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Circuit Breaker

Speaker company CEO leaves, puts high-tech competitor on Kickstarter

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A very stylish pair of speakers popped up on Kickstarter this week, promising to let listeners switch between Spotify, digital radio, and traditional radio using physical buttons and dials. That's neat, but what stands out the most is the speakers' retro design — and how closely they echo the retro design embraced by another company.

Here's one of the speakers from Kickstarter. It's called the Solo and comes from a new company called Como Audio:

como audio solo-news-Como Audio	Como Audio

And here's the Model One, by Tivoli Audio, first released in 2000:

tivoli audio model one-news-Tivoli Audio Tivoli Audio

There are definitely some differences, but the two radios are absolutely going for the same thing. And there's a pretty clear reason for why that is: both companies share the same founder. Tom DeVesto started Tivoli, ran it for over a decade, and then left last year. Now he's returned with a new company, Como, to make basically the same product, but a bit higher tech.

Tivoli now sells a Bluetooth-enabled version of its Model One speaker, but the Solo goes a bit further with Google Cast support and built-in Spotify. Being able to switch between those sources using physical buttons is definitely going to be handy, but there's a questionable tradeoff. The Model One is going to age much better — the Solo's display already looks pretty dull, at least from its Kickstarter photos — and Bluetooth offers most of the same options; it just means you'll have to open up an app on your phone.

Como is also launching a larger model called the Duetto:

como audio duetto-news-Como Audio	Como Audio

The Kickstarter campaign is looking to raise $50,000 to build the speakers. Solo units will retail for $299 and Duetto units will go for $399. For comparison, Tivoli's Model One with Bluetooth sells for $179.99.