iPod meets vacuum tubes in new audio system

A Tokyo company has combined a digital audio system with a vacuum-tube amplifier and plans to sell it next year.

If you're old enough, you probably remember fondly the warm glow of vacuum tubes from inside the family television or radio but likely don't wish for the good old days of vinyl records, preferring the convenience of Compact Discs. A Tokyo-based company is hoping to bring together the best of those worlds and do it with style.

Supercent has combined a CD player and radio with an amplifier built with vacuum tubes, or valves, and hopes to begin sales next year. The device even includes a jack that Supercent used to connect an iPod for a fusion of cutting edge digital audio technology with 50-year old amplification technology.

It's been built into a wooden case designed to look like an old-style radiogram. A large grill covers the front of the player, which is about 60 centimeters long by 27cm high by 29cm deep, and it sits on four thin silver legs.

"I think it's good to see the lights come on when you use audio, it's a fantastic moment," said Atsushi Koike, one of the two designers behind the product. He was demonstrating it at Tokyo Designers Week 2008, an event held over the weekend in Tokyo.

"I feel like these vacuum tubes are like musicians playing music on a stage," he said of the three tubes that protrude from the top of the player and glow a gentle orange when in use. "These guys are playing music in front of you, that's the concept."

Touch-sensitive buttons are inlaid along the top of the player but aside from these very basic controls the entire unit is devoid of anything more significant.

"I wanted to buy an audio system for my father," said Tadahito Ishibashi, the other designer who worked on the player. "But all of the ones on the market were packed with so many functions and buttons and were just too complicated to use to I made this one."

Vacuum tubes are fondly remembered by many for the warm sound of the audio they produced and some audio aficionados today spend large amounts of money on such amplifiers completely shunning more modern digital products.

In a modern twist the player's CD's digital display doubles as a countdown clock to the time the vacuum tubes are warmed up and ready for use and serves to remind children of the digital generation that 'switch on and go' isn't something to be expected from vacuum tubes. In a demonstration it took about 20 seconds for them to warm-up.

Supercent hasn't yet finalized the price or specific launch plans.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Shop safely with our award-winning security solution. Protect yourself this Black Friday and get the exclusive Black Friday discount for Bitdefender 2019!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?