Have you ever dreamed of what it would be like to live in the dark, popcorn-scented and smoke-filled acoustic glory of a 1950’s movie theater? If you have somewhere between $18,500-$175,000 to spend on a stereo system, then your 1950s-nostalgia dreams could come true with a custom, handmade audio system from Oswalds Mill Audio, which are built with drivers from vintage theaters. (You might have to contract out the popcorn smell and pay someone to smoke in the corner in order to complete the ambience, but that’s totally worth it to experience Keyboard Cat in his full glory).
Oswald Mills Audio
Founder and CEO of OMA Jonathan Weiss says he fell into the HiFi business after studying international politics, then switched gears to direct a feature-length non-narrative film. He explains:
“Every major decision I have made in my life never felt like a decision at all. When people talk about decisions, I assume a process that involves careful consideration, weighing different factors and outcomes, and so forth. I’ve never done that. It always just seemed obvious what I should do…In short, it was another decision which just happened, it didn’t even need to be made.”
A huge part of his and OMA’s success can be attributed to his team, including, industrial designer David D’imperio. D’imperio espouses the “form follows function” ethos, something that can be seen in each of their designs:
“I’m working to stylize them and make them appealing and also so that they can be made.”
Each unit is built by hand using locally sourced materials- from the handmade walnut, ash, or cherry horns to the Pennsylvania slate turntable plinths to the Bethlehem, PA produced steel frames. The vintage drivers used in their speakers were produced across the river in New Jersey, an hour from OMA. Even the 200 year-old mill (yes, there is an actual reclaimed mill involved that OMA now uses as an event space and R+D center) is constructed of locally sourced wood and stone:
Here is a video from Jay Z’s Life+Times YouTube channel that gives some background on OMA and sheds some light on their process:
Currently, there are no plans for OMA to make any moves into the ‘more affordable’ mass-produced market—but I’m sure you can still find a guy to pay to smoke cigarettes and make you popcorn for cheap.
(Images via Oswalds Mill Audio)