Competent speakers, but something's missing
BLUE Aura is a relatively new name here. The British company was set up in 2010 by audio-industry veteran Nick Holland and focuses on audio systems that are either wireless or wireless-ready, allowing indoor entertainment systems to be set up easily.
Its X30 mid-range compact desktop wireless speakers - which come in white, black or Sahara - aim for a classy look, with a faux-leather finish.
But do they sound as good as they look?
The $500 X30 pair of speakers is fairly compact, measuring 17.5cm x 11.2cm x 14.5cm. Each speaker weighs 1.5kg. They connect to each other by way of Blue Aura's "Quick Connect" cable, which has a standard RJ-45 lead.
The speakers boast amplification of 48W (Class D) and a frequency range of 55Hz to 22kHz, with a single 3.5-inch main woofer and 0.7-inch tweeter in each speaker.
Wireless streaming of audio from a device to the speakers is done via a Bluetooth connection.
For mobile devices with near-field communication technology, simply tap them on one of the speakers to pair the two and begin streaming your favourite tunes.
There are more traditional connections available to hook up the speakers to a television set, for instance. There's also a subwoofer output if you need more bass.
Starting our audition with a recording of Spanish Harlem by Rebecca Pidgeon, we felt the speakers did a fairly good job with the introduction, rendering Pidgeon's vocals with a slight bit of warmth and a great deal of smoothness. We felt that the piece could have done with more separation, though, but the speakers generally turned in a good performance.
Moving on to a recording of Grandma's Hands by Livingston Taylor again reinforced the idea that these speakers do well with the mid-tones, giving an enjoyable rendition of the piece. However the track is one that tests for naturalness, and that's where the speakers falter a bit, as details like the snapping of fingers are a little lost in the presentation. There is a nice, round mid-bass tone to be found in the vocals though.
On our standard test tracks, the X30 seemed content to turn in "safe" performances. With Adele's Melt My Heart To Stone, for example, the X30 turned in a delivery that was slightly more neutral than we would have liked. Adele's vocals had just about enough weight to not be overwhelmed by the backing instruments, but the performance could have done with a touch more warmth.
Tiesto's Elements Of Life showed us again the promise of the X30, as it quite handily matches the attack on this fast-moving piece. The bass line packed a decent punch, but the bass on the speakers doesn't quite extend low enough, and so lacks the necessary depth to really get you moving. The mid-section of Elements Of Life is a fairly good test of the sound stage a speaker system is able to project and, in this case, we were left wanting.
Pieces with more focus on the mid to top end serve this set of speakers better, though. For example, Buckethead's Sail On Soothsayer features a fair amount of detail in the upper mid to high notes, and that allowed the X30 to deliver one of its better performances. Good detail on the high end, and good execution with the solo would be our takeaways from this piece, though we would like a bit more body.
While the X30 is a competent set of speakers that will handle many genres of music well, we can't help but feel that the tuning has left the speakers turning in a middling performance. It lacks ring on the high end and extension on the low end, so it seems to miss the defining quality that draws you back to it.
While it certainly does provide a good amount of features in terms of connectivity and reliability of connection, and is compact with a nice finish as well as built-in amplification, it could have performed slightly better in the audio aspect - especially since it commands a somewhat premium price of $500.