This clutter-busting soundbase from French manufacturer Cabasse is designed to boost the sound quality of TVs up to 42-inches.
But it’s no ordinary soundbase – with built-in Wi-Fi and multiroom functionality, you can stream music using Cabasse’s smartphone app and send it to other compatible speakers around the house. That means you’re getting a TV sound upgrade and multiroom hi-fi system all in one convenient package.
Stream Base is a beautifully designed product that oozes French finesse. The glass top panel and silver edge trim combine elegantly by the black cloth grille hugging the front and sides. It sits on thick feet with silver trims.
The only downside to the design is that its conservative dimensions – 650 wide by 290mm deep – mean you can only place TVs up to 42-inches and weighing no more than 35kg on top. If you have a sizeable TV or living room, this isn't the soundbase for you.
Discretion is crucial for a soundbase and Cabasse’s minimal styling helps it blend in. The front panel sports a couple of Cabasse logos, but there are no buttons at all. A text display shines through the grille and provides helpful updates, but it doesn’t disappear when idle.
Cabasse opts for a "single-cable" setup, providing an optical input for connection to your TV but no HDMI sockets. There’s a 3.5mm mini-jack input for portable devices and a USB port, the latter allowing you to play music files stored on pen drives and stream them to other Cabasse multiroom speakers. You can also connect devices via apt-X Bluetooth, with NFC providing an easy way of pairing Android phones.
Cabasse reveals its audiophile intentions with an active four-way speaker design for each stereo channel. It uses two dome tweeters, four mid/bass drivers and a 13cm down-firing subwoofer. The tweeters receive 10W of power, while the mid/bass drivers get 25W and the sub gets 40W.
There are two sound modes to choose from – Hi-Fi and Home Theater. The latter attempts to expand the soundstage while keeping dialogue focused in the centre.
On the wireless side, the Cabasse allows you to stream music from Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal, as well as your own DLNA devices. It supports hi-res files up to 96/24 resolution.
Rigging up Stream Base is a piece of cake, thanks to the single-cable optical connection. The most complex part is connecting the unit to your router, which is all carried out through the Stream Control smartphone app. It found my Stream Base and latched onto the router without any fuss whatsoever.
The app is slick and cleverly organised, making it easy to find the songs you’re looking for. Streaming services and options are clearly signposted in the "Media" menu, with judicious use of logos and bold colours. Multiroom control is nice and simple, allowing you to create separate zones and choose which speakers you want in each one.
The Now Playing screen packs all the crucial options into a single page – playback controls, volume, track timeline – alongside the album artwork. I really can’t fault it.
Stream Base uses the same remote as other products in Cabasse’s streaming range. It’s a quirky egg-shaped zapper with gloss-black styling and minimal buttons. It sits nicely in the palm and the buttons are thoughtfully placed, although they’re a little too small.
So far, so good. But it's the Stream Base’s performance that really seals the deal. Its four-way design results in a full-bodied, sophisticated sound. The mid-range is solid and detailed, side-stepping the hardness and "honk" that can befall lesser soundbases. Voices are clearly projected, balanced out with the perfect amount of treble and bass depth.
Its sound is also packed with detail, revealing textures and nuances lesser soundbases leave behind. Fire up The Force Awakens on Blu-ray and the First Order invasion on Jakku is rendered with life-like clarity. It picks out the gentle crunch of footsteps on the dirt and the fizz of blaster shots, while Kylo Ren’s processed voice is buzzing with distorted detail and sibilance.
When Rey’s Theme starts to play, it’s absolutely mesmerising – the gorgeous flutes, percussion and strings have an airy, velvet-like quality that draws you in.
Dynamics are excellent. Lightsaber battles and explosions have plenty of bite, keeping you engaged in the scene. As Finn and Rey leg it from the Stormtroopers, it pelts along with remarkable energy. Activate Home Theater mode and the soundfield opens up, sending effects beyond the edges of the cabinet.
I can’t fault its bass output, either. The sub is capable of mustering a long, deep rumble when required, but transient beats are tight and punchy. Unlike some soundbases, bass doesn’t dominate or overwhelm the other speakers; it’s a well-balanced, cohesive presentation.
The only complaint – and it's a minor one – is that Stream Base’s compact dimensions limit the size of the soundstage. It struggles to fill rooms that larger soundbases such as the Geneva Model Cinema and Canton DM100 take in their stride – the Cabasse hits satisfying scale and authority only when pushed to near maximum, which doesn’t leave much headroom to go louder.
To be fair, though, Stream Base is only designed for TVs up to 42-inches – a screen size normally found in smaller rooms – so this lack of puff shouldn’t be an issue for its intended audience.
The Cabasse works brilliantly as a music streamer, pulling tunes from the cloud without fuss and playing them with wonderful poise and balance, whatever the resolution. "Can’t Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake thumps along with abundant energy and impressive timing, laced with taut bass and incisive treble.
From its decadent design to its cultured sound quality, the Cabasse Stream Base is every inch the premium soundbase. It isn't cheap, but it justifies the price tag with storming movie performance, offering insightful detail, pulse-racing dynamics and thumping bass notes.
There’s a terrific range of features, too, including apt-X Bluetooth, a generous driver array and all the key streaming services. A slick smartphone app makes streaming easy.
The only downside is that Cabasse doesn’t make a version for TVs beyond 42-inches and naturally lacks the puff to fill big rooms. Some prospective buyers might also be miffed by the lack of HDMI ports. But if none of that matters then this classy soundbase is well worth considering.
This upmarket TV soundbase brings classy design, polished sonics and slick music streaming to the table, but those with big living rooms need not apply.