In How To Spend It’s last interiors edition I featured the fabulously original and quirky – but also knockout-performing – Sound Tree audio system by French manufacturer Elipson. The Sound Tree, you may recall, is a bunch of between six and 12 spherical speakers that hang from a ceiling like fruit and provide the most all-enveloping surround sound I’ve heard. The Sound Tree is proving popular with places like boutique-hotel lobbies, but also with people so struck by its bonkers-but-brilliant looks that they are prepared to dedicate a room to housing it.
I wouldn’t accept, as some might assert, that the Sound Tree is gimmicky; spherical speakers make good sense technically and the system sounds far too good to be dismissed as style over substance. But it does dominate its surroundings. So now Elipson has introduced a slightly more modest and conventional – but still eccentric and stunning – system.
The Planet LW with Audio Bridge is based around two Elipson spherical speakers, each 29cm in diameter and with inboard 100-watt Bang & Olufsen amplification. These speakers, although powered from the mains, need no other connection as they receive their input wirelessly from the clever Audio Bridge, which can be discreetly concealed. The Audio Bridge, in turn, gets its input by a variety of methods: there’s high-quality aptX Bluetooth, as well as optical connection and RCA-analogue input. So the hidden Audio Bridge can flawlessly rebroadcast music to the speakers from computers, phones and tablets, and can also redirect the sound from your TV, say, or a CD deck or record turntable. The invisible link between the Audio Bridge and Planet LW speakers is, as you’d expect, CD-quality audio.
The new Elipson’s speciality, then, is acting as an all-purpose sound system while being visually arresting but not disruptive, as there is a minimum of trailing wires involved. The speakers resemble giant, well-lacquered 8.2kg bowling balls when you first unpack them. Then, when you place them on the accompanying nicely machined table rings – to stop them rolling around – they look rather like two deep-sea divers’ heads mounted like hunting trophies. Or you can display them on floor stands, which I haven’t tried. Beautiful equipment, then, and hugely interior-friendly.