What Would Mozart Think?
When I stumbled upon Poet Audio’s Pandoretta, I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at. I knew it was a speaker and not some sort of fancy air-filtration system, but what kind of speaker? Was it a new take on Yamaha’s Digital Sound Projector with an array of tiny drivers behind all those holes? It didn’t occur to me that the stainless steel “grille” might be an elaborate design element. Yet that’s exactly what it is.
The heart of Pandoretta is seven speakers arranged in a six-sided, multi-chamber MDF cabinet: a top-mounted woofer, two midrange drivers on angled front panels, and four tweeters—one firing upward, one forward, and one from each side. System power is 170 watts via a Class D amp (20 to 20,000 hertz ±0.5 decibels)—not too shabby for a speaker that’s only 18 inches wide, 6 inches tall, and a foot deep.
Working with a team of engineers and musicians in Vienna, Austrian designer Thomas Feichtner set out to create a musical instrument with a “touch of retro glamour” instead of a conventional speaker system. The system had to be dead simple to operate and deliver sound that was “as close to the original music as possible.” The result is what Poet calls a “phonetic corpus” that radiates sound “nearly 360 degrees.”
The Pandoretta is uber plug-and-play, meaning there’s no remote control, no app, no user manual, and no Wi-Fi settings to mess with. The little box has only two cleverly disguised controls for volume up/down and on/off and an analog minijack input (concealed in its base) for connection to a TV or other external device. Simply fire up any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, tablet, or laptop/PC and start streaming—at least that’s the promise. The system automatically wakes up when a music signal is detected and goes into standby mode after 10 minutes of inactivity. Pandoretta supports aptX coding for near-CD- quality streaming and has a nook in its base for Apple households that want to connect an AirPort Express for Wi-Fi-based streaming.
Interestingly—and perhaps surprising to many—the system is mono. As Poet puts it, mono is “an ideal alternative” to stereo’s confined sweet spot, especially for people who move around while listening to music (which is just about everyone these days).
Poet is planning to launch Pandoretta in the U.S. toward the end of the year. It will sell for about $3,800, with the optional stand (shown in oak) going for around $2,200.