“Solid, no-non­sense kit”

FOR Im­pres­sively big sound; good build; wellness func­tion AGAINST Stri­dency at vol­ume; lack of stream­ing ca­pa­bil­ity

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - First Tests -

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.

Neat tricks

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

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