Editor's pick: Originally published Jan. 15.
Speaker systems have evolved over the years to be easier to set up and to allow you to listen to music in a variety of different ways, but Mass Fidelity's Core wireless speaker system is one of the best I've heard recently. This is especially surprising coming from a company that just recently got off the ground.
Mass Fidelity launched an Indiegogo campaign last year that raised $1.5 million, well more than what it was hoping to raise -- initially just $48,000. At the heart of the funding raise is the Core. It is dead simple to set up, but expensive.
Priced at $599, the Core looks an oversized Apple TV, but it packs a punch. (A Bose Acoustimass system costs around $600 or $700, depending on the model.) The quality of the Core's bass and clarity of the system are really impressive, especially for a company most people (including myself until I was sent the product) have never heard of.
Mass Fidelity credits what it calls Acoustic Holography technology for the audio quality -- another way of saying sounds can come from anywhere. The Core, which only comes in black, is super easy to connect to via Bluetooth, so you can listen to the music on whatever device you have, including ones from Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung and a host of others.
Battery life on it is pretty strong at 12 hours, and the speaker is small enough to be portable, similar to Jawbone's Jambox or Bose's Soundlink Mini, but with a lot more thrust and oomph behind it. There are also a number of nice features, including the ability to touch and pair the speaker, a USB port to charge the device you're playing music from and several inputs, like for a subwoofer or an Apple TV.
Along with the input jacks on the box of the sleekly designed Core, you can add other Cores (up to 8 in total) to create a network, all with the touch of a few buttons. It's incredibly easy to set up. That's something other speaker systems have failed at in recent years, even as technology has advanced tremendously.As with all products, there are a couple of faults with the Core. The $599 price is a bit steep, especially when you look at the $199 price tag for Jawbone's Jambox or the Bose Soundlink Mini. Other color schemes would play well with various consumers, who may be attracted to the bright colors Jambox offers. Mass Fidelity has not said when or if it will produce the Core in other colors.
I've listened to the sound from Jambox or Bose's Soundlink Mini. The Core, although a bit bigger, is still portable. It is really head and shoulders above a portable Bluetooth speaker system.
Final Grade: 9.1/10