The Jambox (or its many equivalents) is fine, but I much prefer the experience of visiting second-hand shops around the city in hopes of finding a tower speaker relic that smells musty but still has a richness of sound and vintage appeal. Now a new Kickstarter project wants to help make sure proper speakers (the kind with removable cloth covers built strictly for sound first and style second) can easily take advantage of Bluetooth.
The Vamp is a little cube that has old-school positive and negative speaker cable connectors, along with 3.5mm audio input in case your device doesn’t have Bluetooth, a micro USB port for power and an on-off switch. It offers an internal rechargeable battery good for over 10 hours of use, and can be plugged in for continuous power as well. One of its most impressive tricks is a built-in magnet that pairs with a supplied metallic disc to attach to any vertical surface for convenient placement.
The problems the Vamp addresses that other Bluetooth stereo receivers don’t include style, affordability and sound. It offers high-quality mono audio, which is intended to be used with speakers made for high-quality sound output. It’s expected to retail for £45 (and is available via Kickstarter pre-order for £35), and maybe best of all, it doesn’t require a constant external power source, unlike a lot of similar options. You could actually take it with you to a friend’s house and wire their existing setup for Bluetooth sound, without an electrical engineering degree or access to the back of their home audio receiver.
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The Vamp is created by UK-based product designer Paul Cocksedge, who has worked on products for BMW, Swarovski, Sony and Hermes. Some of his past work is exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in London. Cocksedge and his studio have worked on sound amplification projects in the past, include gadgets that naturally enhance sound from mobile devices like iPhones. The Vamp looks to be their first proper electronic device, but working prototypes have already found favor with early reviewers.
The Vamp claims to have sound quality that’s “richer and more textured” than the standard Bluetooth portable speaker available, and it looks to go quite a bit louder as well. Quality concerns aside, it’s a nice, relatively inexpensive way to upcycle speakers that in many cases have only gotten better with age, and are being rudely pushed out by younger models.