Hello soundstage. Moving to my desktop, the satellites suddenly stretched 120cm apart to develop the usual panoramic stereo illusion. Because Audiobyte's Hydra X1+ USB bridge lacks Toslink—being high-brow audiophile, it only outputs I²S via HDMI, coax, BNC and AES/EBU—and because I had no S/PDIF cable with a normal plug on one end but that now necessary 3.5mm on the other, I couldn't hifi my PC. JRiver Media Center just populated the screen with album covers to look the part. Refusing to go wireless, I fell back on USB thumb media. This netted a blue light and instant tunes, albeit no navigation niceties other than track last/next via the IR remote. Here soundgil's mobile app would make all the difference as Jean-Marc chronicled in his review.
With the outer cubes toed in straight at my ears and angled up, I still heard a bit of that midrange-centric tonal balance which favored relaxed meaty density over lit-up twitchy airiness and micro resolution; just by a rather smaller shift than earlier. Considering the likely oft-compressed tunes which this micro system will process via blue-in-the-teeth smart phones, such a voicing now struck me as a clever life-saving antidote. To finally also test Toslink, I borrowed my wife's MacBook Pro, her Apple DVD drive to spin, hello Dolly, physical media, then grabbed another mini adapter for the far end of soundgil's included black Toslink cable.
Showing now dark green as though 'go' on the front, the soundgil engines kicked in and roared, no Audirvana/PureMusic shenanigans involved. Running through Nasiba Abdullajeva's Majnun Ethno Pop from Uzbekistan à la Sevara Nazarkhan and Yulduz Usmonova at stout levels, I enjoyed even richer colors and denser corporeal chunky images.
I started to view these Taiwanese bricks as no less than my usual Swiss, just a different equally valid proposition aimed at a more youthful clientele. These shoppers (or their parents) might start stacking the satellites atop their center module for a no-soundstage cluster fed low-brow MP3 files to leave much under the table. But without changing hardware—just letting the sats spread to create distance for proper left/right expanse elevated and angled to hit their pink targets, then running CD-quality 'full resolution' files—this micro rig will scale up in sound quality to, indeed, become someone's first step into the high end through various more intimate settings. After all, even diehard audiophiles will feel hard pressed to justify these €4'000/pr Fram Midi 150 actives from Poland for such applications no matter how advanced they here sound.
This being precisely what soundgil set out to do and considering the bonsai aspects, I must say, Mission Impossible accomplished should you wish to accept it. Otherwise this review will self-destruct in twenty seconds.
Rose gold is just one of the four options before self destruction. And yes, JM's wish for a specially lined bag to quickly but safely take these and their accessories to a weekend pad, beach house or friend's makes a lot of sense. If soundgil receive sufficient such requests, perhaps a cube-it travel bag will show up as an optional accessory like those column footers already have.
Bring it or bling it?
Why should looking good and stylish not go hand in glove with proper sonics? soundgil for one don't believe there's any conflict. Good for them!