Without so much as a glance at a recent Audio Pro speaker, you can be sure of two things: it’ll be wireless, and will look as if it’s been freshly made by a 3D printer.
In its early days in the 70s and 80s, the Scandinavian hi-fi brand produced passive speakers and systems, but every speaker in its repertoire today – all under the ‘Addon’ name – is wireless.
Audio Pro’s Award-winning Addon T3, and fellow T5 and T10 one-box speakers, and T8L and T14 powered standmounts ride the Scandinavian design movement characterised by simplicity and minimalism.
They look almost moulded, what with their matt finish and lack of, as the brand puts it, ‘unnecessary embellishments’.
The T20s are the range’s powered towers and, unsurprisingly, share the same design DNA as their colleagues: slender and spartan, functional in the most positive way.
With their black-on-white triangular speaker configuration, the T3 and T5 models resemble Koala faces, but even the animal lover in us is relieved that hasn’t been replicated in these floorstanders. Instead the formation is traditionally linear.
A white finish is as much a feature of Audio Pro speakers as a wooden chair or grey wall in a Swedish family home, although there is an alternative all-black finish too.
Either way, they’ll no doubt find support from those tired of the classic wood veneers or agricultural designs found in many rivals, as well as criticism from those who find them too clinical or toy-like.
Both speakers stand on attached plinths and lean back slightly, but it’s the powered speaker that deserves your initial attention.
Its 20mm textile dome tweeter and dual 12cm woofers are driven by Digital Class D amplification – it also powers its passive partner – and it houses the connections.
There are RCA and twin optical inputs for connecting to, for example, a CD player, streamer or TV; an aptX Bluetooth receiver for wireless streaming from any Bluetooth-toting device; an unusual, albeit handy, USB charging port for topping up your smartphone or tablet.
More after the break
A small LED at the bottom of the left speaker’s tweeter surround indicates its power and pairing status, and there’s a decent aluminium remote control in the box too.
There are also buttons on the back panel for power, volume, pairing and input selection, complete with upside-down labels – useful for if the speakers are positioned near a back wall, which is where they may well end up.
First things first: the Addon T20’s looks aren’t deceiving. As you might gather from the their slim, lightweight stature and modest woofer size, they aren’t the most muscular or authoritative-sounding speakers.
They are shown up by the beefy Dali Zensor 5 AXs as much in terms of power and solidity as they are in physical stature.
By backing their rear-ported cabinets close to a wall, the presentation gains solidity and tautness that’s largely absent when placed out in the open. Bass notes rear their heads a little more.
Even then, low-frequency softness and a lack of prominence previal, meaning the bassline in Anthony & the Johnson’s Kiss My Name doesn’t so much drive the track as ride passively behind the vocal.
Similarly with The Flaming Lips’ The Great Gig in the Sky cover – a perfect opportunity for any speaker to carouse – the Addon T20s don’t quite possess the bass (nor rhythmic) discipline to underpin the track’s complex anarchy.
A dedicated subwoofer output provides the opportunity to add more grunt to the system with an external sub, although of course it comes at extra cost.
While the Audio Pros’ sonics are mirrored in their physical posture, the Dalis are more arresting in their approach, with the drive and punch to push things along as well as the transparency to unveil the subtle harmonics and rich textures behind instruments.
However, if you’re someone who’d choose to live in slippers than a pair of all-terrain shoes, you might find comfort in the Audio Pros’ easy-listening nature.
They’re much more at home with less demanding tracks like Anthony & the Johnson’s Aeon, manoeuvring through the piano piece with agility and clarity while offering decent weight and insight.
Anthony’s vocal carries pleasing warmth and sincerity but, despite his unique style, there’s not much going on dynamically.
On the plus side, a preference for mid- and upper frequencies gives them a nimble quality that helps the entertainment factor.
With more detail and power in the lower frequencies, as well as another layer of transparency above it, the Audio Pro Addon T20s would be as welcome in this sector of the market as their smaller (and cheaper) family members are in theirs.
But despite their practical simplicity and compactness, there are more compelling powered rivals (as well as alternative system solutions) out there we’d sooner recommend.