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The small Core powered loudspeaker from Mass Fidelity uses waveform synthesis to produce a huge walk-around sound. Jon Myles listens in and publisher Noel Keywood adds his views at the end.
‘Small is beautiful’ isn’t a phrase that gets bandied around much in the world of hi-fi…especially when you are talking about loudspeakers. For much as we’d all love a big sound from a compact cabinet, the laws of physics don’t make that easy.
In essence, good bass reproduction, smooth mid-band and extended treble tend to require a loudspeaker of a certain size - or so traditional thinking would have you believe.
And surely something measuring just 4” x 6” x 6” (H/W/D) cannot produce anything approaching hi-fi sound, can it? Especially when it also has 120 Watts of Class D amplification packed into that small form factor and costs just £479.
Which were exactly my thoughts when I unpacked Mass Fidelity’s Core wireless speaker. Yes, it really is that small - but Mass Fidelity are not thinking traditionally in terms of how it sounds.
It instead uses a proprietary sound processing technology called wave field synthesis which is said to recreate a stereo sound stage no matter where you place the unit or whatever your listening position is.
It’s rather a bold claim - but, as ever, hearing is believing and this is where the Core really started to impress.
Before that, though, let’s get to the basics. Yes, it’s small - but it also comes with a full range of inputs. So, you get Bluetooth connectivity (including apt-X for suitably equipped ‘phones) plus on the rear a digital optical input, USB for charging a smartphone and a 3.5mm analogue input.
There’s also an internal battery with a claimed 12-hour life meaning you can move the unit from room to room without worry or wondering whether it will cut out. Charge time is quoted as 2 hours. You can run it from its external charging unit (110V-240V), as well as internal battery.
Inside are five drivers - one on each side plus a pair at the front with a downward-firing bass unit to give some low-end heft. Mass Fidelity also makes a partnering sub-woofer for £299 - which I’ll come to later.
The optional subwoofer available for the Core, that we also reviewed, connects wirelessly; the wired output is for alternatives, such as the powered sub-woofers used in AV systems. Note that there’s no wired ethernet connection, no USB computer input and no control app. The Core is a straightforward, easy to use powered speaker, Waveform Synthesis being a major differentiating feature.
A small, light remote control alters volume, provides input selection, mute and on/off. Cores inter-communicate using a 5GHz wireless comms. system and can be used around the home to distribute music.
To start with, I placed the Core on a glass hi-fi shelf, paired it with an iPhone and sat back to listen. Which is when it became apparent that this little unit was doing something rather special.
I was immediately struck by the large sound being produced. And it wasn’t merely big - but detailed and nuanced.
Listening to Patti Smith’s ‘People Got The Power’ there was a drive and bounce to the track which ideally suited the music. It’s a hard-charging song which just begs you to turn the volume up - and here the Core didn’t disappoint, going loud without any sense of strain.
Wandering around the room while I listened also revealed one of the Core’s main strengths - there really doesn’t seem to be any obvious sweet spot.
I moved it from the glass shelf onto a desktop and the same qualities were apparent - there’s a room-filling sound that doesn’t appear to depend on positioning.
Reigning back on the tempo with Bruce Springsteen’s stark acoustic guitar and harmonica of ‘Mansion On The Hill’ also displayed a remarkable degree of subtlety. It’s a haunting track and one that doesn’t always translate well via small Bluetooth speakers - but the Core conveyed it with atmosphere and air around Springsteen’s gentle guitar. The same as a pair of large loudspeakers? Mmm, maybe not but the difference isn’t as large as you might think.
And actually that is the great thing about the Core. It provides a great deal of musical entertainment from a very small package.
Judged by its size the Core really shouldn’t work in pure hi-fi terms. Yet it does. It has a nicely balanced sound that combines thrust with a good degree of detail. It is an ideal Bluetooth loudspeaker for those looking for music around the house – offered at a low price,
MASS FIDELITY CORE £479
A small powered loudspeaker with a big, big sound. Impressive.
- small form factor
- ease of use
- big sound
- nothing at the price