AeroSphère Large is a wireless multiroom music system blessed with a striking spherical design. This is a speaker designed to make a splash, eschewing the angles and straight lines of most wireless systems for something altogether more daring.
But it certainly isn't a case of style over substance. The Swiss brand has packed its audio orb full of high-end components and processing, all primed to deliver hi-fi stereo sound. Alongside Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, DLNA and Spotify Connect ensure all your wireless sources are catered for.
The swanky styling and extensive features are reflected in the hefty price, but if it sounds half as good as Geneva’s Model Cinema soundbase it’s sure to be money well spent.
AeroSphère’s bold design is as likely to appeal to interior decorators as music lovers, looking more like an ornament than a speaker. Measuring 405mm wide, the polymer dome is finished in a choice of red, black or white fabric that feels similar to snooker table baize.
The speaker sits on a steel base with a Geneva logo on the front that glows different colours to denote the unit’s status: green for AirPlay/DLNA; blue for Bluetooth; and pink for line input. Around the rear of the base are two buttons, power and setup, plus a 3.5mm mini-jack input.
The fabric and steel combo is stunning, but it reaches jaw-drop status when placed on the optional floorstand (£149). Fashioned from brushed aluminium, it features a large round base with a central pole that slots into a hole on the bottom of the AeroSphère (which also houses the power input). It raises the unit to 788mm high and hides the power cord, ensuring a clean, minimal appearance.
If you don’t opt for the stand then there are four small rubber feet in the box for tabletop placement. If it’s too large for your desired location then the AeroSphère Small might be more suitable.
The AeroSphère Large boasts a full house of wireless connectivity, including Apple AirPlay, DLNA, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth apt-X. You can access Spotify, TuneIn radio, Wimp and Deezer directly through the AeroSphère smartphone app (which I’ll come to in Operation), but to access music on networked devices you have to download a third-party DLNA player – Geneva recommends the BubbleUPnP app, which I used for my test.
Inside the domed cabinet are two 4-inch woofers, two 1-inch tweeters and an up-firing 6-inch subwoofer, arranged within three separate acoustic chambers. The drivers are individually powered by class-D digital amplifiers, which have been optimised using proprietary digital signal processing. The up-firing subwoofer is designed to offer consistent bass, no matter where you place it.
With Geneva’s optional AeroSphère Base (£449) added to your network, you can play music on up to four AeroSphère Larges in a multiroom system. Base features a built-in CD player, FM/DAB/DAB+ radio and another line input, all of which can be beamed to the AeroSphère via Wi-Fi.
Setting up the AeroSphère is ostensibly easy – just download the app and follow the instructions – but my experience was initially beset by small annoyances. The remote wasn’t working and I couldn’t get the fiddly battery compartment open. In addition, the app took ages to find my speaker and kept losing the connection.
But when it’s working, operation is easy. Credit for that goes to the AeroSphère smartphone app and its thoroughly modern but user-friendly design. The sparse homepage uses large black and red lettering against a crisp white backdrop, with a volume slider at the bottom and connected AeroSphères displayed in red. You can select a source from the list at the top.
You can adjust the bass and treble levels, while three DSP presets adjust the audio settings for different positions – freestanding, close to a wall or in a corner. These settings are well hidden in the setup menu, but are worth playing around with.
You can also change the speaker name or update the software by visiting the Geneva’s browser-based setup page. Two AeroSphères can be used in a stereo pair, using the app to assign the left and right channels.
The app is easy to use, but it’s a shame you can’t access DLNA devices directly from the AeroSphère app – switching between BubbleUPnP and AeroSphère is a bit of a pain.
The supplied infrared remote is a suitably stylish affair. Wafer thin and clad in a gorgeous silver finish, it features an array of large, well-labelled rubber buttons. The AeroSphère can be controlled with the app, but the physical remote saves you the hassle of firing it up just to adjust volume or switch sources.
In action, the AeroSphère Large works well. The Geneva switches automatically to DLNA or AirPlay sources once you start playing music – the Geneva logo turns green to confirm. I streamed music from smartphones and laptops on my network without any major problems, apart from a few drop-outs when streaming via AirPlay. The Bluetooth connection is stable and reliable.
The AeroSphère delivers stunning sound quality. Despite its spherical shape, the Geneva’s forward-facing drivers don’t emit omnidirectional sound like the Samsung R7, but the up-firing subwoofer ensures that the sound still fills the room.
Its deep, punchy bass notes give every track a solid foundation. Whether you’re sitting down or walking around the room, the Aerosphère’s muscular bass notes find a way to rattle your ribcage.
Play the disco funk of Daft Punk’s "Get Lucky" and its kick drums and bassline are solid yet agile, while the booming beats of "Unstoppable" by Lianne La Havas drive hard and fill the room. It’s a virtuoso performance, exciting and full-bodied.
AeroSphère’s smooth, precise high frequencies bring a bit of Swiss finesse to your music.
I thought the speaker’s prodigious bass output might overpower its finer aspects, but this isn't the case – hi-hats, strings and guitar plucks in "Get Lucky" cut through clearly, while Pharrell’s vocals sound clear. There’s no hardness when you push the volume up high, further evidence of the AeroSphère’s audiophile credentials.
AeroSphère does a good job with lower-quality files streamed via Bluetooth, but obviously hi-res files reveal its true audiophile colours. A 96kHz/24-bit FLAC file of "Too In Love" by David Benoit and Jane Monheit sounds gorgeous: There’s plenty of detail in Monheit’s voice and a crisp leading edge to the Latin-flavoured guitar.
If I'm being picky, the AeroSphère’s soundstage could be better. Rather than creating a wide audio space in which instruments are given room to breathe, the Geneva comes at you like a solid wall of sound. It’s certainly cohesive and detailed, but it lacks the "live performance" feel that audiophiles seek.
If you’re the sort of buyer for whom boundary-pushing design is as important as polished sound quality, then the Geneva AeroSphère will be right up your alley.
Its striking spherical enclosure looks right at home in contemporary living spaces, and makes jaws drop when placed on the bespoke floorstand. Looks like this don’t come cheap, but the AeroSphère more than justifies the expense.
However, it’s the AeroSphère’s sound quality that really seals the deal – rich in bass, detail and dynamics, this is a system that makes music sparkle, although some hi-fi purists might yearn for a wider, more spacious soundstage.
Geneva’s wireless speaker backs up its gob-smacking looks with powerful, dynamic sound quality.