(Pocket-lint) - Cleer Audio showed us its Crescent smart speaker during CES 2020. It was only an early version, but it's a striking-looking thing that'll go up against the Apple HomePod and numerous soundbars and soundbases - it's going to be priced at $600/£600 when it goes on sale in August.
It certainly gave out some remarkable virtual surround audio when we listened to it - you'd never have guessed the audio came from a one-box setup.
Although Cleer hasn't yet announced which digital assistant the speaker will use, Cleer's other products use Google Assistant so it isn't a big leap to suggest we'll see it appear here, too.
Cleer Audio's Patrick Huang says that the company wanted to challenge the notion that home speakers should be clunky towers or boxy soundbars.
"We wanted the aesthetics of our smart speaker to provide the same emotion when you look at it that we get when we put on a favourite album." It's certainly a distinctive, sleek shape, while final colours are still under consideration.
There are certainly some punchy speakers inside the unit with eight 40mm custom full-range drivers and two 3.3-inch subwoofers.
There's also full support for all the common audio formats (including Hi-Res) as well as streaming from online music services. Spotify Connect is supported, as is Google Chromecast and Apple's AirPlay 2. Plus there's a 3.5mm aux connector in addition to optical if you want to connect up a wired source.
The Cleer Crescent uses Dysonics SoundShaping tech to achieve the surround sound effect - several different modes are available that can be controlled in-app. Wide Stereo Mode is designed to mimic a more traditional hi-fi setup, while the aforementioned room-filling mode is designed to do more that.
Finally, a clever 3D Immersive Mode uses beamforming tech (like that used in modern Wi-Fi gear) to direct the sound toward a particular location in the room, creating an ideal sweet spot for the sound.
That's an interesting idea if you'll often be in the same place, but we'd have thought you'll always want a wider soundstage with a product like the Cleer Crescent simply because it'll probably be located in a living space where you often move around.
However, as Cleer points out, this could be good for certain types of scenarios such as watching a movie or console gaming where you'll likely be sat still for a time.