Review: Audio Pro Drumfire

0
1254

This week we tested the Audio Pro Drumfire connected speaker, a beautiful 2.1 model which looks just like a guitar amp with a matching cabinet. This big speaker is compatible with WiFi and Bluetooth wireless transmissions, and handles the AirPlay protocol, multiroom streaming, and a comprehensive list of music streaming services including Spotify Connect, Tidal, Deezer, TuneIn, and Qobuz among others. A CD player, a turntable with a RIAA preamplifier or a UHD TV can also be easily connected to the Drumfire. The Audio Pro Drumfire is comprised of a 2-way speaker paired with an independent subwoofer and has much to offer. So, is this loudspeaker really as good as it looks?

The Audio Pro Drumfire is comprised of a 2-way speaker paired with an independent subwoofer.

Audio Pro Drumfire: the brand

With over 40 years of experience in the design of active speakers for domestic use, the Swedish brand took advantage of the development of wireless transmission technologies and digital music to put its expertise to good use and design wireless audio systems. The entire Audio Pro catalog features speakers based on the latest wireless technologies: connected speakers, portable Bluetooth speakers, wireless subwoofers, wireless hi-fi speakers and multiroom speakers. Numerous Audio Pro speakers received awards from the specialized press, including the emblematic What Hi-fi? magazine. The Audio Pro Drumfire connected speaker also acquired the coveted 5 star label awarded by the magazine, but is it on par with the rest of Audio Pro’s catalog?

Audio Pro Drumfire: design

Like all of the products in Audio Pro’s catalog, the Audio Pro Drumfire connected speaker benefits from a meticulous design and high-quality build, combining high-quality materials and vintage design. This model is comprised of a two-way speaker (Audio Pro D1) and a subwoofer (Audio Pro DF), both covered in a leatherette finish with handmade overstiches. This design instantly brings to mind a guitar half-stack comprised of an amp and a cab. The control interface is embedded in the top panel of the speaker and features metal buttons which are very pleasant to use. These buttons allow the user to rapidly select a source (WiFi, Bluetooth, AUX, line-in), start playback, adjust the sound volume, and select one of the 4 available presets. Additional commands are accessible on the back of the subwoofer to adjust its sound level, its cut-off frequency (50 to 120 Hz) and its phase adjustment (0 – 180°).

The Audio Pro Drumfire connected speaker features a metal control interface which lets the user easily select the source, start playback, adjust the sound volume, and select one of the 4 available presets.

Audio Pro Drumfire: versatility

The Audio Pro Drumfire multiroom speaker is fitted with a class-D amplifier capable of delivering up to 300 Watts. Out of the total available power, 100 Watts are used to power the speaker, which features a pair of 1” dome tweeters and a pair of 4.5” mid-bass drivers. These two drivers are loaded in a bass-reflex enclosure. The other 200 Watts are used to power the subwoofer’s 8” long-throw driver. This driver is also loaded in a bass-reflex enclosure with a back-firing port. As a result, it is important to make sure that the speaker is not too close to a wall or in a corner. This configuration ensures a frequency response of 45 Hz to 22 kHz for the loudspeaker part, and of 30 Hz to 120 Hz for the subwoofer.

The control panel at the back of the subwoofer may be used to adjust its sound level, its frequency response (50 to 120 Hz) and the phase (0 – 180°).

Audio Pro Drumfire: versatility      

The Audio Pro Drumfire was designed first and foremost to offer optimal wireless sound restitution and is therefore compatible with Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Tidal, Deezer, TuneIn, Qobuz, iHeart Radio, and Napster. Wired sources such as a CD player, a UHD TV, or an audiophile DAP can also be connected using the speaker’s stereo RCA and 3.5 mm mini-jack inputs. Better yet, the subwoofer is connected to the speaker using a detachable RCA cable, which means you can connect it to a hi-fi amplifier or AV receiver. Although it wasn’t designed for this exact purpose, it has proven itself to be particularly convincing when assisting a pair of compact speakers during our test sessions.

The subwoofer is connected to the speaker by a detachable RCA cable, which allows you to connect it to a hi-fi amplifier or AV receiver.

Once connected to the local network via WiFi or an Ethernet connection, the Audio Pro Drumfire can join a group of up to 6 multiroom compatible Audio Pro speakers. Such speakers include the Audio Pro Addon BT C10 and Audio Pro Addon BT C5 for example. It is then possible to listen to the same track in each room equipped with a compatible speaker, or to a different track with each speaker. The real strength of the multiroom function is that it permits stereo sound restitution with a second Drumfire to enhance spatialization. For this test, we first listened to the Audio Pro Drumfire by itself, then in stereo configuration.

Audio Pro Drumfire: test conditions

The Audio Pro Drumfire is very simple to set up. First, place the speaker on the subwoofer and connect them using the provided coaxial cable. Nevertheless, we were disappointed by the cable which comes with the speaker. It is very short which means you can’t place the speaker anywhere but on the subwoofer. The quality of the connectors is far from being great and they easily bent when we moved the speaker. We recommend using a longer and better quality subwoofer cable if you would like to move the speaker away from the subwoofer.

