Review: Cabasse The Pearl Akoya – When unpacking, you immediately notice that the Akoya comes in a beautiful, perfectly fitting sturdy carrying bag. There is even a separate compartment for the power cord and USB adapter cable. This gives the owner the opportunity to take the Akoya anywhere without the risk of damaging his or her precious possession. Portable at its best, only a socket and internet are needed to listen to music. There is enough to say about the appearance of the speaker. Characteristic of Cabasse is the Akoya spherical. The set that I have received is made of high-gloss white with an aluminum ring that more or less divides the sphere into two halves and also functions as a heat sink. A small reference to the name, which means pearl oyster in Japanese. The finish and accompanying appearance are top notch. That it is a serious product is also apparent from the weight, 6 kilograms to be precise. The bottom of the Akoya is flat so that the speaker can be placed on any flat surface. A matching stand is available at an additional cost, which is made up of two curved tubes, which makes it look as if the speaker has been given legs. The tubes are hollow and offer the possibility to route the power cord invisibly from the ground to the connection on the back of the speaker. In this way, the combination has a futuristic appearance, but strangely enough, the speaker fits in both a modern and classic interior. Remarkably inconspicuous, let’s say… Cabasse has done a great job in terms of technology. In addition to a thirteen centimeter coaxial midrange and tweeter at the front, there is a seventeen centimeters large woofer on the largely open rear. With this, The Pearl Akoya should reach a frequency range ranging from 30 to 27,000 Hz. With the three built-in amplifiers, 300 Watts RMS for both the tweeter and the midrange, and no less than 450 Watts for the woofer, this Akoya should be able to generate a sound pressure of 115 dB with one loudspeaker and 121 dB with two loudspeakers. Very impressive values indeed.
Initially both Akoya’s find a place in my attic. A space of approximately five by three meters with a high ceiling and sloping walls. The distance between the two speakers is more than two meters and about twenty centimeters from the back wall. The distance to the rear wall is especially critical with the unit radiating to the rear. This can of course be compensated with the calibration option or manual adjustment in the menu of the Cabasse app called StreamCONTROL. I decide to start with one Akoya, an option that quite a lot of customers could opt for. After switching on the speaker, it is a matter of going through the steps in the StreamCONTROL app to connect to the WiFi network. This runs smoothly and without any problems. After making contact with the network, the Pearl will perform an automatic calibration. For this, it must be as quiet as possible for a good result. What happened next exceeded all my expectations. This little ‘bowling ball’ has a low end that borders on the improbable. Everything in the room that is slightly loose vibrates with it. After this has been successfully performed, you can get started with music. In the app you can simply add the most well-known streaming services, in my case Tidal. Enter the account details once and Kees is done. In addition to streaming services, you can also use the Vtuner to listen to internet radio. Entering some presets quickly is no problem. At the back, in addition to the Ethernet connection, for those who want to connect to a network with a wire, there is also an optical digital input. Handy for, for example, connecting a television or decoder to upgrade the sound reproduction. Furthermore, a Micro USB, an adapter to USB-A is included in the package, input and an analog input. Bluetooth is of course present, convenient when visitors want to play some music from a mobile phone. In addition, the supplied remote control, beautifully designed and nicely different, works via this protocol.
When ‘working at home’ it soon becomes apparent that this Cabasse The Pearl Akoya offers a clearly better reproduction than my own Teufel Kombo 11 set. Not entirely surprising given the big price difference, but still… The intelligibility when listening to radio broadcasts is very good. To follow spoken word, the volume can be significantly lowered compared to the Teufel set. In addition, the voice gains body and sounds much more natural. When listening to some different tracks via Tidal, the playback goes one step further. The low view is solid and full, but fortunately just not so much that it overshadows the high view. Listening to George Michael’s live album Symphonica, it is striking that even with only one speaker there is a sense of spaciousness. The timbre of both winds and strings is beautifully captured and pleasant. I am surprised that as a true ‘Audiophile’ I enjoy the reproduction of only one speaker, which takes care of both channels (stereo). Of course, the second speaker that has so far been quietly beckoned. I turn on number two and open the app to add a player. This goes smoothly and both are paired almost automatically into a stereo pair. Of course it is possible to give the individual speakers a name, which is useful if you want to use multiple speakers that are not in the same room. After a new calibration we are good to go. It is immediately clear what the added value is. Peace and spaciousness are combined with a smoother rendering. Via Tidal I start the most recent album of the band Son Mieux from The Hague. I knew some songs that I heard on Radio2 but after a live performance, as support act for Di-Rect in Ahoy, I was an acute fan. What an energy this band brings and how well put together the songs. The set of Akoya’s shows the typical voice of singer Camiel Meiresonne very well. The bass reproduction is solid and lays a nice foundation under the music. Not exaggerated but nicely balanced with the highs. With the Pearl’s in a stereo set-up, the balance is more pleasant than with a single one. Violin and trumpet sound pleasant and sharpness is largely absent even at higher volume. It remains astonishing how these two modest reproducers manage to fill the room.
