Wireless speakers are great for a vast number of reasons, but the most obvious one is that they make it super easy to play music or other audio in your home without having to plug into to anything. But while most wireless speakers, whether they use Wi-Fi, such as Sonos and Google Cast models, or Bluetooth, aren’t as well designed as hi-fi speakers used to be. The modern speaker is meant to blend into the decor of your home, not be a piece of it.
Como Audio is looking to change that with its Solo and Duetto speakers. The Solo and Duetto are fully modern wireless speakers, complete with built-in support for Bluetooth, internet radio, FM radio, and Spotify Connect. But they have the aesthetic of a classic speaker, with wooden cabinets, round grilles, and physical knobs.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise given the founder of the company’s pedigree. Before he started Como Audio, Tom DeVesto was a founder of Tivoli, which built its name on beautifully designed radios for the home. Como Audio essentially takes the Tivoli model and brings it into the 21st century, blending classic design with modern components.
The Solo and Duetto, which are very similar in features and really only differ in size and number of drivers, aren’t cheap. They start at $299 and go up to $449, which is a bit more expensive than similarly sized Sonos speakers and a lot more than most people would pay for a Bluetooth speaker. For that price, you get multiple drivers (two in the Solo, four in the Duetto), real wooden cabinets in a variety of finishes, a color display, an infrared remote, and physical buttons and knobs for control. Wireless technologies include the aforementioned Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, plus NFC for easy pairing to an Android device. I’ve had a chance to demo the Solo for a few weeks, and while it is certainly expensive, I don’t get the impression that it’s overpriced.
Aside from its looks, what sets the Solo apart from Sonos is its ability to work without a phone. If you just want to tune into an internet radio station or an FM station, you can use the knobs to dial in the station you want. You can also plug in an Amazon Echo Dot via the 3.5mm input and USB port (which can power the Dot or a Chromecast) and add voice controls to the system.
The Solo’s Spotify Connect feature does require a phone to get started and it’s the way I used the speaker the most. The display on the front of the speaker can show the current artist and track, as well as the album art. It’s far from an award-winning screen — the colors are washed out and your smartphone has far more pixels — but it gets the job done.
The Solo’s output is loud enough to fill a large room, but it’s not going to shake the walls or bring down the house. (If you need louder output, there’s the Duetto, but it still isn’t designed for floor shaking bass.) That’s fine, this is the type of speaker you listen to while sitting in a room and contemplating what rug goes best with the drapes, not one you turn to for your next frat party. The Solo and Duetto can be linked for multi-room playback via Como’s smartphone app, but I was unable to test this feature.
Como Audio’s speaker won’t be for everyone and it’s not the best value you can get in wireless speakers. But if you’re looking for something that looks as good as it sounds, the Solo and Duetto fill that gap nicely.