Mass Fidelity Launch The Core Wireless Speaker

Mass Fidelity takes portable wireless speakers to a new level with The Core

by Steve Withers Nov 15, 2014 at 8:56 AM

  • Hi-Fi Article


    Mass Fidelity Launch The Core Wireless Speaker
    Mass Fidelity’s new Core wireless portable speaker delivers an audio performance that is so good you’d swear it was magic.
    It isn’t of course, it’s just the appliance of science but what was it Arthur C. Clarke once said? “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” He wasn’t kidding! When Ben Webster from Mass Fidelity first started playing music through The Core, we realised why they insisted on demonstrating the little wireless speaker to us in person.

    Who are Mass Fidelity? They’re a Canadian company based in Toronto, composed of audiophiles, designers and engineers with a mission to bring high fidelity listening experiences to all facets of contemporarylife. Mass Fidelity claim that simplicity in design and dexterity in function make their systems unlike anything else you have seen or heard. So far the company has released the Relay, a HiFi Bluetooth DAC but decided to use crowd funding when it came to their next product.

    The crowd funding campaign for The Core was run on Indiegogo and initially the goal was to raise $48,000. In actual fact, when the campaign ended last week, Mass Fidelity had raised $1,142,079! Based upon what we heard, that money has been well spent. The Core might look like a typical portable wireless speaker but as soon as you turn it on you realise that the little box is capable of an entirely different level of performance.

    So what is The Core? Well essentially it’s a portable wireless speaker that uses Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone, tablet or PC. You can use your phone or tablet as a remote control, although The Core will also include one as standard. The Core uses Class 1 Bluetooth receiver technology to minimise dropouts and extend its range. It also combines Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) and aptX to ensure the best possible sound for digital sources and supports Near Field Communication (NFC) for one-touch pairing.

    The Core can also form part of a multi-room system that allows you to connect up to nine Cores throughout your home. No router or special application is needed, you just push a button and The Core creates its own 5 GHz dedicated network. A network composed of nine Cores should be enough for anyone, unless you live in a mansion!

    In terms of wired connections there’s an optical digital input and an analogue input, which should cover everything from a CD player to a turntable (with a phono preamp). However if you’re a fan of high-resolution music then you’ll be happy to know that The Core can handle PCM streams up to 24-bit/192kHz. There’s also a USB port for recharging other devices and The Core is genuinely portable, with a 12-hour battery life.

    The Core packs a lot into its diminutive size and sports an attractive design, with a polished top and chrome base. Yet despite all the technology inside, it’s small enough to fit comfortably in your hand and you can even select the next track by simply waving your hand over the unit itself. However don’t let The Core’s dimensions fool you, the audio performance blows away any preconceptions you might have about small speakers.
    The Core packs a lot into its diminutive chassis with a five speaker array and a host of connections.

    The Core uses advanced acoustic rendering technology to create the illusion of two widely spaced speakers, thus mitigating one of the big draw backs of smaller portable speakers - the lack of stereo separation. How does it do this? Well The Core uses five custom-designed mid/high frequency speakers in three arrays along with a downward-firing woofer, all driven by 120W of digital power (4 x 20W and 1 x 40W).

    A combination of digital signal processors (DSP) and an ARM processing core work to keep the whole system synchronised. The Core uses Acoustic Holography technology to proceed a stereo sound field that is much wider bit does so without sacrificing sound quality. The technique works by physically creating sounds in three-dimensional space, much like a hologram. At the same time, The Core uses Wave Field Synthesis to eliminate the traditional "sweet spot” by creating a virtual acoustic scene. This acoustic image can still be heard from any listening position in the room.

    Another common problem with smaller speakers is a lack of bass and here The Core uses proprietary Absolute Bass Technology (ABT) to combine electronics, software and mechanical engineering to produce a low frequency performance that is unmatched for its size. However if you want to increase the bass performance you can also connect The Core to a wired or wireless subwoofer. The Core uses Dynamic Re-tuning Technology to automatically cease all bass duties and concentrate on the mid and high frequencies.

    Of course all this science means nothing if the product in question doesn’t work. Thankfully The Core didn’t disappoint and delivered on its promise in spades. We started off by listening to The Core in the home cinema, which is an acoustically dampened environment. Ben wanted to show that The Core didn’t need reflective walls in order to create its holographic sound field. Sure enough The Core created a stereo soundstage that was much wider than it’s diminutive size.
    Thanks to some advanced acoustical techniques, The Core can create a wide stereo soundstage and eliminate the "sweet spot".

    Listening to Money by Pink Floyd, there was a very real sense of stereo separation but also precise clarity to the various sound effects. The mid and high frequencies were well represented but so was the low-end, all the more surprising given the size of The Core. It was actually sat on top of our centre speaker but if we closed our eyes it sounded like the music was coming from our big floor standers at the front. Very impressive.

    If all this wasn’t impressive enough, the stereo imagining was retained wherever you were in the room. So if you moved to the left or the right, the sound stage didn’t collapse to one side or the other; it remained perfectly rendered. We listened to a variety of musical styles and The Core handled them all with ease, even managing complex orchestral arrangements. We then moved into the lounge, which is a much brighter environment with plenty of reflections. Here The Core created a sound stage that was even more defined but all the same characteristics and features applied.

    It’s easy to become jaded when you work in AV journalism, you hear so many new products that they often merge into homogenous mess. So it’s a real treat when a product completely takes you by surprise. Mass Fidelity’s Core is just such a product, delivering the kind of quantum leap in performance that shocks you out of your apathy and has you wondering how it was achieved.

    The Core should be shipping in the new year and will retail for around the £499 mark. If that seems like a lot of money, it isn’t when you consider the design, features and performance. However, don’t take our word for it, The Core is the kind of product that you have to hear for yourself.

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