Cabasse Eole 4 5.1 speaker system review

Mark Craven takes this revamped, 5.1 sub/sat style system for a spin. Literally

Home cinema speakers come in different flavours, all with a target audience in mind. You only have to look at Cabasse's new Eole 4 system, with its diminutive satellite enclosures, slim-line subwoofer and its white finish (black is an alternative) to know it's intended for living room systems where discretion is vital.

And there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, as the loudspeaker market has evolved (both B&W and KEF, for example, haven't updated their sub/sat ranges in years and they're subsequently in short supply), and mass market all-in-one systems have gone the way of the Dodo to be replaced by soundbars, there are less of these types of systems available than their used to be. Which is a shame considering the proliferation of affordable multichannel AV receivers.

The Eole 4 is the fourth generation of Cabasse's space-saving system, a product it describes as 'Europe's biggest-selling speaker pack.' Changes are mainly cosmetic, but useful.

Firstly, each satellite is now supplied with a magnetic base. It's a clever design, with a flat bottom for mounting on available shelving, and an angled fascia to support the Eole satellite.

The base is alarmingly light, which at first makes you wonder if it's up to the job. But add the reassuringly heavy spherical speaker, which locks into place with a strong magnetic grip, and you have a combo that feels solid.

The best thing about the design is that the Eole satellite then becomes movable, able to spin about like BB-8's head (the Force Awakens droid for those who've forgotten). You can effectively aim the speaker wherever it's needed, within reason. While the base can be wall-mounted using provided screw holes, Cabasse suggests it needs to angle up. Angled down and gravity will take over and the Eole would fall off.

Well, that's what it says, anyway. I did a brief experiment holding the base upside down, and the speaker clung on. The magnetic force is strong with this one.

You Spin Me Right Round
All five satellites are identical, and use a coaxial driver array comprising a 4in midbass unit and 1in tweeter. And while spherical speakers look cool, Cabasse insists there's an acoustic benefit too: 'Spherical speakers are the perfect design, eliminating cabinet induced diffraction and enabling a very wide dispersion of sound perfect for home cinema.'

A further design tweak concerns the mesh grilles, which have a more open profile intended to reduce colouration and improve HF response.

Completing the package is an all-new Cabasse subwoofer, called the Lipari 21. It's deemed 'Super Slim' and it certainly is, using a cabinet that's just 15cm deep. It features an 8.25in woofer and 200W RMS amp. It's down-ported, with thin open feet raising it off your floor. In a neat touch, power and LFE connection are found on its underside, alongside phase, level and crossover controls.

The Lipari 21's box styling is bland, but the satellites are a slam dunk. Small, smart and with chrome touches, plus plenty of positioning flexibility, means Cabasse has hit the brief here when it comes to kerb appeal.

Installation of the system isn't as straightforward as you might think, due to the way the satellites wire in. You need to unclip a plate from the bottom of each base, revealing spring-clip speaker terminals. Each speaker has a short, integrated cable, which connects here. Another run of speaker wire (there's some bundled in the box) also needs to be fitted in the same terminals to feed to your AVR, before the baseplate is re-locked, and cables fed through holes. It's a bit of a faff, requiring finger dexterity and some patience. With that done, though, you can dot the Eoles around your room and settle down for some listening.

Wide Open
The overall characteristics of this system are impressive mid-range and high-frequency clarity, and a wide, enveloping soundfield from cabinets that are so small. At the same time, it sounds a bit safe and lacking in low-end vigour.