Review: Kvart & Bølge SoundSommeliers
Generic black-or-brown speaker designs giving you the blues? The good folks at Kvart & Bølge may have an answer for you.
Kvart & Bølge SoundSommeliers
Great detail and tone. Champs in the mid-high frequencies. Driver design uses one unit to cover all the frequencies. Groovy visual design, and you can even design your own.
Bass heads will be disappointed; you will want a subwoofer. High end can get too crispy at times.
The audio company’s SoundSommeliers stereo speakers come in an array of designs that are anything but boring. The colors read like the drink menu at a Tex-Mex tourist trap: “Day of the Dead,” “Roaring Coyote” and “Acuarela.” “Loco” or “bizarro” would be more appropriate descriptions.
But uniqueness is the point, as the brightly colored speakers inject some much-needed whimsy into the sober realm of stereo loudspeakers. Sure, you can find some truly crazy designs in the upper realms of audiophilia, but most otherworldly speakers command astronomical prices reaching into five figures. Kvart-Bølge’s SoundSommeliers can be had for a much more sane $350.
The offbeat design philosophy doesn’t stop with the finish. At 4 inches wide, 6 inches deep, and 33 inches tall, the speakers are slim and unobtrusive, almost to a fault—they weigh a mere 13 pounds, and a glancing blow can easily topple them. But if you live in a small apartment, or don’t want speakers consuming valuable real estate in your living room, the Sommeliers fit the bill. They would even make a nice stand-in for a soundbar, assuming you have the space by your TV to situate them.
With their efficient cabinet and driver design, it doesn’t take a lot of juice to drive these speakers, and almost anything from a pre-amp to a generic integrated amp sourced from the thrift store would do just fine.
Instead of woofers and tweeters, the speakers employ a Tymphany neodymium driver to handle all of the frequencies. An unusual approach, but it delivers surprising results. The sound imaging is striking right off the bat, with natural tones and a crisp, round sound that defies their size and shape. In the dark, you would have a difficult time guessing the location of the speakers, given the impressive staging.
Where they really shine is with more acoustically-oriented music, especially jazz, R&B, country, and other styles that don’t flood the sound spectrum with guitars and drums. So you wouldn’t want to crank speakers like this with heavier music—hip hop, metal and the like—because they favor the higher frequencies. The high-end is remarkably detailed on these speakers, and while this is normally an attribute, they can at times sound too bright. The bass sounds clean and natural, but is also a bit lacking on the low end. While listening to music at high levels, the speakers can start to sound thin after awhile. With the right subwoofer, I’d bet these issues would be substantially resolved.
That said, for the money, these are some of the better speakers I’ve had the opportunity to hear in quite some time, and would be well-suited for most listening tastes and environments. Oh, they also come in Matte Black and Wenge Wood (aka, brown), for you traditionalists.