KitSound Voice One
THIS DISTINCTIVE SPEAKER HAS SOME NEAT TRICKS, BUT WE’D HOPED FOR BETTER SOUND
The Alexa-powered Voice One costs the same as a regular Amazon Echo – but with plenty of original design touches, it’s an interestingly different proposition.
For a start, the Voice One is relatively large: it’s taller than an Echo Plus, with a footprint almost as big as the Apple HomePod’s. The LED ring on the front is surrounded by a volume dial, and ashes when you turn it.
Above it, there’s a microphone mute button – the light ring turns red when the Voice One isn’t listening – while below a source button lets you switch between Alexa, Bluetooth and 3.5mm line inputs. At the bottom sits a play/ pause control, along with a KitSound logo that pulses in time to the beat.
In Wi-Fi mode, the Voice One can do most of the things we expect from Alexa; you can stream music from Amazon and Spotify, and via the KitSound app you can also access Tidal and Napster. That points to an inherent irritation of third-party Echo devices, though: settings and features are inevitably split between the of cial Alexa app and the manufacturer’s own software.
There are also a few notable features missing: you can’t make calls to other Echo devices, and nor can you change the wake word – for better or worse, you’re stuck with “Alexa”. On the upside, there’s a graphic equaliser built into the KitSound app, which you don’t get with Amazon gear – and unusually there’s a remote control in the box too, which provides a civilised alternative to shouting at the thing, and lets you switch input sources and mute the microphone without leaving your seat. Most excitingly, if you own more than one Voice One speaker, you can set them up as a stereo pair. This takes a bit of ddling in the app, but it’s well worth it: instantly, the sound gains a sense of space and depth, and seems to come from all around rather than emanating from a single point. The Voice One speakers go jolly loud, so they really can ll a room in more than one sense.
Sad to say, the sound quality isn’t all that great. The bass is quite weak and appy, and there’s a de nite boxiness to the mid-range. It’s hard to say that it’s more enjoyable overall than Echo, which is a disappointment considering the much bigger enclosure. That being the case, it’s a toss-up. The Voice One’s remote control and stereo option are certainly appealing for the price, but you’ll have to decide whether that’s worth the trade-off of missing features and a fragmented app experience. $87 • www.amazon.com