictured) that come in white or black gloss, walnut or blonde wood (pictured). The firm has also launched a more affordable, high-resolution all-in-one streaming speaker that adapts to the level of hard surfaces in a room. Its artful good looks resemble a clutch bag, it comes in four colours, including a very on-trend blue, and costs €349 to €999. thelisteningsuite.ie

Cloney Audio
Cloney Audio

WAF factor

Looks matter. British-made Bowers & Wilkins has what hi-fi fiends call WAF, or wife acceptance factor, says Ivan Cloney, MD of Blackrock-based Cloney Audio. By that he means “it sounds good as well as looking good”, adding that while audio is fashionable again – he can’t keep €1,000 turntables in stock for example – some brands are still stuck in a 1970s groove in terms of the aesthetics they offer – opting for mainly black designs with most of the emphasis on how they sound rather than how they might fit into a room’s decor. This is changing but men still represent 70 per cent of Cloney Audio’s business. The high quality 706 s2 speakers with DB4S grilles off in black gloss, pictured here to the right of shot in a home cinema setting with a sub woofer to the left, deliver a warm sound with great clarity and great bass. cloneyaudio.com; bowerswilkins.com

Spiritland
Spiritland

Old school sounds

For a fully immersive experience head to London’s audiophile bar, Spiritland, situated on the ground floor of the Royal Festival Hall. The good-looking space is a restaurant by day and a bar by night and has a bespoke system by Nottingham-based custom speaker firm Living Voice, which features vintage Air Partner speakers. The old school vibe is evident in its design too. There are meandering burgundy leather booths, deep pile velvet curtains, perforated wood screens and a wall feature hewn from acoustic foam, that all help dim down ambient noise to give guests a richer, fuller, sound experience. It presents music in a clarity, definition and precision rarely heard, with valve amplification from Italian manufacturers Atelier du Triode, a unique rotary mixer from Isonoe, and a selection of audio sources. spiritland.com; livingvoice.co.uk; definitiveaudio.co.uk

La Boite

Coffee table tracks

La Boite’s Cube is one of several designs that show off the French polish of its maker, a firm that has more than 70 years of experience in fine-tuning full sound immersion. Designed by Samuel Accoceberry its compact size produces a powerful sound from its all-in-one high fidelity speaker while its form doubles as a functioning coffee table. The Red Dot award-winning piece has wireless connectivity; aluminium station and mid-woofer and comes in three finishes; a matt black body with an oak frame and legs and a smoked glass shelf; a white Corian body with walnut or oak frame or a leather body with a smoked wood frame. Prices range from €990-€1,290 through Ranelagh-based CA Design. cadesign.ie; laboiteconcept.com

Miniforms caruso
Miniforms caruso

Gramophone inspiration

Italian firm Miniforms offers a choice of good-looking hi-fi cabinets in fashion colours whose shapes hark back to earlier eras of audio. Its Caruso, designed by Paola Capello and named after the Italian tenor, is inspired by the gramophone of the late 19th century and is a neat size for smaller homes. Priced from €2,770 for a cabinet 106cm long it features a 4.0 Bluetooth connection that you can sync with any similarly-equipped device. Pictured in a marsala lacquer, one of about eight colours in addition to wood finishes, it also comes in a gold or copper-plated speaker, an additional €920. The same designer has also penned Caixa, a sideboard with 1960s lines that has built-in Bluetooth and can connect to your phone, computer, TV or other enabled-device. It has interior LED lighting and costs from €3,750 in a range of lacquered finishes from online shop Nua Style. Nuastyle.com

Sonos Hay and Arnotts
Sonos Hay and Arnotts

Neat number

The Play 1 by Sonos, one of the leaders in wireless audiology, is a neat little speaker that will stream without interruptions or interference. Its room-filling sound can be the first building block in a multi-room system and will connect to any other Sonos product or a stand-alone unit. In its basic form the speaker, which plugs into the mains, comes with either black or white detailing, usually €229.95 but reduced at the Briscoe Expert Electrical concession at Arnotts to €179.95. But the firm has also joined forces with Danish designer Hay to offer a limited edition of the model, €259, that comes in a range of fashion colours. While the fact that the vibrant red, soft pink and forest green shades have already sold out shows the need for more colour in this essential home kit, it also comes in a monochrome grey or this smile-inducing sunny yellow. arnotts.ie; briscoes.ie; sonos.com

Sonos Inreda
Sonos Inreda

Ice cool

If you want a super sounding speaker that also looks as beautiful as a Pauric Sweeney handbag, then Danish audio brand Vifa’s Reykjavik might be just the ticket. Instead of dancing around it you can also hang it from your wrist or the nearest perch. As the smallest Bluetooth speaker in its range it boasts Nordic simple lines, is also easy to use and is optimised for low distortion and high precision. Pictured in a gorgeous shade called Ice Cave blue, it costs about €199 to order from Inreda which also stocks its larger sister styles; Helsinki, in a dusty rose, €398; Oslo, black, €498 and Copenhagen, €698. All come with portable leather straps. inredadesignshop.com

Sony Dominic Smith
Sony Dominic Smith

Extra bass

And if you simply want to get the gang round then Sony’s SRS-XB31 is a portable, waterproof speaker that will let you and your fellow party animals lose yourselves in the feeling. You can boost your playlists with extra bass to help take your party to the next level. The three-dimensional sound experience Bluetooth device comes with multi-coloured flashing lights that sync to the beat including new strip lights and a strobe. The device comes in four colour options and you can hear it for yourself at Dominic Smith’s sound room facility in its Dundrum store where it costs €129. dominicsmithelectrical.com; sony.ie

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