(Pocket-lint) - Bluetooth speakers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes these days. Spaced360 is something a little different: a three-pointed-star-shaped speaker capable of throwing sound out through 360-degrees. It embodies Orbitsound's Airsound technology which is designed to deliver immersive sound wherever you are in relation to the product.
The thing that makes Spaced360 stand out is that it's not a boring box-shaped lump. It looks different and feels quality too. Its trio of 2-inch speakers are finished with rubber cones and matched with a trio of bass radiators tucked behind a metal chassis for a discerning quality finish.
It's distinct, but is it decent? And for its £250 asking price can the Spaced360 stand out above numerous other companies in this category? We've been all ears for the last week to see what we make of it.
Spaced360 is a different product prospect in the Bluetooth speaker category and it's the design that makes it stand out.
It's not the first system to tackle 360-degree sound projection, but there's no doubting it succeeds on this promise. We've spent the week tucking in to various musical genres and the Spaced360 has delivered for the majority. It's just the lowest frequencies that lack, but that's a given at this scale.
Yes it's a lot of money, but with its distinctive looks, rounded sound, decent quality build, easy-to-charge power socket and solid battery life there's a lot to like here.
Available in black or grey finishes, the monotone colour options of the Spaced360 aren't what makes it shine. We were all ready to see a list of luminescent colour options but, no, it's classic all the way in this regard. There are optional neon colour cases that can clad the product should you want to spend an extra £30 to give your purchase some personality.
The choice of materials is one aspect of where the Spaced360's price tag comes from. We've seen plenty of £150 plastic Bluetooth speakers, but they just don't look premium. The Spaced360 is different: those metal grilles aren't an afterthought, as they embody the design and the shape. We're not talking £1,000 Bowers & Wilkins single-piece metalwork here, as there are plastic joins, but everything feels sturdy and is well crafted.
As this is a Bluetooth speaker controls on the device itself are limited, but we prefer it that way. There's a central press-to-pair Bluetooth button, with volume up, volume down and mute making up the only other three buttons on board.
When sound is being pumped out there are three green LED lights; these turn red when sound is muted. This makes the product look somewhat like a sort of miniature spaceship, so whether you like the overall look will clearly be a matter of taste. We would have preferred to see the single Bluetooth symbol to the centre button light up in different colours to represent different playback, but that's not the case.
Charge and go
What does make the Spaced360 shine are some of the "simpler" things. Take the circular charger, for example, which doesn't need to be fiddled around with to be plugged into the speaker. Simply slide the unit over the top of the charger base and it naturally nestles into place to charge. Simple.
An on-board battery means you don't have to be near a wall charger, which is ideal for around-the-home portability. It's something we've increasingly been using too: the Spaced360 has sat by our desk all day long and then been picked up and moved to the kitchen for when we cook dinner and fancy listening to some tunes.
Battery life per charge lasts for a long time too, as we've been using the speaker for full days at a time with no problems. Charging up takes around three hours, not that we've been counting, but the product can be used from within its charger base.
Although we wouldn't describe the Spaced360 as an outdoors product in the same way something like the UE Boom might cater for festival-goers, we would have no issues in using it out in the garden to add a bit of extra ambiance. It's a hardy bit of kit.
And so to the sound quality. Orbitsound seems to think stereo is dead. While we disagree with that, we do agree that it's nigh-on impossible to get worthwhile stereo sound from a single point device such as the Spaced360.
And so here is where Airsound comes in: the technology compresses stereo channels into mono, but then separates out frequencies over 200hz to output a pseudo-surround in the way the frequencies reach the ears.
It's a fancy way of saying that it's mono, really, but you get a steady stream of sound wherever you happen to stand in relation to the speaker. And from that perspective it works very well. Sound is loud, clear and omnipresent.
It also sounds good, which is obviously important. There's a clarity to the audio at all volumes, but crank it up a bit and this doesn't diminish. We've been putting the speaker through its paces and found that live instruments and voice soar very nicely indeed.
When it comes to kick drums and the like there's plenty of pop. These cutting sounds thump through the mix and assert all the required impact needed, while bass guitar riffs holds up on their own for a rounded overall sound.
The only sound limitation is the bassier end of the frequency scale. If you're into your dub then you'll catch a whiff of where sub bass should be, but not the real thing. That's down to scale, really.
Producers these days tend to sprinkle their bass parts with additional frequencies so they're audible on radio and various devices, but if you want big bass that moves you then, well, you're going to need more money. And much more space.
The three small bass radiators in the Spaced360 are enough to deliver the low-end of a dubstep track like Skream's Love Don't Come Easily, and house music is all good, but slide down the frequency scale towards the d&b spectrum of this world and there's no such luck.
As we say, it all comes down to scale. One larger component would be better at delivering the basslines, but then that wouldn't fit to the Spaced360 design. Something like the Libratone Loop costs £400 and doesn't fall into the portables category, but it a good example of how to achieve bass. It's a different kettle of fish though, but something to consider.
Overall we are impressed by the Spaced360's sound output because it's clean and rounded. When listening to the Daughter album we couldn't have asked for more clarity; Bjork's Biophilia maintained three-dimensional depth thanks to Airsound; while playing through the latest Reso EP on Hospital Records the drums sounded rocking. Just don't expect your dub to shake the room.