Kanto SYD Pow­ered Blue­tooth Speaker

Lit­tle Big Sound

Sound & Vision - - QUICK TAKE - BY BOB ANKOSKO

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.

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