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Monochromatic, minimalist, and multi-room. Stockholm-based Urbanears established its reputation based upon the first two of the three, known for their candy store catalog of colorful matte headphones that exemplify the era of portable audio as functional fashion. With the launch of their new Connected Speakers multi-room wireless home audio system, the Swedish company is bringing that same Scandinavian philosophy of thoughtful utility paired with an eye for understated (yet playful) design into our living rooms, home offices, bedrooms, and kitchens.
Urbanears put the smaller of their two new wireless audio speakers – the Stammen – into our hands and our home for the last few weeks to experience the Connected Speaker in real world use (there’s an even larger unit, the Baggen, which offers more of the same, but larger in dimension and even more robust in output).
The Stammen makes a positive first impression with a quick and easy setup out of the box aided by the step-by-step instructions of the Urbanears Connected app for iOS; a few taps and swipe later and we were connected to our wi-fi network.
We have to admit even before listening to a single song, we spent an embarrassing amount of time inspecting and admiring our “Plant Green” fabric cover encasing the near entirety of our speaker. Characteristic of Urbanear’s library of headphone colors, the Stammen’s fabric exterior was mesmerizingly rich, a chameleon hue that would change from a plant green to touring green to a near cyan depending upon the ambient light hitting each panel. It looked especially striking against our home office’s matte dark grey-blue walls or sitting on top of our dark glossy blue media cabinet…the acoustically transparent fabric serving both aural and aesthetic purposes.
The other five colors available – vinyl black, indigo blue, concrete grey, goldfish orange, and dirty pink – all exhibit a similar presence, transforming what is basically a simple box into something more decoratively desirable, whether tastefully neutral or brighter and bolder on the spectrum. Connected Speakers will likely prove popular amongst interior designers and other color lovers for this reason.
Urbanears obviously wanted to mitigate traversing the hurdles of getting from silence to enjoying music, editing out unnecessary options and extraneous features. Controls are pared down to just two dials, one dedicated to volume, the other offering a nifty feature allowing users immediate access to 7 of their favorite predetermined favorite albums, internet radio stations, or playlists with a gratifying turn of the dial. It’s a novel and tactile feature giving users quick accessibility without the need to fumble for their phone to launch an app. It also serves to keep the speaker’s minimalist profile intact, communicating simplicity as its core experience.
We listened to the Stammen mostly within the confines of a small home office setting, but also moved the speaker around to other parts of the house to see how it fared in different size rooms and layouts. The sound was right there with better speakers in the same price category, capable of filling up a small-to-medium room with confident loudness and clarity thanks to the speaker’s array of two tweeters, subwoofer, and the muscle of a Class D amplifier (rated for 2X15W+1X40W). I couldn’t imagine turning up the volume much past half-maximum normally; the speaker was capable of sufficiently loud output whether it was to enjoy the headbobbing charm of Passionfruit, the introspective trickle of keys spilling forth during An Empty Space, or while skating past the hazy guitars of Something Here.
Both the Stammen and the Baggen thankfully play nice with Spotify Connect, Airplay, or Chromecast right out of the box; additional streaming options are made available via Bluetooth in both Classic and Low Energy 4.2 AVRCP + A2DP flavors. Those who never cut the cord (or connected it back with the purchase of a turntable) have the option to connect components through an aux cord hook-up. We had no issues switching back from streaming from the desktop, laptop, phone, or tablet whether using the Urbanears app, Airplay or Spotify.
In theory, you could connect up to five Connected Speakers; we only had one unit to play around with, but for smaller rooms one should be more than sufficient. For those with larger spaces and budgets, multi-room playback is also joined by the option to pair two speakers in stereo mode for more accurate and immersive sound.
With its simplified and intuitive user experience, Urbanears has done a commendable job of filtering out the excesses and options that often get in the way of what matters the most: enjoying music. That they’ve done it with a speaker as visually gratifying as the Connected Speakers is a welcome bonus. Because who doesn’t want an audio design that pleases the eye as much as the ears?
Discover more about the Urbanears Connected Speakers at Urbanears.com.