Audio Pro £650
(Addon C3 £250; Addon C10 £300; Link £100)
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