This week we tested Cabasse’s The Pearl speaker, the new connected speaker entirely made in France. The Breton manufacturer promises high-end audio performance with this spherical speaker featuring a homemade coaxial speaker.
Cabasse The Pearl: design
The Pearl is a spherical speaker fitted with two drivers, including a coaxial model. This shape is often used by Cabasse and has the advantage of limiting the interference caused by soundwaves inside of the speaker, thus allowing the drivers’ membranes to move without constrain. Obviously, the Devialet Phantom comes to mind when looking at Cabasse’s The Pearl, although the latter is much bigger and is fitted with an actual bass driver in the back.
Cabasse The Pearl: speaker drivers
The Pearl features a 5”, front-firing, 2-way coaxial driver. The cone seems to be made of braided carbon fiber and the soft dome tweeter is placed at its center. The main benefit of this construction is a particularly coherent sound.
At the back of the speaker is a 10” bass driver fitted with a carbon fiber cone. By pairing these drivers, Cabasse announces a frequency response of 14 Hz to 24 kHz. These measurements were undoubtedly not taken in a 3 or 6 dB range, as reaching 14 Hz with this large a driver loaded in a such a restricted closed-enclosure is basically impossible. While The Pearl does come close to 14 Hz -which is a frequency we do not hear but rather physically feel at high volume- but it’s strongly attenuated. This is far from being a crucial matter, and the important information here is that this speaker features a large bass driver.
The frontal coaxial driver and the bass driver of Cabasse’s The Pearl do not share the same enclosure.
The frontal speaker driver is loaded in a small enclosure while the woofer uses virtually all of the speaker in order to reach lower frequencies.
Cabasse The Pearl: amplification
Cabasse opted for a triple amplification system for The Pearl. Two similar amplifiers with a maximum power rating of 300 W per module are used to power the mid driver and the tweeter. The amplifier used to power the bass driver has a power rating of 1000 W and twice as much in peak performance. One may wonder if so much power is really necessary, especially for the tweeter.
Cabasse The Pearl: compatible music services
Deezer, Qobuz, Tidal, and Napster are all compatible with The Pearl. As of today, the speaker is not yet compatible with Spotify, Google Play Music, and Apple Music. Other possible streaming sources include DLNA servers accessible via a local network (NAS, computer, …), Internet radios, and audio files stored on a smartphone using the Cabasse Stream Control app.
Cabasse The Pearl: external sources
The Cabasse The Pearl features a stereo RCA line input which may be used to connect any type of external analog source: DAP, CD player, turntable (with an integrated or external preamp)… A digital optical Toslink input is also available to connect a TV or a Google Chromecast audio, for example. Lastly, The Pearl is also fitted with a USB type A port to listen to audio files (FLAC, ALAC, MP3,…) stored on a USB flash drive or hard drive.
Because the Cabasse The Pearl is a multiroom speaker, all sources can be streamed to a second The Pearl (for a stereo effect) or several others placed in various rooms.
The Pearl is Bluetooth compatible and is currently using the universal SBC codec, but Cabasse has announced a future update for AAC compatibility.
Cabasse The Pearl: test conditions
To listen to Cabasse’s The Pearl, we installed the Cabasse Stream control app for Android. The model we tested was an early version and did not feature the integrated auto calibration function. As a result, we had to listen to the speaker without EQ (the Cabasse app for Android does not feature an equalizer). This function should be made available via a future update along with compatibility with Amazon Alexa speakers.
The speaker is labeled “Works with Google Assistant”, but we couldn’t get it to work with a smartphone running Android 9 (Xiaomi Mi 8). According to the video tutorial available on Cabasse’sofficial website, it is possible to vocally control playback after pairing the speaker with a device featuring Google Assistant (Google Home speaker or Google Home Mini for example). Note that The Pearl isn’t fitted with a Chromecast module, which means the speaker cannot be set as a listening device with Chromecast compatible apps.
The mobile app takes the user through the network connection process step-by-step. Not a single problem here. Pairing the Bluetooth remote control is easy and is done through the pairing button.
Cabasse The Pearl: listening impressions
We listened to FLAC files (24-bits) using the Cabasse Stream Control app, as well as Internet radios. The tonal balance puts the emphasis on the mids, while high frequencies are silky and slightly withdrawn. The low-mids and high-bass are not particularly expressive but the overall balance is not dramatically affected as a result. Moreover, the infrabass is generous and adds authority to the restitution. Nevertheless, the sound stage clearly lacks depth and width when using only one speaker.
When turning the volume way up, the sound stage is a bit more compressed but the lows remain coherent and the tweeter unfazed.
Cabasse The Pearl: compared to…
Devialet Gold Phantom: we have a preference for the Cabasse speaker when it comes to the restitution of the high frequencies, as it is a little more composed thanks to its soft dome tweeter. Because it features a traditional 10” driver fitted with a light cone, The Pearl is a bit more responsive in the lows. Compared to the Devialet Classic Phantom (soft dome, less powerful amplifier, probably the most balanced speaker of the range), Cabasse’s The Pearl ensures a better restitution of the lows. On the other hand, when it comes to the control app, Devialet clearly has the upper hand.
SONOS Play:5: by itself, the SONOS Play:5 multiroom speaker cannot rival with The Pearl when it comes to low frequencies. To do so, it would be necessary to add a SONOS Sub wireless subwoofer, or a second SONOS Play:5 speaker. The price of such a system would still be lower than that of Cabasse’s The Pearl. The SONOS app also benefits from a much better design and remains the market leader.
KEF LS 50 Wireless: the KEF LS 50 Wireless is not a multiroom speaker, but it features a coaxial driver designed by a brand celebrated for its drivers, just like Cabasse. For a much more affordable price, one can purchase a pair of KEF speakers and enjoy stereo sound restitution (the two speakers have to be connected using an RJ-45 cable). While, the LS 50 Wireless ensures a sound restitution which meets the standards set for high-fidelity, it cannot get as loud as The Pearl.
Cabasse The Pearl: conclusion
It is disappointing that the app is not as user-friendly as the ones developed by market leaders because Cabasse’s The Pearl ensures a solid sound restitution. We would have liked more depth in the sound layering to compete with the best active hi-fi speakers on the market. Nevertheless, The Pearl is an eye catching object.
What we liked:
- The design
- The substantial lows
- The RF remote control
We would have liked:
- A more comprehensive control app
- A deeper soundstage (using two speakers will probably solve the issue)
- Metal decorative rings around the sphere