Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Vamp Brings Retro Speakers Alive

The Vamp is gaining more ground in Europe and the United Kingdom than the United States despite its successful crowd-funding bid. The slowness of the pickup doesn't have much to do with interest. It has everything to do with availability. They've only been released a handful at a time.

The Vamp is a brilliantly simple solution to salvage conventional speakers by giving them a second life. The Vamp is a Bluetooth receiver of sorts that works hard to bridge modern technology with the quality and richness of the past.

"For me, reusing perfectly good technology makes sense," explains designer Paul Cocksedge. "Hearing the rich sound coming out of these older speakers in a new way is a delight. They are a part of music history."

Simplicity is in the design and the appeal. According to his pitch, all you really have to do is find, connect, and play. There is some truth to that because The Vamp connects by attaching a metal disc to the speaker and then attaching via magnet to the metal strip.

Of course, the metal disc sticks to the speaker. It connect to the speaker using an adaptor. One end features classic red and black wires. The other includes a plug that sticks right into the back of The Vamp.

Cocksedge has an answer for speakers with built-in wires too. In addition to the plug, The Vamp has a clamp for wires too. But what seems to be equally unique is that he took the entire design a step further by allowing almost anything to connect to it (even if you don't have Bluetooth) via a connector cable that works with both PCs and classic iPods.

With the crowdfunding campaign over, the studio has disallowed video embeds but the original video still exists. It features the Cocksedge walking through the steps in about two minutes. What's especially cool about The Vamp is that it powers up the speaker too, creating a surreal setting outside.

A few extra thoughts about The Vamp in progress. 

Although most backers have already received The Vamp and the little gadget that could has won an award or two, Cocksedge is still releasing it in limited production runs. That means you have to preorder The Vamp before the next run (which is currently expected to be this June).

AHAlife.comAfter seeing The Vamp in action, I was mostly impressed. While there are some limitations — such as the inability to sync two speakers to one or two Vamps for stereo sound — the sound quality is as good as the speakers.

Therein lies the sacrifice. The device delivers surprisingly warm sound via a vintage speaker, but you have to give up a little with the mono sound. Basically, the right and left channels are combined.

Cocksedge has said that he may try to tackle stereo sound one day, but it sounds unlikely. He is mostly of the impression that true stereo sound requires the careful positioning of speakers to denote any difference, which would destroy the charm of portability. It's a fair point but debatable.

A couple more graphs about designer Paul Cocksedge.

Paul Cocksedge
Paul Cocksedge Studio is an internationally-acclaimed design practice led by directors Cocksedge and Joana Pinho. The studio is based in London and has nurtured a strong team of collaborators over the last decades. The partners pride themselves on their unique reputation for thoroughly original and innovative design.

Most often, the team is hired by companies to solve design issues. For example, BMW invited the studio to design a new LED headlamp based on its proven track record to research the limits of technology, materials and manufacturing processes.

The Vamp By Paul Cocksedge Studio Sounds Off At 7.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

The technology is simple and smart, creating a no-fuss solution for vintage sound via any Bluetooth equipped device (and some non-Bluetooth equipped devices). The elegant design is striking in red, decent in black and white too.

Right now, the Paul Cocksedge store set the price at £49.95 (with tax) and £41.95 (minus shipping). You can only order it direct from the Paul Cocksedge Store, but we'll update details when it is more readily available. In the interim, expect more interesting ideas to come out this studio.
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