(Pocket-lint) - Check out Cambridge Audio's woolly mammoth. No, not because it's extinct, because this woollen-clad speaker delivers monstrously massive audio from its British-engineered six-speaker frame.
We've had the Yoyo L - the 'L' standing for 'Large', as there are Medium (M) and Small (S) models also available at lower price points - in the house for three months now, acting as our music speaker and, often, a savvy soundbar replacement beneath the telly.
After such extensive listening, here's why we think the Yoyo L is worth its £350 cover price.
Design and setup
- Google Chromecast built-in, setup with Google Home app on mobile (iOS and Android)
- Connections: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (NFC), HDMI ARC, 3.5mm AUX, S/PDIF Optical
- Dark or light grey wool cover (woven in Yorkshire, UK, by Marton Mills)
- Dimensions: 269 x 125 x 269mm / Weighs: 4.25kgs
- Remote control included in box
- Spotify Connect integrated
Out of the box and the Yoyo L encounters an early issue: its provided power cable is far too short. The same goes for the optical cable, but at least there's one included in the box. Silver linings and all that. You could replace the fig-8 power cable if it's too short for your needs, or use an extension lead. If you're linking the Yoyo to a telly, though, the close proximity will be perfectly fine.
But why hide it away under the feet of another black box? The Yoyo's woollen finish is a really interesting idea - like the early days of Libratone (a Scandinavian brand which, after globalising, ditched its woollen finishes due to lack of popularity in hot climate countries).
Still, we like the sentiment of Cambridge Audio keeping it within its British roots: the wool is woven by Yorkshire weavers Marton Mills (where the material is sourced from, however, we're waiting to have confirmed) to make the worsted cover. It's available in two greys rather than anything brightly coloured, sadly, but it does match a little too perfectly with our carpet (and you can see from our pictures).
In terms of connectivity, there's a variety of sockets tucked around the rear: HDMI (with ARC - audio return channel) makes for great TV linking with in-sync audio; 3.5mm AUX, useful for plugging in an external source on the fly; and Optical (cable included - like the power cable it's too short), also handy for TV sync. In these regards, the Yoyo is well set as a soundbar alternative with a wider-ranging musical reach.
Setting up the speaker is easy too. You can just plug in, switch on and you'll be done - but the Wi-Fi symbol will be forever flashing. For a full connection you'll want to download the Google Home app where the Yoyo can be setup with ease, pulling in 'castable' audio sources thanks to its built-in Google Chromecast. Use Google Music, use Spotify Connect, use what you please from a device source.
However, there's no distinct mobile app. We downloaded the Cambridge Connect app and this didn't do anything for us. Still, it's possible to use Google Home as a volume control should you not want to use the included remote. However, this physical remote is an essential because it's the only way to make EQ preset adjustments and sub bass level adjustments. We really think there should be duplicity here: an app that would handle everything, offer more equalisation options, along with the existing presets and bass controls. Alas, that's not possible. So it's like one foot in the now, one in the past.
Sound quality and presets
- Six speaker design: front- and side-mounted full-range drivers and woofers for immersive sound
- Four EQ presets via remote control: Music, Film, TV, Voice
- Sub bass control via remote control: +/-3
- No real app control (Google Home only)
Those four EQ presents - Music, Film, TV, Voice - are particularly important though. When first listening to the Yoyo we were somewhat disappointed with its sound quality, because we'd hit the 'Voice' preset - which is great for enhancing, say, newsroom chatter from a TV, but not much else.
Hit the 'Music' preset, however, and amp up the bass levels a couple of notches - shown by a +/-3 LED sequence on top of the product - and things begin to sing. The sense of immersive surround is strong, while bass levels boom without being uncontrollable. Our only criticism is some of the mid-level frequencies don't snap quite as crisply as we'd like.
If there were more EQ presets, or distinctive equaliser band controls, we think that minutiae controls would allow for far better crafting of audio output. As it stands the four keep things nice and simple, but we'd really like an app with that added control for additional crafting.
When setup under the telly, we've found the added bass boom from the Yoyo to really help movies along, adding extra levels above and beyond the TV speakers' output. It sounds good at lower volume levels, too, so it's not a one-trick pony in that regard either.
The Cambridge Audio Yoyo L is a lovely surprise. This woollen-clad box is a great alternative to a soundbar that's more versatile. It can crank out the music with chunky bass, too, making it an excellent alternative Sonos and the other, typically pricier, mainstays - and the Yoyo is £150 less than a Play 5.
There are some hiccups and shortcomings though: the short power cable, the lack of real app control, no more than just the four EQ presets, and no Ethernet/Bluetooth aptX compliance for higher-end users.
Overall, if you're looking for a versatile sound-box then this slice of British audio is an enticing alternative to the mainstays. Yes, the name is silly, but it should prove popular enough to not go extinct thanks to its impressive audio chops.
Sonos Play 5
Sonos is still hard to ignore, the better-looking Play 5 being a masterful speaker solution. It's pricey, though.