Whilst technology is all about looking forward, sometimes, it's just as important to keep one foot in the past. With this in mind, designer Paul Cocksedge has unveiled the latest design in his mission to save vintage speakers from the tip with a small Bluetooth device that can now provide stereo sound. The Vamp Stereo is an update to The Vamp; a tiny amplifier by the London-based designer that can connect any Bluetooth-enabled phone, laptop or computer to a vintage speaker of your choice.
The previous version of The Vamp could only be hooked up to one speaker, so Cocksedge updated the design to provide stereo sound with two speakers and increase the maximum volume. The devices were created to tackle the growing problem of electronic waste as people throw away their old hi-fi systems to replace them with Bluetooth-compatible speakers. The aim is to save old speakers from the landfill, whilst also providing users with better and more dynamic sound quality than most affordable Bluetooth-enabled products.
Cocksedge said of the Vamp: “We wanted to go further with the product and improve on sound quality, so now it has a stereo output and the ability to use two speakers for stereo separation. It still has the same philosophy of bringing old and new technology together. When we discovered that 10,000 speakers a month are sent to UK recycling centres, with many others ending up in landfill or incineration plants, we knew we had to get these speakers back into circulation and preserve our musical heritage. Of course this won't end e-waste, but we hope it is a step in the right direction.”
The Vamp Stereo weighs 400 grams and is designed to be portable. It's shaped like a cube, with one corner cut off to provide a flat surface for it to rest on and the electronics housed in an ABS plastic case. It can also be attached to a speaker using a magnetic disc, is charged via USB and connects wirelessly to a user's device via Bluetooth. Two ports at the back provide input for speaker wires, while a jack port can connect The Vamp Stereo directly to a phone or other music source.
Cocksedge has also launched The Vamp Speaker, a sound system made from oriented strand board created using wood from sustainable sources and recycled electronics. It features a notch in the top surface to nestle The Vamp Stereo into, with a magnet to keep it secure. The system was made for those who don't have old speakers to reuse, but it also allows the Vamp Stereo to be connected to an additional two speakers to create a louder output and allow users to spread their speakers out around a space. Perfect for those of us (like myself) with a larger living space and a lot of extraneous gear.
Of the Vamp Speaker, Cocksedge added: “A lot of modern portable Bluetooth speakers are very designed and stylised, often made of injection-moulded plastic. We wanted to go back to the way speakers were originally put together, which is actually really simple: six pieces of wood which are joined together with some holes where you can add cones and tweeters. It gives really great volume and sound because you're working with materials that work well with sound waves.”
Both The Vamp Stereo and The Vamp Speaker launched on Kickstarter earlier this week, echoing the strategy for the original The Vamp device, which launched on the same platform back in 2013. Cocksedge has also relaunched his #saveaspeaker campaign on social media to coincide with the Kickstarter campaign and encourage people to keep hold of their vintage speakers. At the time of writing, 588 backers have pledged just over £35,000 of the £100,000 goal, so if you have any old speakers knocking around that you just can't bring yourself to get shot of, you know what to do!
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK who unfortunately has thrown away more speakers than he cares to remember. Never again.