The Stellé Audio Pillar is a portable Bluetooth speaker and it's awesome.
Available in Apple Stores and online, it costs $349/£299 and took us by surprise from the second it arrived in the office.
The box looks more like some kind of exotic and needlessly extravagant gift set full of toiletries or perfume that your mum would give your gran for Christmas. It did take us a few seconds to work out what it is – a gorgeous brushed aluminium portable speaker.
The thing feels bullet proof to the touch – light enough to put in a bag and take to the beach, and sturdy enough to do some serious damage to potential muggers on your way back home. And the sound? We'll get to that in a second.
Who is Stellé Audio Couture?
It's not a French company as you may have thought – Stellé is actually an Italian word that means 'stars' – and the company is based smack, bang in the middle of Orange County, California. They make audio products aimed at women on the assumption that it's them that make the majority of purchasing decisions in most families and are turned on by stylish looks and perfume boxes.
It's not just a speaker either. Yes, it will connect to any Bluetooth enabled device for music-listening purposes but it can also act as a hands-free system for answering phone calls. It also has an internal battery for 15 hours of mobile fun, with a 3.5mm contractual obligation line-in port bringing up the rear.
So how does it sound?
No matter how classy a product like this looks, and regardless of how premium it feels to the touch, for a speaker that costs £299/$349 it's going to have to sound pretty great to impress, and it does.
Despite the cylindrical form factor, the Pillar contains two 1.5-inch acoustic drivers towards the top and a 3-inch subwoofer at the bottom. And they combine to create a beautifully balanced sound that took us totally by surprise. It really does sound fantastic for a device of this size and shape.
This is not a speaker you'd use to fill a room at a party, but for private listening even in large rooms, the sound is full-bodied, crisp and robust across the board. We couldn't detect any obvious holes in the midrange, just a beautifully smooth sonic wash of purity and deliciousness.
Of course, that's not to say it's the best sound system on Planet Earth. It's still just a portable Bluetooth speaker, but given how many of these we've tested that just sound abysmal, it's a revelation.
Our only complaint is the placing of the on/off button on the back, right at the base. It's awkward to reach round and find and should have been on the top with all of the other buttons. But we can forgive that with ease.
The hazard with many pricey Bluetooth speakers is that they rarely don't sound as good as they should, and that's not the case here. The Stellé Audio Couture Pillar is a beautiful product that both looks and sounds dreamy, and I don't even LIKE perfume.