Real innovation is rare in the super-saturated Bluetooth-speaker market, but this, from Studio 19 of Watford, is unusually different – and not in the solution-looking-for-a-problem sense. It is a really high-quality product that does a useful and pleasing job. Well built in an anodised-aluminium housing, the Solo E500X-EQ is positioned primarily as a 55cm-tall vertical soundbar plugged into your TV (why should a soundbar necessarily lie flat under a TV, Studio 19 wondered?). The Solo will also link wirelessly to your phone, tablet, laptop, etc, to make a great job of streaming music. It has its own battery power, so can work away from mains, even outdoors, for up to eight hours.
Apart from its unique “form factor”, as shape is called in tech, the Solo has two more standout features. The first is bass, in spades: I have never heard so much in a speaker without a separate subwoofer – it is almost as mighty as that in Devialet’s extraordinary Phantom speakers. A patented technology Studio 19 calls Dual Pressure Air Compression (DPAC) is responsible.
The second – invaluable if the bass is a bit too bassy for you – is proper, old-school sliding equaliser controls on the top panel instead of a remote. Such a thing is unknown to anyone under 40, but it is bliss. So, so much easier to use than fiddly apps and menus.