For decades, sound engineers have worked to make home audio speakers better. The music in your living room, media center, wherever, is now concert hall quality.
Meanwhile, designers have tried to make the speakers themselves look nicer. They’re handsome — but not exactly works of art.
Unless they really are.
Soundwall is an innovative concept — and company — that marries original artwork with high fidelity audio. Framed art — or art made on creative surfaces — hangs on your wall. It plays rich sound. The entire canvas resonates — because the entire canvas is actually a speaker.
That’s not all. The artwork can play whatever music you wish, via any app — or audio (songs, interviews, anything) curated by the artist.
Soundwall art is handcrafted in Colorado. The office is in Tribeca. But its Westport roots are strong.
CEO Aaron Cohen has spent his career in media. A dotcom entrepreneur who sold 3 companies, he retired early and taught internet history at NYU. A year ago he and his wife Nina left the city, with their son and daughter.
They found a great house — with much more space than they were used to. “Any New Yorker could relate — we had empty rooms and empty walls,” Cohen recalls. “What goes there?”
Around the same time, 2 engineer friends in Boulder had created Soundwall. They asked Aaron and Nina to help.
The timing was fortuitous.
“When I looked under the hood, what I thought was a flat plane speaker company was much bigger,” he says. “I realized that the art I like the most is where I know the artist, or have a relationship with it. Soundwall was a chance to make ‘connected art’ — art that evolves, or is interactive, or takes its inspiration from its installation.”
Over the past year, Soundwall has evolved. The company now controls its own printing. They can make almost any size of artwork — and a variety of styles.
Cohen is particularly proud of a large format original Brigitte Bardot piece.
But a Westport couple also asked Cohen to turn their wedding into a Soundwall.
Soundwall’s evolution includes audio messages that go along with the artwork. So — in addition to choosing, say, a Spotify playlist — a piece can play words from the artist, or anything else he or she chooses to add.
“Art can fade into the background,” Cohen notes. “But when you add meditative music, or your own playlist, or an interview with the artist, you look at that artwork a lot more. It becomes much more immersive, and you become more engaged.”
Meanwhile, Soundwall has engaged art- and music-lovers far from Colorado, New York and Westport. Earlier this week, Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark sold his Soundwall photography at Christie’s in London.
That’s a few thousand miles from Westport. But sound travels fast.
And these days, Soundwall travels far.