Urbanears Baggen and Stammen wireless speakers review: A multi-room audio system with old-school Hi-Fi charm

    My editor mentioned he’s been chiding himself for taking so lengthy to evaluate Urbanears’ entry into the wi-fi multi-room speaker market, however the Swedish producer ought to be pleased he waited. Software program and firmware updates have improved the efficiency of its Baggen and Stammen audio system, even when they haven’t solely rid the audio system of bugs.

    The earliest evaluations of the Urbanears system could be summed up with two phrases: Don’t trouble. One 12 months later, the corporate’s engineers have but to squash each bug from the $349 Stammen and its bigger sibling, the $449 Baggen. However persistence, younger grasshopper. Dig by the weeds and you will discover so much to love: Previous-school sonic allure, elegantly easy industrial design, and user-friendly ergonomics coupled with fashionable connectivity within the type of dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Apple AirPlay.

    Setup woes

    In my checks, establishing only a two-room Urbanears system was fraught with frustration and delays. It doesn’t assist that the customer-support staff primarily based in British Columbia communicates strictly by electronic mail and (generally) on-line chat. There isn’t a stay cellphone assist, not to mention a backend system that may swoop in through a distant connection to watch how your native community and kit are working and work some fixes. These are expertise the likes of Sonos and Bose tech-support personnel make the most of to troubleshoot their corporations’ multi-room audio methods.

    Jonathan Takiff

    The Urbanears Stammen in a blue-green shade slot in with my décor like one other accent pillow.

    After three days of emailing forwards and backwards, with a number of reboots of router, app, and the Urbanears audio system, I lastly bought the present up and working. It occurred after my newfound tech-support pal Ian puzzled if I might presumably boot up the audio system with the Android model of the Urbanears app (on an Samsung Galaxy eight smartphone), as an alternative of the iOS model I’d been utilizing on an iPhone X and an iPad Professional. Voila! Success! As soon as the audio system had been up to date with the most recent (as of March 15, 2018) firmware, the system communicated fairly readily with my iOS gadgets, too. Go determine.

    One other laborious lesson realized: Don’t transfer these audio system round when you’ve set them up, children. Even when there’s robust Wi-Fi reception on the identical community within the new location—in my case, a Samsung Join Dwelling Professional Wi-Fi mesh community—these relocated audio system will freeze up. The workaround: Reboot your router, then plug in and restart the affected audio system by holding down two buttons for seven seconds to provoke a contemporary connection. It’s not laborious, simply annoying.

    Making probably the most with much less?

    V-Tuner and Spotify are the one music-streaming companies Urbanears straight integrates, however the firm beats the competitors in the case of third-party machine assist. Along with streaming through Wi-Fi, you need to use Apple’s AirPlay, Google Chromecast, and Bluetooth. I discovered that native streaming works effectively at shut vary, however issues get iffy once you’re pushing a stream to the Baggen and the Stammen in separate rooms concurrently. The Baggen proved to be the higher sign catcher.

    baggen with sonos and bose Jonathan Takiff

    The Urbanears Baggen (middle) scored effectively sonically in opposition to top-of-the-Sonos-line Play:5 (left) and the Bose SoundTouch 30 (proper).

    Against this, Sonos audio system don’t assist Bluetooth, and so they want a workaround involving an AirPort Specific or Apple TV to receive AirPlay feeds (though the corporate has mentioned some current fashions and all new ones will support AirPlay 2 when it comes out). Actually, most Sonos customers don’t care as a result of these audio system serve up each music-streaming service possible. Present Bose SoundTouch gear welcomes Bluetooth transmissions and works internally with good assortment of streaming companies: Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, Deezer, V-Tuner, iHeartRadio, and Sirius/XM.

    Minimize from the identical fabric

    European speaker makers are wont to wrap their merchandise in woven materials (see our Libratone Zipp and Vifa Oslo evaluations for examples), which helps them mix into any house’s décor. Urbanears’ Baggen and Stammen are easy picket bins wrapped in textured, porous material on 5 sides. Steel grills beneath the entrance fabric defend the front-firing drivers, and there’s a sizeable bass-reflex port on the underside of the cupboard, together with connections for AC energy, a 5-volt/1-amp USB charging port to your smartphone or pill, and an auxiliary line-level enter to attach one thing like a CD participant or a turntable with an on-board pre-amp.

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