Future-Fi? That’s high-end audio for those who care not for the journey of system compilation and its (potentially) endless revision but would rather an all-in-one, set-and-forget hardware purchase. How do manufacturers talk to this kind of consumer?
If you’re France’s Cabasse, you take a leaf out of the Devialet Phantom Reactor book to shrink your Pearl streaming loudspeaker to a stereo-pairable 22cm diameter sphere and offer optional dedicated stands, wall mounts and carry cases. The Pearl Akoya (€2990/pair) pulls in digital audio through Wifi, Ethernet and TOSLINK – and analogue sources via a 3.5mm socket – to output via internal 32bit/768kHz DAC and amplification tailored precisely to the coaxially aligned tweeter, midrange driver and 17cm long-throw subwoofer. You then bundle in voice control, a matching Bluetooth remote (whose outer ring turns for volume) and a corresponding iOS/Android app to execute streaming functionality and in-house coded room correction. Shipping starts in November 2019.
If you’re Scotland’s Linn, you slice the top from an egg-shaped enclosure to load in a two-way driver array, time-aligned by in-house coded Exakt tech and powered by bespoke amplification, for a streaming loudspeaker that talks WiFi/Ethernet (Apple AirPlay, Spotify, Roon), Bluetooth and HDMI ARC (for TV enthusiasts). You make it stereo-pairable, call it the Series 3 and debut it in Harrods with an exclusive gold grille for $6850/£5450/pair. You then plan a chrome grilled version for when it hits a wider range of retailers in 2020.
What about the consumer who insists on passive loudspeakers? If you’re the UK’s Cyrus Audio, you put your digital streaming smarts inside an integrated amplifier that additionally boasts an MM phono stage and ‘high power Class A/B’ headphone amplifier. The ONE Cast amplifier marries 100 wpc (into 6 Ohms!) of ‘hybrid Class D’ power to a DAC board that draws on rear-panel asynchronous USB, HDMI ARC and TOSLINK plus a WiFi/Ethernet-fuelled streaming board that talks Google Chromecast, Apple AirPlay and Bluetooth. Voice assistants from Google, Apple and Amazon also come along for the ride. Price? €1595.