This week we reviewed the Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast, a compact all-in-one model designed to fit discreetly in any room of the house. It features a Bluetooth and WiFi receiver with integrated Google Chromecast to stream music from a smartphone, a DAP or a computer. The Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast is multi-room compatible and can be added to a group of Chromecast compatible speakers so that you can enjoy your music in different rooms. Sold for €99 per speaker, is the Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast a good solution for listening to online music services and multi-room music?
Tangent Spectrum W1: the brand
Currently known for its various ranges of Danish-inspired radios, hi-fi electronics and speakers, Tangent was originally an English company founded in 1986. The brand was only acquired by Eltax and relocated to Denmark in 1998. At that time, the design principle for Tangent equipment was completely redefined to put more emphasis on hi-fi designs. Combining elegance and competitive prices, Tangent speakers and electronics soon became genuine decorative objects with refined silhouettes, appealing finishes and strong character. These characteristics can be found in small radios such as the Tangent Uno Radio and Tangent Quattro, but also in larger speakers like those in the Tangent FP-600 5.0 System home theater pack that mark the Danish brand’s entry into the world of home theater.
A decade after its acquisition by Eltax, Tangent changed owners once again to become part of the French AV Industry Group. Cutting-edge technologies and unique designs became the very spirit of the brand. This led to the creation of the Tangent Prestige floorstanding speakers, a model that provides a subtle blend of design and acoustic performance thanks to a new 1” ScanSpeak Illuminator D3004 tweeter.
From 2010 onwards, Tangent applied its expertise to dematerialized music with the Tangent Pearlbox and Tangent Fjord iPod/iPhone speaker dock. The latter has an elegant cube-shaped design that has passed-on to the Tangent Spectrum W1 of this review.
Tangent Spectrum W1: packaging & accessories
The Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast speaker comes in a cardboard box on top of which the colors of the danish flag are proudly displayed. Inside the box, we first came across the mains power plug which comes with three adapters: one European, one British and one American. The Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast speaker is hidden between two cardboard wedges. It comes with a mini-jack to mini-jack cable and a quick start guide.
Tangent Spectrum W1: presentation
As soon as it is unboxed, the Tangent Spectrum W1 speaker impresses with its compact and minimalistic design. It features a 1.4mm thick polymer chassis with rounded edges at the top to accentuate the speaker’s compact appearance and to make it easier to hold. The chassis sits on a composite wood base that is covered with wood effect vinyl, giving the Tangent Spectrum W1 speaker stability and elegance. The simplicity and distinct Danish design really hit the mark. We were instantly charmed by this speaker, which can be placed on a shelf, a bedside table, a bookshelf or even a countertop, allowing you to enjoy your music throughout your home.
The front panel of the Tangent Spectrum W1 connected speaker houses the control interface, with a large, semi-embedded potentiometer in the center for adjusting the volume. Underneath the potentiometer are two multicolor LEDs. The first lights up red when the speaker is in standby mode and white when it is on. The second lets you quickly know the selected source thanks to a color code (blue for Bluetooth, green for WiFi and orange for the auxiliary connection).
Lastly, underneath these LEDs are five buttons that control the music and the speaker including a Bluetooth pairing control, a play/pause control, and buttons to play the next or previous track. However, it is important to note that the play/pause, next track and previous track buttons only work with sources connected via Bluetooth or Chromecast.
The Tangent Spectrum W1 speaker automatically switches between sources. For example, if the speaker is being used in Bluetooth mode, simply set the Tangent Spectrum W1 speaker as the receiver on a Chromecast compatible device and the speaker will automatically switch to WiFi mode and begin playback. The same goes for Bluetooth when the WiFi mode is being used. Lastly, when you connect a mini-jack cable to the aux input on the back of the Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast speaker, the latter goes into wired mode automatically. As a result, it is particularly simple and intuitive to use.
Inside its elegant chassis, the Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast connected speaker is equipped with a Class D amplification module capable of delivering up to 2 x 6 watts. It is designed to power two 3” paper cone wideband drivers that are driven by a 6cm ferrite magnet to optimize the cone’s reactivity. These drivers are loaded in a bass-reflex enclosure and are hidden behind micro-perforated grilles placed on the sides of the speaker to extend the stereo spatialization. Eight equalization presets are also available so that you can adjust the sound to suit your personal preferences.
Tangent Spectrum W1: Bluetooth and mini-jack connection
The Tangent Spectrum W1 speaker is designed to let you enjoy all of your music and different sources. Its mini-jack analog input allows you to connect any device that features a line output or a 3.5mm headphones output, while the Bluetooth 4.2 module makes it easy to stream music from a smartphone, tablet or computer. Its Bluetooth chip supports the AVRCP (Audio Video remote Control Profile) protocol that authorizes playback and music control directly via the speaker. The wireless Bluetooth connection has a range of around 10 meters, giving the user quite a lot of freedom to move around.
Tangent Spectrum W1: WiFi, Chromecast, multi-room
In addition to its Bluetooth and mini-jack connections, the Tangent Spectrum W1 is also equipped with a WiFi network controller so that it can connect to the local network using its integrated Google Chromecast. The Tangent Spectrum W1 speaker can then play music streamed from a computer or any device connected to the local network or stream tracks from compatible online music services such as Deezer, Spotify, Google Play Music and Qobuz.
