Back in the 1960s and 1970s, there was a trend of making stereo equipment that didn’t look like stereo equipment. In that tradition, Portland, Oregon-based artist and entrepreneur Ezra Cimino-Hurt, the mind behind such audio/art systems as Case of Bass and Touch of Base, has focused his pent-up creativity during the COVID-19 lockdown on producing a visually stunning new stereo speaker system code-named “Space of Bass.”
As much art as they are speakers, Space of Bass began almost by accident. Cimino-Hurt ended up with a glut of amplifiers from an overseas vendor — too many for the one-off pieces he was making.
“The cart led the horse on these,” says Cimino-Hurt. “Our supplier for our amplifiers went dark. We realized we needed to figure something out. We ordered a thousand units.” After wrestling with what to do with them, the answer seemed clear: “We thought, ‘What if we make a nice desktop amplifier?’”
But what good is an amplifier without speakers? Cimino-Hurt went with the flow. He and his team partnered with a local Portland electronics recycling company to repurpose and harvest parts and create a set of speakers to pair with the desktop amplifier. “We get a call that a nice hi-fi audio company had dropped off two pallets of bookshelf speakers that were no longer needed,” he says. “Things were falling into place.
With all the speaker drivers he needed, it was time to come up with a cabinet to put them in. That’s where “Clarice” comes in.
“Clarice” is a CNC router that Cimino-Hurt and his team acquired around the start of the pandemic, so he started experimenting and teaching himself how to become more proficient with the machine.
Ultimately, the machine unlocked his imagination, and a totally unique speaker was born. It has a 4-inch down-firing midbass driver and a 1-inch up-firing tweeter, and both use a 360-degree omnidirectional diffuser cone. The speakers are paired with an amp (which has the same striking wood case design), and come with a line input, a line output, Bluetooth, bass, treble, and volume controls, all built onto a high-quality Class-D amp.
So far, so good. But with the word “bass” in the name of everything Cimino-Hurt’s company makes, the 4-inch drivers didn’t quite pack the punch he was looking for.
Luckily, he walked into another lot of recycled drivers — this time, 6.5-inch speakers that worked perfectly in a matching subwoofer cabinet with its own amplifier and level controls.
To be clear, the Space of Bass speaker system was not created for “audiophiles,” though it does have striking, high-quality sound. More to the point, this system does something that few others do: Create almost omnipresent sound while still having a soundstage. You get the stereo effects and the vocal clarity — it sounds like the singer and some of the instruments come from the center, while others come from the side — yet the whole room shimmers with sound. And while you could get away with just using the speakers, the subwoofer brings it home with a musical bass that fills out the frequency range perfectly.
It’s a system that anyone would enjoy, but few actually will — only around 10 or so units will be sold. Think of it as a limited-run art piece.
The system will come in three finishes: Hardwood cherry, walnut, or maple. The amp comes with everything needed to get hooked up, including the power supply, speaker wires, and RCA cables for the sub. The system would work perfectly with a vintage turntable, or even as part of a modern streaming music system.
The Space of Bass system is striking, and if you can score a set, you’ll have your hands on something really special. If you miss out, you can be assured that Cimino-Hurt and his crew will have something equally beautiful up their sleeves for their next project.
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