Goddamn, I love novelty items. You know, those bizarre, kinda useless products that shouldn’t exist, but somehow they blessedly do. A wonderful part of my job is I get to try these devices out. And the latest to grace my desk? The Cotodama Lyric Speaker.
Yeah, I hear you. What’s so unusual about a speaker? Or lyrics? It’s not like it’s a notebook that charges your phone or anything.
Well, if you’re still questioning the novelty value, I suggest you watch the video above to find out why the Cotodama Lyric Speaker is so… different.
But what about for the people reading? How does it work?
As the name suggests, it’s a speaker that displays animated lyrics during a song, something it does with a clever (and cool-looking) bit of projection technology. The thing is, this baby’s expensive – four-and-a-half-thousand-dollars expensive.
So how do you use it?
As with almost everything these days, you start with an app. Once you’ve downloaded the imaginatively titled “Lyric Speaker App,” you can connect the device itself to wi-fi. From there, you can use AirPlay, Spotify Connect, or the Lyric Speaker App (which pulls music from your local library) to play tunes. Remember though, this is not a Bluetooth speaker.
I’d say it only took me about 10 minutes to set it up and start playing music, which isn’t too shabby at all.
How well does the Cotodama Lyric Speaker show, uh, lyrics?
It’s somewhere between breathtaking and incompetent. As the video at the top of the article shows, sometimes the Cotodama Lyric speaker does a magnificent job of finding the right lyrics and displaying them in a vibrant, dynamic way. Other times, it’s just a complete mess.
First off – and surprising no one at all – lyrics are more likely to appear for songs by big bands or artists. Still, I was impressed with the Lyric Speaker’s song library (which numbers in the millions), as a large number of tracks have lyrics. Finding songs it doesn’t have on the library is easy, but all the expected bases are covered.
Secondly, it did far better than I thought it would with lyrics in other languages. In the video, we tested it with Korean (BTS’ Fake Love) and Icelandic (Sigur Rós’ Svefn-g-englar), with both bringing up accurate results.
In all honesty, even though they’re big songs by famous artists, I didn’t expect the Cotodama Lyric Speaker to find any of these, so hats off.
What about the lyrics’ animation?
It’s best seen in the video, but, honestly, it’s a mixed bag. I found a lot of pop and classic rock songs worked best with the animations overall. My rationale for this is that the vocals tend to fall more on the beat, and the music isn’t too high tempo – all of which makes it easier to animate.
Not all music falls into these categories though, and the Cotodama Lyric Speaker didn’t do as well with songs that were faster or had a more off-kilter vocal style (like rap or a lot of indie music).Much of the time, this came out a complete mess:
Another issue I came across was the speaker cones blocking the screen, and obscuring lyrics – which happened continually:
Wow. But how does it sound?
Decent. It pumps out a fair amount of noise, and delivers a rich sound. But – and this is a key point – it definitely doesn’t sound like a speaker that costs almost five thousand dollars. To be honest, it doesn’t sound as good as a three thousand dollar speaker. I assume a big reason for this is the product was designed foremost to display lyrics, not for crystal clear sound.
Still, I imagine the people who are looking to buy this device aren’t out for only a superior audio experience.
So, who’s the Cotodama Lyric Speaker for then?
Someone with some cash to burn and who wants a speaker that’s different.
So here’s the rub: the Cotodama Lyric Speaker is badass, but it also sucks. I really enjoyed using it, and it’s not like any other product I’ve tested. Despite this, it’s expensive, has serious design flaws, and doesn’t always work like it should all the time.
But, you know what? I love it. I truly, deeply do. It’s insane, ridiculous, and exactly the type of technology I like in my life.
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Published February 13, 2019 — 15:33 UTC