Pantheone I: a sculptural and immersive connected speaker

0
160

The young Australian brand Pantheone Audio has released its first connected speaker named Pantheone I. Extraordinary in more ways than one, this speaker stands out with its futuristic and innovative design that looks like a work of art. Minimalist yet unique, it aims to offer a precise and powerful 360° reproduction, thanks to its 8 drivers, 3-way configuration and output power of 400 watts. Enough to deliver a balanced sound throughout a large room?

Pantheone I 3/4 droite
With its attractive and innovative design, both in terms of sound and aesthetics, the Pantheone connected speaker redefines connected hi-fi from a design perspective. Its compatibility with the aptX codec, in particular, ensures high quality sound by limiting the compression of wireless streaming.

Pantheone Audio is an Australian company founded in 2020 by Oren Adani. Built around a team of designers, art directors and engineers, the brand’s philosophy shakes up the conventions of connected hi-fi.

Pantheone blanc
The white version of the Pantheone I also demonstrates the brand’s philosophy of combining sound, form and function in the purest possible way.

Its primary goal: to create hi-fi works of art, part design object and part innovative audio system. The minimalism of the Pantheone connected speaker, in keeping with this bold vision, earned it the 2020 Red Dot Design Award. A concept whose purity is reminiscent of certain Bang & Olufsen creations.

Pantheone I: packaging & accessories

Pantheone I, packaging, déballage
The contents of the Pantheone’s packaging are not superfluous, but they are decidedly luxurious. The box is impressive and gloves are provided to avoid leaving marks on the device during its installation.

The Pantheone I connected speaker comes in a box that reflects its design: impressive and luxurious. The top of the box sets the tone with a large image of the Pantheon of Rome and its famous oculus (the circular opening situated at the top of the famous monument’s dome, editor’s note). Right from the get-go, the Pantheone I speaker hints at exuberance. A characteristic that suits it perfectly as it reflects its concept, at the crossroads of design and high fidelity.

Well protected behind thick layers of polystyrene, the Pantheone I is carefully wrapped in a protective cover. Beside it are a power cable (white) and a (small) pair of matching gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints on the speaker. It must be said that the matt finish of the speaker is easy to get dirty if handled without gloves. That said, it’s best to avoid moving the Pantheone I while wearing the gloves, as its considerable weight (25kg) and oblong shape make it difficult to carry. Also, it is best to put them on at the last minute to adjust the final position of the speaker, and to unpack it as close as possible to the place where it will be installed.

Pantheone I: presentation

360° sound

pantheone I, tweeters, medium
The Pantheone I speaker’s sculptural design inspired by the organic shapes found in nature allows it to produce 360° stereo sound to deliver music evenly throughout the room.

The Pantheone I connected speaker features two 6.5” woofers at its base. The latter are loaded in a bass-reflex chamber with streamlined ports. These two drivers are placed opposite one another to cancel mechanical vibrations. At the top of the speaker are two 4” midrange drivers and four 0.75” tweeters (two are placed on one side of the speaker, and two are placed on the opposite side).

façade gauche Pantheone
The Pantheone I speaker has a symmetrical acoustic design: here on the left side of the front panel, a midrange driver and two tweeters are hidden behind the acoustic fabric.

This trio is supported by two 130W class D amplifiers with integrated DSP for the lows and two 70W amplifiers for the mids and highs. This design allows sound to be distributed over 360° so that each listener can enjoy the music, regardless of their position in the room. The sculptural appearance, inspired by shapes and formations encountered in nature (pebbles, rocks…), also plays a key role.

It is this shape that allows the Pantheone I speaker to provide greater acoustic depth and bring the musicians closer to the listeners. The unique curved silhouette also provides excellent rigidity and robustness to eliminate standing waves and improve precision.

Streaming & DLNA

pantheone I connectique
The Pantheone I speaker’s few connectors are hidden under its base. They include a 3.5mm mini-jack input, the power connector and an Ethernet connector.

