The days of audio separates I thought were behind us. Manufacturers are favouring all in one Bluetooth or wireless solutions for the home. Yet companies like Tibo, the British audio manufacturer are sticking to their guns. But why? Well let me tell you. Tibo gave us the chance to check out their new Smart Streamer, which also meant we got to test their amp and speaker system. Here’s what we thought.
The entire unit came in several boxes, each branded very tastefully, and with a good amount of specification to read before tucking in. The speakers came as a pair, and the amp and streamer came as separate units. From what I’ve seen so far, the amp is the crux of this whole system, so you will definitely need one.
Setup was fairly simple. Everything needed power, and the speakers used traditional speaker cable to connect to the amp. The amp literally has a power on and volume. That’s it. It’s very basic, but at the end of the day, it’s an amplifier. The Tibo Smart Streamer is where everything needs to be done. I initially went straight into the Line-Out from the Streamer, but this didn’t work, and a quick look for a video online, I found that I needed to go from the Pre-Out on the Tibo Smart Streamer into the Line-In on the amplifier. Of course being wireless, the Streamer needs to hook up to an amplifier. The speaker feet are spikey, giving them a decent lift as each speaker has a subwoofer built into the bottom of them. However, I had to stick table mats underneath them because they were marking my wooden unit when moving them around. Even the disks included managed to scratch it. I wish they had included those soft pads in the box, but they don’t. Get yourself to your local hardware store to pick some up to stick to the bottom of the disks. It’ll save your furniture.
An unfortunate thing about this system is that your phone and Streamer has to be on the same network. In my house, I have a mesh network but also wireless homeplugs for various rooms in the house further away from the mesh network. With other wireless speakers like the Riva Concert and Arena we reviewed a while ago, it didn’t matter which wireless hub I was connected to, it recognised that everything was part of the same home network. The Tibo Smart Streamer doesn’t. It does come with a line-in option as well as Bluetooth for a more personal connection, so visitors to your home could quickly and easily hook up to the Streamer in seconds.
Of course being a Smart product, it needs an app. What doesn’t these days ay? But, the nice thing about it is that it’s incredibly easy to use. I’ve had trouble in the past with speaker apps and a lack of connection between my wireless router and the smart product, but with the Tibo Smart Streamer, everything worked seamlessly and connected in no time at all. I named my Streamer ‘Family Room’ as it’s based in the living room, and was able to access the music on my phone, as well as a plethora of streaming services. Most notably, the music services are probably going to be your go-to straight away, like Spotify, Tidal, and strangely enough Napster, but there are other services like Internet radio and iHeartRadio.
What’s interesting, and it’s something I’ve never really dived into before, are radio stations from different countries. I was able to listen to a local radio station in Bogota, Columbia, and another one from Afghanistan. The radio feature splits up stations by country and city, genre of music, by language, talk or sports and more. You can even get a selection of podcasts split into categories and genre to browse. Choice seems pretty endless, and you may even come across some pretty awesome stations if you had a good look. You can even set your favourite radio stations from around the world to presets, which are represented by physical buttons on the front of the Streamer. There is a remote control that you can use to access various features of the Streamer too.
The sound quality that came from the system was very impressive too, with a very wide soundstage which made certain tracks feel full. The bass reproduction also gave music a decent punch, and did not overpower, even when listening to Spotify which I thought was great for a lower quality streaming service. Unfortunately though, the Tibo app didn’t seem to come with any kind of equalizer so fine tune your listening experience, and it also wiped out Spotify’s equalizer and quality settings so you were stuck with whatever had been coded into the Tibo app. Inside the settings menu the only things you have to change are the name of your setup, an alarm clock and sleep timer.
So is the Tibo Smart Streamer setup for you? Well, you have to decide if you want to dedicate a decent surface area to the system. It’s not the smallest, nor the lightest. It’s a farcry from what modern tech is becoming, but wowe does it sound good. For the whole system you’ve seen in this review, you’re looking at around £149 for the Smart Streamer, £169 for the Legacy 3+ speakers and a further £249 for the Power Amplifier. It’s not cheap by any means, but you won’t be disappointed with the quality you will receive.