These days, we're as obsessed with how we listen to our music as much as we are with the music itself. There seems to be a newer, shinier, fancier speaker on the market each day, and thankfully, a couple hundred dollars can get you a pretty decent sound system. If you don't mind supporting our evil billionaire overlord Jeff Bezos, Amazon's Alexa speakers start at just $35, and if talking gadgets aren't your speed—we get it, surveillance states are creepy—other brands like JBL and Bose can elevate your listening experience for around $200, and upward from there.
Somehow, $200 is a mere fraction of the price of the latest must-have Bluetooth speaker: iFi's Aurora. The stereo's main selling point is its ability to make the music you stream sound analog—yes, a digital device so advanced it's supposed to sound… not digital—but with its hefty price tag of $1,400, we're expecting clear skin and a perfect credit score, too. But we have a great idea: Rather than spending a pretty penny on a Bluetooth speaker with the clarity of vinyl, you could always just… buy a record player.
The Aurora is trying really hard to justify a $1,400 purchase on their special gadget, but can you blame them? In addition to its "PureEmotion technology," which according to the brand "delivers a sound that combines purity of tone with a high level of engagement, speed, and dynamic gusto," iFi wants you to fall in love with the speaker's stylish looks. Designed by French-product-designer-with-a-cool-name Julien Haziza, the Aurora is made of bamboo and aluminum and aesthetically inspired by the architecture in Tokyo. (Call us crazy, but the only thing better than supporting a French designer's take on Japanese designers would be supporting actual Japanese designers.)
iFi is often heralded as a leader in digital to analog converters, but how much does its "room-filling" technology matter if its price point would make the average person cringe? Aurora's specs list throws out terms like "SoundSpace" and "TrueBass," around as if not pressing the spacebar somehow makes it more worthy of your dollar.
All the talk about Aurora's attention to "scale and definition" is enough to make anyone wonder, does anyone at iFi know real people? We're listening to music in our kitchens and our bedrooms, not amphitheaters. For $1,400, you could book a much-needed vacation, buy a new laptop, or buy a shitton of records for your moderately priced record player. If you must spend a little bit more for a record player, there's always Pro-Ject's Debut Carbon for $399. There's truly nothing more analog than the real deal.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer for VICE.