As the popularity of music streaming grows ever stronger, it is only now that well-connected audio is beginning to take off. Google fired the starting gun with the Chromecast Audio, a device that can be retrofitted to most speakers to give them Wi-Fi connectivity. The percentage of affordable new speakers that have this technology built in is still relatively small, however. Funded by Kickstarter, and now fighting for its ground within the free market, the Sugr Cube looks like the first entrant that might sell smart audio to the mass market.
Once you connect this beautiful wood-clad device to your home network, it is able to operate independently, although the accompanying free app (iOS and Android) provides a simple method of control. You can play music via Spotify Connect and AirPlay, and the speaker has 4GB of memory for buffering live internet radio. For these systems, you can simply use the Spotify app or iTunes, with the music beamed straight to the Cube. Likewise, you can use the Cube with the likes of TuneIn and Google Play Music, among many other services.
Once the melodies flow, this speaker’s audio abilities also become very apparent. While it cannot compete with the $400 Sonos 1:Play — perhaps its most direct competition — it does offer rich, room-filling stereo sound that is free from distortion. The only manual control is a volume dial at the back, but this leaves the handsome face of this relatively compact speaker free from clutter. It also has an internal battery, which can last for up to 24 hours of playback.
Sadly, there is no Bluetooth, but this is clearly the one compromise made in order to keep costs down. Retailing for $229, the Sugr Cube is not cheap, but it is a great deal more affordable than most other high quality speakers with Wi-Fi technology. Here’s hoping it is the first of many.