Audio

KEF's Gravity One a powerful package

With the KEF Porsche Design Gravity One speaker, sound gets blasted upwards and around instead of in front as most speakers are designed to do.
With the KEF Porsche Design Gravity One speaker, sound gets blasted upwards and around instead of in front as most speakers are designed to do.PHOTO: KEF

The Gravity One Bluetooth speaker is a tie-up between British hi-fi speaker brand KEF and Porsche Design, the lifestyle arm of the sports car company.

It's part of a trio of audio products KEF released in collaboration with Porsche Design last month, the others being a pair of active noise-cancelling headphones and a pair of Bluetooth earphones.

And as to be expected from anything with either a KEF or Porsche Design tag, they don't come cheap. The Gravity One retails for almost $600, which makes it a tough sell in a portable-speaker market saturated with great performers at much lower prices.

There are some slight KEF-ian details in the Gravity One, most notably the slightly curved edges on the base of the speaker that produce a taper from a narrow base into the speaker body proper.

It's a nice design touch that makes it look like it's floating from certain angles.

Hidden on the bottom right are three ports - an auxillary port, a micro-USB port for charging and a USB port that can be used to charge your mobile devices.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $599

    DIMENSIONS: 5.6 x 21.5 x 6.3cm

    WEIGHT: 780g

    DRIVERS: 1 x 50mm Miniature Uni-Q driver; 1 x 50mm full-range driver

    PASSIVE RADIATORS: 2 x Force-cancelling Auxiliary Bass Radiators

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The dark, gunmetal grey design of the Gravity One fits the general understated luxury that Porsche Design products have.

The speaker grilles and radiators are at the top of the speaker, which means sound gets blasted upwards and around instead of in front as most speakers are designed to do.

The Gravity One uses a mini version of KEF'S signature Uni-Q drivers and they provide a huge kick, making them a powerful little package capable of going loud and strong when you need it to.

Vocals shine through loudly and clearly, while the mids are bright and pleasant. I had a lot of fun listening to the soundtrack of La La Land, as the jazz-centric dance and orchestral numbers were reproduced in great and sweet detail.

The bass is clear and rumbly, but also rather restrained - you hear the bass rather than feel it pounding.

It makes the Gravity One a good choice for those who prefer a balanced soundscape unmarked by either trebles that are too bright or bass that's too overwhelming.

At the centre of the speaker grilles is an unnecessarily large Porsche Design logo (that does nothing), surrounded by six buttons - power, Bluetooth, mute, play/pause and volume up and down - on its sides.

Wireless connectivity is limited to Bluetooth 4.0, which lets you stream high-resolution music through the aptX codec.

It can be paired with two devices simultaneously and switching between them is wonderfully seamless. When both my iPod and mobile phone were connected to it, the Gravity One will play music from the first device connected to it until I pause it, in which case it will automatically play music from the other device if that happens to be on.

The Gravity One is a great speaker, capable of great sound and easy to use. Unfortunately, I've heard similar sound quality from other speakers half the price of the Gravity One's, even if they may not look as good. Ultimately, as with most premium KEF or Porsche Design products, most of the cost will go into paying for the brand name and the impressions that go with it.

Lester Hio

•Verdict: The Gravity One looks and feels good, but is priced much too high for what it does.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'KEF's Gravity One a powerful package'. Print Edition | Subscribe