“Er, what’s that?” It’s the very first thing my son asks me when he walked into the home not too long ago after a number of months away.
The item he was inquiring about seems to be like a pointed oval with a diamond-shaped entrance and isn’t, as my spouse suggests, an alien dinosaur egg. Although, admittedly that may have been cool.
In truth, it’s an Obsidian, a transportable wi-fi sensible speaker from Pantheone, an Australian firm that has emerged to problem the established order within the multi-room audio market. The Obsidian is the model’s second providing, with the primary being the suitably named Pantheone I which is bigger and at £2,399, costlier. Although at £1,199, the Obsidian is much from a finances selection.
That includes Alexa integration, Apple Airplay 2 and a 15-hour battery life, the Obsidian seems to be to mix nice sound with type. Streaming companies supported are Spotify, Amazon Music, Tidal, TuneIn, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Napster.
Google followers will be aware that Chromecast help is notable by its absence. It does really feel extra like an Apple-friendly system at current however in dialog with the corporate it was hinted, although not confirmed, that Google Chromecast help might arrive by way of a firmware replace in some unspecified time in the future. Within the meantime, nevertheless, you’ll be able to nonetheless use Spotify Join inside the Pantheone app to beam music on to the speaker from an Android cellphone.
You can even use Bluetooth and codec help contains SBC, AAC and AptX. Once more although, Android customers is perhaps disenchanted that AptX HD isn’t current.
Whereas some might nitpick on the spec, design-wise the Obsidian is successful. Eschewing the standard, boxy form of most multi-room audio system, the Obsidian’s curves and angles draw the attention with out overwhelming a room. It has a presence however can be stylish and understated.
Anybody available in the market for a wi-fi sensible speaker lately has a variety of choices to select from so it’s clear that Pantheone is aiming massive. As such, the Obsidian must be good.
Whereas the value is comparatively excessive, a lot of the associated fee will little question come right down to the truth that every Pantheone speaker is hand-made. Constructed of a sculpted, polished resin I’m unsure I really like the way it feels to the contact, nevertheless it actually feels very properly put collectively. At 65cm excessive 46cm huge and simply over 43cm deep, the Obsidian is bookshelf pleasant – although as 5Kg is had higher be a robust shelf.
You’ll solely have to fret in regards to the really feel while you transfer it although, which is inspired because it accommodates a battery rated for 15 hours. I by no means managed to run that down utterly throughout my testing so it must be lengthy sufficient to all however the longest events. It costs shortly too when plugged in. Observe that should you depart it unplugged with no exercise it’ll flip off after half-hour to protect energy and you’ll have to press the small button on the rear to show it again on once more.
The entrance is roofed by an acoustically clear mesh with a triangular-shaped diamond. That is extra noticeable within the white model slightly than the black, each of which I used to be despatched to check. There are buttons on the entrance, + and – for quantity, an “M” to modify between inputs (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Aux-in), and a circle to manually activate Alexa. Whereas the buttons seemed minimal, they use haptic suggestions to make a sound when pressed, however this has a delay which for me was an unsatisfying feeling.
Behind the detachable cloth cowl, the Obsidian accommodates a single 4.5in driver that digs right down to 55Hz and two side-facing tweeters that go as much as 22KHz, it’s all powered by a 40W Class-D amplifier. Codec help contains MP3, AAC, ALAC, APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, and OGG as much as 24-bit 192KHz, however solely when performed utilizing the Pantheone app. Airplay 2 nevertheless, is restricted to 24-bit/48KHz.
The Obsidian helps 5GHz and a pair of.4GHz Wi-Fi (there isn’t a Ethernet) and by default, it’ll hook up with a 5GHz community, to extend the soundness of hi-res audio streaming. If you wish to use 2.4GHz, it must be obtainable as a separate community and chosen manually.
Set-up proved to be easy. It shortly related to my Wi-Fi community and my Alexa account, and I had two of them up and operating in minutes. With Airplay on my iPhone, I used to be capable of synchronize audio from Apple Music with two present Airplay units I already and together with the 2 Obsidian’s my downstairs was quickly stuffed with music. I used to be party-ready! All I wanted now was some associates, however sadly, Pantheone doesn’t provide these. Oh properly. A minimum of when you’ve registered your speaker with Amazon you’ll be able to discuss to your speaker and check out Alexa’s many hilarious expertise. OK, I would have to get out extra.
In on a regular basis use, I discovered the Obsidians dependable and steady by way of availability over Wi-Fi. I did encounter one glitch the place one of many audio system supplied up a brand new firmware which then constantly failed once I tried to improve however after one message to help by way of the app this was fastened the subsequent day and after a fast reset, I used to be again up and operating.
As with Airplay, pairing two Obsidians within the app was fast and straightforward, and when you accomplish that, you’ll be able to management the amount of every unit collectively or individually. When linked you too can make one unit taking part in simply the left channel or the fitting, which permits them for use as a pair to ship a wider stereo soundstage for music or to make use of as TV audio system. Observe that they don’t provide help for spatial audio – for that it’s a must to look to its bigger and pricier sibling, the Pantheon I.
To check the left and proper channel output function I used the observe Hey Bulldog by The Beatles. Whereas the band thought-about it a throwaway solely price inserting on their contractual obligation Yellow Submarine soundtrack, in typical Beatles vogue it’s nonetheless good, with high-energy piano, guitar and McCartney’s melodic bass beneath Lennon’s biting vocals. Additionally it is slightly oddly blended, with the opening piano ranged totally over to the left and the vocals solely on the fitting. As such, should you set each Obsidian’s audio system when paired as left channel solely, you get no vocals in any respect from the observe, till a minute in when a stereo background vocal kicks in. Professional tip: should you depart paired audio system taking part in one channel solely don’t neglect to revert them to stereo within the app earlier than you unpair them as this is not going to occur routinely, so you can find yourself messing up your music.
Sound high quality
So how do they sound? In a phrase, excellent. Whereas the dearth of high-res Bluetooth and the constraints of Airplay 2 imply that hi-res purists would possibly poke holes, this could be lacking the purpose. For transportable bookshelf audio system, these are super sounding.
The bass is highly effective and deep, and voices and mid-range instrumentation was offered with richness and depth. After all, my quick factors of comparability within the room have been the unique Amazon Echo system and a Google Residence Max, which aren’t any match by way of scale or worth, however the distinction in high quality was nonetheless evening and day. Whether or not I used to be listening to music or a podcast there was a richness, depth, and weight to the sound. It felt like I might hear what I used to be listening to for the primary time.
The app lets you change how the output relying on the speaker’s location, both in a nook, close to a wall, or in free area. This primarily adjustments the bass output, so it doesn’t get too boomy by reflecting off the partitions. There are additionally EQ controls although this merely consists of bass and treble controls.
With the audio system arrange as a stereo pair, issues get even higher. I used to be struck by the sheer energy and quantity these are able to producing – they put my first rate Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2 PC audio system to disgrace – although once more the value factors and measurement are vastly totally different. Queen’s Brighten Rock pulsated with depth, and I might select Brian Might’s overlapping multi-layered guitar riffs and my head began bopping when John Deacon’s bass kicked in. Freddie sounded majestic as he ought to. The one factor to do at that time was to take heed to One other One Bites the Mud, which sounded funky and tight with tight bass. The decay of the sound impact was conveyed with nice dimensionality.
The Pantheone Obsidian speaker delivers a strong and detailed sound and Alexa performance in a classy sculpted form. Whereas the value is excessive you’ll really feel you’re getting your cash’s price with wonderful sound high quality with sufficient heft to fill medium-sized rooms with ease. The addition of Google Chromecast help would sweeten the deal for Android customers, however that niggle apart, that is high drawer stuff and we look ahead to no matter is subsequent from Pantheone.