Tsuge: What should we as designers do to express how innovative and original this technology is? From the start, I thought we should focus on the organic glass tube.
It's fascinating how the tube, which is the tweeter, vibrates to produce sound. But if we didn't jazz it up somehow, it would look just like any ordinary glass tube. We wanted to avoid any extra frills, but then how could we convey what's special about the Sountina? To solve this dilemma we ran a single wire through the glass tube. Passing a wire through this glass column gives it a core, creating a pleasant sense of tension. Although it serves only an aesthetic purpose, this line also resembles the string of a musical instrument, which produces sound by vibrating. It seemed a fitting symbol to adopt in audio equipment.
We could have explored designing the speaker to look more like a lamp or an object of art. If we had taken the approach of concealing signs that the unit is a speaker, it might have seemed more surprising or innovative. That would have been sufficient if all we sought was a product with striking design. Transparent speakers are not new. Omnidirectional speakers, with the diaphragm arranged to radiate sound, have also been developed before. We sought something that would clearly set the Sountina apart. Because it's the first product to introduce this new speaker technology, we didn't compromise on sound quality, and in the same way, we sought the appearance of a serious speaker system. To express this, I chose a single wire to underline its identity, so to speak.
Tsuge: We refrained from any purely superficial flourishes. For example, the spindle-shaped part holding the wire on top is not merely a decoration. It channels sound more effectively. We studied the shape and cross-sectional area carefully to eliminate distortion. The wire itself is specially coated to reflect illumination from the base of the organic glass tube and conduct light to the top. The color and intensity of illumination are adjustable, and to confirm remote control operations involving bass and treble (which may be difficult to discern while listening), the intensity changes subtly in response.
The remote is constructed of an aluminum panel. Buttons are individually cut, for better tactile feedback to one's fingertips.
The base housing the amp and woofer of the Sountina is metallic silver. Owners can slip on a genuine leather sleeve to enjoy a different appearance. The sleeve is constructed of a single sheet of leather, and ordering the material at this size was not easy. But it was something we insisted on. The sleeve projects a desirable sense of quality in public places, and it's a luxurious material that feels right at home in one's living room.