Image: Hugh Threlfall
February 21 2013
Things disguised as other things are not an attractive prospect. We’re into the realms of TVs camouflaged as drinks cabinets and telephones masquerading as Mickey Mouse here. So when I heard about Imagine Acoustics’ new SoundScene stereo amp and speakers, which are disguised as a picture frame, I was less than overcome.
The SoundScene’s provenance, however, persuaded me to go down to Woking, Surrey, where they are designed and assembled, to have a look and a listen. The chaps behind Imagine Acoustics are proper British hi-fi geeks, and you know what? The SoundScene – which is made to order – produces proper hi-fi, or at least not far off. It’s quite a compelling optical/audible illusion. And unlike any other “art speaker” on the market (yes, the genre exists), the SoundScene is fed music wirelessly via either Apple’s AirPlay (using your iDevice, Mac or PC) or the Sonos whole-house system, so the only connection needed is mains, which for neatness is buried in the wall.
You may well think that the SoundScene could look a bit clunky, but it’s remarkably thin, just 60mm between the picture frame and the wall. That 60mm houses four Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) speakers, which fire the sound off sidewards, thus enhancing the impressive stereo effect. Each speaker is powered by its own 12.5W RMS amplifier, giving 50W in total.
An important point is that the wall is not used as part of the sound-producing mechanism, so you need have no structural concerns.
Another feature is that you can put your own art in the frame. Use your favourite Van Gogh if you want to confuse a burglar – he (or she, let’s not be sexist) will soon enough realise the frame is a loudspeaker and assume the painting is a fake.