This translucent Japanese speaker displays animated lyrics

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Music to our ears... and eyes

Japanese company COTODAMA recently made its visual lyric speaker available in the US, and the device features translucent screens that display a song’s lyrics as it plays. COTODAMA says it’s “the first lyrical listening speaker available to the public.”

First released in Japan last year, the COTODAMA Lyric Speaker features slick, minimal-looking housing made of translucent TFT LCD panels sandwiched between acrylic. There are two speakers on the front with a volume knob, and a circular disc on the back that holds the computer generating the displayed lyrics and graphics. Handmade in Japan, only 15 COTODAMA speakers are produced each month.

When music plays on the speaker, the back panel turns a milky white, and the front displays animated lyrics. The speaker’s technology is linked with SyncPower Corporation (PetitLyrics), Japan’s largest lyrics database. Once it recognizes a song, it analyzes the mood and its “expression engine” chooses fonts and animations accordingly. A slow love song, for example, might be interpreted with a delicate font that drifts across the speaker. If no lyrics are found, or an instrumental song is played, the speaker shows abstract graphics that animate in sync with the music. Regardless of what it shows, the overall effect is modern, eye-popping, and just plain cool.

Naturally, the speaker has an app to control it, which strangely only supports Wi-Fi and not Bluetooth. Since this isn’t something you’d likely be carting around, it’s not a big deal that it can’t connect solely to your smartphone, but it is a weird omission. If you’re using Android, only the Lyric Speaker app and Spotify are compatible, but the iOS version also supports Apple Music, Deezer, Google Play, SoundCloud, Youtube, and other services.

As far as performance, the speaker can play 96khz/24bit FLAC files, has a range of 40Hz to 40kHz, and has two coaxial loudspeakers and two drone cones.

COTODAMA’s lyric speaker is available now for $4,500 on fancy.com, and if you’re waffling on spending that much, they’re offering one-on-one Skype video demos to show it off.

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