The Pantheone I’s innovative design cleverly foreshadows its many features. This connected speaker can connect to many online music services, including Spotify Connect, Tidal, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Straightforward and efficient, the Pantheone Audio’s dedicated application is compatible with a number of major online music services.

Access to countless web radios from around the world is possible thanks to compatibility with TuneIn. Also, DLNA compatibility allows the user to listen to all their shared music on a NAS or computer. The Pantheone wireless speaker is then able to decode the majority of audio formats, including APE, FLAC, WAV, Apple Lossless Audio (ALAC), AAC, AAC-LC, HE- AAC, HE-AAC v2 and MP3. Of course, it is preferable to opt for a wired or WiFi connection to enjoy the best sound quality.

Acoustic work of art

At first, the organic look of this unique resin sculpture reminded us of the egg in the movie Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) – the one that the famous “facehugger” jumps out of. But on closer inspection, its silhouette is much softer and more reassuring. So much so that with its rounded curves, the Pantheone creates a real sense of calm even before it has produced any sound.

Highly decorative, the Pantheone I’s aesthetic alternates between monumental and aerial. Its silhouette suits any space.

Movie fans will catch a glimpse of the avant-garde aesthetics of Christopher Nolan’s (the general design of Interstellar‘s technologies) and Denis Villeneuve’s (the ship in Arrival) science fiction films. Art lovers may find echoes of Henry Moore and Jean Arp’s delicate, curved sculptures. Whatever the case, the speaker makes a strong impression and creates a singular atmosphere, somewhere in between a contemporary art museum and a high-fidelity auditorium. It is no surprise that the Pantheone I was awarded the prestigious Red Dot Design Award in 2020.

pantheone I, coffret de résine, design
At 65cm high, the Pantheone I speaker features an elegant and robust high-density resin cabinet that is hand-polished. Produced using a single mold, this design exudes confidence.

Both a connected speaker and a work of art, the Pantheone was designed to combine smooth, natural sound with an elegant, minimalist silhouette. The result is a speaker with a unique and bold shape, crafted from hand-polished high-density resin. This hybrid character allows the Pantheone speaker to be at home in an art gallery, a house or the lobby of a luxury hotel, where it adds a touch of beauty and modernity. The Pantheone speaker is aptly named after the oculus of the Pantheon in Rome, the famous opening that lets a spectacular ray of light into the building.

AirPlay & Bluetooth

Pantheone dessin
The Pantheone I is heralded by Pantheone Audio as “the largest Alexa-enabled speaker available on the market.”

The Pantheone I connected speaker also allows you to enjoy music stored on or played from a smartphone, table or computer. To this end, the AirPlay protocol simplifies streaming from an iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac or any other Apple device connected to the same WiFi network as the speaker. With the built-in Bluetooth controller, users can also stream music to the Pantheone I from devices that are not connected to the local network or do not support AirPlay. Support for the SBC and AAC codecs ensures optimal compatibility with any Bluetooth source, while the aptX codec maximizes transmission for high-speed wireless playback.

Intuitive controls

pantheone I, interface
Whether from its touch-sensitive interface, its mobile app or vocally through Amazon Alexa, the Pantheone I speaker is always intuitive and pleasant to use. A 3-second press on the Play/Pause button triggers a 3D effect to increase spatialization.

The Pantheone can be adapted to meet any need. It can be controlled via the backlit touch-sensitive interface on the top, as well as remotely thanks to its mobile app for iOS and Android. The latter lets you manage online music services, web radios and music shared over the local network. It also allows you to create groups if you have several Pantheone I speakers for multi-room streaming. Once the Pantheone speakers are placed in different rooms, it is then possible to sync the same music, or select different playlists for each room and each speaker via the Pantheone app. In keeping with this practical aspect, the Pantheone connected speaker is also compatible with Amazon Alexa, allowing you to control all the speaker’s features and the music vocally.

Pantheone I: configuration

pantheone I, woofers, basse, caisson
The Pantheone I’s two 6.5” woofers are powered by class D amplification (2 x 130W). The gray color of the acoustic fabric that covers the drivers enhances the shape of the speaker.

