According to its web site, Urbanears is “a collective out of Scandinavia” that’s most generally recognized for its high-quality but reasonably priced headphones. But the corporate additionally presents a conveyable Bluetooth speaker known as the Rålis, which presents luxurious sound and a surprisingly constant tonal high quality regardless of the place you’re inside its sound area. (TechHive reviewed Urbanears’ Baggen and Stammen Wi-Fi speakers in May 2018.)
Urbanears Rålis characteristic set
The Rålis is kind of substantial, measuring 7.7 x 7.2 x 5.4 inches (HxWxD) and weighing in at a hefty 6.2 kilos. A thick canvas carrying deal with allows you to schlep it anyplace, although it’s pretty cumbersome and heavy, making it considerably much less handy than different fashions. Its easy, streamlined visage epitomizes basic Scandinavian design, and its IPX2 water-resistance ranking means it is going to survive a bit of splashing.
Behind steel grilles inside a rear-ported cupboard, two 2.0-inch mid/tweeters are powered by 5 watts every, and one 4-inch woofer will get its personal 10W amp. One mid/tweeter faces ahead, whereas the opposite one faces rearward; the woofer faces ahead with a port on the again. The frequency response is specified from 50Hz to 20kHz (no tolerance given).
The Rålis makes use of what Urbanears calls a “Blumlein technique,” which is predicated on the work of audio pioneer Alan Blumlein. The onboard DSP compares the left and proper channels of the incoming stereo sign and identifies similarities and variations between them. It optimizes the widespread and distinction alerts individually earlier than mixing them collectively.
Interestingly, the entrance and rear mid/tweeters emit totally different sounds, however they aren’t merely the left and proper channels of the unique stereo sign. According to Urbanears, “The two signals coming out in the front and back differ from each other in a much more complex way.” As a outcome, “The sound is not only different and bigger, it is also more versatile for outdoor usage and life on the road. There are no sweet spots here; this product gives you a true 360° sound experience where any angle is the best angle.”
As a conveyable speaker, the Rålis battery supplies greater than 20 hours of play time on a full cost. Even higher, charging takes solely two hours.
The main enter is Bluetooth 5.0 with help for the A2DP and AVRCP profiles; it doesn’t help superior codecs comparable to aptX or AAC. It can wirelessly join to 2 totally different Bluetooth sources, permitting them to share DJ duties. The solely different enter is a 3.5mm analog-audio jack that permits you to join non-Bluetooth supply units.
In addition, a USB port allows you to cost your moveable audio supply, which is mighty useful. I want you would additionally play audio recordsdata from a USB system, which might require a built-in media participant. I assume you possibly can’t have every part.
Most of the controls are discovered on the highest of the unit. The flush-mounted bodily buttons embody play/pause, skip ahead, skip again, quantity up, and quantity down. The energy and Bluetooth pairing buttons are discovered on the facet, together with a tiny LED indicator.
Urbanears Rålis efficiency
With a rear-firing mid/tweeter and a port on the again of the cupboard, it’s greatest to not place the Rålis up in opposition to a wall. I positioned it on a desk removed from any partitions.
Starting with “Dark Moon, High Tide” from the album Sound Magic, Vol. 1 by Afro Celt Sound System, the Rålis sounded wealthy, deep, and clean on the synth-heavy monitor. The bass was a bit boomy, however not tremendously, and the remainder of the sound was clear and clear.
I had the identical impression listening to Huayucaltia taking part in “Un Espejo” from Amazonas. This South American band options pan flutes, guitars, bass, and percussion, which sounded wealthy and full with barely bloated bass. The pan flutes, guitars, and percussion had been clearly rendered.
For a bass-heavy monitor, I listened to Paul Simon’s “The Boy in the Bubble” from Graceland. Once once more, the Rålis had a deep wealthy sound with nice rendition of Simon’s vocals. The bass was a bit boomy, however the impact labored higher on this monitor than most.
Moving on to pure rock, I cued up Jimi Hendrix’s model of “All Along the Watchtower” from Experience Hendrix—The Best of Jimi Hendrix. As anticipated by now, the Rålis sounded nice on the vocals and guitar, whereas the bass was nonetheless barely boomy.
Turning to classical music, I performed Three Ballads from the Catskills: III. The Old Spotted Cow, written by Norman Cazden, my spouse’s father. The efficiency was by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra below Igor Buketoff. Interestingly, the bass was not as boomy on this monitor as I had heard on the others, and there was good delineation of the instrumental solos and sections.
Finally, I listened to the Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel as organized for the Pachelbel String Quartet and recorded on its eponymous album. The Rålis had a pleasant, wealthy sound—a bit thick, however with good definition of the 4 devices. I discovered myself actually liking the sound of the cello coming from this speaker.
Urbanears Rålis in comparison with the JBL Xtreme 2
For comparability, I put the JBL Xtreme 2 subsequent to the Rålis and performed the identical tracks on each. I reviewed the JBL Xtreme 2 for TechHive, and I like its sound very a lot. Also, as of this writing, its value is $219.95 on Amazon and JBL’s web site, which may be very near the Rålis’ checklist value of $199.99.
In common, I discovered the JBL to be much less boomy than the Rålis, although it nonetheless had loads of bass. This was particularly obvious on “Dark Moon, High Tide,” “Un Espejo,” and “All Along the Watchtower.” Interestingly, “The Boy in the Bubble” sounded barely closed in with a bit much less bass.
I assumed the orchestral monitor sounded a bit strident on the JBL, whereas the string quartet was a bit thinner. However, these variations had been fairly minor; it took a side-by-side direct comparability to carry them out.
As I used to be listening to each audio system, I moved round to see how the sound modified at totally different positions. The sound of the Rålis was fairly constant besides close to 90 levels off axis, the place the mids and highs fell off considerably, making the bass much more pronounced.
By distinction, the sound of the JBL modified extra at totally different positions. That speaker reproduces a stereo sign from two pairs of forward-firing drivers (tweeter and woofer for every channel), and the tonal high quality various extra at totally different positions than the Rålis, although it wasn’t something that might be apparent with out a direct comparability.
The Urbanears Rålis is an excellent speaker
I actually just like the sound of the Urbanears Rålis. It’s wealthy, deep, and clean with good readability. The bass is a bit boomy on most tracks I listened to, however not sufficient to be a critical disadvantage—heck, bass heads will like it! And the so-called Blumlein method works fairly properly at making the sound constant over a large space across the speaker.
My solely actual concern is its measurement and weight, that are each a blessing and a curse. The giant measurement permits for a comparatively giant woofer, and the load bespeaks strong construct high quality. But you received’t be tossing this speaker in your tote bag with a bunch of different stuff; it requires some dedication to lug alongside.
If you make that dedication—which incorporates shelling out practically $200—the Urbanears Rålis will rock your subsequent gathering with out calling consideration to itself.