Considering the endless stream of hi-fi and home cinema products we’re lucky enough to see, hear and test, it’s little wonder we’ve encountered no end of weird and wonderful designs over the years. Some are much weirder than others…
Previously, we had some fun listing the craziest-looking hi-fi products on the planet, which includes some especially creative design choices in the high-end audio space. And now we’re taking a detour into the even more obscure, quirky or just outright fun products across hi-fi and AV.
If you side with a little silliness, you may be pleased to know that some of the products featured are still available to purchase.
Sound Burger by Audio-Technica
Perhaps the most recognisable product on this list, the Sound Burger by Audio-Technica is a portable turntable that has been reissued in recent years.
Its unique, compact design caused a storm back in the ‘80s, and the new model features a similar design along with some modern touches. These include wireless Bluetooth connectivity and USB-C port for charging. If you want to hook up the Sound Burger traditionally, there’s also an RCA port for connecting to a home stereo or speaker system.
The Sound Burger came back as a 60th anniversary celebration by Audio-Technica in 2022, and doesn’t look like it’ll be going away any time soon.
StanbyME GO suitcase TV by LG Electronics
One of the newest entries on this list, LG’s StanbyME GO is a portable TV housed inside of a suitcase.
We see a lot of turntables hidden within suitcases these days, but a TV screen is a new one… It received mixed responses from the What Hi-Fi? team; however, one member got the chance to see the funny little product in person at IFA 2023 and became a fan, despite the lack of 4K support or a top-quality screen.
If you ever get your hands on one, make sure you keep track of your luggage at the airport…
Lego turntable by Hayarobi @ Brickinside
Showcased at the Seoul Brick Pop Art Exhibition a few years back by a fellow named Hayarobi, this fully functional turntable is made entirely out of Lego bricks and accessories, right down to the tonearm!
The only addition to the Lego is an Audio Technica 1Ea Cartridge to finish things off. When Lego releases its own cartridge, we’ll pass the news on to Hayarobi!
He also put together a Lego valve amp and case for a pair of speakers. These additional pieces aren’t fully functioning like the turntable, but they’re cool designs nonetheless.
SNS-NS7 Wireless Neckband Speaker by Sony
Ever thought to yourself, what I could really use is a neck pillow-type product with built-in speakers? No, us neither. However that didn’t stop Sony from giving the green light to one of the wackiest audio product ideas we’ve seen in a while.
We tested the Sony SNS-NS7 Wireless Neckband Speaker, giving it three stars. We felt it had some merits but wasn’t an excellent product, and found the Dolby Atmos immersive audio to be a little disorienting.
If you want a localised immersive audio experience or have specific needs, then perhaps this neckband speaker might be of interest to you. For everyone else, we’d recommend a more traditional speaker or soundbar set-up.
RokBlok Portable Record Player by Pink Donut
A curious little device, the RokBlok is a portable wireless record player and was given a chance to exist through a Kickstarter campaign by Pink Donut.
Acting as both the needle and the speaker for a record, the RokBlok works by being placed on top of your vinyl, and with the push of a level, it will start driving over your record, playing it in the process.
It also features Bluetooth connectivity, meaning it can pair with wireless speakers or headphones within 30 feet.
There are some understandable concerns about the safety of your vinyl. A little block moving around on top of your favourite records is not exactly a comforting mental image. However, developer Logan Riley claims the rubber wheels on the bottom of the device ensure the centre of gravity does not rest on the needle.
A handy little device if you’re out and about with a burning desire to play a record but have no set-up to hand, we suppose.
Design Lab TurnT by Yamaha
Moving on from a product that plays real vinyl to one that plays virtual vinyl…
Yamaha’s Design Lab TurnT is a portable speaker that features a ‘stylus’ for playing ‘virtual vinyl’ platters displayed on your phone’s screen. To change ‘record’, simply swipe the screen or reposition the arm.
The idea was to invoke a sense of nostalgia and response for the music about to be played in the same way vinyl records do for many users.
The TurnT was shown off as one of four conceptual ‘audio art’ pieces, collectively dubbed “Stepping Out of the Slate”. There has yet to be any announcement on these designs being publicly released, but they’re interesting concepts nonetheless.
Symfonisk Picture Speaker by Ikea & Sonos
Ever wanted a wall-hanging speaker that doubles as a picture in disguise? Well, look no further as this collaboration meets your oddly specific desires.
The Symfonisk range is a joint effort between Ikea and Sonos and has resulted in some sneaky wireless speakers being hidden within all kinds of everyday items for your home.
Alongside more regular-looking bookshelf speakers, there are also both floor and desk lamps with speakers built-in. The most curious item in the range, in our opinion, is the Symfonisk picture frame with wi-fi speaker and a changeable front.
It resembles an acoustic panel, except it makes noise rather than dampens it…
All Symfonisk speakers connect over wi-fi, which means you can create a multi-room system around the home – much like you can with regular Sonos products.