It’s a great-looking AirPlay speaker, but does it sound as good as it looks?
- Price: £359.95, $400, 449.95 €
- Manufacturer: Moshi, Inc, https://www.moshi.com
- Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, a computer with iTunes
With its beautiful wooden panelling and sleek contours, the Moshi Spatia oozes quality. Its grey mesh front is finished by a pine-coloured wooden facing. The main body of the speaker mixes shiny and matte black, neither of which are prone to picking up fingerprints, and its power lead tucks under the base of the speaker, cutting down on untidy cables. It’s designed to look good anywhere, and would particularly suit a bookcase or shelf in your living room or bedroom.
The Spatia is roughly 50cm wide, 18cm tall and 20cm deep, making it a compact but substantial device. It boasts five internal speakers. For high-end reproduction, there are twin one-inch tweeters. Two 2.75-inch drivers handle the mid-range sounds, and for bass, there’s a four-inch down-firing subwoofer. It’s an AirPlay speaker, which means it streams lossless audio from an iOS device or a Mac/PC through iTunes. When you’ve connected the Spatia to your wireless network, it’s it becomes available as an external speaker from your device of choice. It also boasts Wi-Fi Direct, which allows a direct wireless connection between your speaker and the device you’re using for your music, without using a network at all. Finally, there’s a 3.5mm socket so you can connect and play your sounds from any device with a headphone socket. There’s no Bluetooth, so if you want wireless play, you must have an AirPlay device.
Atop the Spatia is a small control disc that illuminates when in use, offering on/off and volume, and a source option to toggle between AirPlay, Wi-Fi Direct and Aux (wired) connectivity. There’s no dedicated remote in the box, but a free iOS app duplicates these controls and also offers a customisable graphic equaliser with built-in presets, ambient sounds such as a thunderstorm, camp fire and ocean surf, and the option to change the speaker name on your network and apply firmware upgrades.
But does it sound as good as it looks? To test the stereo separation we played Ray Charles’ ‘Hit the Road, Jack’, where the incomparable one argues with his backing singer, his own voice coming out of one stereo channel and hers the other. Unfortunately, this test didn’t show the Spatia at its best. The sound was rich and detailed, with a great, bouncing bass line, but stereo separation was poor. A quick play of Humphrey Lyttelton’s ‘Bad Penny Blues’ confirmed this assessment. While each instrument was clearly defined, you never felt the sound was coming from different areas of the room as you do with the very best speakers.
But stereo separation is the Spatia’s only weakness. Its five internal drivers combine to deliver an amazingly detailed sound spectrum. The works of Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis are difficult to reproduce on modern equipment due to the complex choral arrangements, but the Spatia managed very well. Every voice is reproduced with total clarity, blending perfectly without ever sounding mushy. Likewise, when we played folk singer Suzanne Vega, every instrument is faithfully reproduced, with the vocals sitting on top of the music, just where they should be.
It doesn’t lack bass either. When playing rock and heavy metal, we found the bottom end of the musical spectrum to be very well catered for. Lively and bouncy, it doesn’t get lost under the mid-range sounds, and only rarely suffers from the muddying displayed by some single-unit speaker systems.
The Moshi Spatia is a great all-round premium-quality speaker which performs with excellence in a very wide range of musical styles. Its stereo separation isn’t very good, but in all other areas, it acquits itself well.