The addition of Google Chromecast means the Tangent Spectrum W1 speaker can be integrated into a Chromecast compatible multi-room group. It is therefore possible to stream the same music to several Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Chromecast speakers, but also to other speakers, amplifiers, audio players and televisions equipped with a Chromecast. Better still, the Tangent Spectrum W1 is also available as part of a pack that includes one or several Google Chromecast modules (Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast + 1 x Google ChromeCast Audio or Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast + 2 x ChromeCast Audio). Thanks to a mini-jack output, these modules let you convert any amplifier or speaker into a Chromecast multi-room compatible connected system to enjoy your music in any room of the house. Naturally, we tested this setup for our review.
Tangent Spectrum W1: Google Assistant compatible
As well as its physical control interface, the Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast speaker can be controlled vocally thanks to its compatibility with Google’s voice assistant. To do so, it simply needs to be associated with a Google Assistant smart speaker: the Google Home Mini, Google Home or Google Home Max, for example. It is then possible to play your favorite playlist, skip tracks and increase the volume simply by asking.
Tangent Spectrum W1: configuration
As soon as it’s out of the box, the Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast speaker is automatically functional in Bluetooth mode or via the mini-jack connection. However, it has to be configured to use Chromecast or so that it can be added to a group of multi-room speakers. This is done via the Google Home app for iOS and Android. The procedure only takes a few minutes, during which you need to name the speaker, specify which room it is in, enter your home WiFi password, which online music service to use if you want to add one, etc.
If you have a Google Assistant smart speaker already connected to the Google Home app, the Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast can automatically be controlled vocally. For our review, we were able to play music on Spotify by asking a Google Home Speaker. For example, simply say, “Ok Google, play Thriller on the Tangent Spectrum” and the speaker will begin playback.
For this review, we also tested the multi-room feature of the Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast speaker. To do so, we placed one Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast speaker in the living room and put a second one in the kitchen, and added a Google Chromecast Audio module to a Bluetooth speaker in a bedroom. Similarly to the speaker configuration, the Google Home app is used to create multi-room groups. All you have to do is create the different rooms in your home and enter the different speakers that are in each of them. It is then possible to play music on a single speaker, on all the speakers in the room, or on all the speakers in the house.
Tangent Spectrum W1: listening impressions
The Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast’s sound was impressive for such a small speaker. With the track Holdin On by Flume streamed via Chromecast from the Spotify app, the lows were powerful and massive as soon as we reached ¼ of the volume. In this frequency range, the Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast had no trouble filling our living room with sound. Despite the high volume, the sound remained nicely controlled, dense, deep and perfectly balanced. It is important to note that the speaker’s sound reproduction can vary slightly depending on where it is placed in the room. For example, when it was placed on the living room table in the center of the room, the soundstage gained magnitude. When it was placed in a corner or near a wall, the bass was enhanced, without distorting the tonal balance.
The lows were powerful and massive as soon as we reached ¼ of the volume.
The Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast speaker was comfortable with a wide range or music genres. Rock, pop, jazz and even classical music were reproduced accurately by the speaker. With Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, performed by Yo-Yo Ma, the cello was harmonious and nuanced. Naturally, the soundstage wasn’t as wide as it would have been with a pair of stereo speakers placed on either side of the room. However, it remains pleasantly wide and spacious, accurately reproducing the acoustics of the recording studio.
Tangent Spectrum W1: compared to…
Google Home: sold for the same price, the Google Home speaker is equipped with a Bluetooth receiver, Chromecast and Google Assistant. It can be controlled vocally or via the Google Home app. Like the Tangent W1, it is possible to use the speaker by itself or in a multi-room setup with Chromecast compatible systems. However, this speaker is more demonstrative and over the top. The sound is unnatural, with very dry timbres and a lack of detail. The Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast is much more balanced, precise and musical.
Amazon Echo: also available for the same price, the Amazon Echo has the advantage of being more compact and, therefore, being easier to integrate into your home. It features a Bluetooth receiver, a WiFi receiver and an auxiliary input. It can be controlled from the Alexa app or vocally thanks to the Amazon Alexa voice assistant. Like the Google Home speaker, the sound isn’t very accurate. It is suitable for playing the radio or a playlist in the background, but it can quickly become tiring when listening to music at high volume.
Tangent Spectrum W1: conclusion
With the Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast, the Danish manufacturer provides a speaker that is both elegant and powerful. We were blown away by the sound performance offered by this small speaker sold for less than €100. The sound is always well balanced with consistently detailed and natural instrumental timbres. The Tangent Spectrum W1 Google Cast speaker is easy to use intuitively controlled, either via its physical control interface or vocally after pairing it with a smart speaker. The WiFi configuration doesn’t take long to do and the speaker is functional five minutes after being unboxed. We highly recommend this speaker if you are looking for a compact, elegant, easy to use system that offers an excellent musical performance.
What we liked:
- The design
- The compact size
- The ease of use
- The powerful bass
- The tonal balance
What we would have liked:
- A battery to enjoy the speaker in the garden