Exceptional audio from 2021 iF Design Award winners
Announcing the 2021 winners of the Exceptional Audio Experiences category in the iF Design Award
Germany’s annual iF Design Award has long been a symbol for aesthetic quality, user-focused, ergonomic and efficient design in all disciplines, by prestigious companies from all over the world. The aim of the event is to celebrate ‘good industrial form’, drawing attention to particularly well-designed industrial products and communicating the importance of design and all it can achieve: for users, brands and communities.
Running since 1954, the iF Design Award has been presided over by judging panels including the likes of Dieter Rams, Richard Sapper, Franco Clivio, Stefan Diez and Paloma Picasso. It honours achievement across myriad design disciplines – product design, communication, packaging, service design, architecture, interior architecture, UI (user interface) and UX (user experience), all the way up to professional concept.
The 2021 panel received almost 10,000 submissions from 60 countries, and was encouraged to evaluate each category using iF’s guiding principles: to identify, support and promote good design; to raise awareness of design among the public and the role it plays in our lives; to help companies integrate design into their long-term strategies; to safeguard the role of professional designer and boost awareness for this job profile; to effect social change through design and support talented young people and create a public platform for young designers.
‘The clarity and role of design and communication are increasingly important to the way brands and businesses connect with their audiences,’ says iF juror Andy Payne, global chief creative officer at Interbrand. ‘We're not looking for just any packaging or message – we're looking for the exact presentation at the right time, in the context of our values, our beliefs, and the short- and long-term relationships we build with brands. But saying and showing that is not enough. Great design and communication today lie in the doing, the actual behaviour and physical manifestation. It's no longer only the idealised images with their contents, goals, manifestos, reasons for belief and propositions that we remember, but the reality of our experience.’
Here, we introduce the award-winning products in the iF Design Award’s Exceptional Audio Experiences category. For the best in wireless music systems, smart speakers, bluetooth-enabled earbuds, smart radios and more, listen up.
iF Design Award 2021 Exceptional Audio Experiences winners
Beosound Balance speaker
Design: LAYER x Benjamin Hubert
Nodding to a passion for music, design and craftsmanship, the Beosound Balance speaker is inspired by interior objects to redefine home audio. A soft, rounded silhouette uses materials such as solid oak and knitted textiles and hides an innovative user interface and seven carefully placed speaker drivers with beam-forming technology. Listeners choose between powerful, room-filling sound for everyday listening, and directional sound for precise and immersive music experiences.
Beosound Balance speaker
Design: LAYER x Benjamin Hubert
Nodding to a passion for music, design and craftsmanship, the Beosound Balance speaker by Bang & Olufsen (Denmark) is inspired by interior objects to redefine home audio. A soft, rounded silhouette uses materials such as solid oak and knitted textiles and hides an innovative user interface and seven carefully placed speaker drivers with beam-forming technology. Listeners choose between powerful, room-filling sound for everyday listening, and directional sound for precise and immersive music experiences.
Rarer R1 wireless turntable
Design: Wuhan Rarer Technology Co
This wireless turntable features a CNC-machined metal fuselage in a minimalist design. A number of technologies were used to offer precision circuitry, superior vinyl sound, a tube phono stage, Bluetooth, and FM radio, among other functions. The Rarer R1 is equipped with active stereo speakers and 50W power output, checking all the boxes for a first-class integrated HiFi sound system.
Loewe klang s smart radio
Design: Loewe Technology
Loewe’s klang s smart radio offers radio broadcasts, podcasts, and AoM services, plus a CD drive. Their slim dimensions present a small footprint, ideal for use in smaller rooms, brushed aluminum housing equipped with raised-profile buttons and an illuminated rotary control covered with matching acoustic fabric. Despite the small size, this compact device delivers powerful sound.
Harman Kardon Citation 200 smart speaker
Design: Harman International
In the living room or in the garden, the Harman Kardon Citation 200 portable smart speaker is all about delivering beautiful, premium sound. Stream music indoors in HD quality using Wi-Fi or take the music outside with Bluetooth streaming and eight hours of continuous playback. Sophisticated and stylish, the speaker’s features include AirPlay and Chromecast built in. Google Assistant provides hands-free help in and around the home. IPX-4 splash-proof and wrapped in blended wool fabric, the design looks at home anywhere.
