Smartphones are great but they’re not designed to fill a room with sound. Sure there’s a speaker, but turn on the kettle and you can forget about hearing it. BBC podcasts are the worst: they don’t use dynamic range compression and they allow about 8dB of headroom. That’s good practice for radio engineering, sure, but it’s useless when straining to hear Melvin Bragg with headphones on a busy street, or on speaker in a busy kitchen*.
Mobile devices are designed to be used with headphones – but it would be nice to be able unplug and still hear clearly.
That’s why I love the idea of these passive amplifiers from Italian company Ecotono. Think funnels, loud-hailers, gramophones. Think 1930s movie directors shouting: “cut”! Think gorgeous colours and shiny ceramic. Think ‘mouse’!
Designed by Luca Centofante for Ecotono, the amplifiers don’t use power or connect electrically or wirelessly with the devices. The sound is simply amplified acoustically, by a factor of 5.5.
These passive amplifiers are designed to fit all iPhones except iPhone 6. The manufacturers plan to develop adaptors to allow them to be used with a wider range of phones. They can be used to listen to media, and also for hands free conversations.
The PHONO range pictured at the top of the page is available in 8 colors: white, brown, silver, beige, fuchsia pink, red, deep red and blue. The MOUSY is available in 6 colors: white, gray titanium, red, fuchsia pink, green and dark green.
Ecotono also make Bluetooth amplifiers and other tech accessories.
Ecotono passive amplifiers are available from French online retailer KSL Living. The site is in French only, however, so be careful!