The Weeknd’s new album DawnFM is strongly inspired by 80s new wave, funk and electronic dance music. I hear a synthesizer run that reminds me a lot of I Feel Love by Donna Summer and makes you immediately move to the rhythm. The pulsating bass goes so deep that the listener will look for a subwoofer. In vain, it is really only the two Cabasse The Pearl Akoya speakers that produce this. Forgive the statement but with this Akoya you can really go crazy! Chris Stapleton’s Tennesee Whiskey is pretty much the opposite of The Weeknd’s music. Not electronic instruments, but a pedal steel guitar and snare drum that support Chris’s ripping voice in the song. The emotion in the song comes across completely, loudly I sing along with the praise to a partner, where various kinds of spirits serve as a metaphor.
Cabasse The Pearl Akoya – Calm and realism
After these positive experiences, it is time to move the speakers to the living room. Now they can show whether they can hold their own in a space of forty square meters. I park the speakers on either side of our dresser about six feet apart and about fifty centimeters from the back wall. Again the procedure follows to connect to the network and calibrate. The first runs without any problems, but during calibration I get an error message. A rattling door in an iron rebate is the culprit. During the procedure, the Akoyas generate so much low that even from over five meters away things start moving! In a second attempt I hold the door and the problem is solved and music can be listened to. To make it difficult for the speakers right away, I look up Where The Heart Is by Haevn in the Tidal library. This track, when listened to with my own set, is played wall-to-wall. Has a strong growling low and a lot of atmosphere. The Park Akoya does not disappoint. The wide image is there and the bass reproduction is admittedly less tight and layered, but still surprisingly good considering the size of the speaker. Don’t forget the big price difference and the lack of many cables. Voices come straight from the center of the stereo image and are completely loose. According to the specifications, this Akoya would actually be too small to fill my living room with music, but in practice this works very well. The amps are powerful enough, and even capable of stress-free volume levels that can send the listener into party mode. To assess whether the good low reproduction does not get in the way of the middle and high, I choose Africa from Toto. In addition to a solid low, a lot happens here in the middle and high. The Pearl Akoya gets through it with gusto. The different percussion instruments are easy to follow and even small sounds in the high end, such as a triangle or barchime, remain audible. I personally miss a little sparkle in the highs but that is with my reference set in mind. Someone who listens openly and with a different frame of reference will probably be pleasantly surprised and especially appreciate the peace and realism of the instruments. Of course, as a listener you can always experiment with the different equalizer settings in the StreamCONTROL app. Subtle work is also no problem for the Cabasse set. Eva Cassidy has a beautiful voice but can sometimes sound a bit fierce when she unpacks. Fortunately, The Pearl Akoya knows how to keep things under control. The reproduction is emotional and lifelike, where Eva’s voice has sufficient character and individuality. Many different types of music passed in review during the weeks that I was allowed to use the set of The Pearl Akoya speakers. Each time with good results, but where she felt most comfortable in the smaller space.
Conclusion – Cabasse The Pearl Akoya
I had already understood from the various fellow reviewers that wireless playback could go hand in hand with a level at which ‘audiophiles’ could feel comfortable. I have personally experienced that it can also go hand in hand with design. Where Devialet has the name recognition with the Phantom series, the French Cabasse should clearly not be underestimated. The appearance is more subtle than the competition and will therefore appeal to a larger group of buyers. Where Devialet focuses on ‘brute force’ and ultra-deep bass reproduction, Cabasse opts for an emphasis on lifelike and natural reproduction. Something they certainly succeeded in my ears. The beautiful technique that has been used results in an excellent reproduction in which subtlety goes hand in hand with a low reproduction that you do not expect from the modest size. Of course, quality does come at a price, but if you add up the sum of individual components that are needed to arrive at the same result, it’s worth it. In addition, a system such as this is in fact portable and widely applicable. Multiroom is possible and connecting a television or decoder is certainly an added value. My other half was very charmed by the idea that a whole mountain of devices could make room for two The Pearl Akoyas. In addition, she fell for the, in her eyes, beautiful appearance from the first acquaintance. With a heavy heart we saw this ‘French Beauty’ leave for importer Dimex!
Cabasse The Pearl Akoya (per pair) € 3,180,-