Joel Pirela had a goal: inspired by the audio designs of Dieter Rams and Charles Eames, Joel aimed to combine the convenience of wireless streaming audio technology with his affinity for fine midcentury design. And he wanted to be able to control it all with his iPhone. Inside a custom wood cabinet, sitting ontop of a salvaged Bose 901 tulip-style speaker base, Joel's DIY setup is a handsome homage to midcentury aesthetics...but with some contemporary audio innards hidden within.
Midcentury style exterior, modern day audio gear interior.
Joel of Blue Ant Studio was kind enough to give us some details about his customized home audio setup, revealing the modern innards of a system many of us could easily recreate using similar affordable off-the-shelf components and perhaps a few Craigslist/eBay finds for the stylish exterior finish:
The idea behind the project was to create a wireless speaker system that allows us to place it anywhere and stream music to it from many sources while it could be controlled by an iPhone. This system is really portable and you are able to stream music wherever you have a AC outlet. This is how it works:
Assuming you already have all your music in digital format and you are using iTunes, of course, the rest will be pretty easy.
First of all, you need to buy the Airport Express with AirTunes. This is the "heart" of the system. AirPort Express Base Station, now with 802.11n wireless. you can create a wireless network at home or add it to your existing one. Enjoy your iTunes music library in virtually any room of your house. Play the music from your computer's iTunes library through a set of speakers or stereo in just about any room in your home — wirelessly. The Airport Extreme with Airtunes has a audio auxiliary output. This is the only port you are going to use.
Next is actually selecting up the speakers. Any computer powered speakers will do it. I'm using JBL "Spot" speakers with a subwoofer and 2 side speakers because the sound is awesome.
Performance is great. To control everything, in iTunes, you set your speakers as the Airtunes one, then, using the free Apple Remote application on your iPhone… you can control volume, playlist, forward, etc, etc.... and it even shows the album art on your iPhone.
Speaker designs which inspired Joel's own custom setup.
For the enclosure we went with an all wood cabinet, painted in an off white color, round metal speaker grill and a back metal mesh that attach via 4 magnets. The power cord is retractable when the speaker is not in use. Later we decided to wrap the sides of the speaker with real walnut veneer to match the Eames and Dieter Rams speaker. We ended using a vintage "tulip style" base from Bose 901 speaker.
At the end, not only the system sounds pretty good but also looks really good with the rest of the furniture we have at home. It wasn't a difficult project but we needed to have all the elements in order to make it happen.