Guess the brand of this French smart speaker...
So did you guess Devialet? So did we when we first saw it, but no — it's from Cabasse, also French, but with no indication as yet that this design owes anything to shared IP or co-design with its compatriot competitor. Guess it's just coincidence then. Placed head to head, they are in fact distinct enough — Devialet with its odd grille that looks like grandma’s paper doilies, its elongated back-end and flappy side speakers, the Cabasse slightly larger and rather purer in design, surrounded by silver swirls.
And the Pearl falls more neatly into place when you consider other offerings from Cabasse, which certainly has dibs on spheres; it has favoured spheres for years, whether in its little sub-satellite systems like the Alcyone and Eole systems, or in fully-fledged hi-fi speakers like L’Océan and the simply enormous La Sphere (pictured right). We remember being exceedingly wowed by some Pink Floyd: The Wall played through La Sphere in a demonstration back in the day by International Dynamics when it was distributor here for Cabasse (the truncated Interdyn was also once the Australlian distributor for Devialet, co-oincidentally, but is no longer so.).
And it's good science — the sphere as a volume can be considered a perfect acoustic enclosure, and all the more so when Cabasse’s preference for true coaxiality is included — La Sphere is a true four-way coaxial with none of the ‘virtual’ compromises included in, say, KEF’s Blade designs.
Interestingly the other company known for spherical preference is Elipson — a third French company. What is it with the French and spheres?
So what is this new Pearl from Cabasse? It’s been demonstrated under embargo in France for the last month, and it is touted as “the first compact triaxial loudspeaker (bass, medium, and new coaxial tweeter with medium carbon and neodymium) for compact size, power handling as well as wide and smooth frequency response of 14 Hz to 27000 Hz without any directivity”.
It is 32cm in height, and uses a new 25cm woofer capable of linear excursion of more than 30mm, and like the Devialet phantom you can use one alone in mono, but they pair into stereo via Wi-Fi.
Indeed connectivity is a key focus here, with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, integration with the Cabasse StreamCONTROL multi-room system, able to streami high-res from hard disks or computers and to access internet radio and online music services (Spotify, Deezer, Tidal etc.).
And there’s voice control. It’s already compatible with Google Assistant and soon Amazon Alexa will be added.
European RRP is 2790 €, and you can read a subjective report on its performance by Passion HomeCinema here.
Cabasse is distributed in Australia by AV Revolution