Review Price £179.00
Manufacturer: Geneva Sound
The Model XS is Geneva Sound's smallest speaker system yet. Like all of Geneva Sound's audio gear, it offers a delightful design without neglecting sound quality. At £179, it's not cheap for such a dinky speaker, but sports a whopping three drivers and allows wireless streaming too.
Geneva Sound's Model XS is a neat little "handbag" speaker solution. Just 16cm long, it folds up into a neat little leather-bound carry case and weighs around 500g. A 2700mAh built-in battery supplies a claimed five hours of playback, boosting its portable cred into the big leagues.
Small speakers like this are generally low-end affairs, because reproducing good sound quality with tiny drivers isn't easy, but the Geneva Sound Model XS's design and build quality compares with its big brothers, the Model M and Model S docks. Then again, so does the price at £179.
The speaker unit slides-out across a hinge within the case. You can't take the central unit out, but this helps to make the XS feel like the luxury little device it is, and provides a good listening angle for the three drivers.
Under the contoured front grille are three speakers, two 1in tweeters and a 2.25in "woofer" - it's more accurately described as mid-range at this size. Also behind this grille is the display. Borrowing its UI style from the bigger Geneva Sound models, interface elements are relayed by a bold red LED array that sits behind the plastic front.
The buttons sit up top, controlling the volume, and which input to use. They're light-up touch sensitive panels, and so - like the display - they disappear when out of use. When powered-down, the Geneva Sound XS looks beautifully simple.
Functionality-wise, it's not a bog-standard portable speaker, though. There's an integrated FM tuner, the obligatory 3.5mm input and Bluetooth streaming, allowing you to connect wirelessly with smartphones, tablets and many more devices besides. Bluetooth is a much better choice than Airplay here. Not only is it more portable, needing no Wi-Fi network, it's more flexible too - happy to work with Android devices.
The glaring omission is DAB radio, but this is no surprise when DAB is not big in the US. Bluetooth streaming is the standard AD2P type too, rather than something more advanced like Apt-X, but for a device this size it'll make little or no difference.
Geneva Sound gave us a demo of the XS at CES 2012, but the show floor is no place to show off an audio product in action. We noted that it had an unusually warm and detailed sound for a speaker so small, but we did note some distortion when the volume was maxed-out. We'll be back with some proper impressions of the XS's sonic abilities when we get our hands on a review sample. The Geneva Sound Model XS comes in red, black and white finishes, and is available now.
Stylish, petite and flexible, the Geneva Sound Model XS fits perfectly with the much larger models in the range. It'll connect with just about anything too, thanks to its 3.5mm input and Bluetooth support. You do need to care about style, though, as the sound is naturally compromised by the small size of the unit and its drivers - and that £179 price takes it out of impulse buy territory for most of us.