I have recently spent a lot of time reviewing bluetooth earphones, whilst many have been fairly good in terms of sound quality… non have delivered a true stereo soundscape nor have they managed to provide a full audio signal due to the limitations of the bluetooth protocols.
A similar problem is found when looking at Wi-fi speaker setups, latency becomes a factor and although minor the human ear can and often does pick up on the small delays it causes.
The effect of these delays and reduced frequencies is that the purity of the music and the depth that the original composition had can be left wanting.
When I heard about that ONEaudio had won both the CES Innovation Award
Unfortunately review funds do not quite stretch to the $4000 for their beautiful clear acrylic top of the line ONEclassic Audiophile series speakers, so I opted for the ONEmicro instead.
So what is it that differentiates the ONEaudio speakers from their Bluetooth and Wi-fi counterparts?
Back in the later part of the 1980’s the DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunication) standard was formed, finding its way in to many communications devices across 110 different countries.
The DECT standard proved to be very effective as the 1.9ghz frequency range it operates in, is not shared by other wireless devices, providing clear and error free transmission.
As mentioned above it is the correct reproduction of a stereo sound stage that ensures listening is a true pleasure, until this point Audiophiles have always scorned the idea of wireless sound as channel synchronisation, time jitter and phase error between both the tweeter and woofer and also between left and right channels have been a big problem with Wi-fi and Bluetooth solutions.
However by using DECT for their speakers ONEaudio have managed to get channel synchronisations to within 0.5 uS, which is around 50 times better than WiFi, time jitter is less than 0.1ppm, which is about 10 times better than Bluetooth, but more impressive still, ONEaudio can manage zero phase error between tweeter and woofer and between left speaker and right speakers.
So thats the technical stuff out of the way, lets take a look at the actual speakers.
The speakers themselves are cylindrical in shape with a diameter of 62mm and sit 52mm tall, they are fairly weighty given there diminutive size, weighing in at 300grams per speaker.
The main body is split with the base being a harder white plastic that features the ONEaudio logo, above this is a clear plastic ring that allows the blue leds inside to show through, above this is a creamy white top section with a white mesh speaker grill on the top and a white rubber surface on the bottom.
On the bottom of the speakers you will find two buttons, one is the power and volume up, whilst the other functions as both a mode select and volume down control these are both recessed in to the speakers base.
Also supplied in the box is an aluminium USB DECT dongle that features the ONEaudio logo and an opaque end cap, the dongle is very nicely made and also has a few tricks up its sleeve, being able to connect with both PCs Macs and Android.
In order to get the speakers to work with your computer (works with both macs and PCs), you simply insert the dongle in to a free USB port and select it from the sound outputs on your OS.
To make the speakers work with an Android phone you need to connect using a USB OTG cable, an orange light illuminates on the dongle to show that it is working, if like me you have a phone that has a USB Type C connector, you will need to buy a dedicated USB Type C OTG cable as the provided lead does not work with a micro USB to Type C adapter.
Next you need to power on the ONEmicro speakers by holding in the power button on the base of each speaker, a really nice touch is that each speaker identifies itself with a spoken prompt “I am on the right” or I am on the left” allowing you to easily place the speakers in the correct position.
Once I had the ONEmicro speakers connected I tried a quick demo that was supplied by ONEaudio, the file contains a properly phased sound of a dog barking.
It was really nice to hear the sample in action as it perfectly placed the dogs bark in the centre of the sound stage, making it appear to be in the middle of the two speakers.
Having played the sample on another set of bluetooth speakers, it was very apparent just how much is lost in quality due to the bluetooth speakers lack of proper phasing.
Next up came some real world music tests, first up came some classic trance tunes, I was truly amazed at just how much sound was coming out of the speakers (given their size), but it was not just the volume that was impressive but also the quality of the reproduction and the overall levels.
My next musical test for the ONEmicro speakers was with some classical music, the speakers handled it with fine results, placing the individual instruments and creating an immersive sound stage.
Bass was surprisingly decent for such small speakers, but if you like really deep bass an optional sub is also available to complement the ONEmicro speakers.
The next test was with video audio, I paired the speakers up to my Doogee P1 projector and played back 10 minutes of Starwars the force awakens.
One of the limitations of the projector was always its low audio output levels, but once paired to the speakers the experience became a whole lot more immersive.
If you were to take this combination away with you whilst camping or on holiday, or even using them in the garden whilst sitting having a few drinks you would not fail to be impressed with the portable home theatre that you have created.
Overall the volume and quality of sound for speakers of this size is truly mind bowing, with the added bonus that DECT allows perfect audio phasing to create amazing soundscapes.
ONEaudio have other speakers in their range as well as the ONEbox that allow 5.1 output over DECT for use in wireless home cinema setups, the boxes have various inputs including WiFi (for DLNA and airplay), Dongle, USB ram and toslink.
*The image shown above, is of the prototype casing and may not be representative of the finished product.
The ONEmicro speakers are available to purchase directly from ONEaudio for just $199.99 if you are looking for something that will give you the best sound for size, I would highly recommend the ONEmicro speakers, as whilst they are not as cheap as some bluetooth and wifi speakers the sound just leaves them in the dust.
I hope to be given the opportunity to test some of ONEaudio’s ONEclassic speakers which are currently available as part of a fully funded Kickstarter Project, if you are quick you can still get your name down for a set for just $1899, if they are audibly as good as the ONEmicro speakers, I can see a lot of music lovers moving over to DECT based speakers in the near future.