OM-1 Cassette Synth
This is a lovely little toy, if you can call a $285 piece of kit a toy. Built in New Orleans by designer Scott Campbell, the OM-1 is a low-key mellotron-style instrument with a digital twist. You pop a cassette into the modified Sony cassette player, connect it up to the external synthesizer and use buttons and knobs to generate wheezy sounds that have a distinctive Strawberry Fields Forever quality. Some might question why you’d restrict yourself to an instrument that only has eight notes, but sometimes the best sounds emerge from the most limited resources.
Bose Speaker Cube
I remember the thrill of getting an electronics set when I was nine years old, spending afternoons connecting resistors and capacitors to construct a radio (among other things). I had no idea what I was doing, and I ultimately failed to become an electrical engineer, but it stimulated a curiosity in how things work. That’s the spirit Bose are trying to tap into with their BOSEbuild series, and the first product is a high-performance Bluetooth speaker that you assemble yourself. The finished item is a bit big, and at $149 it’s expensive for what it is, but it’s not so much about the speaker as the journey it takes you on.
Bluetooth Tennis Balls
You wait weeks for an unusual speaker to come along and then two arrive at once. If you’ve ever wondered what happens to all the used tennis balls at the end of professional tournaments, at least a few hundred have been transformed into the Hearo. With a speaker mounted on the top and a switch on the underside, they’re a dignified retirement for balls whose working days are over.