One of the most popular genres of hi-fi accessory currently on the market is the Bluetooth speaker, Paul Rigby reviews the Teufel Bamster Pro
Bluetooth speakers are, as it where, in vogue. They are everywhere and available at all prices and target markets. The more audiophile variety, though, is slightly less numerous in terms of that blend of build and sonic quality combined with a decent price. German-based Teufel’s 10W, Class D design promises much in all of these areas offering the user Bluetooth 4.0 plus aptX with NFC capability. Sound is pushed through two 50mm aluminium ‘broadband’ mid/treble drivers plus two bass “passive membranes” spanning 46mm each. An integrated hands-free function transforms the device into a practical speaker phone when needed while the sealed speaker runs for total of 10 hours off a three hour charge and provides a Bluetooth range of around 20m.
A useful charging cradle means that you don’t have to actually plug the Bamster Pro into any wall socket of power supply. You just rest the chassis onto the small connectors on the cradle to charge the lithium ion battery.
For external wired sources, a line-in socket is provided while the unit weighs in at 0.77kg and spans 82 x 204 x 78mm.
The prime use of this Bluetooth speaker will be just as that and via convenient devices such as smartphones and laptops so I reached, firstly, for my iPhone 6S and played Kylie Minogue’s All The Lovers from her Abbey Road Sessions album. A mere MP3, I was interested to hear how the Teufel could handle this low quality source. Pairing was a simple matter of depressing the on-chassis Bluetooth button for three seconds and looking for the Teufel on my iPhone. This took a few seconds only to accomplish, in total.
I pumped up the volume to see if this diminutive unit could fill my listening room and it did without any real problems. All of the important aspects of the song were ‘visible’ to the ear. Minogue’s vocal was forward of the mix with the introductory guitar offering a detailed suite of early strumming. The backing vocals, drums and secondary percussion never intruded or bloomed into the music or attempted to swamp the Minogue vocals which said a lot about the instrumental separation. The promised bass response was a touch disappointing in that it was rather bloomy and indistinct so I moved the Teufel onto different surfaces and ended up placing two sorbothane feet from Elusive Audio (these are excellent variants that are sticky, keeping the Teufel in place: you can find the feet HERE priced at under £10. One tip, make sure that the feet are firmly ‘stuck’ both onto the Teufel and the resting surface.
With the feet in place, the bass firmed up and offered a stronger, more precise presentation that allowed more midrange detail to come through.
Before moving on, I hit the on-chassis Widening Sound button feature (just to the right of the Bluetooth button at about the two o’clock position on the controls – see image below) which added a reverb affect, akin to those pseudo ‘false surround sound’ features you sometimes see on lifestyle hi-fi. This added a ‘Kylie singing in an aircraft hangar’ feel to the music with Minogue positioned in the middle of the backing orchestra instead of in front. The soundstage was large, epic even, but chaotic. I would have liked to have been able to tweak this effect, possibly with a 3-position switch, to add and remove the effect depending on the music played. Finally, the shape of the chassis itself allows you to position the unit so that the speakers are pointing directly at you and you ears or pointing up in the air, around 70 degrees or so. Not great if you are sitting down but an ideal listening position if you are moving around your listening space, doing other things. This position offers a wider sweet spot and provides more chance of hearing midrange information.
I then paired the Teufel with my MacBook Pro laptop, via Bluetooth, and played St. Thomas from Sonny Rollins at 24bit/44.1kHz. The higher quality signal was suitably luxurious in tone and presentation. It was good to see the Teufel move up in quality with this music. At higher volumes, there was a slight spotlight within the upper midrange area giving a cool tone to the music during crescendos, while the bass was tight, informative and punchy with satisfying treble-infused cymbals adding a fragility to the arrangement.
Bringing the unit closer to my ears for a ‘near field’ sound test, the Rollins file lost that cool, slightly strident tone, merging more successfully with the mix and allowed the double bass to take a more forward and driving part of the mix. The instrumental separation was still sufficiently good to allow the piano to take a full part while cymbals were never masked or veiled.
Moving to the Line In socket, I connected my Astell & Kern AK120 and played Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff at 24bit/96kHz. This was the first time that the Teufel had produced music from a true high quality source.
In near field mode, the bass was particularly strong but never overwhelmed the soundstage while the vocal emerged from within the group. The rhythm guitar seemed quite prominent along with the drums. Playing this high quality track at distance actually improved the presentation somewhat, giving the music more time to breath before it reached the ear. Vocals were smooth and clear in tone, bass was punchy and informative while there was enough transparency to provide excellent midrange insight for the rhythm guitar and organ.
The better the source, the better the quality of the music you push through the Teufel, the great will be your sonic rewards. That said, its Bluetooth performance was excellent for the price. Easy to set up, easy to use with no real vices, it can be used as a room-filling lifestyle hi-fi device or as a near-field system in conjunction with a laptop, for example.
TEUFEL BAMSTER PRO BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
Tel: 00800 200 300 40
GOOD: easy to use, build quality, general sound quality for the price
BAD: ‘Widening Sound’ requires more technical development
Astell & Kern AK120 digital player
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