Bookshelf speakers from Thonet & Vander blend the benefits of HiFi with the convenience of streaming
I’ve been testing out two sets of bookshelf speakers from German manufacturer Thonet & Vander.
Both models are what is known as active speakers.
These type of speaker systems are growing in popularity.
They give you the benefits of a traditional HiFi set-up mixed with the convenience of streaming.
They include a built-in amplifier that powers their stereo sound.
This means you need less room than for a traditional HiFi — just the space for the two speakers.
Thonet & Vander was set up in Berlin in 1949 by Hannes Josef Einrich, who established his electronics business using experience gained in telecommunications during the World War II.
The firm relaunched in the early 1990s led by a team of German engineers who wanted to manufacture speakers for the mass market.
The speaker cabinets in both models I tested are made from HDAA wood, which has rigid and dense properties.
This is better than conventional MDF as you get no vibration and a more accurate and efficient performance.
Kurbis BT Studio
The first model I received to test have been a big seller for a number of years: the Kurbis BT Studio Monitors.
With an integrated digital amplifier and a Bluetooth receiver, the Kurbis BT deliver the best of both worlds.
When it comes to active wireless speakers, there are two types.
With the Wi-Fi type, each speaker in a stereo pair comes with a power lead and the speakers are not connected so they both receive their signal independently.
The Kurbis BT are the second type: they are tethered together in master and slave style with a speaker cable connecting the slave speaker to the master speaker.
Ignore the claim of 340W peak power on the box. It’s factually correct but irrelevant because it only refers to brief bursts of the audio signal.
The amplification is rated at 68W, and this naturally works out at 34W per speaker. They pack a punch, that’s for sure.
Under each speaker’s smart black fabric grille is a 5.25in woofer made from aramid fibre which the firm says boosts the bass.
Above the woofer is a 1-in silk-dome tweeter surrounded by a suspension ring made from highly elastic rubber.
This decouples the driver from any vibrations coming out of the woofer beneath it.
On the rear are RCA Phono inputs and a regular TRS 3.5mm stereo analogue input.
There are three physical knobs to control volume, treble, and bass but there is no remote.
Audio quality is far superior to a single box Bluetooth speaker and on the whole I’d be pleased with the results from the Kurbis.
The speakers are equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, which means you can stream music directly from smartphones, tablets and computers.
They support voice control via Alexa or Google Home.
Many of the same features are on the newer Kugel speakers.
However, these bookshelf monitors have four audio inputs; the extra option is optical which is a welcome addition.
They also use the aptX codec for more stable Bluetooth connectivity.
Under the hood they use a larger 6.5in woofer and they are more than twice as powerful.
They deliver 140 watts of power – that naturally means you get 70 watts of room-filling audio through each unit.
Audio sounds fantastic and the Kugel live up to their claim of being studio quality.
Bass is monstrous and the definition and clarity listening to all types of music is exceptional.
Kugel also come with a remote control unit so you can ignore the physical buttons on the master speaker.
These are controls for input, Bluetooth pairing, bass, treble and volume and all are replicated on the remote.
In conclusion, if you buy either set of speakers you will be happy with your purchase but I would personally recommend investing the extra cash in the Kugel.
Thonet & Vander Kugel cost £329.99 and Thonet & Vander Kurbis BT cost £179.99.