Before configuring the Pantheone I speaker, it’s best to position it properly to achieve the best sound. Although you could be tempted to place the speaker’s recess in front of you, it is better to free the tweeters and other drivers (as in the image below) to enjoy the optimal musical quality. It can then be placed in the center or at the edge of the room, as long as it isn’t too close to a wall. The sound will be the same whether the listener is standing or sitting. It should be noted that a left/right mode allows the Pantheone I to emphasize the sound diffusion on one side or the other: one of the speaker’s sides is enhanced and the opposite side is attenuated. It is then crucial to position the selected side towards the listener.

pantheone I, disposition, installation
At 65cm high, the Pantheone I is a large model designed to be placed on the floor or potentially on a piece of furniture.

Once the Pantheone I speaker is powered by the mains, it can be quickly set up via the Pantheone app for iOS and Android. All you have to do is connect the Pantheone speaker to the WiFi network to play music from your smartphone or another connected source. The speaker’s friendly voice then guides you through each step. Note that on an older generation iPhone like the 6S, it may be necessary to quit the app and relaunch it to finalize the pairing.

The Pantheone app can control up to eight Pantheone I speakers in a multi-room installation. They can be used in a group or independently (adjust the volume by zone, for example).

Once the Pantheone I connected speaker has been set up, it can be controlled using the touch-sensitive interface, the app or Amazon Alexa. Other than a slight lack of responsiveness when our iPhone came out of standby mode, the speaker was easy to use via AirPlay and with music services such as Apple Music and Spotify.

Pantheone I: listening impressions

pantheone I, enceinte connectée
Even at low volume, the sound bubble created by the Pantheone I extended with ease and without restriction in a room of over 35m².

While the Pantheone I connected speaker rightly claims to have some of the Rome pantheon’s visual splendor, can it make the same claim in terms of acoustics? Well, without reaching the heights of stereo high fidelity, the elegant monolith presented us with a rich and spacious soundstage. There’s no doubt about it: Pantheone Audio’s promise of 360° sound was fulfilled. In fact, the sound reproduction and dynamics of the Pantheone were impressive. Able to radiate in all directions due to its symmetrical design, the speaker created a remarkable sound bubble effect, even at low volume. More than precision and fidelity, it was the balance and smoothness that emerged most clearly. This didn’t prevent the speaker from offering a remarkable reproduction of instruments and voices. The articulation of the various frequencies and tonalities, in its constant search for balance, was exemplary.

pantheone I, design, vue côté
In addition to the two woofers in the lower part, the Pantheone I speaker features, on each side, two 4” coated paper cone midrange drivers and two 1” silk dome tweeters. These drivers are powered by class D amplifiers (in total, 2 x 70W for the midrange drivers and the tweeters).

Even with a track as complex as Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother, with its succession of horns, backing vocals and haunting guitar solo, the Pantheone speaker never faltered. Always balanced, the speaker accurately reproduced the instruments with vibrancy and harmony, skillfully balancing the lows and highs. The same goes for a piece as syncopated and unstructured as John Coltrane’s Olé, with an orchestration by Ralph Vaughan Williams (Fantaisie sur un thème original by Thomas Tallis), and even with Daft Punk’s Lose Yourself to Dance. The only drawback we observed is that the stereo effects weren’t very pronounced and lacked depth, during songs like Michael Jackson’s Black or White, for example. This acrobatic temperament and ease of use were reminiscent of Sonos’ approach with its connected speakers, such as the Sonos Five. But to versatility and accuracy, the Pantheone adds power with no less than 400 watts and two large woofers. As a result, the dispersion was very wide and the music spread throughout the room.

Pantheone I: compared to…

bang & olufsen, beosound edge
With its splendid circular design, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Edge speaker looks the part placed on a piece of furniture or mounted on the wall. As such, it is a direct competitor to the Pantheone I.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Edge: another connected speaker that focuses as much on aesthetics as it does on the listening experience, the B&O Beosound Edge has a unique circular design. This striking decorative statement, however, may not quite match the extravagance and singularity of the Pantheone I. And while the B&O Beosound Edge has the edge when it comes to power, the Pantheone speaker seems more immersive with true 360-degree sound. Nevertheless, the B&O’s directional sound control and 600-watt output power make for a compelling listening experience. Regarding connectivity, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Edge speaker can stream music via AirPlay 2, Chromecast, DLNA and can access many streaming services including Spotify and Deezer. The Pantheone I is compatible with more streaming services (Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music) but lacks Chromecast technology.

