One company has polished that idea so much that the phrase "crystal clear sound" will now have a different meaning.
ClearView Audio has come up with a speaker made of acrylic glass. It's called Clio.
HOW IT WORKS: Clio uses a single piece of curved acrylic glass that is a millimeter (0.04 inch) thick. It sits on a dock, which holds the glass in place and vibrates it in a finely tuned way so that it can play music.
CHOICE OF MATERIAL: Such a speaker could be used with any type of material, but glass produced the right sound and is thin, making future applications possible.
"You can excite any material if you energize it," vice president and co-founder Allan Evelyn says. "What is difficult is to make it sound good."
IN PRACTICE: The speaker can receive music using a Bluetooth wireless connection or through a cable plugged into its 3.5 millimeter jack.
In a demo, the glass speaker produced excellent sound when connected to a song stored on an iPhone. The sound goes in both directions - toward the concave and convex sides of the glass. Touching it, or even scratching it, doesn't alter the sound quality, although that might harm its design aesthetic.
TARGET AUDIENCE: The Waltham, Mass., company is marketing the Clio to tech-lovers and home decor experts for $349. It's expected to ship in late March.