Sound Impressions

Tonality

The SP Ones have a very natural and balanced tonal presentation with excellent near field performance. Micro detail, particularly midrange instrumental clarity is organic and spacious sounding. The timbre on the SP Ones is very smooth, much more so than my previous set, the Swann’s which tended to throw a much more lively sound but at the cost of some midrange coherence. The top end is more chilled than forward but again the detail is excellent, particularly at low listening levels and there is plenty of headroom in its tweeter response so I never felt it unnaturally shelved down.

If anything, mids are slightly enhanced with a more forward vocal range than lower mids but only slightly. There is just enough to gain an audible pleasure on vocal tracks, particularly on movie dialogs, which some center speakers or larger 2.1 setups struggle to elevate beyond the background noise.

Bass

One thing you cannot accuse the SP One of having is lean low-end performance. Midbass response is mildly elevated with a warm sheen to it but it in no way bloated or soft sounding. As with most bookshelf speakers, there is not too much sub-bass reach with it falling off pretty quick beyond 60Hz (HPF?). If you want serious sub-bass, like any speaker configuration, I would suggest buying a subwoofer to compliment the SP Ones.

Having said that the SP One mid-bass is more than snappy with decent weight and body and kicks up a very inviting musical signature particularly with EDM and rock. If you are positioning near-field I would advise though to not place them close to any wall to prevent any unwanted boom on the SP One low end. The tuning on these is just right with the bass port given space to breathe.

Mids

There is a small dip also just as you cross over into the midrange spanning from 300Hz to 500Hz max keeping instrumental low end clean and clear as well avoiding upper bass bloat and bleed. Mids and upper mids have a mild yet smooth elevation with a slight emphasis on vocal performance. Male vocals in particular, sitting dead center around 1k, have excellent texture and body whilst slightly higher pitched female vocals are more rounded and pleasing with a slightly softer attack.

Celsus Sound have gone for a more organic and smooth flowing timbre with the SP One. You won’t find any sharp attacks or lingering delays and that softer approach also avoids any problems with sibilance creeping in. Those after a lean Tannoy sound or the cooler B&W clarity might find the SP One lacks a touch of midrange bite, but for me running these near-field I think they are right on the money between natural and musical.


Treble

Treble on the SP One is a smooth and relaxed presentation with minor tilts northwards around 5-7k and again at 13-14k for that typical hi-fi touch of clarity and sparkle as well as offering decent headroom. It not the airiest of speaker configurations but its clear and articulate with very little in the way of harsh peaks and dips. It’s coherent sounding and in keeping with the rest of the FR’s tonal quality.


Matchability

Wireless

Lock-On

The wireless performance of the SP One will depend on both the BT source as well as your room configuration. What I can say that the SP One lock-on for BT signal is excellent even down to AD2P BT3.0. Apt-X capable and regular non-aptX BT 4.09 devices will perform at roughly the same distance and similar barriers in the line of sight between the source and SP Ones. A simple FiiO X1 2G BT 4.0 connection acquired a lock on around 15ft away with one wall divider which was the exact same distance as an aptX capable AK380 and my own BT4.0 ZTE Axon 7 smartphone. The same also for the older AK120 Mk1 with its AD2P BT.30 module which traditionally has never given me the same level of range as more modern aptX capable modules.

Tonality

Tonally, though the quality of the connection and the technology in use will make a fairly substantial difference. You can get admirable and listenable playback with the AK120 MK1 AD2P module but it sounds relatively compressed and lacking in dynamics compared FiiO and ZTE’s BT4.0 implementation, which in turn sounds slightly less resolving than the AK380’s apt-X capable module. It is not quite as vivid and engaging as going fully wired but it is pretty competitive with aptX.

Playback Control

One cool little thing is the two-way communication of the SP One which I am not sure is explained in the manual and not applicable to all devices. At the back of the SP One is the pair and reset button which you simply press and hold down to start the pairing process with a flickering purple LED. It is a simple process and all devices I used (4 in total) locked onto the signal and gave accurate feedback right away. However, for the ZTE and AK380, a quick press actually paused the music and another press started the music again. This didn’t happen on the FiiO X1 2G which also has Bt4.0 but otherwise, it is a pretty small but cool feature on the SP One.

Wired

Wired is always preferred over wireless for optimal sound but one thing I noted with the SP One is the level of coloration different DAC’s brought when hooked up. It seems fairly responsive to the source sound. Warmer sounding DAC’s with lively low ends such as the dual WM8741 uDAC-2496 from Just Audio transformed the SP One into a more planted low-end colored set of speakers. I got a fairly lively sound but I felt the low end increased response upset that nice tonal balance I got with more neutral DAC’s such as the Essence HDACC (ES9012).

Somewhere in between sat the line out of the Continental Dual Mono which produced a more balanced sound with the SP One than the Just Audio matchbox DAC but at the slight cost of top end clarity. ESS DAC’s such as the NuPrime DAC-10, Chord Hugo, and Essence HDACC brought out the detail and dynamic performance that suited my nearfield setup the best, particularly at lower volumes. The Hugo probably had the most neutral of all 3 performance-wise but my personal preference was the Essence HDACC which sounded just a little more natural with a smoother top end.

Our Verdict

Overall I am quite impressed with the SP One performance and value-add features as a desktop active set of speakers. The tonal quality is smooth, inviting and very balanced with those carbon fiber 3.5″ woofers punching way above what I expected for their size. They are not bass monsters and have a solid eye for detail and a slightly elevated midrange and vocal performance which is a plus for anyone wanting a near-field configuration. They do go loud enough also to fill a mid-sized room but watch for unintended reflections, i.e. do not corner them as the resulting bass boost is not ideal.

The build quality is excellent, the weight is just right, and their low profile dimensions make them fairly unobtrusive guests on any standard computer table of reasonable size. With the new silicone feet coming out they should also balance better than the initial rubber stick on feet. Value adds such as using BT (wireless) does free them from the desk should you wish to space them further apart than the standard supplied speaker cable will allow but be aware that aptX is the only advisable connection I would recommend to get anywhere near the clarity and dynamics wired can offer.

Technical Specifications

Frequency Response:55Hz to 22kHz
Impedance:6 Ohms
Power Rating:60W
Sensitivity:88db
Inputs:Bluetooth & Line In
Power Supply:AC adapter (DC19.5V, 3.16A)
USB Port5V DC charging Port for external accessory
Dimensions (H x W x D):195mm X 130mm X 180mm
Weight:2.3Kg
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