I felt like I was walking into a Monty Python segue — “And now for something completely different”. I guess that was what the Madison Fielding folks were going for, showing at AXPONA with a pair of house plants wired into a Parasound amplifier. Guess what? They’re more than a little bit awesome.
If you’re like me, you own a home. Nothing wrong with you if you don’t, but at this point in my life, it made sense to do it so why the hell not. Anyway, I live in an area of the country where it is actually nice to be outside occasionally. Maybe out on my patio, say. Which is fine and all, but getting tunes out there usually means an iPod plugged into a portable boom box. It works, what can I say. Sure, I could have gotten some outdoor Polk Audio speakers, or maybe something wireless, and bolted them to the eaves or something. Let’s just say that with these as the solutions on offer, my SO isn’t ready to prioritize this particular project.
But here’s this thing. It’s a planter. Seriously. You can plant stuff in there — and the Madison Fielding folks fully expect you to do it. There’s drainage and everything. It’s also solid — these things are actually meant to be put outside. And left there. In winter. No problems? Nope, none. The cable terminals are all tucked away and with some weatherproof sleeves, you’re really ready to roll. They’re entirely passive, so the sound quality will vary depending on your electronics. Me, I’m thinking that the multi-zone outputs of my Marantz in the living room might work just fine (I just have to find some way to lay all that cable without violating the “no clutter” rule for the “public spaces” in the house. But you could totally stick an integrated somewhere tidy and protected and have yourself a real system, and depending on your cleverness with the cable run, you’ll have one that is totally invisible to the casual observer. The has “practical joke” written all over it, but that’s not even the half of it. The speakers here at AXPONA, from their Flagstone series, are actually pretty good.
I’m sure part of that has to do with the 10″ down-firing Eminence woofer tucked up inside the cabinet, but whatever. There’s two versions of this particular design, one with traditional stereo sound and one that can do a wider dispersion (because of a second side-firing speaker array) for either 90- or 180-degrees, you know, for that free-standing middle-of-the-yard sound field. Sure, there’s going to be a drop off in sound-quality the farther afield you move, both from the speaker and from the traditional in-room setup, but sitting at a normal distance, I was told that the free-air sound is pretty close to what we were hearing in Chicago.
Again, not my first expectation for what I’d find at an audio show, but I really like being surprised — and I was. 100% no problem with the WAF issue (there are several styles to choose from) and the speaker actually solves a real problem — great sound for the rest of your home.
I’ll be honest, I have never seriously thought about architectural designs in any context, but I’m seriously considering asking for a review pair. Yeah, really. I can totally see a pair of these on my deck. And Spring is finally here ….