Kanto SYD Powered Bluetooth Speaker
Little Big Sound
I could tell SYD was a serious speaker the moment I heard Joni Mitchell singing “A Case of You” from 1971’s Blue. Her angelic voice was mesmerizing in a way I didn’t expect from a speaker this size, not to mention a 47-year-old recording—and I was streaming from my phone.
Actually, SYD had my attention as soon as I pulled it out of the box. The perfect satin finish.
The woven Kevlar woofers. The smooth silk-dome tweeters. Attributes that show that Kanto cares about quality. I’m a fan of the exposed-driver look, though I was a bit surprised to find there was no grille cover option.
Apart from those expertly crafted drivers, the front panel is sparse with only an LED indicator in the bottom left corner and a small volume dial that doubles as a source selector in the bottom right. In other words: Don’t lose the remote. Around back, Kanto provides 3.5mm minijack, stereo analog RCA, and optical digital input options. In a nice twist, the RCA jacks double as a phono input so if you want to hook up a turntable—just move the slider switch to its Phono position.
Kanto provides a medium-size remote control with buttons for source selection, volume up/ down, mute, and track skip/play/
pause, the latter for Bluetooth streaming. Best of all, there are buttons to adjust bass, treble, and balance—a feature you won’t find on most other Bluetooth speakers. Kanto also throws in a useful stand that tilts the speaker so it projects sound upward.
Seeking instant gratification, I always start wireless speaker evaluations with Bluetooth, the rationale being that the quality can only go up from there. The sound with Bluetooth/aptx streaming was consistently good and perfectly fine for casual listening. From Joni Mitchell on Amazon to the Eagles on Pandora, I stopped to savor the signature harmonies and Don Felder’s sticky-sweet guitar solo on the title track of 1975’s One of These Nights.
For the next musical excursion, I dusted off my Sony CD player and connected it via SYD’S optical input. I sought out favorite tracks I hadn’t heard in years, including “Figure of Eight” from Paul Mccartney’s overlooked 1989 album Flowers in the Dirt and
Led Zeppelin’s bittersweet “Ten Years Gone” from 1975’s Physical Graffiti. The sound was rich and full and had mostly ample volume in my large 25 x 13-foot room. The soundstage didn’t spread much beyond the speaker and, at times, I wished SYD would play a tad louder, but those are quibbles.
Mccartney’s voice was raw and engaging and his driving bass appropriately fat and round, punctuated by a snare drum that sounded as real as the one in my basement studio. All was revealed on the chosen Zep track with little of the congestion I expected to hear from such a dense recording: The juxtaposition of Jimmy Page’s graceful acoustic guitar with his vintage Telecaster, edgy and multilayered to great effect, behind Robert Plant’s passionate, at times ragged, vocals .
Kanto’s SYD is a great little speaker that will bring all but the largest of rooms to life with surprisingly robust sound. I wish it had Wi-fi/multiroom capabilities, but maybe that’s too much to ask from a fine-sounding speaker system that costs only $330.