“Solid, no-nonsense kit”
FOR Impressively big sound; good build; wellness function AGAINST Stridency at volume; lack of streaming capability
The original sonorostereo (the upper/ lower case combo being the German company’s preferred styling) gained a respectable four-star review when we reviewed it a couple of years ago, and on paper, the Stereo 2 doesn’t seem too different from the original.
The specification is pretty much identical, and the speaker layout inside the unit is the same. Why, then, the ‘2’? Well, along with a couple of extra strings to the unit’s bow, Sonoro claims also to have tweaked the sound of the Stereo 2 a touch.
Seeing the ‘Wellness’ light
One thing Sonoro is keen on is ‘Wellness’. The first Stereo provided soothing sounds of whalesong, rain, waves, and so on. This new version takes all that, including birdsong, soothing voices and relaxation exercises, and adds a neat little extra.
For £30, you can add a Bluetooth plug adapter into which you can connect a lamp, and via which the Stereo 2 can control a dimmable bulb. The lighting in your room can then be controlled by the unit. Along with the wellness sounds and relaxation course, it’s potentially an effective way of calming down after the stresses of the day. The light can also be used in conjunction with the unit’s alarm function – so you can wake to a gradually lightening room. These functions add nothing to the sonic performance of the unit, but we can imagine people enjoying them on a regular basis.
The Stereo 2 is a solid, no-nonsense piece of kit that does what it does really rather well. In today’s age of streaming this and internet that it’s a bit of a throw-back, but for many people it will meet their music and radio requirements perfectly.
CD, radio (DAB/DAB+ and FM) and Bluetooth capabilities are joined at the back of the unit by a pair of phono inputs, a 3.5mm socket, headphone socket, and a USB input for MP3 and WMA playback. That leaves out the brave new world of internet radio and access to a local network – but for many that simply won’t be an issue.
The Stereo 2, available in four finishes, looks like just the sort of thing you’d find in a five-star hotel room – and indeed Sonoro sells many units into that industry. One advantage of that for the user is that all functionality is accessible via the unit itself, not only the remote control handset.
Improbably big sound
Having admired the build and finish of the Stereo 2, we stick in a CD to see what might have changed sonically from the original. The core characteristics remain intact – and that’s very much a good thing.
This Sonoro provides an improbably big sound from a relatively diminutive box. The two 8cm drivers – one on either side of the display and CD slot – work well with the 10cm subwoofer, firing downwards. This is a mature sound that will suit plenty of environments. Tonally balanced and nicely detailed, it’s generally a comfortable listen.
It can go impressively loud as well – although with that volume comes a touch of upper-range stridency. It doesn’t quite tip over into the realms of shrill, but it does threaten to. The bass is clean and precise for the most part, and presents a good, even tonal balance with the midrange and upper registers. With deep bass, though, it is perhaps a little more vague and fatter than we recall in the original Stereo – evidence, perhaps, of those claimed sonic tweaks.
The tonal character is basically the same for all inputs, whether we’re listening with headphones, or streaming via Bluetooth. A Cd-quality Bluetooth stream of Going Home by Leonard Cohen manages to get across the emotion of the song – we are certainly listening to the music, rather than having it on as background entertainment. A regular Spotify stream of Öngyikos Vasárnap by Venetian Snares on the other hand, comes across less impressively, as we'd expect.
The Sonoro Stereo 2 continues where the original Stereo left off. It does its job well, and without fuss – and adds some neat tricks and abilities that will delight those who are interested in them. It doesn’t do everything – nor does it claim to – but it will suit a large segment of the market well.
“In today's age of streaming this and internet that, the Sonoro Stereo 2 is a bit of a throw-back”
The Stereo 2 looks like the sort of player you might find in a five-star hotel room
There's a pair of phono inputs, a 3.5mm headphone socket, line out and USB
The Sonoro has a CD player, DAB+, DAB and FM radio and Bluetooth connectivity