With only two products under their built, you might be forgiven in thinking that Palo Alto are fairly juvenile as far as audio design goes, but what this Californian company lacks in product range, it certainly makes up for in quality. Case in point: The Cubik speakers.
The first thing to strike you when you take these speakers out of the box, or even if you take a glimpse at them on Apple’s store, is the form factor. Perfectly cubed and almost floating on their axis thanks to those somewhat inconspicuous feet they come bundled with. The press shots put the Cubiks next to a MacBook Pro, and it’s not hard to see why, they’re certainly designed with Apple in mind. In short, they look stunning.
Set-up admittedly takes a little longer than it ought to, and you need to have a flat-head screwdriver or small coin to hand for attaching those stands to the bottoms of the speakers. It’s a little bit tedious and it does make you wonder why Palo Alto couldn’t made better use of the packaging to have them pre-assembled, but at the same time it does give you the choice of whether you want to use the stands at all. Let’s be honest though, who doesn’t want a set of floating cubes on their desk?
Palo Alto boast that, because of the USB audio connection and full digital amplification, these speakers are reproducing your music note-perfect. Apparently normal speakers would convert a digital audio signal to analogue before amplification, thus losing and potentially distorting the sound. The Cubiks, however, are packing some clever chipsets that mean that nothing is converted to analogue until it hits those 2.5″ Danish-designed drivers. For the less technically-minded, this basically means that these speakers are meant to sound crisp, loud, and as close to real life as if your favourite artist was playing right in front of your Mac.
The reality? Well, that’s a little different. Whilst we haven’t really put the Cubik’s through their paces just yet, we’re unsure if they fully live up to the hype. Don’t get us wrong, they sound great – they delivery a clean and crisp sound, much clearer than a lot of analogue systems we’ve tried, but they lack a little in the bass department, and get ever-so-slightly distorted when you crank the volume. That said, they’re still a cut above most of the speakers of this size on the market.
Maybe we’re expecting too much though. We’re still nowhere near finished putting these through their paces, and for the most part we’re really impressed, but our main issue with these speakers is their price tag. At £179.99/$199.95 they’re certainly not the cheapest speakers on the market, and whilst their build quality is impeccable and certainly justifies the price tag, we’re not 100% sure (yet) if the sound quality does. Watch this space though, we’ll test them some more and keep you updated with our thoughts. We reckon they might well be growers.
The Cubik speakers are available at Apple Stores in Covent Garden and Regent Street as well as from Amazon, scan.co.uk and PCbuyIT.com.