Devialet Phantom I, 108 db, design
Significantly more powerful than the Pantheone I (400 watts), the Devialet Phantom I 108 dB’s patented hybrid analog-digital has a peak amplification power of 1100 watts.

Devialet Phantom I 108 dB: with its futuristic look, the Devialet Phantom I 108 dB speaker is also very impressive. The main strength of this connected speaker is its ability to reach very low (14Hz) and very high (27kHz) frequencies. The Devialet Phantom I 108 dB features a patented hybrid analog-digital amplification of 1100 watts (peak). A colossal amount of power, which can be explained by the technology of the woofers. Soundwise, it is distinguished by the precision of the mids and highs, offering a beautiful clarity. The frequency response of the Pantheone I ranges between 33Hz and 22kHz. Not as bright and less clear-cut, the latter seems to favor the versatility and balance of the soundstage. The Devialet Phantom I also stands out for its compatibility with online music services, featuring support for Qobuz, Spotify, Roon and Deezer via its iOS and Android app.

Pantheone I: who is it for?

pantheone I, vue 3/4 gauche
The Pantheone I team is made up of some of the world’s leading designers, art directors and engineers. It is this singularity that has made it possible to create such a complex speaker, part artwork, part revolutionary audio system.

The Pantheone I speaker is designed for lovers of art and design enthusiasts, but also for demanding music lovers. More generally, the magnitude of its sound distribution and its multidirectional spatialization allow it to satisfy the needs of many listeners. The Pantheone I is therefore much more than just a luxurious and alluring object. However, its single 3.5mm mini-jack input and its Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity make it ideal for streaming aficionados (AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth) or for playing music shared via DLNA.

Pantheone I: conclusion

Pantheone I, esthétique, science-fiction
The Space Jockey’s ship from the first Alien movie (Ridley Scott, 1979), the design of Christopher Nolan’s and Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi films… The Pantheone I speaker’s appearance is futuristic and iconic.

One of a kind, the Pantheone I has given the young Australian brand Pantheone Audio the opportunity to assert its identity, a combination of luxury and boldness. With its sculptural shape, its many features (AirPlay, Bluetooth, Amazon Alexa…), its ease of use and its acoustic performance, the Pantheone I connected speaker is indeed a UFO in the hi-fi world. Appealing to both the eyes and the ears, it is designed for music and design lovers alike. Powerful, immersive and never frustrating, the Pantheone I connected speaker offers a remarkable performance with all styles of music. Without being on a par with the leaders of high fidelity stereo, it impresses with its balanced reproduction. The only drawbacks: its few connectors and the dedicated app’s lack of compatibility with certain streaming services such as Qobuz and Deezer, pending a future update to accommodate these protocols.

We liked:

  • The unique and fascinating design
  • The wide 360° sound reproduction
  • The powerful lows

We would have liked:

  • More compatible streaming services
  • A widener range of connectors

Previous articleYamaha RX-A2A: the AV receiver compatible with wireless surround sound
Next articleRoksan Attessa: high-end plug-and-play turntable
Après quelques années dans la presse ciné (La Septième Obsession, L’E.F.…), j’ai rejoint l’équipe de Son-Vidéo.com en 2021. Mordu de musique (rock, soul, jazz…) et de septième art (Herzog, Kubrick, P.T. Anderson…), je découvre l’univers de la hi-fi et du home-cinéma entre curiosité et fascination. En attendant de trouver la place pour profiter de mes vinyles (Zappa, Talking Heads…), je peux compter sur mes enceintes Sonos One. L’occasion d’explorer les plateformes de musique dématérialisée, à la croisée souvent de PJ Harvey et Coltrane.

Share your opinion!

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