Au­dio Pro £650

(Ad­don C3 £250; Ad­don C10 £300; Link £100)

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Awards 2018 -

Swedish speaker man­u­fac­turer Au­dio Pro has thrown a span­ner in the works. It has taken its busi­ness phi­los­o­phy of cre­at­ing the best-pos­si­ble sound for the best-pos­si­ble price and set up camp in the mid­dle of multi-room land, where it has ruf­fled the feathers of that realm’s other res­i­dents.

The com­pany has a six-strong line-up of multi-room speak­ers (along with a hand­ful of Blue­tooth prod­ucts which can be in­cor­po­rated), but the tri­umvi­rate we’ve se­lected for this sys­tem com­prises the Ad­don C3 speaker, its larger (and even more son­i­cally tal­ented) si­b­ling the Ad­don C10 and the Link 1 – a sys­tem hub that con­nects ex­ist­ing hi-fi com­po­nents or wire­less speak­ers into the chain.

The C3 and C10 cre­ate a pair of smart, ap­peal­ing boom-box-style speak­ers with a fa­mil­iar driver con­fig­u­ra­tion – the ‘koala bear’ de­sign that has be­come these speak­ers’ dis­tin­guish­ing fea­ture. The dif­fer­ence in cab­i­net size is re­flected in the Ad­don C10’s larger mid/bass driver – 13cm in di­am­e­ter, com­pared with the

Ad­don C3’s 9cm. The C10 also has a larger re­flex port and an 80W dig­i­tal class D am­pli­fier, dou­ble that of its si­b­ling, so it can delve an ex­tra 5Hz into those bass fre­quen­cies.

Both house a large, cir­cu­lar vol­ume con­trol flanked by sets of four smaller but­tons on the top: for power-on, play/ pause, in­put se­lec­tion and Blue­tooth pair­ing to the left, and pre­sets to its right, plus an aux-in jack.

The dis­tri­bu­tion hub

The disc-shaped Link 1’s job is to collect song se­lec­tions from the app, con­nect to your home net­work via ei­ther wi-fi or its eth­er­net in­put and dis­pense the mu­sic via which­ever out­put you have se­lected. With the 3.5mm-to-rca cable in­cluded, con­nect­ing to pretty much any ex­ist­ing set up could hardly be eas­ier.

The Au­dio Pro app seeks out all avail­able prod­ucts con­nected to the home net­work and al­lows ac­cess to Ama­zon’s Alexa voice as­sis­tant. It can be a lit­tle buggy – the odd stut­ter and hang – and is lim­ited com­pared with most ri­val sys­tems, not least be­cause you can’t use it for Spo­tify or Ap­ple Mu­sic.

The great draw here is the mu­si­cal­ity of these speak­ers’ per­for­mance. Its un­ri­valled by any­thing at a sim­i­lar price – or even quite a lot more. The Ad­don C3’s level of de­tail, for ex­am­ple, cleanly ex­poses the tex­ture and tim­bre of each in­stru­ment and vo­cal line alike with­out un­der­play­ing co­he­sion or or­gan­i­sa­tion. It also times with metro­nomic pre­ci­sion.

Add the in­creased heft of the Ad­don C10 and the per­for­mance is pre­dictably grander, able to rat­tle trin­kets from the man­tel­piece or twist our in­sides with its low-end au­thor­ity. There’s also more space and de­tail to the pre­sen­ta­tion.

The Link 1 per­haps shoul­ders a lesser bur­den in what is ef­fec­tively a mid­wife role, but it per­forms its own spe­cific task with equal aplomb.

For sound qual­ity at the price, this sys­tem is sim­ply un­beat­able. And that’s more than enough to earn Au­dio Pro a fourth What Hi-fi? Award this year.

Fuss-free set-up counts for a lot, but the real draw here is the clear, pow­er­ful sound

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