Scandyna SmallPod - Value & Verdict

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

Sound Quality

So how does this unusual combination of radical style and substance turn out? On the whole the answer is very well, but with a few caveats. Most notable are the aforementioned effects of the nautilus enclosure. Sound is all about vibration, but how the nautilus design takes advantage of it results in a wonderfully clean, detailed delivery with an excellent balance between lows, mids and highs.

The sound signature is also commendably neutral, perhaps jarringly so for such an eccentric design but it does mean the speakers are flexible and adept over a wide range of musical genres. As a 2.0 setup bass at higher volumes – particularly in bass-heavy tracks - starts to tail off, but this is understandable and Scandyna offers 'The Ball Mk2' (a 60W Class D sub) for those looking for further grunt at lower frequencies. For mainstreams users, however, 2.0 will be enough – particularly in rooms of under 5m x 5m - to get away with both music and home cinema.

Where the caveats lie are not in the SmallPod as such, but in the Bluetooth. Quite simply Bluetooth is not the correct option for a premium speaker. We understand the convenience and compatibility it offers, but audio quality takes a nosedive that even the most casual listener will spot. AptX inclusion would have helped greatly, but Direct or AirPlay would have been more sensible – even with the backup of Bluetooth.

Value

Given its style pretensions we aren't surprised to see the SmallPod Bluetooth clock in at an eye watering £630 and should you want The Ball Mk2 sub it will add a further £499 onto the price tag. For the well heeled determined to make a design statement the good news is you will be getting speakers that are far more than just a (subjective) pretty face.

For others less enamoured by the curves, however, the picture changes dramatically. The obvious example is fellow Nordic audio aficionado Genelec as its smaller and far cheaper 6010A speakers can stand toe-to-toe with the SmallPod Bluetooth for under £400 while the larger pro-audio focused 8020B has them well beaten for under £600. Yes there's no Bluetooth, but you don't really want Bluetooth and the Audio Pro WP100 wireless transmitter or Apple AirPort Express would be a far smarter investment for your cable free listening pleasure.

Verdict

Designer technology doesn't normally have its foundations in scientific research, but in the case of Scandyna's SmallPod Bluetooth that is the happy history lesson. Consequently they sound as good as they look, and style fanatics will find them the perfect finishing touch to any room. On the flip side they come at a hefty premium and for those not fussed or actively turned off by their looks you can find better bang for your buck. Meanwhile only the most casual listeners will be happy to entertain wireless streaming over Bluetooth in this price range and we'd suggest circumventing it entirely in favour of quality lossless dongles.

Overall Score

7

Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Sound Quality 8
  • Value 6

SprintAl

December 6, 2012, 4:41 pm

Nice well balanced review.

There are several versions of the Smallpod though, passive (without amplification), Smallpod Active (with amps but no bluetooth) and Smallpod Active Bluetooth as reviewed.

I believe Scandyna also have a separate lossless wireless dongle which can be used with the standard Active pack to achieve the desired results as suggested in the review.

I've found them online for the following prices:
Passive: £299 / pair
Active: £399 / pair
Bluetooth Active £475 / pair.
Wireless Dongle: £127 a set.

Hope this helps !

Gordon394

December 7, 2012, 7:09 pm

Thanks SprintAl, I do know about the other SmallPod speakers but obviously we have to review what we have on its individual merit. Lossless can be added by the Scandyna dongle or even AirPlay, but it is adding a lot to an already expensive system.

I believe we'll see upgraded systems and possibly a price cut from Scandyna in 2013, so it is best to hold fire for now.

Cheers!

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