Cabasse Pearl Pelegrina Loudspeaker Page 2

It's even possible to set up multiple speakers or sets of speakers to create a multiroom system, perhaps using the Pelegrina pair in the main room and smaller Pearls in other 'zones'. The configuration in the app allows speakers to be added individually, and then designated as left or right, or added to different zones as required.

sqnote On The Ball
With all that going on, it's perhaps not surprising that I'd suggest these are speakers best treated to a full dealer installation. As PM and I discovered, it's all too easy to get lost in the configuration and frustrated by the lack of sound, or sound from only one speaker, or mono from both. Things aren't helped by a manual that's sketchy – to put it charitably – and it can take quite a lot of trial and error before you hit the 'Ah, that's how you do it' moment. There's another good reason for getting the dealer to do it all: the speakers stand almost 1.3m tall and weigh 45kg apiece, and while quite a lot of that mass is in the base, they're hardly the easiest shape to shift about.

Start playing music through these oddball speakers – I resisted calling them that until now – and it's clear they're hugely capable, with a sound of great substance and no shortage of detail, along with focused soundstaging. That said, they sound a bit polite when used in the 'Neutral Tone (HiFi Mode)' setting of their 'Audio Spectrum' adjustment, robbing the very atmospheric Anna Fedorova Shaping Chopin [Channel Classics CCS 43621] of some of its air and ambience, and giving the piano a slightly dry tone. Choosing the 'High Tone' gives a little more snap, as it does with rock music, albeit with some risk of brashness setting in. It's also worth noting there are three bass-enhancing 'Low Tone' settings, the last somewhat hilariously labelled 'Outdoor Mode'.

Full 'n' Fast
Not that you'll be needing these settings for there's no shortage of bass from these speakers, as is clear in the growling opening of Ravel's 'La Valse' with the Sinfonia of London/John Wilson [Maurice Ravel: Orchestral Works, Chandos CHSA 5280; 96kHz/24-bit] and the dynamic swings of the piece. Even with the bombast of ELP's 'Karn Evil 9' [Brain Salad Surgery, BMG download; 96kHz/24bit] the Pelegrinas use their politeness to sound crisp and fast, without ever straying into too hard an edge. Instead, they deliver good insight into this full-on recording.


The convex 30cm ‘HELD’ low bass driver is coupled with a 1.85kW-rated Class D amplifier. RCA/XLR analogue, Toslink optical, wired/wireless Ethernet and USB-A inputs are included in the base

Ram It Home
Playing a new version of a test favourite, the Espen Eriksen Trio's 'In The Mountains', this time augmented with Andy Sheppard's sax on the new live album of the same name [Rune Grammofon RCD2227; 96kHz/24-bit], the Pearl Pelegrinas cast a fine, intimate soundstage. They bring out the precise, expressive playing of the trio, amidst which Sheppard's instrument sounds breathily authentic set against the tinkling, resonant piano, the rosiny bowed bass and the subtle pattering drums.

But then, just when you think you've found the sweet spot – the usual beautifully recorded jazz so beloved of hi-fi demonstrators – the Pelegrinas crash out the ultra-dense all-star cover of Pink Floyd's 'Sheep' from the Animals Reimagined set [Cleopatra Records CLO2573], progressing from its tinkling opening to all-out onslaught featuring Rick Wakeman, Jan Akkerman and Carmine Appice, with Arthur Brown – yes, really! – on manic vocals. Far outside the French speakers' comfort zone? Not a bit of it. They're an absolute riot, start to finish.

Totally Impressive
It's a trick the loudspeakers also pull off with the dynamics of John Williams's 'Excerpts From Close Encounters', played by the Dallas Winds [At The Movies, Reference Recordings RR-142; DSD64]. Here the combination of ethereal woodwinds and grumbling orchestral basses creates a dramatic, atmospheric effect, and the lyrical passages punctuated with stabs of percussion in the build to the closing credits sequence develop with real conviction. Yes, there are times when the treble trades a slight hardness for complete detail, but the sound here is never any less than totally impressive.

And the same is apparent with Gregory Porter's One Night Only live set [Blue Note 7716496]. The London Studio Orchestra's intros can sound rather brash, but when the tracks settle into accompanied voice the sheen of the effect is entirely appropriate, and Porter's vocals have excellent character and warmth.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
These Pearl Pelegrinas both look and can sound impressive but a much better manual is needed for successful DIY setup, despite the very comprehensive app control. There are times when the speakers can veer from slightly hard-edged to near-anonymity, but they do so many things right, from their ability to go loud to the detail and impact they can deliver with the right music. But they're not without their foibles...

Cabasse SA
Supplied by: Henley Audio Ltd, UK
01235 511166