Date:   October 1, 2014
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This concept project was one of three won by DCA at the 2014 RedDot Design Awards. As a keen guitarist myself, Amped was a thought I had been bouncing around in my head for a number of years. In 2013 I started playing around with a few ideas and it eventually grew into the winning concept seen here.

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Amped is a new way for guitarists to rock out in the comfort of their own home. It balances a highly visual and intuitive interface with a stripped back design tailored for superior sound quality. This culminates in a bespoke home-use amplifier and takes it away from the stage for the first time.

The idea for Amped was driven by the lack of options available for guitarists who predominantly play in their own homes. Existing amplifiers are great for on stage but when they’re taken into the home, the dramatic change in environment completely alters how they are used; sound distribution becomes very narrow, on-the-fly setting changes are awkward and their bulky appearance becomes inherently challenging. Consequently, the design for Amped was driven on three fronts; great sound, simple usability and considered aesthetic.

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Built from the ground up, the concrete body is the canvas for great sound quality. The density and rigidity of concrete is acoustically superior to almost any other material and provides a great platform for mounting the two-way stereo speaker array. This speaker array allows frequencies from the guitar and any backing tracks to be handled independently. When combined with the open-backed design this ensures evenly distributed and quality sound.

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Visually engaging, clear and tactile control was always the intention for Amped. It doesn’t rely on static dials; instead it uses a stand-alone touch remote to control all aspects of the sound and settings. Both the speaker grill and remote interface are made of luminous fabric; a textile with inter-woven LEDs. This fabric allows a unique interface to be created which is visually inspired by the oscillation of soundwaves and guitar strings. Sensors in the remote detect where the user is deforming the fabric and allow for tactile control of the amp. Sound settings, effects, amplifier modelling and tuning can all be controlled at a touch.

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The connectivity of Amped also extends to smartphones and WiFi, allowing simple access to the user’s music collection for listening or jamming along to. The addition of wireless guitar jacks provide a cable-free experience, giving the user a new sense of freedom.

Aesthetically, Amped references the inherent geometry and appeal of existing amplifiers but packages it in a more slender, subtle and refined form. These nuances create something recognisable as an amplifier but one which sits comfortably in the home.

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