Here’s something quite odd. This is very possibly the best – and loudest – portable wireless speaker I’ve found since these devices emerged with the Soundmatters FoxL back in 2009. Most people think Jawbone originated clever little boxes that radiate loud stereo with its Jambox in 2011, but the FoxL was the first that came onto my radar and consequently found its way into my business-trip travel bag.
I’ve used one or other of these speakers to turn a hotel room into a music room ever since, and was once asked by the front desk at Caesars Palace in Vegas to turn my Jambox down because of complaints from other guests (these things are that good).
So what’s odd (other than the daft name) about the Katch, from the upscale Danish loudspeaker maker Dali? This: although it’s 10 per cent more expensive than the Beoplay A2 Active model from those other great Danes, Bang & Olufsen, whose HQ is just an hour west on Denmark’s Route 13, it looks like the A2 Active’s less sophisticated sibling. They are the same weight and a similar size, but the Katch has a more rounded form, the speaker mesh is flimsy and plasticy, and the strap is the least leather-looking leather I’ve seen.
But this is where my carping about the Katch ends. It is a fantastic machine. Dali’s guys in the sleepy town of Nørager have beaten the excellent B&O this time. Single-box stereos have got better and better since the FoxL, and I have frequently proclaimed a model “the best ever”, but this will, I believe, be the gold standard for a while. It’s startlingly loud and handles everything from metal to Mussorgsky with total assurance. The Katch packs twin 25-watt Class D (which is to say, digital) amplifiers – actually five watts less powerful than the B&O, but its aluminium alloy‑coned bass drivers are bigger, as are its soft dome tweeters, and that’s where the Katch gains its very audible edge. It also has a 24-hour play life – just like the B&O, but doesn’t claim, as the A2 does, to be splash-resistant.
For some, the Katch will suffice as a main home stereo, especially if you buy two and rig them up, as you can, to be a “real” separate-speaker stereo system. One or two would equally make a great office sound system if you like music while you work. But whether for indoor use or for beach or boat, the Katch is, if I may angle for a fishing metaphor, well worth reeling in.