Audio Pro's Allroom system wants to make a style statement. I know this, because, aside from the rather natty blue finish you see here, this diminuitive sub/sat package also comes in five 'fruit flavours' - apple, lemon, grape, orange and cherry - as well more sedate red, silver, white and black guises.
Cool, kitsch, designer or disgusting... whatever you think about them, the five bright blue satellites and black gloss subwoofer certainly make a distinctive impression.
As a name, Audio Pro goes right back to the start of subwoofing. The Swedish company makes a strong claim for being the first manufacturer to develop an active subwoofer, back in 1978 (of course, this is heavily disputed, especially as Miller & Kreisel's professional products appeared in the '60s. But let's not quibble - in domestic settings, Audio Pro was the first to market).
The company's ACE-Bass technology (short for Amplifier-Controlled Euphonic Bass) has been the backbone of Audio Pro's subwoofers ever since - and many other brands' too. It allowed bass bins to shrink from the size of refrigerators to their current dimensions almost overnight. Put it another way - Audio Pro knows a thing or two about getting bass from small boxes.
This is in evidence with the Sub Allroom. It's smaller than most woofers, with just one 165.2mm bass unit (that's 6.5 inches to most of us) and a 150W ACE-Bass power amp. It has good but not room-shaking bass potential, and goes surprisingly deep (although the 30Hz claim given by Audio seems too enthusiastic).
The Sub Allroom reaches further up the frequency range than most woofers, too. There's a good reason for this - Audio Pro makes small satellite speakers to go with their dinky subs. Therefore, the Allroom system reviewed here needs a subwoofer to come in at almost 100Hz, otherwise there will be a gap in the frequency response.
This is far higher than the handover point of most sub/sat systems: THX users prefer around 80Hz and hi-fi buffs would go deeper still, to prevent the sound of the speakers crossing over to the subwoofer from being audible.
The boxes come with white gloves for handling the piano gloss finish. They're needed because the speakers are a fingerprint magnet, but the quality of the eight-layer gloss is superb and the speakers feel far more substantial than the 1.6kg weight might suggest.
The satellites are two-way bass reflex designs, with a 25mm soft dome tweeter coupled to a 87.5mm midrange unit.
At 87dB, these aren't the most sensitive speakers around and, as they are only capable of handling amps up to 100W, they're never going to be mistaken for PA equipment. Nevertheless, as with the subwoofer, they go far louder than you might expect from the specs.
This is an extremely good package, although how good is entirely dependent on what you are playing on them and where you are playing them.
Too much audiophile hi-fi replay and you'll soon begin to hear the limitations imposed by the size of the satellites. Despite some clever sound-tailoring by Audio Pro, I became aware of the high handover point, because the tonality of the speakers seems to change as the sound gets deeper. That said, most people who would detect such a shift in balance from sat to sub are not the sort who would ever buy a system like this in the first place.
There's also a room-size limit on these speakers. They work extremely well in small to medium-sized rooms, but no further. If your room is in any way larger than average, the Audio Pro sound will begin to fall flat, as the limits on bass become all too apparent. In a small room, you probably won't be able to determine the difference between 40Hz and 30Hz, so the deeper note may go unnoticed.
In a bigger room, these bass differences can be clearly defined, and the Audio Pro will be found wanting. The same could be said for many smaller subwoofers, in fairness.
Between those two bookends, the sound is extremely fine, with a sense of refinement that doesn't get in the way and a sense of fun that doesn't undermine the accuracy. It's the perfect combination.
A lot of this is down to detail. The little satellites are very good at pulling information off the recording and portraying it unsullied.
Aside from that relatively inconsequential 'wobble' at around 100Hz, the sound hangs together well enough to make sense of complex, largescale vocals - such as tenors singing operas about goats with Parkinson's disease (well that's what it sounded like... my Italian is rusty). This also means they make the Foley artist's job slightly harder, because you can hear when things don't sound right in the mix.
Perhaps the big win for Audio Pro is the integration both up and down the frequency range and around the room. In the main, everything sounds homogenous and integrated, while filling smaller rooms with very ordered sound. Perhaps it could do with some more precision and focus, but these are minor limitations set against the overall performance.
Not everyone's going to like the bold colour schemes, not everyone is going to like the crossover point being where it is, and not everyone is going to like the way the sound is big in small rooms but doesn't scale as the room gets larger.
But, for those who don't get swayed by these things, Audio Pro's AllRoom system will keep you coming back for more, thanks to a combination of accuracy and excitement and beautiful integration from speaker to speaker.
In the right place, this is a potentially excellent performer, especially if you have a need for lemon-coloured speakers.