Review: Cabasse Eole 4 5.1 Speaker System
Following the announcement of the Cabasse Eole 4 5.1 speaker system, we could not wait to get ears-on. Thankfully, we have been lucky enough to spend a few weeks with the system before it is whisked away to a show.
5.1 Surround Sound System
There was a time when 5.1 systems meant having a room edged with large speakers. Naturally, most of us were happy enough with that as the pay-off was a cinema-like experience in our living room. However, not everyone likes living in what could be mistaken for a hi-fi showroom.
Rejoice, then, as things have moved forwards and those big boxes are even better now. Heck, some are even wireless! Furthermore, we have the likes of the little Eole 4 satellite speakers and slender woofer from Cabasse.
When the box arrived, it was no bigger than one that I'd expect a woofer to come in. I knew that the Eole 4 wasn't going to be huge in size, but this was something else.
Inside that compact carton, carefully cossetted, was five spherical satellite speakers measuring just 13 centimetres in diameter. Joining the satellites is the 39x39x15cm active woofer. The woofer was packaged upside down so that its feet became handles with which to extricate the 9kg Lipari sub. The satellites weigh 1.4 kilograms each and, in the lowest level of packaging, come with magnetic cups.
Behind those curved grilles, the satellites pack a 2-way coaxial system. In this small space is a 10 cm driver taking care of the lows and mids and, in the middle, is a tweeter measuring just shy of 3cm. This tiny ball of sound can output 150 to 22,000 Hz. At maximum peak load, they can handle 490 watts although they run at a maximum of 70 watts.
At the rear of the satellites, you will find a short amount of cable - this confused me for a while until I saw the large bundle of speaker wire. However, the question remained as to how the speakers connected to the cable that will be going into the Onkyo receiver I had loaned. Well, the magnetic ball holders, for want of a better phrase, have a hidden talent. Flip one over and twist the backplate and lo and behold speaker cable terminal connections. Just insert the supplied speaker cable and the cable from the satellites, twist the backplate back on, and the connected cables are neatly sorted. Those magnets are pretty potent too so no worries with attaching these things to the wall or ceiling.
The front-firing 21 cm Lipari woofer is capable of delivering 33 to 160 Hz of low-end joy thanks to the downward firing bass reflex tube. The front- and downward firing output gives you the best of both worlds. Firstly, there is the crisp, sharp bass from the driver and then, through the port, even, round distribution of the low stuff throughout the room.
Also on the underside of the woofer, along with the inputs for power and receiver, there is the crossover frequency and volume controls.
Right, enough with playing with my loaned balls and on with finding out what they can do.
You may have spotted the lower legs of some Stormtroopers in one of the photos. I admit to being a fan of Star Wars, and so The Force Awakens was the first disc in the player.
Naturally, dog fights and huge orchestral pieces are always impressive on a surround sound system or at least, should be. However, it is when there are more subtle moments that a system can elevate itself above others. For instance, when we first meet Rey, there is minimal sound and no dialogue. But atmospherics are just as important as sounds wooshing around the space in your room. Additionally, there is also Rey's Theme which was picked out satisfyingly by team Cabasse.
Next up was another action-packed offering in James Bond - Skyfall. Just like the titular character, not a great deal of nuance to be had here but the Eole 4 did strikingly well at bringing us in on the thrill of the chase. Furthermore, the soundtrack really punches through when needed with that slender woofer doing a great job of pretending it's much larger and forceful than its dimensions actually are.
Finally, for films, Gravity. Just as with the Rey moments in The Force Awakens, this is more about scene setting and suspense. That said, it is an excellent test for dialogue. Again, the Cabasse kit does incredibly well with voices coming through clearly. Then, when there is a soundtrack, the music moves around with Ms Bullock and involves you in the scenes.
I was already falling a bit in love with the Cabasse Eole 4 by the time I decided to test the speakers with music. But, once I hit play on the Pure Audio Blu Ray edition of Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, I was sold.
Guitar and piano are expressive, vocals clear, and percussion has weight as well as air. I know that there are five of those little balls dotted about the place, but the acoustic stage is tantamount to having Elt' and the gang in the room with me.
Cabasse Eole 4 Review Conclusion
This marks my first experience with a Cabasse surround system, and I am smitten. Oddly, I am put off surround systems because I have little room in my London home for more speakers. However, the Cabasse Eole 4 makes that point rather moot as the little balls of joy can be practically hidden from view. The Lipari subwoofer does equally well as far as vanishing acts go.
The Eole's discretion, however, is surpassed by just how well it can handle not only dramatic film scores but also nuanced dialogue and music.
Furthermore, the Cabasse Eole 4 does all of this while being stylish and for under £900.
You can grab a system now in black or white. If you haven't got surfaces to place the satellites on, there are optional stands available.
StereoNET UK’s Editor and Bass playing gadget junkie. He’s captained the good ship GadgetyNews for over a decade, making low jargon high tech a very handy thing. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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