Audio

Good-looking speakers that could sound better

A brand name like Geneva conjures up images of Swiss precision and quality, and the speakers from audio firm Geneva Labs definitely fit the design bill.

The Swiss company recently launched its overhauled portable speaker line in Singapore, fitting big sound in a classy package.

However, some of the speakers in its latest Touring line look better than they sound.

The Touring speakers are a bit of a paradox: They are portable Bluetooth speakers you do not necessarily want to take out because they look best around the house, on a shelf or side table.

The speakers come in four variants: XS, S, M and L. As the names suggest, each of the respective speakers gets bigger and more powerful, and more expensive as well.

The Touring S and L come with FM radio capabilities, giving them added versatility.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $369

    DIMENSIONS: 4.5 x 17 x 10cm

    WEIGHT: 0.8kg

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The Touring S (above) is a small but powerful speaker. It is about the size of a paperback novel. It stands upright like a book laid down on its spine and so does not take up too much space on a shelf or bedside table, where I imagine it will be located in most homes.

Its aluminium top looks and feels extremely premium, with a nice volume dial that clicks satisfyingly in place when turning the speaker on, while a faux-leather speaker grille rounds out the Touring S' understated, classy design.

The Touring S is a good compromise between sound and portability. It excels in the mid-range and treble, but fails to deliver satisfying bass.

It was able to produce clear and detailed audio at quite a powerful volume, filling an entire bedroom at about 50 per cent volume and can easily fill a living room at maximum volume.

It works great with genres such as classical or jazz, giving good clarity and tone to strings, horns and keyboards, even though it might not be able to properly replicate a wide soundstage.

However, it lacks body and depth on the lower end, which makes genres such as pop or rock sound a bit too sparkly and hollow.

I found myself wishing there was a more substantial feel to the lower register, which would round out the speaker's overall sound quite nicely.

The speaker sometimes makes audible popping noises when it is connected through Bluetooth to a music device and a song is paused, which can be mitigated briefly by adjusting the volume knob.

Unfortunately, the noises return and can be quite distracting.

The Touring S makes for a good bedside table speaker that can double as a portable speaker in a pinch. It is small and really light, weighing less than 1kg, making it easy to throw into a bag for an outdoor gathering or party.

All that does cost a pretty $369 though, which is a bit on the high side.

There are other Bluetooth speakers in the market that deliver similar, or better, sound at lower prices.

The addition of an FM radio is useful, but not enough to justify the Touring S' relatively high price.

• Verdict: The Touring S is a compact, classy-looking speaker that provides good sound, but may not be satisfying enough for those who enjoy tunes with a heavy bass. It is, however, quite pricey for what it does.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2018, with the headline 'Good-looking speakers that could sound better'. Print Edition | Subscribe