set in stone
There are some unique speakers out there, with some being more unique than others. Because the Master & Dynamic MA770 speaker is made from, wait for it, concrete.
The choice of material for the headphones specialist’s first wireless speaker raised a few eyebrows. Concrete has pretty terrible acoustic properties, echoing around and creating reverb – which is an absolute no-no for audiophiles. Yet, it also has redeeming qualities. Rigid, stiff and heavy, it minimises vibrations and therefore creates fewer distortions than other more common – but lightweight – materials like wood, aluminium or plastic. Two years of experimentation finally yielded a suitable material; Master & Dynamic discovered that by adding a few (secret) polymers to the concrete’s constituent mix, they could create a material that satisfyingly absorbed echoes.
Material in hand, Master & Dynamic then approached British architect Sir David Adjaye – who used to build his own speakers out of wooden boxes filled with concrete ballast in North London – to sculpt the concrete into something stylish. The tapered design he settled on mimics invisible sound waves that emanate from the speakers – exiting through a narrow funnel, then emanating out to fill the room. The shape helps with acoustics as well. By minimising the area at the back of the speaker cabinet, the MA770 speaker maximises the sounds that are pushed out front; necessary because any waves that travel backwards create reverberation. At 16kg, this isn’t a wireless speaker you cart out to the beach or picnic; but its beautiful, architectural shape is destined to be appreciated in situ.
Varying shades of grey are achieved with technicians shaping and hand-buffing the concrete body to achieve a sheeny, subtle grainy texture. Two four-inch Kevlar woofers and a 1.5-inch titanium tweeter are then embedded into the sculpted body, insulated with a soft material. Covered with an etched metal grill, these pump out tremendous volume when controlled using the tiny panel along the bottom. Chromecast and Bluetooth are built-in for wireless control, and traditionalists will appreciate the wired auxiliary input. The MA770 speaker sounds terrific, and considering the innovation within, its price of US$1,800 (S$2,477) is frankly quite affordable.