Geneva AeroSphére Large wireless speaker review

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posted on Wednesday, 22nd July 2015 by Steve May

Wireless  Streaming 

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The AeroSphére Large is the hero of Geneva’s new multiroom streaming audio system. With its distinctive spherical design it’s certain to make a design statement, and the swiss-based brand have a growing reputation for wireless fidelity. The AeroSphére Large is joined, appropriately enough, by the Aerosphere Small, as well as the Aerosphere Base CD/radio player. For this audition, we’ve focused purely on the AeroSphére Large which can be installed as a standalone audio system, just as comfortably as part of a larger AeroSphére ecosystem. The Base, which allows users to stream CD, AM/FM radio and DAB to the AeroSphére, offers an additional line input and supports four channels of streaming audio. Any quartet of AeroSphére speakers can play these at the same time, for small scale multiroom use. Although ostensibly standalone active speakers, two Smalls can be joined together to create a stereo pair, their speaker orientation nominated in the matching app.

Geneva as a brand came to prominence during the iPod dock boom, offering an early high performance solution that predated B&W’s Zeppelin. But like many other brands, was wrong-footed when Apple switched from 30 pin to Lightning Connector; this effectively took the manufacturer out of the game for some 18 months, while it developed wireless products. Geneva needed to return with something extraordinary, and that’s exactly what we have here.

Geneva AeroSphére Large: Design and features
With the AeroSphére range, Geneva has inventively rethought how music is consumed these days; it reflects the rise of streaming and multiroom over conventional two-channel playback. The distinctive lollipop contains a multi-drive array and measures 40cm across. It’s a sizeable enclosure well suited for use in a large, open plan space.

Beneath the fabric cover are two 1-inch tweeters, a pair of 4-inch mid-range woofers, plus an up-firing 6-inch subwoofer. They are arranged in three separate chambers, powered by dedicated digital amps. Some in-house DSP processing fine tunes the output. Connectivity and control is minimal. The AeroSphère offers both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Up to 12 AirPlay devices can share a network, bandwidth depending. There’s on-body power and set-up buttons, plus a stereo mini-jack line input to accommodate local analogue audio sources. The Large is available in Black, Red or White finishes.

Although mobile is central to Geneva’s proposition, the system ships with a dedicated IR remote, which drives both the speaker, and the Base unit if required. The floor stands are optional.

Logo (2)

Setup

Remote (1)

Geneva Aerosphere Large: Performance
Once networked or paired, the AeroSphère is an entertaining performer. While it can be run off its aluminium crane leg, sat on little rubber feet, that’s almost certainly not how it’ll be deployed. The speaker looks at home stand mounted, and its performance benefits as a result. 

Although the AeroSphère looks omnidirectional, the drivers actually face forward in the direction of the illuminated Geneva logo (this uses colour coded illumination to signify when it’s on, connected or searching). Indeed, if you're not face front to the Large, the speaker can sound a little thumpy.

Operationally, the AeroSphère is straightforward. The app itself is predictably simple affair, offering input selection (Bluetooth and Line-in), plus a selection of streaming services (Spotify, Deezer,TuneIn Radio). This reflects Geneva’s predilection for ease of use and stripped back design – there’s no surfeit of menus to navigate here. Depending on how many Aerospheres are installed on the network, you can select them as targets.

The Aerosphere does a great job of throwing its soundstage wide from its single footprint. Locating the Large close to a wall will emphasise this spread (feel free to insert balls to the wall joke here) and amplify the already prodigious bass – the good news is that the speaker has energy to burn.

Old school stereophiles may possibly find its presentation a little channeled, but in a universe of soundbar expectations this really isn't an issue. Roll up by The Struts (Everyone Wants, Spotify) is fast, insistent and rowdy, just as intended; the chorus is a soundstage-filling stomp and that unusual upward firing bass cone does a stonking job underpinning the beat. Put Your Money on Me, from the same album, will have you pumping the air as the big Geneva moves the air. The enclosure is equally happy with unplugged acoustics as drum and bass – although it’s probably not going to quite do justice to the pomp of The Proms, so know your client.

While many users will use a subscription service, the big Aerosphere benefits from higher quality feeds which help those tweeters enunciate in a way that streamed Spotify just doesn't. The Bluetooth connection proved reassuringly stable in use.

Black Speaker

Geneva AeroSphére Large: Verdict
With AeroSphére, Geneva has come up with an en vogue design for the fast changing streaming audio market. It’s entertaining to listen to and a refreshing alternative to the multiroom mainstream. With a look that pretty much sells itself, we expect the AeroSphére Large to mix it with some pretty upmarket company.

The AeroSphére Large is available now.
Retail price £649
For more visit www.genevalab.com or contact: 0843 5236344

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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