Looking for a unique gadget to really stand out in your home? The iFi Aurora is a wireless music system from UK audio brand iFi, and is making a bid for pride of place in the living room.
An unholy clash of bamboo slats and aluminium girders – with a trapezium OLED display – the Aurora ditches conventional wisdom over speaker design to make a real visual statement. And even if you don't like that statement, the boldness of its structure is something to be admired.
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Sat somewhere between quirky diorama and ambitious concert hall, the iFi Aurora was inspired by Japanese architecture and designer Julian Haziza's experience working in home furnishings.
The result is a speaker that doesn't try to keep out of view, like a flat TV soundbar or compact smart speaker – it's the opposite of the strategy shown by both the Amazon Echo and Google Home ranges, which have moved towards curved edges and gray mesh exteriors to blend with soft furnishings as much as possible.
Not so with Aurora. “We wanted it to make visual noise,” says Haziza. “We don't want to make an object that will disappear.”
At £199, the iFi Aurora isn't a premium-priced device either, and packs in a lot of inputs. As well as the standard Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections for streaming music, there's also Airplay for connecting to Apple devices, USB and micro SD slots for your own music files, Amazon Echo compatibility, optical, and auxiliary connections for your TV or set-top box. There's even a disc drive for CD, DVD and Blu-ray.
It's easy to tire of the usual treadmill of black and grey speakers that get released to market each other. Usually iterating on a tested formula, it's rare that we see an audio product that decides to make its own style rules.
Don't you recognise me?
If the looks aren't selling it, you may know the iFi name for its award-winning DACs, like the xDSD that sits at the top of our best portable DACs guide.
You'll find an internal DAC built into the speaker, with support for 32-bit/192kHz audio, as well as all the high-resolution Bluetooth codecs (aptX HD, AAC, LDAC, LDHC) you could want.
The elevated design, too, allows for an open and expansive sound, with 320W of audio output pumping through the Aurora's eight drivers. The audio should be faithful, even if the outside isn't faithful to much that has come before.
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