Selfridges & GQ present: 
The future of sound

What are the audio innovations that will define the world of tomorrow? We've teamed up with the guys at British GQ and R&B star Aeris Roves to bring you the latest in future-forward tech. Tune in…

Consider this: before 1877 we had no way of recording sound. Great performances – whether that was a rousing political speech, a reading from an era-defining novel or an orchestral tour de force – were entirely ephemeral. To hear them, you had to literally be in the room. The short period of history since then, however, has been like an evolutionary aeon. From the electric loudspeakers of the ’20s via the digital experiments of the ’70s to the celestial jukeboxes of Spotify et al that dominate today, a run of disruptive ideas have fundamentally changed our culture. So where will sound’s pioneers go next? Read on as we take a look into the future of sound…

Augmented reality audio

What if you could augment reality with sound? That’s the premise behind Bose Frames, a pair of Bluetooth-connected sunglasses that beam sound directly into your ears through built-in sensors and a pair of hidden speakers. What's more, Bose is working with developers on ’augmented reality audio’ apps, which allow you to access content through simple head movements, so you don’t need to talk or look at a screen. Genius.

Sustainable materials

With sustainability becoming a key focus for many brands, tech companies are offering a host of new planet-friendly options. Take the Liberate Air earbuds by House Of Marley, which are exclusive to Selfridges. Fashioned from bamboo, wood fibre and recycled plastic – plus ’bioplastic‘ derived from plant starch – they’re pitching themselves as the eco-conscious alternative to standard ’phones. 

”I think it’s all going wireless. It’s just less fuss – you haven’t got to worry about coiling, or cables fraying or breaking.”

Aeris Roves

Return of the DJ

When was the last time you went to a house party with a DJ? Professionally crafted playlists are now so good – and so readily available – that streaming has largely ejected decks and crossfaders from the premises.

“It’s about curation. If you go to a high-end clothes store, you’ve got the best person curating the selection of clothes. If you’ve got a DJ who knows what they’re doing, the selection of music is going to be a bit better. And, with a DJ, you have that human input – they are able to adapt to whatever’s going on.” 

Aeris Roves 

Now, however, a counter revolution is afoot, bringing the fight to pre-set playlists with affordable, easy-to-use, professional-level kit. Pioneer’s DDJ-200 DJ controller is a case in point. Not only does it offer the essentials – jog wheels, three-band EQ, a crossfader – it comes with a whole host of helpful features to give newbies a head start. But perhaps its most important asset is that it answers the question most relevant to those starting out: “Do I need to buy a whole load of tracks?” Absolutely not: the DDJ-200 is built for streaming. Simply plug in your smartphone, fire up a music source such as Spotify or Deezer, and you can mix straight from your own library. 

NFC connectivity

Traditionally, if you wanted to stream over Bluetooth, you would have to ‘discover’ the speaker and pair it manually. Fiddly, right? Well, Near Field Communication (NFC) removes that friction – just tap the phone to the speaker and you’re done. Simple. You can see NFC at work in products such as Samsung’s QLED Serif TV. Whether free-standing or wall mounted, this set is all about stripping away the less desirable aspects of home tech – it is styled like a design object rather than a dark slab and can display artwork to blend in with the household environment.

Prosumer audio

In Aeris’s music there are little details that you wouldn’t notice without a decent audio kit. “It’s usually little synth melodies in the background,” he says, “or background vocals that we’ve pushed wide in the mix.” Fortunately, professional-level audio technology is now widely available. Take the buds in the Shure KSE 1200 Electrostatic Earphone System, which use ’electrostatic drivers’ to minimise audio distortion. Or, for serious, ultra-dense sound, we love the Devialet Gold Phantom Premier, which produces sound so loud its internal acoustic pressure is 174dB – 6db shy of a rocket launch. And for a neat, user-friendly wireless system with high-end stereo, try the KEF Michael Young Special Edition LSX Speakers. That's you covered.

The rise and rise of noise-cancelling headphones    

In the past, noise cancellation was rare, expensive and battery-draining. But how things have changed… One of our standout noise-cancelling headphones is the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3. Not only does it come with three active noise-cancellation modes tailored to different environments, it also includes ’transparent hearing’ so you can stay aware of what’s going on around you (perfect if you’re out and about). Also check out the Kygo A11 (exclusive to Selfridges), which offers an uninterrupted 19 hours of wireless playing time when in noise-cancellation mode, plus a whole host of other au courant features. NFC pairing, an HD microphone for phone calls, voice control – it has the lot. 

“It allows me to listen to my music wherever I am. It lets me switch off and tune in: be it on a train, be it on a plane, be it when I’m walking – it allows me to focus on the music rather than what’s going on around me.”

Aeris Roves