HomePod mini smart speaker
Apple's HomePod mini powerful smart speaker delivers breakthrough sound. At just 3.3in tall, it features a full-range driver, dual force-cancelling passive radiators, and an acoustic waveguide that channels the sound down and out the bottom of the speaker for an immersive 360-degree experience. Combined with the Apple S5 chip and advanced software, HomePod Mini uses computational audio to deliver peak performance. The speaker is wrapped in a recycled, seamless mesh fabric designed for its acoustic performance. It also features an intelligent assistant and smart home capabilities, and comes in space gray and classic Apple white.
LG Eclair sound bar
Design: LG Electronics
This small and compact sound bar Eclair by LG is equipped with the big sound of 3.1.2ch upward Dolby Atmos for extraordinary audio. Available in black or white, the ultra-small but highly effective, solid, round form factors in a mix of interior-friendly fabrics that helps the device blend in with contemporary home decors. Fabrics are made from sustainable materials, including recycled water bottles, while the housing is crafted from recycled plastics.
Sony WF-XB700 wireless headset
Design: Sony Corporation
The first truly wireless headphones in Sony’s Extra Bass series, the WF-XB700 offer deep, punchy sound. These headphones are equipped with a large driver unit, 12mm in diameter, to deliver both seriously powerful low-end sound and clear high-end sound. IPX4 rating water-resistance makes these headphones perfect for working out – the user can enjoy great quality music without having to worry about the sweat. The earbuds are ergonomically designed for a secure, comfortable fit.
Casarte smart speaker
Design: Haier Innovation Design Center
The Casarte smart speaker by Haier has been designed for a high-end user group, featuring professional and intelligent voice control and a smart, simple protocol for connecting to household appliances. The speaker controls appliances, pushes messages, offers intelligent customer service, functions as a life assistant, answers information queries, and more. The wide-angle shape distributes the sound across a space. The strong bass adds depth.
Sharp soundbar system
Design: Sharp Corporation
As lifestyles have changed to adjust to the new normal, many people are spending more time at home with their families. Within this new lifestyle, the theatre bar system SHARP 8A-C22CX1 aims to provide an immersive, home sound quality that matches the high-definition visual quality of 8K broadcasting. In order to realise a stereophonic system, Sharp adopted a new technology called Opsodis that creates 360-degree stereophonic audio using only a front speaker and a subwoofer. With this simple system, the user can experience a powerful and immersive experience like no other at home.
JBL LIVE 460NC headphones
Design: Harman Design Center
Slip on a pair of JBL LIVE 460NC wireless on-ear noise-cancelling headphones to boost your productivity. JBL Signature Sound immerses you in your playlist and keeps you in the moment with adaptive noise-cancelling technology to block out ambient sounds. Ambient Aware gives you total environmental perception while TalkThru enables quick chats without the need to remove the headphones. Easily access Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa with a tap on the ear cup or even just talk to activate the former with Google hot word and device action enabled.
Galaxy Buds Live wireless earbuds
Design: Samsung Electronics Co
Galaxy Buds Live are the Samsung’s Galaxy brand’s first open-type earbuds. Designed to ensure a comfortable fit with their ergonomic design and to provide smart experiences in daily life for both work and leisure, the highest priority is placed on achieving a design to snugly fit inside the ear with minimal protrusion. The earbud’s cradle was designed to distance itself from the look and feel of an electronics product, to ensure optimal portability, and to provide a comfortable and pleasant grip. Various accessories offered by third-party partners can be attached and detached for a personalised touch.
Bose QuietComfort wireless earbuds
Design: Bose Design Team
The QC Earbuds combine the world's most advanced acoustic and noise-cancelling technology with a wireless form that lets users enjoy astonishing audio anywhere. Creating silence allows more richness and detail in music, podcasts, cinema audio and the spoken word. The noise-cancelling technology also allows users to choose when they want to hear the world through transparency mode, or a custom level of noise-cancelling that suits them. Bose's QuietComfort earbuds offer superior comfort, stability and audio performance.