Those with an ear for quality will know that you have to spend a bit of money on a decent set of speakers if you expect them to do justice to your music. US-based audio design company Palo Alto attempts to deliver on this at a reasonable price – claiming comparable sound quality to BOSE PC speakers, for around half the cash.
Design and setup
Palo Alto’s Cubik PC/Mac speaker system certainly looks the part, adopting a square design with an attractive rubberised surface on each of the two speakers, with one offering volume, bass and mute controls alongside power and USB connections. The audio controls are nicely raised from the surface of the speaker, which makes them easy to access blind, but one particularly strange omission is the lack of a 3.5mm input or auxiliary port to connect another audio device.
Each speaker is mounted on a sturdy metallic stand so as to sit at an angle that allegedly offers high-quality audio from any position. Setup is very straightforward, and once the speakers are wired together and plugged in, our Windows test machine picked them up immediately once we connected them via USB. Full marks so far for design then, but can Palo Alto live up to its rather grandiose claims when it comes to performance?
Our first impression of the Cubiks was very good – they’re capable at delivering crisp high and mid-tones with clean separation to create a beautifully rounded sound environment – something that’s especially apparent when listening to classical and acoustic melodies.
Sadly, they don’t fare as well at the bottom end. Bass isn’t overly apparent in ‘standard’ mode, but when we enabled the bass boost we were met with an annoying rattle – something that’s particularly noticeable in bass-heavy tunes.
It should be stated that the Cubiks are impressively loud, and provided the bass boost is switched off, they can easily fill a large-sized room in a party environment – though again, quality starts to degrade at higher volumes.
With this in mind, we still think Palo Alto has priced its speakers a bit too high. Comparable rivals offering far cleaner bass are available for a lot less – even if they don’t boast quite such a compact, stylish design.
Company: Palo Alto Audio Design
- Clean high and mid-range create an impressive sound environment; beautifully designed.
- Poor bass response and no auxiliary port for connecting other devices.
With the performance of the Cubik speakers a bit of a mixed bag, we’re not convinced by its claim of matching high-end brands like Bose in terms of quality. With this in mind, you’re still paying quite a lot for Palo Alto’s alternative, and while those who would stick to less bass-heavy audio will be impressed, it’s not an area that we expected it to drop points on.