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NuForce Cube portable system

12.12.2012..
..

Federica Pozzi, Audio Graffiti: "Hi, Giuseppe, I want you to test the NuForce Cube Speaker.”

Me: embarrassed silence

Federica: "What do you think?"

Me: "Mm, thanks, Federica, but, well, you know, we would like to test only high-end devices... we aim high... our readers ask for them... you know..."

Federica: “But the Cube performs really great, believe me!"

Me: "Yes, well, OK, Federica, I do anything for your eyes, but, mm... the Cube... really, put yourself in my shoes..."

Federica: "Look, you are going to be surprised!"

Me: "OK, then, send it, send it..."

 

A bit fictional, for entertainment reasons, this has been the phone call between me and the Italian official distributor of NuForce when I accepted to test out. The day after, the Cube arrives. A few days later I prepare it for the photos, I open it, I connect it and... I puzzle over!

"I have never been satisfied with the sound produced by the portable speakers available on the market. So we have shot to create a brand new one that not only performs great, but seems fantastic to us."

 

I would say that the purpose of Jason Lim, NuForce's CEO, has been reached.

 

The thingy

We are talking about a 16 bit/48 kHz DAC, a headphone amplifier and a speaker with a 25 mm cone inside a small cube of scanty six (6) centimeters in length. The DAC input bypasses the DAC of your computer, which, in the opinion of NuForce, is often of modest quality. I point out immediately: in this configuration, the Cube seems performing at best. Evidently, the inner mapping of the DAC prevails and practically cancels the risk of sending in distortion our small cube.

Thought for the Apple world, it can interface with this platform without installing any drivers or adding apps. Considering also that on the System Preferences it appears as USB PnP Sound Device, it works without any problem on Windows platforms too. The Cube has a battery rechargeable only through USB, with an operation time of about eight hours. The musical source can be any device with a mini jack output or a Mac/PC from USB port to mini USB port. It follows that iPods, iPads, tablets and mobiles can have a "good voice" now. It has no volume control, therefore the source has to be provided. On the contrary, it has a headphone output, supplied by the same internal amplifier that drives the loudspeaker.

 

On the broiler

Applicable power. The Cube is made for a close listening, although in different rooms it has performed without any problems, as you would expect from a bigger radio. It never overdoes but tries to give you everything. Depending on the music, the limit is, sometimes, the player in use: with iTunes, ad example, it has never had problems of excessive volume. In the analogue domain, you cannot ask for the same intelligence.

 

Impact. Minimum, obviously, but well imitated. This because what has been preferred – in the design, I believe - is the pleasantness instead of the realism.

 

Opening. Amazing. Stop. When it is in front of you, the illusion of completeness is very satisfying. It is not the Hi-Fi we pursue, but is far better than the most part of the loudspeakers for PC that I know.

 

Intelligibility. One of the peculiarities. It does not emit all the possible frequencies but, although attenuated, it makes them guess. N.B. This is a phenomenon of "reconstruction" of the musical message that the brain carries out by recognizing the secondary harmonics of superior order. Without these harmonics, we are not able to recognize the sound produced by the organ pedals, for the low frequencies, simply because not emitted by the smaller loudspeakers.

 

Rock. No. The "pumped" contents generally are not its genre. Try web radios like, ad example, Highway to AC/DC or Liverpool Revolution Live, dedicated to groups as well famous for the power of sound and you will agree that the physics is physics and you cannot elude or deceive it. But this is a platitude. Instead, consider the genuine effort made by NuForce in putting "everything at our disposal" and without "breaking our ears". With more relaxed tracks, the Cube makes everything graceful and pleasant notwithstanding the dimensions of a paper holder.

 

In brief

It is not a Hi-Fi object. NuForce itself does not tell the frequency data, just to be honest and clear. Obviously, the core of its playback are the frequencies of the voice. This is why it is a great portable speaker. Put it in front of a wall, a bookcase or any back surface where the low range can be "helped" and the music will stream with pleasure.  To improve its performance on the high frequencies, try to place it at ear-height.

Try to hide it: everybody will swear that the loudspeaker is bigger than its real size.

 

Gift idea

I am a-pal-led! To bring someone closer to a first musical listening nothing comes to my mind that could be easier, accessible and performing than this portable system. We are approaching Christmas and this is, admittedly, our "gift idea". Hi-Fi can grow only from the bottom" and products like this one incline always more people towards it, if they like a good sound: the sound coming from a real system, as NuForce knows well. People like me know that in the childhood the music could be listened well at home. Today the children have only a "solipsistic", not social listening, which makes turn pale - in negative sense - what was contested to us with Walkmans and headphones. A familiar tradition lasted just a couple of generations, to be generous in the evaluation. But small "luxury toys" like this one are surely a good "bridge" towards our Hi-Fi.

Well done, Cube: if you were not NuForce, you would be Apple.

 

 

Official technical specifications

Available Colors: 
black, silver, red, blue

Dimensions:
 58,5x58,5x60mm (WxHxD)

Operation Time:
 8hours typical

Included Accessories: 3.5mm stereo cable 0.6M USB Cable 0.7M Soft carrying pouch

 

Official Italian dealer: to NuForce Audio Graffiti website

Official current price in Italy: 99.00 EUR

Associated equipment: to my system (useless in this case... ;-)

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by Giuseppe Castelli
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