Ellula Hot Air Inflatable Portable Speakers
Company: Ellula Sounds Ltd.
Imagine audio system hardware that is software, or airware, or bloware, and you are heading in the direction of this unusual product. I noticed Ellula speakers mentioned in a recent Thursday feature in New York Times’ Circuits technology section, which I highly recommend.
My first set of HotAir inflatables was defective, and died while playing a Bob Dylan song. A replacement package just arrived, and these new speakers work as advertised.
Inside their colorful box are:
Once inflated, each speaker is roughly 9 inches tall and 7 inches in diameter. They are unconventional and amusing to the eye, and elicit “Whazzat?” from everybody who sees them.
Ellula suggests plugging into a powered audio out jack when available, but headphone jacks work fine. Let’s do a quick “can music fill the room?” comparison test, this time playing Bob Seager’s rousing rendition of “Katmandu.” I’ll be right back with the results.
LEGACY iMAC SPEAKERS (with Control Strip volume set in the middle) sound tinny and annoying.
HOT AIR SPEAKERS using headphone jack (same computer volume level) fill the room, but only when their HotAir amplifier is cranked all the way to maximum.
HOT AIR SPEAKERS using powered audio out jack (same computer volume level) are no louder than from headphone source.
Result: HotAir speakers produce equivalent volume as built-in iMac speakers.
Next let’s evaluate quality of sound.
iMAC SPEAKERS sound awful.
HOT AIR SPEAKERS sound okay, with emphasis on the midrange and very little substance in treble or bass.
But this comparison is unfair! Ellula’s HotAir units are no match for serious computer speakers, such as top-rated SoundSticks from Harman-Kardon. A much better relationship is with Imation’s RipGo, another portable MP3 player, or your favorite Macintosh iBook/PowerBook. For audio on the go, HotAir speakers have as much sound value as novelty value.
“Fun factor” is more appropriate than “quality factor” when using Ellula’s speakers. Bill Wagoner, president of Ellula USA, tells MyMac.com:
Although the focus of mymac.com may be geared towards a slightly more tech
savvy audience, our inflatable speakers are not. They are positioned as more of a fun, fashionable, portable — though completely electronically operable — piece of equipment, as opposed to a hi-fi unit. Of particular merit are HotAir’s portability and “novelty value,” as you call it. Thank you, however, for mentioning the soon-to-come Subwoofer, which will be
a much better product to compare to hi-fi and other tech products. Please tell your readers to expect a review of this new line of Ellula speakers before the end of this year.
Three caveats for more serious listeners: