Neatly-styled soundbase speaker sets out to eliminate the sonic sweet spot
The country that gave us democracy, philosophy and, er, ouzo may be in an economic jam but Greece isn’t finished yet. Native brand Crystal Acoustics has what it hopes is a major contribution to home cinema in the form of WiSound. Developed in conjunction with boffins at the University of Patras, this tech claims to up the ante for audio from a single-box product.
Crystal Acoustics is now selling direct to UK consumers the Teevy 6 soundbase, one of its new Reference Wireless Series of speakers that uses WiSound. Its inventors claim WiSound can create an ‘incredibly dispersive, dynamic and consistent audio delivery throughout every part of a room.’ Let’s hope it’s not a Trojan Horse.
Point your browser at Crystal Acoustics’ website and you’ll discover no shortage of information about the research and development of WiSound, which meets the ANSI/CEA-2034 latest industry standard for loudspeakers. In a nutshell, a combination of full-range, midrange and high-frequency drivers are placed at the sides and at the front of the speaker. Throw in some DSP jiggery-pokery to balance the split between direct and reflected sounds and the result is a 'Balanced Directivity Response' with wide dispersion in the horizontal and vertical plane, plus an extremely flat in-room response. In WiSound world the sweet spot is where you keep your Baklava [that's enough Greek gags now – Ed], and wherever you sit or stand in the room you should hear exactly the same sound. Which is quite a claim.
At 80cm wide the Teevy 6 is one of two soundbases in the Reference Wireless Series portfolio (the smaller Teevy 5 is 60cm wide). Both models can be mounted horizontally on a table top or, it's suggested, vertically mounted on a wall. Be warned that screens that are over 42in without pedestal stands won’t fit on it, but you can always tuck the soundbase on a shelf in your AV stand.
Selling direct to the public, Crystal Acoustics aims to provide decent-quality products at affordable prices. Its designs are good, while build quality is usually up to scratch and commensurate with the price tag. The Teevy 6 is no different, being rather nice to look at, with a rock-solid enclosure made from MDF and a fabric grille across the front and sides. There’s no display window, just a single LED light behind the grille. The only design flourishes are slightly curved front edges and an aluminium plate embossed with the name of the product and the WiSound logo.
The speaker array consists of four 2in drivers, two forward-facing and two on the sides, plus two 5.15in subwoofers on the underside. Socketry is all around the back, and comprises a single digital optical input, 3.5mm aux and stereo analogue inputs, plus the power input. There’s also a USB for charging smartphones, etc, which is not located in the most accessible place. Another gripe is that the sockets aren’t recessed so you’ll see all your cables dangling down if wall-mounting the unit.
The perfunctory design ethos extends to the miniature credit-card remote with blister buttons for volume, mute, inputs and Bluetooth pairing (audio streaming of the CD-quality apt-X variety is provided).
Soundbases don’t get much simpler to operate than the Teevy 6 (the colour of the LED confirms its status) and it’s no slouch in responding to commands from the remote.
WiSound’s claim about delivering widely dispersed sound proves justified. With both music and video I would say that the effect is not such that you don’t sense the direction of the source, more that it doesn’t vary in its intensity and directionality as you move around the room, including variable heights. The sweet spot hasn’t so much gone as been spread about.
However, that evenly-dispersed sound has some good qualities but in no way do you feel that individual effects emanate from anywhere other than the central speaker opposite you. There's no magic surround sound trick here.
More noticeable is an unevenness in response through the dynamic range, specifically an over-enthusiastic and bloated bass. At the start of sci-fi sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Blu-ray) the sounds of the storm come across highly detailed, including the rain, thunder and breathing of Caesar in the forest. The ‘oooh, oooh’ of the apes jumping through the canopy transports you easily to the woods, and, as they chase the deer, the rumble of hooves and high-pitched simian screams are all delivered with appreciable clarity. The growl of the bear as it emerges from the undergrowth, however, lacks finesse, and as the apes ride back through the forest to their camp the bass drum effect is simply too strong and lacks subtlety. Mid- and high-frequency sounds such as Maurice the orangutan nattering to the young 'uns, and Caesar's sighing, are more nuanced and effective.
Musically, the Teevy 6's bass weight is also prone to impairing the overall goodness done by the smaller drivers. Champions of Red Wine by the New Pornographers (streamed at CD-quality via Tidal) has lovely smooth vocals and a lively synth, but the bass feels a bit flabby at times.
Overall, then, the Teevy 6 is a mixed bag. Its dispersion is indeed highly impressive and mid-to-high frequencies have good clarity. You can crank it up loud without fear of distortion, and the styling (and price point) are attractive. Yet the lack of bass management is something of an Achilles' heel.
Crystal Acoustics Teevy 6
Price: £270 approx
Highs: Widely dispersed sound; solid construction; easy to use; good clarity; apt-X Bluetooth streaming
Lows: Over-enthusiastic bass response; no bass management; no DD or DTS decoding
Drive units: 4 x 2in mid-range/tweeters; 2 x 5.15in subwoofers
Amplification (claimed): 100W
Connections: Optical digital audio input; 3.5mm input; USB input; stereo phono analogue input
Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD MA: No
Separate sub: No
Remote control: Yes
Dimensions: 800(w) x 95(h) x 305(d)mm
Weight: Not given
Features: Bluetooth apt-X; wall-mountable; 35Hz-27kHz claimed frequency response; WiSound wide dispersion; Class D amplifier; MDF enclosure
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