The Audio Pro Drumfire is designed so that the main speaker can be placed on top of the subwoofer. With a longer subwoofer cable, it is possible to separate the two parts.

Then, simply connect the various sources and the Ethernet cable if need be. In this particular instance, we connected the Audio Pro Drumfire to our local WiFi network. We used a Netgear Orbi Satellite repeater placed in the same room for optimal data transmission speed. Connecting the speaker to the WiFi network is a simple operation which can be easily carried out using the Audio Pro Controller app for iOS and Android. The connection process is the same for each speaker added to the network.

Connecting the Audio Pro Drumfire to the local network is done in just a few steps using the dedicated app for iOS and Android.

The Audio Pro Controller app may also be used to set up the Drumfire. It is possible to rename the speaker, adjust the bass and treble, program a sleep timer or an alarm. You can also stream music via the Audio Pro app, or directly via the various music streaming services using the AirPlay, Bluetooth, or Spotify Connect functions.

The Audio Pro Controller app can be used to set up the speaker, rename it, to adjust bass and treble, and to start playback.

Despite a slight delay, the app works well when it is used to control one Drumfire. On the other hand, things get a bit more complicated with a stereo pair or a multiroom system. The bass and treble adjustment offered with a single speaker can only be applied to the main speaker with this type of configuration. The only way to fine-tune the sound restitution of the second speaker is to use the commands on the speaker itself. However, the speakers’ sound level can only be synchronized using the app, which means that you have to use a smartphone or a tablet, even when the speakers are connected to a wired source such as a CD player for example.

The Audio Pro Drumfire can be paired with another Drumfire for stereo restitution using the control app.

Audio Pro Drumfire: listening impressions

We started by listening to Hi-Res Audio files on one Audio Pro Drumfire speaker using a Qobuz Sublime account without the subwoofer. The pair of tweeters and the two mid-bass drivers create a convincing stereo effect. Of course, the sound stage is not as expansive as it would be with an actual stereo installation with a speaker on each side of the room, but it is still much wider than it would be with a mono speaker. However, there is too much emphasis placed on the mids and highs. The lows are almost completely absent from the sound stage, which results in a notable lack of energy. This is not particularly surprising considering that the Drumfire is designed to work with its subwoofer.

Without the Drumfire’s subwoofer, the lows are almost completely absent and the restitution suffers from a notable lack of energy.

In order to compensate the lack of bass during this first listening session, we connected the subwoofer for the rest of our test. After a few minutes spent fine-tuning the speaker in order to ensure proper bass restitution based on the acoustic properties of our room, the Drumfire proved to be quite convincing. The sound restitution is substantial, especially in the low frequency range, and we had to limit the subwoofer to a quarter of its total power. The mids are well placed and punchy. However, the highs could be a bit more precise and soft. This issue is particularly noticeable with more demanding recordings. For example, we listened to Sweet Child O’Mine by the Guns N’ Roses and the guitar opening was lacking in precision and details.

The sound restitution is generous, especially in the low frequency range.

We concluded our test by pairing a second Audio Pro Drumfire speaker in order to obtain a stereo pair. We listened to Hi-Res audio files streamed from Qobuz, and the sound signature was identical but the spatialization was worthy of an actual hi-fi system. Note that keeping the lows under control can become a problem in a small room which is not acoustically treated for optimal results, unless you are into throbbing bass or want to declare war on your neighbors.

In stereo mode, the Audio Pro Drumfire multiroom speaker ensures a spatialization worthy of a hi-fi installation.

Audio Pro Drumfire: compared to…

KEF LSX Wireless : in a stereo set up, the mids and highs are more precise with the LSX Wireless, which also offer many of the Drumfire’s network functions. However, the KEF speakers do not come with a subwoofer, but feature a sub output.

Audio Pro Addon BT C5A : the sound signature is comparable to that of the Drumfire when the latter is used without its subwoofer, but the Drumfire still offers more generous lows thanks to its two mid-bass drivers.

Google Home Max : the lows are a lot less nuanced and precise with the Google Home Max. This is probably due to a lack of flexibility in the mids, which results in a compressed soundstage which can get tiring over time.

Klipsch The Three with Google Assistant : the Klipsch speaker benefits from slightly cleaner high-mids. Although the lows are inevitably less impactful than with the Drumfire, the Klipsch The Three with Google Assistant delivers deep and convincing lows for a speaker its size. As a result, it provides a better sound restitution than the Drumfire without its subwoofer.

Audio Pro Drumfire: conclusion

The Audio Pro Drumfire is an very appealing speaker, notably due to its wireless functions and its meticulous design. This speaker is also very pleasant to use, whether you choose to use a smartphone, a tablet, or its direct interface. However, we can only hope there will be an app update in the near future to correct the few bugs we experienced in stereo mode.

What we liked:

  • The finish quality
  • The design, which will be a hit with musicians
  • The powerful lows

We would have liked:

  • A longer coaxial cable to move the speaker away from the subwoofer
  • A more intuitive stereo mode

Share your opinion!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.